Paddle Court Records


Demolition and construction of our new platform tennis facility is under way, so I want to share with you some of the courts’ history at SYC.  We call the game “paddle” and that’s okay, because, even though playground paddle tennis (Albion, MI and NYC) predated platform paddle tennis (Scarsdale), we only play the latter here, so there’s no risk of confusion.  In 1928, the sport’s first platform was necessitated by the slope of the hill on which it was built, for lack of flatter space.  Nowadays, the platform allows room for heating equipment under the courts and makes snow removal easier.

The challenge of finding good space for paddle courts applied at SYC, too.  In those days, the Club’s northern boundary ran along the roadway that now stands between our tennis courts.  Stables gave way to automobile parking spaces, but there was little room for the addition of paddle courts.  “Deck tennis” was tried on the clubhouse’s outdoor porch in 1933, but it was a poor substitute for a regulation court.  Member interest became so strong that proponents offered to build paddle courts at no cost to the Club.  So, in the mid-1930s, two wooden courts were installed in what is now our main parking lot.  Despite the initial enthusiasm, the tennis chairman’s reports show that interest gradually waned and the courts fell into disrepair over the following decade.  They were torn down in April 1948, and paddle was unmentioned in the Club’s records for the next 12 years, while bowling thrived.  We know the removal was not attributable to limited space, because the Club bought Lots 46-48 of the former Scofield Estate (present site of the paddle courts and tennis courts 5 and 6) in 1947.  If you look at the large photograph on the south wall of the Grill Room, you can see the current paddle area being used for auxiliary parking.

In February 1961, a director named Cappabianca began proposing, at every board meeting, construction of two paddle courts on the northeast corner of the Club’s land.  His proposals were referred to the Planning Committee, which later included court construction in its Five Year Plan.  At the Annual Meeting of 1962, Tennis Chairman Clarke Mattimore explained that, while plans were in place, the Club simply lacked the funds for construction.  It was in June 1968 that a newly formed Paddle Committee, headed by Walter Frese and Gino Pasquini, resolved to convince 35 members to contribute $200 each to cover the $7,000 cost of constructing two new courts.  The plans kept the courts as far south as possible, in order to allow construction of a third court at a later date.  By August they had 42 subscribers, so construction was authorized.  Permitting took some time; it was October 1970 when Frank Rich reported that construction was nearing conclusion and that 81 members ultimately subscribed.

In July 1970, the Board authorized $1,800 for construction of the hut.  Participation increased and, in August 1973, the Board agreed that, again with the help of member subscriptions, a third court should be added.  Gaynor Brennan took the plan through the zoning process, but it was rejected in 1974.  Gaynor suggested trying again in 1983, but the budget was already strained by the costs of replacing the existing wooden courts, which were rotting.  Finally, we switched to aluminum.

Congratulations to James Ryan, Ray Redniss, Bob O’Mahony and the many other members who have made the coming improvements possible.  The new paddle facility will be a monument to all that they and their many predecessors contributed to this great winter activity at SYC.

Staff Commodore Christopher Hynes
Club Historian