April 11, 2014 11:17AM
By LESLIE ROVETTI
Sun Staff Writer
STONINGTON — Thanks to almost 200 donors, a sport most likely to be found in country clubs is about to be available to the public at the Stonington Community Center.
The center will be cutting the ribbon on its new courts at 11 a.m. Saturday for platform tennis, also called paddle tennis. The ceremony will take place next to the center’s thrift shop, 45 Cutler St.
Once the courts are open, there will be a demonstration by the center’s new paddle tennis professionals, Steve and Trish Griggs. Steve, a national paddle tennis champion, and Trish are certified instructors and are also the teaching pros at the Guilford Racquet Club.
The Griggs will be giving four-week clinics for adults and children who want to either learn the game or enhance their skills. The courts will be available for use through an online reservation system until the season starts in October. After that, a paddle tennis membership will be required. Clinics, which cost between $100 and $160, begin the week of April 22.
In addition to lessons and games, the center, also known as the COMO, will offer a unified paddle tennis program that includes both special-needs and non-special-needs children. Called Paddle Pals, the program supports the COMO’s inclusive programming, Executive Director Beth-Ann Stewart said.
The facilities include two aluminum platform tennis courts which will be available year-round, heaters, lights for night-time playing, a viewing deck, and a warming hut. Platform tennis, which is like a combination of tennis, squash, and racquetball, is typically played outdoors during the colder months. These are not the first platform tennis courts at the COMO, according to Stewart, who said there were courts there more than 30 years ago.
Fundraising for the $250,000 for the courts began less than a year ago, Stewart said. All of the funds came from nearly 200 private donors, and no COMO funds were used to pay for the project. The fundraising and planning was spearheaded by the COMO’s Platform Tennis Steering Committee, which included Stewart, COMO athletic director Justin Walz, COMO Board President Kathryn Burchenal, COMO Board member Russ Burgess, Ann Harvey, Peter Harvey, and Ann Lobdell.
More information on the paddle tennis program is available on the center’s website at thecomo.org, and will also be available at the ribbon cutting.