According to the Carolina Paddle Tennis Association, Reverend Frank Peter Beal created the sport of Paddle Tennis in 1898. He saw Paddle Tennis as an activity for children and as a means for them to learn to play Tennis. His initial Paddle Tennis court was 18’ x 39’, exactly one-half the size of a regulation tennis court. Players used a sponge-rubber ball and a wooden paddle. The much smaller court and the short-handled paddle allowed children to pick-up the game quickly; as a result, they enjoyed playing while attaining mastery of a racquet sport that prepared them to play tennis. Reverend Beal then moved to New York City in 1921, and the following year, the first Paddle Tennis tournament was held. During this time, adults began playing the sport and enjoyed how easy and exhilarating it was to play. In the late 1920s and early 1930s, Paddle Tennis grew in popularity and spread to other cities, such as Los Angeles.
By the late 1950s, the game’s popularity had grown—especially on the West Coast. Popular Tennis players, such as Althea Gibson and Bobby Riggs were playing Paddle Tennis and competing in its tournaments. Also during this time, the Brighton Beach Baths, in Brooklyn, New York, converted hand-tennis courts into 20 smaller-sized Paddle Tennis courts; and “BBB” soon became a hub for Paddle Tennis and remained so for decades to come. BBB spawned such national Paddle Tennis star players as Sol Hauptman, Jeff Fleitman, Jeff Lerner, Harold Kempler, Eddie Feldman, Mike Gansell, Dorothy Wasser, Nancy Bluttman, Sol Schwartz, Russ Garber, Kenny Lindner, and many others. Prestigious Paddle Tennis exhibitions were held at BBB, when Tennis luminaries such as Bobby Riggs, Tony Vincent, and Paul Cranis played matches against Lerner, Gansell, and Lindner.
In 1961, the official Paddle Tennis court was lengthened by three feet on each end in order to make it 20’ x 50’ thus creating the “Classic POP” Tennis court size. At this time, the sponge-rubber ball was replaced with a decompressed tennis ball, the net was lowered, and the overhand serve was also eliminated, and only one underhand serve was allowed. These changes were accepted by both the East and West Coast Paddle Tennis Associations and are still in effect today for “Classic POP”.
Throughout the 70s, 80s, and 90s, West Coast Paddle Tennis enjoyed great growth and popularity in Venice Beach, and private clubs like Sand and Sea Club, the Jonathan Club, the Bel Air Bay Club, and the Beach Club. During this golden era of Paddle Tennis in Los Angeles, some of the greatest POP Tennis players emerged.
While the popularity of the game progressed, confusion with the name arose. The term “Paddle” tennis differed drastically per geographic region and has since been confused with sports other than the original game (i.e. ping pong, platform paddle tennis, paddle ball, beach tennis, pickleball or more recently padel). The need for a new name to set the game apart was necessary.
In 2015, an integral group of trailblazers coined the unique name, POP Tennis™. Alas, the spirit, popularity and sound of our sport is portrayed through its namesake and re-brand. “Everything about our sport, POPS!” ™
In 2016, POP Tennis was adapted by the United States Tennis Association. The game now uses both 60’ and 50’ courts to provide more options for play. POP Tennis is sweeping the nation in both public and private facilities. The national tour has grown to multiple cities and is sponsored by leading sports manufacturers.