A Wilton-Based Platform Tennis Tournament was on ESPN. Platform Tennis.
I've never been an avid tennis spectator. Never tuned in to watch the ole' Wimbledon tournament. Never entertained myself to the tune of a classic Nadal-Federer showdown.
But the 2020 Platform Tennis World Championship that aired on ESPN3 last week-- the only live field or court sporting event they televised-- is the type of event we'll have to settle with, for now.
Played on a smaller, fenced-in court compared to actual tennis, Platform Tennis is a small fish in a big pond; you could call it the arena football of the tennis world. Almost all of its blood, sweat, and tears come from players right here in the U.S., most of which hail in suburban New York, according to The New York Times.
Suffice to say, ESPN is improvising due to the quarantine, and Burke Magnus, the network's executive vice president for programming acquisitions and scheduling, is finding creative ways to do just that.
Bob Considine, the organizer of the platform tennis tournament and owner of paddlepro.com, also had to improvise, on short notice, after receiving news that ESPN wanted to televise the championship. With Quarantine measures in mind, Considine managed to have the event streamed from a private home's backyard in Wilton, CT.
According to The New York Times, no spectators were allowed, and four members of a T.V. crew borrowed the house's WiFi to make the national stream possible. Instead of hugging after the match was over, players simply touched rackets over the net. No doubles matches were played because that's just not socially distance-able.
The final match featured a duel between a 40-year-old Canadian in Mark Parsons, the third-ranked platform tennis player in the world, and first-ranked Bostonian Johan du Randt. This time, Considine climbed the ladder himself to film- the whole match.
Parsons beat du Randt, but he didn't bring home the trophy. Again, social distancing.
So maybe Platform Tennis doesn't have to be considered a sport we settle for. Let's appreciate the fact that ESPN is trying it's best to entertain a nation whose sport-mode engine isn't working.
Someone let me know when it's on again so I can watch the next Parsons-Du Randt showdown.