American Platform Tennis Association’s Grand Prix coming to Fairfield

The American Platform Tennis Association’s (APTA) first Grand Prix tournament of 2016-17 season will kick off in Fairfield, at the Patterson Club’s Men’s and Women’s Open, Oct. 8 and 9, at 1118 Cross Highway. The event will draw 64 men’s doubles teams and 32 women’s doubles teams from the local region and across the country.

Similar to the Grand Slams of tennis and golf’s majors, the APTA Grand Prix series of five high level tournaments was introduced last year and gives top and mid-level players the chance to compete for valuable national ranking points and qualify for the end-of-season Viking President’s Cup. Spectators are welcome at no charge. Live streaming will be available at platformtennis.org.

Top competitors include Norwalk’s Mark Parsons, director of racquets at the Siwanoy Country Club in Bronxville, N.Y., three-time men’s national champion and 2016 men’s national finalist, and partner Johan du Randt of Wayland, Mass., also a three-time men’s national champion and 2016 finalist with Parsons. Making his platform tennis debut is recently retired tennis professional Eric Butorac, who has won 18 ATP World Tour doubles titles and reached a career high world doubles ranking of 17. Honored at this past U.S. Open for his successful 13-year career, Butorac, a new resident of Cos Cob, will take his tennis talents to the platform tennis court with partner Trevor Spracklin of Alexandria, Va., No. 47 in APTA national men’s rankings.

On the women’s side are 2016 women’s national champions Gabriela Niculescu of Norwalk, pro at the Milbrook Club in Greenwich, and partner Martina Ondrejkova of Stamford, pro at the Wee Burn Country Club in Darien.  Also vying for a title and points are 2016 women’s national finalists Cynthia Dardis of Stamford, pro at the Stanwich Club in Greenwich, and partner Amy Shay of Wilton, pro at Woodway Country Club in Darien.

“We’re very excited about hosting the first APTA Grand Prix of the season,” said Scott Slobin, head racquets professional at the Patterson Club.” Spectators will definitely be in for a treat with the outstanding competition on tap throughout the weekend.” Patterson Club pro and home court favorite Mirian Cruz will also compete in the tournament.

The men’s team with the most Grand Prix points at the end of the series will win the Men’s Blanchard Cup, named for one of the sport’s founders, Fessenden Blanchard, and the women’s team point leaders will win the Women’s Childress Cup, named for the Childress family, a tennis and platform tennis dynasty.  The four remaining Grand Prix tournaments will take place in Chicago, Ill., Cincinnati, Ohio, Boston, Mass. and Short Hills, N.J. Sponsors of the Patterson Club Open are Harrow and Wilson and Viking is the official sponsor of the APTA.

Founded in 1928 in Scarsdale, N.Y., platform tennis or paddle as it is commonly called, has been growing rapidly across the country in recent years. The APTA’s mission is to increase participation with its “Grow the Game” initiative, an active grant program to provide financial assistance to communities for building new courts. The only racquet sport that players can enjoy outdoors in cold weather, paddle provides a way for both adults and juniors to keep fit in the winter and because of its doubles format, it is also a social game.

The American Platform Tennis Association, platformtennis.org, is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that governs the sport for its 17,000 members. The APTA sanctions more than 180 annual tournaments, including 26 national championship events; provides national rankings; maintains official rules and etiquette; and regulates standards for paddles, balls and courts.

Cynthia Dardis, left, and doubles partner Amy Shay, right, 2016 APTA women’s national finalists, are primed for the first APTA Grand Prix of the 2016-17 season at the Patterson Club Open in Fairfield, Oct. 8 and 9 — Photo by Angelica Poniros.

Cynthia Dardis, left, and doubles partner Amy Shay, right, 2016 APTA women’s national finalists, are primed for the first APTA Grand Prix of the 2016-17 season at the Patterson Club Open in Fairfield, Oct. 8 and 9 — Photo by Angelica Poniros.

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