March 14, 2012 – No matter how you “slice it” the Chicago men’s paddle league (CPTC) is a long grind of a season. It starts the first week of October, and it runs a full 18 weeks. But that doesn’t mean that a large majority of the players aren’t disappointed to see it end. Unless of course they are injured, which, as the sport tends to cause numerous aches, pains, tennis elbows, knee problems, and the occasional shoulder strain, is fairly common. Let’s just say that when I visited a local orthopod and told her I played paddle, she replied that her practice really liked paddle players as they were really good for business. That all being said, the end of the paddle season is certainly bittersweet for most.

Last week, in unusually spring-like temperatures, the CPTC wrapped up its 2011/2012 season. As all 23 Chicago men’s series were concluding their respective playoff finals in an effort to win bragging rights and the revered CPTC winners’ baseball hat, the Glen View Club was the place to be for good food, cold cocktails, and fantastic paddle.

The Series I finals matches were the main feature and an estimated crowd of around 500 was there to watch.

And to no one’s surprise, Mid Town, a team that spent all 18 weeks in first place took on second place Lake Bluff in what turned out to be a spectacular nail biter of a match. Lake Bluff won court #1 as Alex Bancila and Dan Schmigdall beat Peter Berka and Drew Eberly in three sets. Mid Town’s court #2 team of Chris Struck and Chris Gambino handled Lake Bluff’s court #2 duo of John Noble and Dave Ohlmuller in straight sets. Court #3 was another straight set victory for Mid Town, as Jeronie Barnes and Greg O’Neil beat Scott Pecor and Gary Feldman. And while Lake Bluff made it interesting by winning court #4 in three (Mike Chabraja and Adam Morgan over Nick Cromydas and Matt Lemery) it wasn’t enough.

Mid Town won 8-6. Another win for the young hot-shots from the city and another winners’ hat for Mid Town, who in all won a total of three hats.

Other winners include:

Series 2 – Mid Town
Series 3 – Winnetka
Series 4 – Glen Ellyn
Series 5 – Lakeshore S&F
Series 6 – Lake Forest
Series 7 – Tennaqua
Series 8 – Michigan Shores
Series 9 – Hinsdale PD
Series 10 – Michigan Shores
Series 11 – Glen View
Series 12 – Mid Town
Series 13 – Hawthorn Woods
Series 14 – Tennaqua
Series 15 – Hinsdale PD
Series 16 – Saddle & Cycle
Series 17 – Hinsdale PD
Series 18 – Hinsdale PD
Series 19 – Tennaqua
Series 20 – Birchwood
Series 21 – Valley Lo
Series 22 – Winnetka
Series 23 – Five Seasons

While most of us will never get anywhere near a Series I final (other than the stands), a growing number of Chicagoans have discovered platform tennis, as demonstrated by a tremendous 2011-2012 season in the Windy City. In all, more than 4,140 total men’s league matches were played. Once again, some of the best players in the country came to town to play in the annual Chicago Charities tournament, while slightly more “mortal” players enjoyed local tournaments like the Series Tournament (where a record 160 teams competed from series IV to XXIII) and the Intermediates Tournament. And this weekend the Illinois State Married Mixed Tournament will be played. The motto for this tournament is simple . . . you have to be “married before, during and after the tournament.” So it’s probably a good thing that it is the very last paddle event of the season, so those of us who play in it have all summer to recover our paddle games and our marriages.

I’m already thinking about next year, and I’m positive I’ll win my first hat in the 12 years I’ve been playing. So it’s time to rest up those injuries and get ready for October! It can’t get here soon enough.

By Clay Whipple