Postcard from... Los Angeles
Tim Walker is The Independent’s Los Angeles correspondent, covering entertainment and other concerns from the West Coast of the US. He was previously a features writer and the editor of the paper’s diary column. His first novel, Completion, is being published in January 2014.
Thursday 04 April 2013
If I tell you I've moved to Venice Beach and taken up paddle tennis, you'll think I mean beach tennis: a little pink ball; a big, flat wooden bat. But paddle tennis is a matter of pride in this part of the world – it's a century-old sport, and Venice is home to LA's best-known courts, and some of the world's best players. The scoring and strategy is identical to tennis, but it's played on a smaller court, with solid paddles and balls deadened with a prick from a hypodermic needle.
The sport was created by an Episcopal minister in the early 20th century, who had courts built in Greenwich Village, Manhattan, in 1915 to give local children a way to pass the time. The US Paddle Tennis Association was formed in 1923, but the modern game was largely defined two decades later by a player named Murray Geller, who decided serving should be underarm.
Thanks to Geller's rule, beginners like me spend a lot more time playing – and a lot less time wandering around the court in search of stray balls – than we would in a tennis game. It's much easier to enjoy yourself, but that's not to say it's easy. The Venice courts, restored in 2011 and situated yards from the famous Muscle Beach bodybuilding pen, host the national championships, and feature a hard-core of extremely skilled and competitive players.
The courts are free to use, but I could be challenged to a game by one of the best in the world at any moment. Still, when's the last time you knocked about with Andy Murray?
- 1 Three of Pope Francis' relatives die in Argentina car crash, including two young great-nephews
- 2 Michael Brown shooting: Amnesty International sends team within US for first time as National Guard deployed
- 3 Reading Festival 2014: Tesco branch replaces salad with Jager and potatoes for vodka as campsite opens tomorrow
Syria conflict: President Assad finally turns on Isis as government steps up campaign against militant strongholds
Michael Brown shooting: Amnesty International sends team within US for first time as National Guard deployed
Iraq crisis: Islamic State's message to America - 'We will drown you all in blood'
Ferguson: In the heartlands of America, a descent into madness
Celebrity Big Brother 2014: Audley Harrison meets Kellie Maloney: 'Was Kellie really the best you could come up with?'
Isis threat: Cameron wants an alliance with Iran
Crisis? What crisis? A visiting US doctor gives the NHS a rave review
Ukip MEP calls for reintroduction of death penalty on fiftieth anniversary of last deaths
Russell Brand calls for Israel boycott: Comedian urges big businesses that 'facilitate the oppression of people in Gaza' to pull funding
Michael Brown shooting: Chaos erupts on the streets of Ferguson after autopsy shows teenager was shot six times – twice in the head
World peace? These are the only 11 countries in the world that are actually free from conflict
£30000 - £33000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: Junior DBA (SQ...
£60000 - £75000 per annum + BONUS + BENEFITS: Harrington Starr: Business Anal...
£60000 - £90000 per annum + Bonus: Harrington Starr: Global leading Energy Tra...
£40000 - £60000 per annum + BONUS + BENEFITS: Harrington Starr: CXL, Triple Po...