“The thrills of ice skating and tennis have been combined by outdoor enthusiasts of a club near Glencoe, Ill.” So read the caption beneath a photograph of skating tennis players in the October 1923 issue of Popular Mechanics.

“Mapping off a court and erecting a net on an ice pond near by, the members have inaugurated tennis on skates -- an adaptation of the old sport that, according to some, furnishes even more opportunity for spectacular playing and excitement. It is expected,” the caption continued, “that the idea will be imitated by many clubs throughout the country.”

The prophesy of popularity for this hybrid sport was not fulfilled. In the intervening nine decades, Ice Tennis has not caught on.

Could it be that the “thrills of ice skating and tennis” were accompanied by too great a risk of serious injury? Everyone knows that ice can be dangerous.

Maybe not everyone. There seem to be quite a few people in Madison County who don’t take ice seriously, until they fall on it, injure themselves, and decide to file lawsuits.

Sandra Ussery is suing Kerasotes Showplace Theatres, et al. for an injury she allegedly sustained when she slipped on ice and snow in front of the Edwardsville cinema two years ago.

Gina Brown claims to have slipped at the same theater and has also filed suit.

Meanwhile, Yvonne and Charles Mothershed have moved for reconsideration of a summary judgment granted in favor of El Torero restaurant last November. They filed suit in 2010, claiming Yvonne had fallen on snow and ice in front of the restaurant.

In addition to being ignorant of ice, Ussery, Brown, and the Mothersheds are also unfamiliar with the well-established “natural accumulation” rule that recognizes the unpredictability of winter weather conditions and protects business owners from the unrealistic expectations of patrons who aren’t paying attention.

If ice tennis ever does catch on, it probably will be in Madison County with some plaintiff lawyers cheering greedily in the stands.

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