Fans“The exhausting and unheralded role of the paddle spectator”

This past weekend was a first for me. I went to tourney not as a player but as a spectator. When men’s and women’s events are combined in one city I get to do both – play and watch – especially when women start on Thursday or Friday (note to self… write something about that issue one day).

But this weekend was different. I never held a paddle in my hand, didn’t even pack my sweats, spent most of my time on my glutteous maximus and I came away with a newfound respect for the spectator. It’s not an easy job. Few of my observations, words of wisdom, pointers and just general things to know.

It was particularly chilly in Indy this past weekend – even for a hearty Canadian girl like myself – so for starters – the person who invented ‘the firepit close to the courts’ concept should be given an honorary APTA lifetime membership. If your club does not have one already… get one. I’ve been online every since looking for one for Toronto.

Even if Heil and Mott are wearing shorts, doesn’t mean it’s actually warm outside. Bring every item of clothing you have and don’t be embarrassed to show up with the hotel blanket as an additional buffer. It is generally kept in a zip-up bag in the closet with a pillow for the pullout. People will look at you a bit weird at first… but the jealousy will sink in at 6 PM when the suns goes down. It’s highly flammable material, so be careful around the firepit… just sayin’.

Pace yourself. Men’s tourneys have the beer chilling from 8 AM onward (another ‘note to self’to address this in the future). When you get up quickly to retrieve the balls that sail out of the court, you need to be able to walk a fairly straight line and not trip on the stairs, errant branches, slip in puddles or on the ice – or suffer significant razzing from your fellow spectators.

When you are spectating, a somewhat bizarre phenomenon does happen from time to time. In the past I’ve criticized others on this. How is it that you can be watching a match from the get-go but not know the score? Inexplicable? NOT. I know speak from experience. You turn your head for 15 seconds to listen in to some courtside gossip and whammo .. it’s gone. Who won that last game?? Did they break? Get broken? Was that in? Out? Darn. So… note to players – shout out a game score every now and then. Thanks.

Make every effort to master a facial expression that conveys 3 parts “you played well” with 2 parts “sorry you lost” with 4 parts “chin up! there’s still the backdraw”. I would recommend a bit of practice in front of a mirror before you test it out for real. Get the right amount of sympathy, empathy, disgust for that game that was faulted away (go light on that last one.. simple eyebrow raise without words works well).

I’m not entirely sure why I was so tired after watching and not playing. If I remember correctly, the only exercise I got was the back and forths to the bathroom and beer fridge (not in that order as I recall). I lifted a chair or 2 to reposition myself close to a particular court. I sprinted once back to the car to retrieve a bottle of advil.

Philly Crowns its D1 Regular Season Champs
The Philly D1 Stage is All Set for the Championship Eve

Suzanne Lanthier