Last year, after another somewhat painful loss in a backdraw semi, played early Sunday morning with one spectator (who was really more sleeping off the Saturday night festivities than watching) in some kind of crazy weather pattern of sleet-rain-win, a fellow paddler asked about my match.
“Wow – that’s so nice of you to ask”, I thought and launched into my standard “Great match..the score really didn’t tell the story – blah, blah, yadda, yadda” – translation: “Got smoked” and what I got back was “Oh, it’s just the backdraw – no one really cares.” Huh? JUST the backdraw? NO ONE cares? #wrong
As a volunteer tournament director, I am so thankful for paddlers like me. People who are so passionate about the game and all the fun that comes with it, despite never winning (oh, who’s kidding who – never even coming close to winning!).
We couldn’t run tournaments without paddlers like me – paddlers who pay the same entry fees as top seeds. Paddlers who travel just as far, spend just as much time away from their families, take just as much time off work (more if you’re a woman.. but that’s a whole other post), pay the same for hotel rooms, airfare, gas – you get the picture.
I am not alone. There are way more “me’s” out there than trophy winners and title holders BUT we are a critical mass and I know firsthand, that we are crucial for the success of tournaments. Hell, there wouldn’t be tournaments without us.
Don’t get me wrong. I love watching the top seeds. I have a huge appreciation for their talent and skill. I am amazed at the shots they get, the spins on their serves, the volleys they return, that in my world, would end up as a pretty hefty bruise on my thigh. In my dreams I can hit the shots they hit, drive the nicks back for cross-court winners, spin the drop shots back over to my side of the net. In my dreams.
But there’s something to be said for the 7 PM, in-the-dark semi-final match in the DFL backdraw, in its 2nd hour and at 7-6, 6-7, 5-5, played with beers on the court and heckling from the sidelines. It’s a part of paddle. A big part of paddle.
The 13-14 season is underway. The Road to the Pitt Nationals has begun. I’m heading to the first of 3 weekends in a row of tourneys… and I can’t wait. My liver is primed, my lucky shirt is out and packed (along with my advil), and my serve still sucks. But it’s all good! The first tourney of the year is like a family reunion – hugs, handshakes, catch-ups with those you spend an inordinate amount of time with between October and April then completely lose touch over the summer.
So… to you, my fellow backdraw-ers: Good luck this season. I hope that you play your best paddle EVER! That you improve on your results from last year – and that you have that 1 upset match that keeps you (like me) dreaming of a trophy moment. And… thanks! Thanks for continuing to enter tourneys, facing the seeds with smiles, and for giving it your all – in every match – EVEN the backdraws.