Thousands of paddle enthusiast have been enjoying watching the highest caliber platform tennis matches in the world in their computers, tables or smart phone. This process that began not that long ago and had been a huge success since. The APTA had an incredible find when they matched Hall of famer Gerri Viant with  former APTA President Mark Fischl. This team of amateur commentators is as close as it gets to being the ESPN of paddle.
Below is part one of an interview with Gerri and Mark.
1. How did you start commentating paddle on live streaming?
Gerri Viant (GV): At the 2013/14 Nationals in Pittsburgh, John Noble and Ann Sheedy asked me if I would like to do a match. 
Mark Fischl (MF): When the APTA first started recording matches I thought it would be a fun thing to do.  Having spent most of my life watching sports, commentating was something I always wanted to do.  I have a college friend who does sports talk and I used to call into his show all the time.  At the 2014 Midwestern’s I was asked to help in the booth.  My first match, I was teamed with Michael Montalbano and I really enjoyed it.  I did a lot more events through the rest of the season.  Last August Jim McCready, who had been appointed APTA Board Liaison to the live streaming, called me and asked if I would be interested in doing it again this year.  I told him I would be delighted.
2. You were both well know in the platform tennis world prior to live streaming. What do you like the most about your new paddle career? What do you like the least?

GV: I love being involved in the game from another aspect and getting to know more of the players. Watching their style of play and the adjustments to tactics as the match unfolds. While commentating, I watch with a focus and concentration and get brought right into the match action, it’s the next best thing to being on the court. Least: Commentating outside in 10 degree temps with no heater!

MF: What I like best is learning from Gerri Viant. She is an endless source of knowledge and getting to know her through the commentating has been the #1 thing for me. What I enjoy least is when people are offended by my comments. Sometimes they even agree with what I said, but have taken it personally. I know the players enjoy watching the matches, but when Gerri and I are commentating we are doing it for the entire audience, not just the players. I never want a player to take something I said personally. My goal is to honestly inform the audience as to what is transpiring. If a player is choking I feel obligated to comment on it. Gerri is much better at being diplomatic about it than I am, but she is much better than me at most things.
3. What was the best match you have ever commentated?
GV: That’s a tough one, we have witnessed so many great matches, and maybe because it was my first national final, the Women’s final Pittsburgh Brzova-Stoklasova defeat Flynn-Tarzian 10-8 in the third set.(no tie break). As far as shot making, athleticism and outstanding sportsmanship,  close second, Grangeiro-Wilkinson defeating Lubow-DeRose quarter final Philly Open. For a monster tactical adjustment, Broderick-Palmer defeating Du Randt-Parsons Men’s Nationals final Chicago.
MF: The Men’s finals at Philly this year.  Du Randt-Parsons going at it with Broderick-Palmer was an amazing match to watch.  #2 would have to be the Du Randt-Parsons win over Arraya-Jonason in Boston. That was also a fast paced match with spectacular shot making.
4. What was/is the most difficult aspect of commentating live?
GV: To keep the streaming constant once we start. We have to iron out the kinks going forward so there is no down time between matches going on.
MF: Dealing with the pain when Gerri hits me when her hands are flying around as she describes an amazing point.
5. What is the most fun part of your new pro bono job? Is it pro bono?
GV: It’s the next best thing to being on the court. There’s an adrenaline rush that you get while competing and I love being around that energy and excitement.  I get to hang out with the greatest group of people, the paddle community and watch high level paddle. And yes it is pro bono.
MF: It is absolutely pro bono, although if the APTA wants to sign me to a multi million dollar contract I will consider it.  Best part of the job is having a front row seat to hear Gerri describe the amazing action.  Top level paddle is my favorite sport to watch.

Stay tuned for Part 2!

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