Sports(wo)manship in Paddle

September 1, 2016

Sara Layton Charlotte Lee AwardAs the summer tennis season winds down, leading into paddle season, it seems a good time reflect on a key difference between the two sports.

In addition to the obvious physical differences in the courts, racquets, and balls, there is also a major cultural variation, which centers on sportsmanship.

Sarah Layton, the winner of the 2015-2016 Charlotte Lee Award for sportsmanship, captured the dichotomy perfectly, noting, “In tennis, people were always competing for something (like college scholarships or to play on the tour). Platform tennis is a sport that does not lead to some great pay-off. It lends itself to the idea of playing just for the sake of playing, to make friends, or for the fun of it. In addition, even though the sport is growing rapidly, it really is a small community of players. I didn't have one match at Nationals (and maybe the whole season) where I didn't know at least one of my opponents already. Oddly, my partner at Nationals was the only player I had not met before and she was a great competitor and great sport. Every person you play is a friend or at the very least someone you are friendly with. While I do like to win, I also like to see my friends do well. That makes sportsmanship a lot easier.”

Paddle is full of players like Sarah Layton who love the sport and enjoy the camaraderie of the game as much as the competition. As the season unfolds, who will distinguish herself as the next Charlotte Lee Award winner? Luckily for paddle and all those who play it, there are sure to be many worthy candidates.

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