Just as Dave Spadaro leaned back on a bench outside the Veteran’s Park tennis center following a match during last month’s USTA League Championships, a member an opposing team walked over and introduced himself.
“Great match,” he said to Spadaro, with his hand extended for a shake. “And, hey. I’m a big fan of your work.”
Spadaro, who works for the Philadelphia Eagles as an Insider, contributes written pieces, video, radio and more for the Eagles’ Web site and outside publications, breaking down the action and giving fans an inside perspective of what’s happening with the team.
After holding that position for several years and being with the team for every game since 1987, he’s used to being approached by Eagles fans who want to talk about the upcoming game, his work, or whatever insight he can provide for them. And when it happens on the courts, some are surprised to hear how his experience in pro football has actually influenced his tennis game.
“You can really draw a lot of similarities,” said Spadaro, who recently finished his third season playing USTA League Tennis. “The start to each point is really a new play. Whether you win or lose that point, or do well on that particular play, when it ends you have to process everything and move onto the next point.”
Spadaro, who now plays up to five times per week, hasn’t always been a tennis player, but he’s always maintained a need for some sort of competition. Even as a fan of many sports, tennis ended up being the perfect fit.
“It’s the best workout you can ask for,” he said. “The sport has everything from team to individual, and it involves every type of movement. Playing in Leagues has been really cool for me, as well.”
USTA League Tennis certainly comes with plenty of work for Spadaro, but that’s one of the things he said he loves about it. During Section Championships, for example, he was matched up in a singles match against a player in his early-20s. Spadaro had to slow things down and pull out some extra strategy for each point.
“Tennis is really a great chess match,” he said. “There are so many ways to play and so many strategies you can take in, depending on who you’re playing and what the match feels like. It’s really just been a great sport to learn and a great experience for me.”
Spadaro is now gearing up for the NFL season to begin, but still found time to attend the US Open with his wife to see the highest level of tennis in person. He called the experience fun, educational and inspirational. Chances are, he’ll take some of what he saw and apply it on the court.
“Tennis has satisfied all of my competitive angst,” he said. “I’m looking forward to keeping up with it. I don’t think that will change for me.”