ORIGINATING in Mexico, padel is the fasted growing new sport in Guernsey.
In just a year since new facilities were completed at the Guernsey Tennis Centre at Longcamps, the sport’s popularity as grown rapidly with competitive games played weekly.
Fletcher Sports spoke to Mike Watt, director of the Guernsey Tennis Centre Ltd, to find out more.
I n a nutshell, padel is fast-paced mixture of tennis and squash. Played in pairs in a court with glass walls and points are scored when the ball bounces twice on the opponents’ side of the court.
‘It’s faster game that’s easier to play than tennis and beginners, who find tennis a bit more difficult to learn, find padel is more straightforward and easier to get enjoyment out of at an earlier stage,’ said Mike.
‘A padel court is basically like a smaller version of a tennis court but it’s got glass walls around it and you play with a padel bat which is shorter than a tennis racket and a tennis-type ball but it’s specifically a padel ball. The rules are very similar to tennis in that you play sets and games and points, scored the same way. You play 15—love, deuce, etc.’
The game was born in Mexico in the late 1960s and is the creation of businessman Enrique Corcuera. The story goes that Mr Corcuera wanted to build a tennis court but he didn’t have enough room in his grounds, so he invented padel. It is played widely in Hispanic American countries such as Mexico and Argentina, as well as Spain, where, according to Mike, it’ now more popular than tennis. And, it’s not for the faint-hearted.
'It can be more tiring than tennis, it’s more of a cardio workout. You’re playing pretty much all of the time, and the points are more frenetic,’ said Mike, who confirmed that padel is very much not a poor relation of tennis or looked down upon by hardened tennis players.
‘You think that might be the case but in fact quite a few of the people playing padel are actually very good tennis players and they find padel a really good way of having some fun and a bit of competition as well. A lot of the professional tennis players on the circuit, particularly the older ones that players in the Legends, actually play padel for fun and a workout,’ he said.
Completed in October last year, the padel courts at the Guernsey Tennis Centre are in regular use. There’s a business league and a league for more accomplished players. Covers were installed on two of the courts just in time for this autumn.
‘So we’ve now got a game you can play indoors,’ Mike explained.
‘It’s very popular with young children and families. Quite a few families come in now to play. They like the speed of it, where with tennis you’d be playing a set for about an hour, a set in padel would be over in 20 minutes. And when they’ve had a game they want to play again, it’s slightly addictive!’
The Guernsey courts were opened officially by former French professional tennis player Henri Leconte in May this year. In June, they hosted a tournament on the British Padel Tour circuit, which was a huge success.
‘They loved it, they all said this is the best place they’ve been to – the island and the facilities. So we were very happy to hear that,’ said Mike.
The good news is that padel courts aren’t exclusively for use by club members, so anyone can give it a try. At just £4 per person for an hour’s booking, it’s worth giving Guernsey’s newest sport a go.
Padel rackets and balls are available at Fletcher Sports onlineand in-store
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