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What is Padel?

What is Padel?

Find out more about one of the fastest growing sports across Europe

Padel was first played on a British Cruise ship in the 1910s, with competitors replacing standard tennis rackets with padels. In the 1960s, Mexican Enrique Corcuera set up the first recognised court by putting four-metre high walls on all sides to prevent losing the ball in his neighbour's gardens; he called the game Paddle Corcuera. A friend of Cocuera, Alfonso de Hohenlohe, was the driving force of the game after playing it in 1974. He built Spain's first 2 padel courts at the Marbella Club, Costa del Sol. In 1975, Julio Meditengua (an Argentine millionaire) played padel in Marbella and took the sport back to his country where it soon became massively popular. Today, Spain has 20,000 courts, six million players and padel is the second most popular sport behind football. The International Paddle Federation was formed in 1991 and held the first World Championship in the previous year. In 1993 the Sports Council of Spain changed the name to Padel for Spanish pronunciation purposes. In 1992, the British Paddle Association was forme by players looking to compete in the World Paddle Championships. In 2019, the Lawn Tennis Association (LTA) announced they were integrating British Padel into their organisation, and the Padel Development Plan is set to have 400 padel courts across the UK by 2023.

The game

Padel uses short solid rackets with holes and is played on a court which is 25% smaller than a tennis court with four-metre high walls on every side and are designed for 4 players - some courts are designed specifically for singles but around 90% of all padel courts are doubles-specific, with only doubles being played on the World Padel Tour. Padel balls have less pressure and are slightly smaller than tennis balls so do not bounce as much as a standard tennis ball. The scoring system is the same as tennis (0, 15, 30, 40, game), however shots can be played off the wall, like in squash. Each point starts with an underarm serve that bounces first before being stuck at waist or below height. A second serve is also available. Once in a rally, the ball must hit the ground before hitting any of the walls. A set is won when a team wins six games with a two-game difference and if the score is 5-all, the set is decided by a tie-break. Matches are best of three sets.

Fun facts!

  • Lionel Messi is such a fan of the game, he has a court in his back garden
  • Jamie Murray has played in a professional padel tournament
  • Jurgen Klopp uses the game as a place to discuss football tactics with his coaches

4 December 2020

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