Padel: With 25 million gamers worldwide, sport solely tipped to get “bigger and bigger” by tennis star Andy Murray



CNN
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It’s believed to be a sport that began with a siesta.

The extreme warmth in Acapulco, Mexico meant businessman Enrique Corcuera would take a nap at his household dwelling every afternoon. His daughter Viviana, in the meantime, would irritate him by hitting tennis balls towards the partitions of the home.

That prompted Corcuera to construct one other wall for her to hit towards, and it was from there that his new, makeshift racket sport started to evolve.

When the ball stored escaping down the aspect of the wall, Corcuera put in additional partitions with metallic fencing, after which fastened a internet throughout the middle of the enclosed house.

What was initially designed as a recreation to be loved by one household in Mexico has since developed into padel – a preferred racket sport combining parts of tennis and squash.

At the moment, greater than 50 years since its inception, padel has 25 million gamers in additional than 90 nations around the globe.

Amongst these is three-time grand slam tennis champion Andy Murray, who has been conscious of the game ever since he was a young person coaching in Spain.

“I think it’s a great social sport,” Murray tells CNN. “I know a lot of the ex-tennis players when they finish playing have taken it up and find that it is great for their fitness, but also not quite as maybe demanding as tennis.”

In contrast to tennis, padel is usually performed in a doubles format, though the identical scoring system is utilized in each sports activities.

All serves are underarm, and as soon as returned, pictures could be performed on the volley, after one bounce, or after rebounding off the wall. Gamers may hit pictures into the aspect and again partitions lining the 20-meter-long, 10-meter-wide court docket on their aspect of the web.

Padel rackets are smaller, thicker, and squatter than tennis rackets and the hitting floor is made totally of carbon fibre or fiberglass – totally different to the stringed rackets you’d discover in tennis, squash, or badminton, or the wood rackets utilized in pickleball.

Whereas just like pickleball – which has surged in recognition within the US in recent times, incomes the moniker of America’s unofficial pandemic pastime – padel has gained traction in different components of the world, specifically Europe and South America.

Final yr, for instance, it’s estimated that round 15,000 new padel courts had been registered in Europe.

Padel rackets are a different shape and size to those used in tennis or squash.

The sport has flourished in Spain, the place there are greater than six million lively gamers and greater than 20,000 courts, making padel the second hottest participation sport behind soccer.

“I think it’s going to keep getting bigger and bigger,” says Murray. “I believe [tennis] golf equipment will proceed to need to construct courts and there’ll be extra demand for it … In Spain, it’s clearly big.

“I know that one of my ex-coaches, Jonas Björkman – who was No. 1 in the world in doubles and No. 4 in singles – is playing all the time. He’s opened a number of centers in Sweden. Feliciano Lopez, who I played doubles with a few times on the tour … He is playing regularly.”

Murray, who gained his three grand slam singles titles at Wimbledon and the US Open between 2012 and 2016, sees a vibrant future for the game, a lot in order that he has invested in Game4Padel, the UK’s main supplier of padel courts.

He’s a part of a celeb line-up of ambassadors and buyers within the firm, together with his brother Jamie, a former No. 1 within the males’s doubles rankings, Liverpool and Netherlands soccer participant Virgil Van Dijk, and former Wales worldwide rugby participant Jonathan Davies.

“It was an opportunity to invest in a sport I enjoy playing,” says Murray. “It’s one of the fastest growing sports in the world … I think it’s going to keep getting bigger and bigger. I think clubs will continue to want to build courts and there’ll be more demand for it.”

A padel court is seen in the Qatari capital Doha earlier this year.

Performed on a court docket one third of the scale of a tennis court docket, padel is low-impact and low-intensity in comparison with different racket sports activities – one thing that, along with the satisfying “pock” noise of placing the ball, has contributed to its recognition.

Within the World Padel Tour, the game additionally has a burgeoning skilled circuit – although presently padel’s power in numbers is greatest exhibited within the novice recreation. Might it even attain the identical stage of worldwide recognition as tennis?

“I think recreationally it probably could in terms of the sheer numbers of people playing the game, just from what I’ve seen in places like Spain, Italy and France, for example,” Jamie Murray tells CNN.

“On a professional level, I honestly don’t know. With tennis, I guess there’s so much tradition and history and stuff across so many big events – I think it would probably take padel a long time to reach that.”

In addition to being buyers within the recreation, the Murray brothers are additionally eager gamers. Collectively, you’d suppose they might make a helpful pairing on a padel court docket – if solely they put their sibling rivalry to 1 aspect.

“We played a few times earlier this year in Australia when we were over there for the Australian Open,” says Andy. “They’ve got a couple of courts there and I took care of him pretty handily, so I don’t believe I’ve lost to him yet.”

However requested which brother is the higher participant, Jamie has a unique reply.

“It’s got to be me, I think,” he says.