The Bandeja summer 2024 issue

71 pages packed with padel news, insights, coaching, views, features, new products and more, including a competition to win a £295 Wilson padel racket. Enjoy reading the online version? Then pop over to our web shop at www.thebandeja.com to buy the 60-page print version.

71 pages packed with padel news, insights, coaching, views, features, new products and more, including a competition to win a £295 Wilson padel racket.
Enjoy reading the online version? Then pop over to our web shop at www.thebandeja.com to buy the 60-page print version.


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ISSUE 3 / Summer <strong>2024</strong> £6<br />

From tennis<br />

to padel<br />

soft, patient, lob!<br />

Manchester<br />

a padel oasis<br />

padel at the<br />

Olympics<br />

when & where?<br />

WIN! A £295<br />

Wilson Racket<br />

Heads up<br />

it’s a BOA!

contents<br />

contents// Issue 3 / Summer <strong>2024</strong><br />

Basic rules<br />

of padel<br />

Tom Farquharson and Chris Salisbury.<br />

Image courtesy Home of Padel (HOP).<br />

7<br />

GB<br />

star’s<br />

padel plan<br />

41<br />

Manchester:<br />

a padel oasis<br />

Serving<br />

• All play begins with an underarm serve from<br />

the right service court into the opponent’s court<br />

diagonally opposite (like tennis)<br />

• <strong>The</strong> server must bounce the ball once before hitting<br />

it and the ball must be hit at or below waist level<br />

<strong>The</strong> court lines are only important during the serve.<br />

<strong>The</strong>y are not a factor in determining the outcome of<br />

points once the serve goes in<br />

What’s out<br />

<strong>The</strong> opposition wins a point if:<br />

30<br />

Padel at the<br />

Olympics<br />

10<br />

Babolat’s<br />

junior signing<br />

• <strong>The</strong> server must keep at least one foot on the<br />

ground when hitting the serve<br />

• <strong>The</strong> server’s feet must not touch or cross the service<br />

line when serving<br />

• <strong>The</strong> serve must land in the opponent’s service box<br />

diagonally opposite<br />

• If the ball bounces in the service box and hits the<br />

glass (side or back) it is a valid serve and must be<br />

played by the opposing player.<br />

• If the ball hits the net then bounces in the service<br />

box and strikes the side or back wall, it is a let and<br />

must be replayed.<br />

• If the ball lands in the service box and hits the wire<br />

fencing, it is considered a fault.<br />

• If the ball hits the net then lands in the service box<br />

and hits the wire fencing, it is considered a fault.<br />

• In padel as in tennis, you get a second serve.<br />

What’s in<br />

Players are permitted to play a ball off any of the<br />

walls (glass and cage) on their side of the court<br />

(apart from return of serve. As above, if the serve<br />

clears the net and hits the wire cage it is out)<br />

• <strong>The</strong> ball bounces twice in any area on your side<br />

of the court<br />

• <strong>The</strong> ball hits you or your teammate while in play<br />

• <strong>The</strong> ball hits the wire fencing, posts or any other fixture<br />

before going over the net or landing on the opponent’s<br />

court (apart from playing a boast off the glass).<br />

• Once over the net, the ball hits the wire fence or walls<br />

before bouncing on the opponent’s side of the court.<br />

Volleys<br />

<strong>The</strong> ball can be taken out of the air by any player<br />

except on the initial serve and the return of serve.<br />

Scoring<br />

Scoring is the same as for tennis – so 15, 30, 40 and<br />

advantage. Some matches will involve golden points<br />

where you reach deuce and the next point wins the<br />

game (rather than going to advantage). Golden points<br />

are, generally, used to make matches shorter. If playing<br />

in a tournament it will be announced at the start that<br />

golden points are in play. Otherwise it is up to players<br />

to decide if they will be used before the game starts.<br />

With thanks to ipadel.co.uk<br />

53<br />

Head’s BOA<br />

constrictor<br />

20<br />

Playtomic’s<br />

map of the UK<br />

53<br />

Padel gear<br />

From tennis<br />

to padel<br />

66<br />

Padel racket<br />

developments<br />

62<br />

@the_bandeja<br />

<strong>The</strong> Padel Publishing Group Ltd: All content is copyright of <strong>The</strong> Padel Publishing Group Ltd. All rights reserved. Whilst we make every effort to ensure the factual content of <strong>The</strong> <strong>Bandeja</strong> is correct,<br />

we cannot take any responsibility nor be held accountable for any factual errors contained within. We make every effort to check quoted prices and product specifications with manufacturers<br />

prior to purchase. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system or resold without prior consent of Padel Publishing. <strong>The</strong> <strong>Bandeja</strong> recognises all rights within this<br />

<strong>issue</strong>. Where possible we acknowledge the copyright holder. This digital <strong>issue</strong> may contain links to third party content, advertising or websites. We accept no legal responsibility for loss arising<br />

from information in this publication and do not endorse any advertising or products available from external sources. All rights reserved.<br />

26 Building<br />

Padium<br />

65<br />

WIN! A Wilson BELA<br />

Racket worth £295<br />

2 SUMMER <strong>2024</strong> | thebandeja.com<br />

thebandeja.com | SUMMER <strong>2024</strong><br />


editor’s comment<br />

editor’s comment<br />

Sweeping<br />

the globe<br />

Welcome to Issue 3 of <strong>The</strong><br />

<strong>Bandeja</strong>, the magazine & website<br />

dedicated to padel players in the<br />

UK and further afield.<br />

To date we’ve reached readers in 138<br />

countries, including the rather isolated<br />

Northern Mariana Islands, Congo, the<br />

Faroes and even one that is yet unnamed,<br />

according to Google Analytics.<br />

<strong>The</strong> extent to which padel is taking<br />

the world by storm was evident<br />

at the recent Padel World Summit<br />

in Malaga. This inaugural event<br />

attracted exhibitors and delegates<br />

from 66 countries and was a veritable<br />

who’s who of the padel industry.<br />

New padel products were launched,<br />

investors matched with start-ups,<br />

knowledge and experiences shared<br />

and new connections made. It was a<br />

tremendous three days and signifies<br />

even more clearly that there is no<br />

stopping the padel bandwagon as it<br />

rolls out worldwide.<br />

<strong>The</strong> UK is one of the countries at the<br />

forefront of this growth. And while<br />

courts are going up here at an ever<br />

increasing rate, there are still huge<br />

‘padel gaps’ throughout the country.<br />

We believe everyone should have<br />

the opportunity to at least try this<br />

brilliant game. And for this to happen<br />

we need local planning authorities to<br />

facilitate quicker decisions, allowing<br />

court building to progress, and local<br />

councils/leisure operators to see<br />

the value and benefits of padel and<br />

develop affordable facilities that build<br />

player communities.<br />

<strong>The</strong>re are many reasons why padel<br />

has captured the hearts and minds<br />

of so many people. It’s easy to pick<br />

up (but difficult to master, so an<br />

ongoing challenge), the court is<br />

small so you feel close to those<br />

you are playing with, the ball rarely<br />

goes out so play can be fast, it<br />

appeals to all ages and is pretty<br />

social given four players are on<br />

court. <strong>The</strong>re’s a simple joy to hitting<br />

a ball and when you do it well it’s<br />

very satisfying. In short it’s a lot of<br />

fun and unites people of different<br />

ages and backgrounds in doing<br />

something healthy.<br />

In this <strong>issue</strong><br />

We delve into new court openings<br />

- a favourite is Hove Beach Park on<br />

the South Coast - as well as bring<br />

news of John Lewis embracing<br />

the padel party, speak to former<br />

GB tennis ace Abigail Tordoff and<br />

former world padel champion<br />

Mauri Andrini about the skills<br />

needed to make a successful<br />

switch from tennis to padel, sneak<br />

a tasty toasty at Rocket Padel’s new<br />

Ilford club, round-up padel news<br />

and padel products, look north to<br />

the burgeoning padel scene in<br />

Manchester, go behind the scenes<br />

of building London’s flagship padel<br />

centre Padium, in Canary Wharf,<br />

and find out why the sport is so<br />

addictive for ‘super senior’ players.<br />

Emma<br />

Emma Kimber<br />

Founding Editor<br />

<strong>The</strong> <strong>Bandeja</strong> team<br />

Founding Editor<br />

Emma Kimber<br />

Consultant<br />

Catherine Larrad<br />

Designer<br />

Emma Devine<br />

Cover Image<br />

Chris Beyers, professional<br />

baseball player, model for<br />

Dubai-based BearFish Sports<br />

apparel and avid padel fan.<br />

Read previous <strong>issue</strong>s at<br />

thebandeja.com<br />

BORN<br />

IN SPAIN<br />

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that was conceived and born in Spain. Check out our rackets &<br />

gear and get TUYO! WWW.TUYOPADEL.CO.UK<br />

4<br />

Buy <strong>The</strong> <strong>Bandeja</strong> print copies at www.thebandeja.com<br />

thebandeja.com | SPRING <strong>2024</strong><br />



news<br />

news<br />

Nadal<br />

partners with<br />

Playtomic<br />

Rafa Nadal and Playtomic have<br />

announced that the tennis great<br />

has invested in the padel/tennis<br />

court booking app.<br />

“I am very happy with this<br />

opportunity as it manages, in a<br />

social way, to unite a community<br />

interested in padel and tennis and<br />

makes these sports accessible<br />

to all types of people regardless<br />

of physical condition or level of<br />

play. I believe that bringing sport<br />

to everyone always has a positive<br />

impact on society,” said Rafa.<br />

Playtomic, understood to<br />

have more than 80% of the<br />

British market for padel bookings,<br />

operates in more than 50<br />

countries and has plans to<br />

expand into new territories<br />

this year.<br />

Racket exotica<br />

In a move that both companies described as ‘unexpected’, padel<br />

equipment manufacturer Babolat has teamed up with supercar<br />

manufacturer Lamborghini to develop a range of padel rackets -<br />

the limited edition BL001. Rumoured to cost around €5,000 each, the<br />

rackets are inspired by supercar chassis design and expected to<br />

become collector items.<br />

More details on our website www.thebandeja.com<br />

An eiffel<br />

of padel<br />

We’re used to seeing padel played<br />

in iconic locations but this is<br />

perhaps one of the best yet - an<br />

Instantpadel court at the foot of<br />

the Eiffel Tower in Paris. <strong>The</strong> Betclic<br />

Remontada Padel event concluded,<br />

after 10 stages, in the French<br />

capital. And it sounds like fun, with<br />

players participating in a range of<br />

interesting categories, for example<br />

pairs with a combined age of over<br />

80 years or those 20 years, kilos<br />

or tattoos apart - anything went<br />

according to organisers!<br />

Quick Ryde<br />

Has Ryde Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club set the record for<br />

the quickest padel courts planning approval yet?<br />

<strong>The</strong> club, on the Isle of Wight, submitted plans for two all-weather padel<br />

courts to its local council on March 25th and received approval on April<br />

29th, a timescale most padel operators can only dream about. <strong>The</strong> scheme,<br />

part funded by the LTA, is also interesting because the club plans to use<br />

revenue generated by padel to help fund construction of the island’s first<br />

purpose-built indoor tennis facility.<br />

GB player’s<br />

air dome padel<br />

plans revealed<br />

Two leading names in British padel are<br />

behind plans for what is being described as<br />

a ‘national hub’ for the game - and the first<br />

indoor padel facility in Surrey.<br />

Team GB player Nikhil Mohindra,<br />

through his company Daminis,<br />

is spearheading the six-court<br />

project which is planned to be the<br />

base for former GB player Sandy<br />

Farquharson’s <strong>The</strong> Padel School,<br />

an online coaching platform.<br />

<strong>The</strong> courts will be built within an 11m<br />

high air dome next to Leatherhead<br />

Leisure Centre, with plans for the<br />

centre to host training camps for the<br />

GB squad, national and international<br />

competitions plus provide outreach<br />

for local organisations and schools.<br />

<strong>The</strong> LTA - padel’s governing body<br />

in Britain - has given its backing<br />

to the scheme as has Sport England,<br />

which described it as<br />

‘a major new sports facility’.<br />

<strong>The</strong> green air dome will occupy a<br />

site previously approved for tennis<br />

courts. Mole Valley District Council<br />

recently passed the plans, describing<br />

the facility as a ‘unique proposal’ with<br />

‘a number of community benefits’,<br />

including stimulating tourism in the<br />

area and improving the health and<br />

wellbeing of the wider community.<br />

Robert<br />

Mitchell<br />

This <strong>issue</strong> of <strong>The</strong><br />

<strong>Bandeja</strong> is dedicated<br />

to Robert (RJ) Mitchell,<br />

our Chief Writer who<br />

tragically passed away<br />

in April following a<br />

short illness.<br />

Robert (known to many as Bert)<br />

was a passionate advocate for<br />

padel and particularly enjoyed<br />

reporting on the performance<br />

side of the sport, a job he did<br />

with relish, a great turn of<br />

phrase and top notch contacts.<br />

He was instrumental in<br />

providing content for the<br />

launch of <strong>The</strong> <strong>Bandeja</strong> website<br />

last year and his writing is<br />

throughout this <strong>issue</strong>. His cando<br />

attitude, journalism and big<br />

personality are sorely missed.<br />

No words can express what<br />

a loss his passing represents<br />

and we once again extend our<br />

heartfelt condolences to his<br />

wife Arlene and daughter Ava.<br />

Robert was also a published<br />

crime writer, basing a series of<br />

books on his time as a police<br />

officer with Strathclyde police.<br />

It’s fair to say that he lives on in<br />

his published words.<br />




6 SUMMER <strong>2024</strong> | thebandeja.com thebandeja.com | SUMMER <strong>2024</strong><br />



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Smashing it<br />

out of the<br />

podcast park<br />

If you want to delve deeper into<br />

your favourite sport let Minter<br />

Dial & Dennis Timar assist.<br />

Both have established their own padel<br />

podcasts - <strong>The</strong> Joy of Padel (Minter)<br />

and the aptly-named <strong>The</strong> Padel Podcast<br />

(Dennis). We love them both (and not<br />

just because both have featured <strong>The</strong><br />

<strong>Bandeja</strong> Editor Emma Kimber!).<br />

<strong>The</strong> Padel Podacst<br />

Minter Dial<br />

Minter, an American<br />

in London, hails<br />

from a padel family<br />

with direct links back<br />

to the game’s<br />

founder Enrique<br />

Corcuera. Dennis<br />

is a self-confessed<br />

padel nut who digs<br />

out padel movers,<br />

shakers and players<br />

to speak with.<br />

High five to residents living near<br />

Hartford Golf Club in Northwich, Cheshire,<br />

who have thrown their support behind the<br />

club’s plans for padel courts. No moans<br />

about traffic, noisy balls or even noisier<br />

players for these neighbours. Instead they<br />

can’t wait for the courts to open, describing<br />

padel as ‘thrilling’, ‘excellent’ and ‘brilliant’<br />

in comments to planners. Our favourite<br />

comment is just eight words:<br />

“Unsure to why this would be a debate.”<br />

Spot on!<br />

Some of the members of the JMW specialist<br />

padel team on court at Club de Padel in Manchester.<br />

Pictured (from left) Simon Gerrard, Rebecca Young, Mike Blood,<br />

Marc Yaffe, Daniel Clark, Bernard Ralph, Jemma Fleetwood,<br />

Gill Alexander, Thomas Pearson.<br />

Lawyers court padel<br />

with UK first<br />

Legal eagles are combining their love of law with a<br />

passion for padel in what is believed to be the UK’s first<br />

dedicated one-stop-shop legal team for the game.<br />

Law firm JMW, which has offices in London, Manchester and Liverpool,<br />

has united specialists from its real estate, IP, corporate, commercial<br />

and employment sectors to form an expert padel team dedicated<br />

to assisting clients keen to build courts and open clubs.<br />

<strong>The</strong> move was the brainchild of JMW managing partner (and padel<br />

fanatic) Marc Yaffe who, after discussing the exponential growth of<br />

the sport with a business colleague post-match, identified the need<br />

for an integrated approach to advising padel clients.<br />

Already the team has almost 40 projects on its books, with particular<br />

demand for guidance on real estate <strong>issue</strong>s.<br />

Marc said: “<strong>The</strong> key element of our offering isn’t just legal expertise<br />

but our determination and desire to work together across multiple<br />

specialisms with the aim of delivering a fast, effective and<br />

specialised service.”<br />

What lies beneath...<br />

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- a super strong concrete ring beam<br />

that holds the structure in place (the<br />

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tonnes). Thanks to Gareth Evans, of<br />

Padel Ventures, for this pictorial insight.<br />

We love a good constrution pic!<br />

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thebandeja.com | SPRING <strong>2024</strong><br />


At the PRO-AM (from left) John Terry,<br />

Maria Picio, James Argent, Jake Bewley.<br />

Padel Aid’s<br />

new PRO-AM<br />

fundraiser<br />

Former Chelsea FC captain and<br />

now avid padel fan John Terry led<br />

the celeb charge at Padel Aid’s first<br />

PRO-AM tournament.<br />

A host of well-known names, including rugby<br />

player Jason Leonard, Beta Squad’s Sharky<br />

and Sky Sports’ Sarah Stirk, joined GB padel<br />

players including Christian Murphy, Sam<br />

Jones and Nikhil Mohindra at the event,<br />

which raised money for UNICEF.<br />

Padel Aid is the brainchild of GB pro padel<br />

players Frankie Langan and Nikhil. Frankie<br />

told <strong>The</strong> <strong>Bandeja</strong>: “In setting up Padel Aid<br />

we hope to raise the profile of padel in the<br />

UK and around the world, and in the process<br />

raise funds for an incredibly worthy cause,<br />

UNICEF. We want to encourage as many<br />

people as possible to try padel, especially<br />

the younger generations as it can have a<br />

huge positive impact on their physical and<br />

mental well-being.”<br />

<strong>The</strong> event was set to raise in excess<br />

of £15,000 thanks to Padel Galis’s donation<br />

of a state-of-the-art padel court for<br />

a silent auction.<br />

Babolat’s<br />

first junior<br />

signing<br />

Babolat has announced sponsorship of Oliver<br />

Hayday, a multi-lingual young player who took up<br />

padel when Covid restrictions were lifted in Spain.<br />

<strong>The</strong> 16-year-old, born and raised in<br />

Malaga to a Swedish mother and<br />

English father, relocated with his<br />

family to the UK (Tiptree, Essex) just<br />

under two years ago and has been<br />

making his mark on the GB game<br />

ever since.<br />

So far he has clinched junior titles<br />

as well as Grade 3 & 4 wins and<br />

a quarter final loss in a Grade<br />

2 tournament despite being in<br />

recovery from a badly broken<br />

collarbone sustained just before<br />

moving to the UK. He’s also on the<br />

LTA youth development radar.<br />

“I had never played any racket<br />

sports previously but quickly loved<br />

the speed, energy and skill of padel.<br />

It wasn’t long before I was hooked,”<br />

said Oliver, who trains weekly at<br />

Stratford Padel Club in East London<br />

and plays at Padel United<br />

in Maldon.<br />

He described feeling ‘pleased<br />

and privileged’ to be partnering<br />

with Babolat, especially given his<br />

racket of choice is the Babolat<br />

Technical Viper: “I started using<br />

Babolat in Spain when my coach<br />

at the time recommended the<br />

Technical Viper would suit my<br />

game. Ever since it is the only<br />

racket I feel comfortable playing<br />

with,” he said.<br />

Jake Whalley, UK Sport & Trade<br />

Marketing Manager for Babolat<br />

said sponsoring junior players was<br />

‘vital’ for the brand. “By supporting<br />

young athletes like Oliver we can<br />

help invest in the future of the<br />

sport. We are really excited to be<br />

working with him and look forward<br />

to his future success.”<br />

Rocks Lane Padel development pathway<br />

Rocks Lane Padel Academy<br />

Nursery – Reception<br />

Mini multi sports<br />

<strong>The</strong> foundation of Rocks Lane’s growth enabling<br />

even the youngest participants to develop a positive<br />

and healthy association with sport. Mini multi sports<br />

combine free flow games and physical development<br />

activities with an introduction to other sports.<br />

School years 1–12 to adults<br />

Former World Padel Tour player turned<br />

professional coach Álex Grilo has<br />

established the Rocks Lane Padel Academy<br />

with a firm commitment to developing<br />

the skills of beginners through to top<br />

class players of all ages and abilities.<br />

All academy lessons follow the<br />

‘Progressive Teaching Method’, a<br />

standardised coaching system to ensure<br />

that players receive high levels of tuition<br />

delivered with a consistent approach.<br />

Rocks Lane Padel Team - Quadruple<br />

National Padel Champions!<br />

Rocks Lane Padel Performance Pathway<br />

supports UK No 1s & top players of<br />

all ages from Juniors - Seniors -<br />

UK Adaptive Padel players.<br />

Padel competition pathway<br />

School tournaments<br />

<br />

LTA Padel<br />

Youth Tournaments<br />

U12s and U16s<br />

<br />

Rocks Lane Padel socials<br />

<br />

Playtomic matches<br />

<br />

LTA Padel local and national<br />

tournaments<br />

<br />

Euro Padel League (EPL)<br />

<br />

International padel tournaments<br />

10<br />

Calling all padel coaches looking for a new<br />

challenge... Sol Padel NEEDS YOU!<br />

“Australia is at a really exciting moment in the growth of padel and<br />

our club is really moving forward,” said Sol Padel founder Erin Purtle.<br />

“We are looking for someone who is keen to teach padel and help us<br />

grow this amazing sport not only in our club but in Australia.”<br />

Interested... Contact Erin: erin@solpadel.com.au<br />

Buy <strong>The</strong> <strong>Bandeja</strong> print copies at www.thebandeja.com<br />

Rocks Lane Padel Chiswick and Barnes information and bookings<br />

via the Playtomic App – Adult Padel Academy courses (Academy),<br />

book a court/join a match (Book), book onto a padel social or intensive<br />

(Competitions) and purchase a membership (Memberships).<br />

Rocks Lane Padel<br />

Chiswick, Barnes, Dyrham Park Golf & Country Club in Barnet, Trevose Country Club and <strong>The</strong> Point, Polzeath in Cornwall.<br />

General padel enquiries: padel@rockslane.co.uk. Corporate, sponsorship, community, media & press enquiries: emma@rockslane.co.uk<br />

rockslane.co.uk<br />

Follow us on Instagram @rockslanepadel.<br />

Junior Padel<br />

Academy Courses<br />

Scan to view and<br />

book online.

Smash & Grab<br />

Grade 5<br />

with Padel Pussy...<br />

an anonymous viewpoint<br />

Enter they said. It’ll be fun they said.<br />

So we did...<br />

My playing partner and I signed up for our<br />

first proper padel competition, an LTA Grade<br />

5 tournament. We were both quite excited,<br />

a chance to let rip with our best shots<br />

(mediocre at best, to be fair). We’d even<br />

discussed how we would celebrate a win so<br />

that we didn’t look too excitable or totally<br />

surprised at coming first.<br />

According to the LTA, Grade 5s are ‘more local<br />

based competitions providing players with<br />

their first experience of the LTA Padel Tour<br />

and an opportunity to build up ranking points<br />

in order to gain acceptance into Grade 3<br />

competitions if they so wish’.<br />

We had a good breakfast because we knew<br />

there could well be more skilled opponents<br />

across the net playing for points to gain them<br />

access to (for us elusive) Grade 3 events.<br />

We even warmed up before going on court<br />

and had our energy drinks very close by. We<br />

were ready for those Grade 3 interlopers with<br />

our one metre kick smashes and enthusiastic<br />

but often uneventful boasts. And then we had<br />

to sit and wait for our first match. Two minutes<br />

in and we were ready to go home. <strong>The</strong> padel<br />

was, for us, just short of slightly insane. <strong>The</strong>re<br />

were a couple of teams at our level and those<br />

matches were great. Fun even. But the rest<br />

was Masters of the Universe V Noddy and<br />

Big Ears.<br />

Admittedly <strong>The</strong> Masters weren’t really Masters<br />

standard as in playing for their country or<br />

even on course for a Grade 1 tournament but<br />

they were head and shoulders above us and<br />

must, we thought, have been truly bored and<br />

wondering what they’d turned up to.<br />

Over a beer we discovered our slayers,<br />

neither local nor eyeing up Grade 3<br />

tournaments, knew what they’d let themselves<br />

in for - LTA ranking points. By ‘playing down’<br />

they were assured of going home with a<br />

pocketful of points. No rules were broken, no<br />

animals harmed but we left feeling it wasn’t<br />

really in the spirit of the game, and we won’t<br />

be saying yes again for a while.<br />

Bull(padel)<br />

in a china shop<br />

Is this a sure sign that padel has<br />

properly hit the spot for Brits?<br />

John Lewis has agreed a deal<br />

to sell Bullpadel rackets, the first<br />

major UK retailer outside the sports<br />

sector to bring a mainstream<br />

padel brand on board.<br />

Eighteen models of Bullpadel<br />

rackets, ranging in price from<br />

£79.99 to £264.99, are available<br />

via the retailer’s online store, with<br />

a number already sold out.<br />

<strong>The</strong>o & Victoria’s<br />

Soul mate<br />

Ambitious padel operator Soul Padel<br />

has signed up two of Great Britain’s<br />

top players - <strong>The</strong>o Garton and Victoria<br />

Nicholas, as brand ambassadors.<br />

Bullpadel UK and Ireland<br />

distributor MRH Sport brokered<br />

the deal. MRH founder Maximillian<br />

Holloway said: “This agreement is<br />

a huge endorsement for padel<br />

as it continues to take the UK by<br />

storm. Being stocked at a highly<br />

credible and established retailer<br />

such as John Lewis just shows<br />

where padel is right now and will<br />

only help to elevate the sport.”<br />

<strong>The</strong>o, aged 20 and ranked eighth in the LTA Men’s rankings, and<br />

30-year-old Victoria, currently fourth in the LTA’s Women’s rankings, will<br />

support Soul Padel’s drive to inspire the next generation of players and<br />

perhaps find a future GB world champion.<br />

Mark Hewlett, co-founder and CEO of Soul Padel, said: “We’re excited to<br />

be partnering with <strong>The</strong>o and Victoria. <strong>The</strong>o is not only a talented young<br />

player, he’s well positioned to relate to kids aspiring to get into padel.<br />

“Victoria also has a huge role to play in encouraging the next<br />

generation of young girls to take up this amazing sport and become the<br />

padel stars of the future. With their help we hope to create<br />

a future world champion.”<br />

Jersey boys<br />

back in business<br />

Just 10 weeks after Storm Ciaran devastated Island Padel, Jersey, the club was back<br />

up and running with three outdoor courts open to players - and by the end of April it<br />

had reinstated all five courts with just covers to follow.<br />

<strong>The</strong> club - three covered and two<br />

outdoor courts - was all but blown<br />

apart by the November storm which<br />

battered many parts of the UK<br />

but was especially strong across<br />

the Channel Islands, with Jersey<br />

experiencing storm force 10 winds.<br />

the devastation<br />

caused by Storm Ciaran.<br />

Padel Island founders Scott Clayton<br />

and Morgan Jubb saw years of hard<br />

work wiped out in hours, with daylight<br />

revealing broken glass, twisted metal<br />

and shredded covers across the<br />

£1.2m facility, which had only opened<br />

eight months earlier.<br />

However, despite the utter<br />

devastation, within days Scott<br />

vowed that the club would come<br />

back ‘bigger and better’ and, true<br />

to his word, that’s just what’s<br />

happened at the St Clement site.<br />

With a huge effort from insurers,<br />

court suppliers/installers Padel Tech<br />

and a passionate padel community,<br />

action was swift and the club was<br />

able to open three outdoor courts<br />

by mid January.<br />

Scott told <strong>The</strong> <strong>Bandeja</strong>: “It’s definitely<br />

been a test of character and will.<br />

<strong>The</strong>re was a massive deconstruction<br />

project that had to take place to get<br />

it down to ground level. <strong>The</strong> weather<br />

was still quite bad during that<br />

period and it took maybe a little bit<br />

longer than we’d liked but the team<br />

(PadelTech) here in Jersey that dealt<br />

with it were absolutely fantastic. <strong>The</strong>y<br />

Hitting the spot<br />

really prioritised our job and worked<br />

really hard through all hours and all<br />

conditions. We owe a lot to them for<br />

the speed that they worked at given<br />

the conditions.”<br />

Within a month of re-opening Island<br />

Padel hosted a busy half-term kids<br />

camp and started a new league.<br />

<strong>The</strong> second stage of rebuilding the<br />

club, which hosted almost 100 players<br />

from across Europe for a prestigious<br />

Grade 1 LTA Padel National Tour event<br />

last year, added two more courts to<br />

take it back up to five. <strong>The</strong> final stage<br />

see’s covers installed over three<br />

of the courts. “I think considering the<br />

damage and looking at other areas of<br />

the island we’ve been very fortunate<br />

as to how quickly we’ve managed to<br />

turn it around,” added Scott.<br />

Island Padel is hosting its second<br />

LTA Grade 1 tournament in<br />

September. Details on its website<br />

www.islandpadel.com<br />

Meet <strong>The</strong> Hook Club, the newest venue to grace the padel scene<br />

in the North West of England. Inspired by the ‘El Gancho’ padel shot<br />

(‘the hook’ in English), the four court venue opens this <strong>summer</strong><br />

within the grounds of Champneys Mottram Hall Hotel and Spa in<br />

Macclesfield.With expansion plans for courts and canopies already<br />

in the works, <strong>The</strong> Hook aims to provide an unmatched atmosphere<br />

for players.“Inspired by luxury design, we’re creating an environment<br />

where people will not only play padel but enjoy the entire<br />

experience,” said CEO Jordan Ingoe.<br />

www.thehookclub.co.uk<br />

12 SUMMER <strong>2024</strong> | thebandeja.com<br />

thebandeja.com | SUMMER <strong>2024</strong><br />


news<br />

Boys U12 winners Noah Morgan<br />

and Charlie Stevenson.<br />

Stan and Sholto<br />

in action.<br />

GB junior<br />

talent<br />

shines at HOP<br />

<strong>The</strong> next crop of talented British juniors have<br />

been in action at the adidas Hop Tournament<br />

at the Padel Hub, Slough.<br />

<strong>The</strong> youth tournament, which<br />

featured three categories, ran<br />

alongside the Pro and Tour events.<br />

Nicholas Warner but fell 6-0 6-0 in<br />

the second round to third seeds<br />

Ethan Bardo and Willy Slayrd.<br />

Tia & Louie<br />

US bound<br />

GB padel stars Tia Norton and Louie<br />

Harris are competing in the US Pro<br />

Padel League, which wraps up in New<br />

York later this year.<br />

<strong>The</strong> PPL is the only professional padel<br />

league to feature team-based<br />

competition in a city-based franchise<br />

format. <strong>The</strong> competition debuted last<br />

year with British No 1 Tia Norton part of<br />

the Las Vegas Smash team that lifted<br />

the inaugural title.<br />

Tia has made a return to the team<br />

to defend the title; Louie is making<br />

his debut in the competition having<br />

been selected to represent the San<br />

Diego Stingrays.<br />

“America is known for having<br />

massive sporting competitions so to<br />

be able to compete in a tournament<br />

on such a big scale is huge. <strong>The</strong> level<br />

is so high in my team and all the<br />

other teams too, so it’s going to be<br />

very special,” said 21-year-old Louie.<br />

This year’s PPL has expanded from<br />

seven to 10 teams and is being<br />

played over four qualifying events<br />

(two in Miami in April, two in Los<br />

Louie (second from left).<br />

Angeles in August) with<br />

the final in New York in November.<br />

www.propadelleague.com<br />

Tia Norton.<br />

Boys U16<br />

winners Stan<br />

Hunt and<br />

Sholto Sen.<br />

Girls U16 winners Rosie Quirk<br />

and Chloe de la Mare.<br />

<strong>The</strong> Boys U16 event was a highly<br />

competitive affair with nine pairs<br />

chasing glory. Victory was claimed<br />

by top seeds Stan Hunt and Sholto<br />

Sen in a closely fought final against<br />

second seeds Harley Dixon and<br />

Andrew Dunn. After sharing a set<br />

apiece (7-6 3-6), Stan and Sholto<br />

won 10-3 in the tie-break. <strong>The</strong> win<br />

was especially sweet for the pairing,<br />

who met for the first time on the day<br />

of the tournament.<br />

Sholto told <strong>The</strong> <strong>Bandeja</strong>: “It was an<br />

amazingly competitive tournament,<br />

but also great fun. I enjoyed playing<br />

with Stan - we complemented each<br />

other well and kept<br />

our heads during the<br />

crucial points.”<br />

On their way to the finals<br />

Stan and Sholto beat Jesse<br />

Warren and Max Warner<br />

in the semis - notable<br />

because Jesse (11) is already<br />

competing in U16 events.<br />

Stan also competed in<br />

the Grade 2 men’s draw<br />

alongside fellow teen and<br />

Essex club-mate Ben Welsford.<br />

<strong>The</strong> pair won their first round<br />

match 6-1 6-2 against Max and<br />

<strong>The</strong> Girls’ U16 tournament saw<br />

Chloe de la Mare and Rosie Quirk<br />

lift another trophy together, with<br />

a comfortable 6-0 6-0 win over<br />

sisters Naomi and Natalie Aldaz.<br />

Chloe and Rosie also competed in<br />

the Women’s Grade 2 event and<br />

came within a whisker of winning<br />

their opening match against Alicia<br />

Hazzard and Roxy Keshavarz, but<br />

ultimately went down 4-6 6-4 8-10.<br />

In the Boys U12 round robin<br />

competition, Noah Morgan and<br />

Charlie Stevenson finished top of<br />

the standings with two wins from<br />

two. <strong>The</strong> outcome was decided by<br />

a decisive 4-6 7-6 10-6 win over<br />

Luka Cerdena Porath Petersen<br />

(who also played in the 12&U &<br />

16&U) and Jude Jasinski.<br />

Matt Stanforth, LTA Padel<br />

Performance Manager, praised the<br />

players’ ‘great performances’.<br />

A number of them are on the LTA’s<br />

GB youth radar. It is expected<br />

selections for the GB U14 and U18<br />

age groups will be made following<br />

this month’s youth camp at Rocket<br />

Padel, Bristol, taking into account<br />

those juniors who were seen at<br />

We Are Padel, Derby, in December.<br />

Femme Open<br />

in Australia<br />

Femme Open, the sports network for<br />

women, has landed in Australia!<br />

Three tournaments have been held so<br />

far, including one at Sol Padel in Albury,<br />

New South Wales. Club founder Erin<br />

Purtle described it as a ‘huge success’,<br />

with 34 women playing across beginner,<br />

intermediate and advanced levels.<br />

“It was a hot <strong>summer</strong> night but that<br />

did not stop some good padel! It was a<br />

fantastic event and so good to see so<br />

many women playing padel,” said Erin,<br />

who has been working with Femme<br />

Open UK founder (and fellow Australian)<br />

Pep Stonor as well as Swedes Johanna<br />

Livijn and Johanna Aybar who started<br />

the movement.<br />

hexagon returns<br />

Organisers of <strong>The</strong> Hexagon Cup have announced it will be back in<br />

2025 after the ‘overwhelming success’ of the inaugural team event<br />

earlier this year, the first to be live-streamed on UK TV.<br />

Celebrities, sports stars and business ‘names’ headed each of the<br />

six teams, with tennis star Andy Murray’s Team Ad/Vantage winning<br />

the overall tournament and a chunk of the €1 million prize pot.<br />

<strong>The</strong> cup was one of the most watched padel events globally, with<br />

live coverage in more than 190 international markets. In the UK,<br />

ITVX streamed matches. With great camera angles and English<br />

commentary (including from <strong>The</strong> <strong>Bandeja</strong> coach and former World<br />

No 1 Mauri Andrini plus ITV sports journalist Ned Boulting), it was a<br />

good opportunity to watch top level men’s and women’s padel.<br />

Next year’s event is expected to take place from January 29 to<br />

February 2, again at Madrid Arena, Spain.<br />

Watch <strong>The</strong> Hexagon Cup via its YouTube channel.<br />

Hexagon Cup team owner Eva<br />

Longoria with legendary padel pro<br />

Fernando Belagestuín.<br />

14<br />

Buy <strong>The</strong> <strong>Bandeja</strong> print copies at www.thebandeja.com<br />

thebandeja.com | SUMMER <strong>2024</strong><br />


festival of padel<br />

Co-organiser Jan Spence (centre)<br />

with a group of players.<br />

Festival of Padel<br />

goes with a swing<br />

<strong>The</strong> first <strong>The</strong> <strong>Bandeja</strong> Festival of Padel was held at Surge, Harrogate, with the<br />

idea of bringing together ladies wanting to play different people in a relaxed<br />

environment, perhaps as a precursor to entering LTA and other more competitive<br />

events. Here Nicky Horn, one of the organisers, gives a low down on the day.<br />

Co-organiser Nicky Horn (front right) with players.<br />

‘Wouldn’t it be great to bring some<br />

of our Facebook friends together<br />

for a fun festival of padel?’ said Jan<br />

Spence, founder of Facebook group<br />

Padel Women UK. <strong>The</strong> idea of a<br />

Festival of Padel was created.<br />

Emma Kimber, founding editor of<br />

<strong>The</strong> <strong>Bandeja</strong> magazine, loved the<br />

idea and sought to ask sponsors if<br />

they’d like to support such an event.<br />

<strong>The</strong>re was no hesitation - Bas3line<br />

founder Wesley Teixeira was quick<br />

to offer rackets for the winners;<br />

NamethatBall’s Chloe Hughes<br />

snapped up the chance to provide<br />

bespoke printed balls for the day and<br />

VibePadel founder Geoff Woodman<br />

was only too keen to let each of the<br />

players have top class grips for their<br />

goody bags. And Harrogate’s very<br />

own gin distillery, Slingsby, thought<br />

1st: Michelle Eldrige &<br />

Rachel Hanlon<br />

2nd: Cheryl Mitchell &<br />

Sue Stent<br />

3rd: Jayne Dixon &<br />

Joyce Watkins Jo Geary<br />

& Jules Richardson<br />

Ilkley<br />

Ilkley &<br />

Chapel A<br />

Chapel A<br />

<strong>The</strong> <strong>Bandeja</strong> Festival of Padel winners<br />

Michelle Eldrige & Rachel Hanlon.<br />

a spot of gin at the end of the event<br />

would round it off nicely (it was right!).<br />

Designed for women who don’t want<br />

to enter an LTA event yet, the first<br />

<strong>The</strong> <strong>Bandeja</strong> Festival of Padel took<br />

place at Surge with 26 players. Each<br />

couple played five matches with the<br />

emphasis on playing new people.<br />

<strong>The</strong> morning session was won by Jo<br />

Lupton and Sandra Wiggins of HSFC,<br />

Harrogate, who went through to the<br />

afternoon session, which was of a<br />

great standard (they need to enter<br />

some LTA events).<br />

Everyone so enjoyed the day, we had<br />

some great feedback. Thank you<br />

players, sponsors, Emma and Jan –<br />

let’s do another one soon!<br />

With thanks to our<br />

sponsors:<br />

“<strong>The</strong> ladies were a fantastic<br />

bunch and made for a<br />

supportive (yet competitive)<br />

atmosphere with chat and<br />

laughs in between matches.<br />

I hope it is something that<br />

continues to grow and opens<br />

the doors to many more<br />

women who want to increase<br />

their confidence in padel and<br />

padel competitions.”<br />

Jan Spence - Founder, Padel<br />

Women UK Facebook page<br />

“Huge thanks to Nicky and Jan<br />

for organising such a brilliant<br />

day with fabulous feedback<br />

from the players. <strong>The</strong> idea<br />

of a padel festival to bring<br />

women together to experience<br />

gentle competition, perhaps<br />

for the first time, absolutely hit<br />

the spot. Padel is for all and<br />

everyone and encouraging<br />

players on their padel journey<br />

is so important.”<br />

Emma Kimber - Founding<br />

Editor, <strong>The</strong> <strong>Bandeja</strong><br />

16 SUMMER <strong>2024</strong> | thebandeja.com<br />

thebandeja.com | SUMMER <strong>2024</strong><br />


<strong>The</strong> <strong>Bandeja</strong> met these lovely ladies at the opening of Rocket<br />

Padel in Bristol. Admittedly it’s a while ago now but they were<br />

having a great time, having travelled from Wales for the event, so<br />

we think it’s worth giving them a shout-out and a wave.<br />

Padel in<br />

pictures<br />

Rocks Lane founder Chris Warren launched the European Padel<br />

League (EPL), a tournament contested by teams from five<br />

countries (GB, Portugal, Spain, Sweden and France) and hosted in<br />

each location. It’s coming to Rocks Lane, Chiswick, on July 4-7th.<br />

She’s a Barbie girl, he’s Kenough! (aka Sean<br />

and Pennie from Padel United in Maldon).<br />

An inspired choice - a Stars & Stripes pop-up at RacketX<br />

in Miami. Round of appaluse to Padel Courts Deluxe &<br />

Act Sports for this all-American custom court. Adds new<br />

meaning to hit the ball down the line!<br />

<strong>The</strong> winning Gloucestershire men’s<br />

team: Stuart Beattie, Kingsley Harris<br />

(Captain), Robert Elvidge, Ian<br />

Bloomfield, Keith Frith, Nick Baker.<br />

…and this is why we<br />

don’t play pickleball!<br />

UK Padel’s Over 50s County Championship at Rocket<br />

Padel saw Gloucestershire (above) reign supreme in<br />

the men’s (beating Surrey) and the mixed (beating<br />

Yorkshire). Yorkshire (below) took the women’s title<br />

against Gloucestershire.<br />

We LOVE<br />

Welsh Padel’s<br />

social media<br />

An inspired move - newlaunch<br />

club operator Soul<br />

Padel (founder Mark Hewlett<br />

is pictured) has opened courts<br />

at two Decathlons (Stockport<br />

and Glasgow) for three<br />

months over <strong>summer</strong>. Book<br />

via www.soulpadel.co.uk<br />

<strong>The</strong> victorious Yorkshire ladies (from<br />

left) Helen Cowlrick, Sally Bickerton,<br />

Nicky Horn, Sally Fisher (Captain),<br />

Audrey Henderson, Gilly Smail.<br />

Game4Padel’s Edinburgh Park hosted a<br />

delegation from Sport Scotland’s Fit For Girls<br />

programme to find out more about padel. A<br />

partnership between Sport Scotland and the<br />

Youth Sport Trust, Fit for Girls is aimed at driving<br />

engagement with sport for 11-18-year-olds.<br />

18 Buy <strong>The</strong> <strong>Bandeja</strong> print copies at www.thebandeja.com<br />

thebandeja.com | SUMMER <strong>2024</strong><br />


feature<br />

Photo credit: Femme Open UK.<br />

<strong>The</strong> UK’s<br />

padel<br />

obsession<br />

laid bare<br />

A country<br />

obsessed!<br />

Each pin drop represents<br />

where players were when they<br />

booked courts via Playtomic<br />

in 2023. <strong>The</strong> darker the red, the<br />

more the bookings, with some<br />

London pins representing<br />

45,000 bookings each.<br />

If you needed any convincing that padel is becoming a national<br />

obsession then check out this map from court booking app Playtomic.<br />

Each red pin represents where<br />

players were when they made<br />

court bookings in 2023 - the<br />

darker the pin the higher the<br />

number of bookings, with some of<br />

the London pins representing 45,000<br />

court reservations.<br />

It’s clear that people nationwide have<br />

taken padel to their hearts and are<br />

often willing to travel long distances<br />

to play. It’s also reasonably easy to<br />

pick out the National Parks (we had<br />

wanted to superimpose sheep on<br />

these areas but the nice man from<br />

Playtomic pulled a face). That said,<br />

there are definitely padel players<br />

enjoying a day out on the moors, in<br />

the mountains and on the lakes while<br />

booking their court time. Respect!<br />

<strong>The</strong> stats are a fascinating insight<br />

into just how popular padel has<br />

become – and we are constantly<br />

being told this is just the start of its<br />

journey, so with the co-operation of<br />

the nice man from Playtomic we’ll<br />

hope to revisit this map at the end<br />

of the year, when we expect it to<br />

look less Sweet Embrace (Dulux<br />

Colour of the Year) and more Deep<br />

Purple as padel rocks its way to<br />

sporting domination.<br />

<strong>The</strong>re is every chance our green and<br />

pleasant land will turn the colour<br />

purple; Playtomic stats also revealed<br />

that year-on-year growth from<br />

January 2023 saw participation all but<br />

triple from almost 12,700 hours of play<br />

in January 2023 to just over 37,000<br />

hours in January <strong>2024</strong>. Playtomic’s<br />

average marketshare for these<br />

months was 85%. <strong>The</strong> total UK market<br />

value for court bookings quadrupled<br />

in the same period.<br />

Interestingly the UK is leading<br />

the way in female participation -<br />

the Playtomic data shows 23% of<br />

players are female compared to<br />

a worldwide figure of 19%.<br />

<strong>The</strong> nice man from Playtomic<br />

(aka UK & Ireland regional manager<br />

Alan Douglas) said the data<br />

confirmed the ‘amazing growth’ of<br />

padel, with new clubs, bigger clubs<br />

and expanding chains delivering<br />

much needed court availability:<br />

“<strong>The</strong> UK is still an emerging<br />

market for padel but all the signs<br />

are that the sport will continue to<br />

grow for perhaps another five years,<br />

as it did in more mature markets<br />

such as Spain. <strong>The</strong>re is no doubt<br />

that there is player demand as<br />

every club opening results in a swift<br />

increase in matches being booked<br />

around it,” he said. •<br />

20<br />

SUMMER <strong>2024</strong> | thebandeja.com thebandeja.com | SUMMER <strong>2024</strong><br />


feature<br />

rocket<br />

fuel<br />

Two words spring to mind when<br />

describing my brother - creative<br />

and contagious. This may sound<br />

like sisterly bias, but everyone who<br />

meets him feels the same. Creativity<br />

is key when it comes to creating food<br />

people love but it is his contagiously<br />

positive attitude that keeps<br />

customers coming back for more!<br />

“I have always loved the freedom of<br />

cooking – each time it is different,”<br />

said Jamie, who is excited about<br />

merging café culture with padel.<br />

“It’s the same with serving, you<br />

have to react to the energy of your<br />

consumers and their needs.<br />

“Nutrition has always been at the<br />

forefront of my creative cooking<br />

process and I strongly believe that<br />

healthy can mean delicious. And<br />

padel players need yummy and<br />

nutritious food to allow them to play<br />

their best padel,” he added.<br />

Cheffing<br />

After leaving school Jamie, 22, opted<br />

out of the conventional route of<br />

university and channelled his love for<br />

Jamie Thomas<br />

Rocket Padel has touched down in Ilford, London, delivering the<br />

capital’s biggest padel centre yet with 12 courts - and a food and<br />

drink team headed up by chef Jamie Thomas, who has a passion<br />

for great taste, nutrition and padel! His sister Emily popped in to<br />

catch up with her brother to find out more.<br />

food into a career of private cheffing<br />

around the UK and managing<br />

Michelin Bib Gourmand Restaurant<br />

Queen of Cups nestled in the heart<br />

of Glastonbury, pocketing invaluable<br />

experience of the hospitality trade<br />

along the way.<br />

Growing up in a sport mad family<br />

(mum Sarah represented GB as<br />

a tennis junior and more recently<br />

played in the GB Seniors padel team),<br />

Jamie was exposed to all sorts of<br />

sport, playing to a competitive level<br />

in tennis, hockey and most notably<br />

show jumping. Despite years of<br />

playing padel in the Spanish sun<br />

on family holidays, it was not until<br />

the <strong>summer</strong> of 2023 that his love for<br />

padel blossomed while working as<br />

a host at Rocket’s hugely successful<br />

pop-up court at Battersea Power<br />

Station, London.<br />

Game on<br />

Armed with an eye for quality,<br />

knowledge of food seasonality and<br />

a passion for building a community<br />

through food, Jamie was ready for his<br />

next challenge and the opportunity to<br />

lead the F&B team at Ilford.<br />

He said: “I have always enjoyed how<br />

food makes people feel. It changes<br />

people’s moods, brings people<br />

together and I love the social aspect<br />

that the food and padel hybrid<br />

brings. It is great to see so many<br />

visitors giving padel a go for the first<br />

time and inevitability as the game is<br />

so addictive, they just keep coming<br />

back. And not least for the Avo Attack<br />

Smoothie – a firm club favourite!”<br />

As well as heading up Rocket’s<br />

catering, Jamie is also a part-time<br />

padel coach, getting to know players<br />

on and off the court and helping to<br />

develop the facility’s all-important<br />

‘club’ feel. <strong>The</strong> centre encourages<br />

people to treat it like a home-awayfrom-home<br />

– it has a gym, business<br />

meeting rooms, work from home<br />

stations and, of course, the café.<br />

During my visit Jamie and I took to a<br />

court and let our competitive spirits<br />

run riot. Despite a handful of bickers<br />

about me hitting the ball too hard<br />

and Jamie repeatedly explaining<br />

that ‘placement of the ball is more<br />

important than power’ we just about<br />

remained friends and I managed to<br />

knab a free coffee, salad, and even<br />

some cake. Winner!<br />

Curated<br />

It is the first time Jamie has had full<br />

creative cooking freedom and he has<br />

carefully curated a café menu for<br />

easy fuel and refuel options, including<br />

Joe and the Juice-style sandwiches,<br />

staying on-brand with Rocket’s<br />

Scandi roots. From club classics to<br />

salads, cakes and smoothies, there is<br />

something for everyone.<br />

With Jamie are head coach Tom<br />

Charnock (centre) and club<br />

manager Oskar Wynne.<br />

Rocket Padel, Ilford, will have 12 courts (nine doubles, three singles) when<br />

completed imminently. <strong>The</strong> main building, housing four double courts,<br />

two singles, the cafe, etc. opened first. <strong>The</strong> remaining seven courts are<br />

housed within an adjacent building with retractable sides connected<br />

to the main building via an Ibiza-style courtyard area. Ilford is Rocket<br />

Padel’ls second UK site. Its first, in Bristol, is the UK’s largest centre with 14<br />

indoor courts. A third - adjacent Battersea Power Station - opens in<br />

a few months with four courts. Bookings are via Playtomic.<br />

“We are a pescetarian and alcoholfree<br />

centre, which was always<br />

important when we were planning<br />

our café lift off,” said Jamie. “And for<br />

all our dishes we try to use similar<br />

ingredients to reduce waste.”<br />

<strong>The</strong> café also serves Clifton Coffee,<br />

paying homage to Rocket’s first UK<br />

site in Bristol. And the most popular<br />

dish so far, putting aside the Ava<br />

Attack Smoothie [editor’s note: I’ve<br />

tried Avo Attack, it’s great.]<br />

“Our Mature Cheddar and Mexican<br />

Cheese Melt with pickled red onion<br />

and chilli jam panini has been the<br />

real crowd pleaser,” said Jamie.<br />

“However our vision is constantly<br />

evolving with our clientele, we have<br />

lots more exciting foody plans up<br />

our sleeves.<br />

“This is just the beginning of Rocket<br />

Padel, Ilford’s journey and I am keen<br />

to see the centre thrive and grow<br />

and see more people joining the<br />

padel party in the UK. On a personal<br />

level, it has allowed me to follow my<br />

passions for cooking and padel under<br />

one roof.” •<br />

22 Buy <strong>The</strong> <strong>Bandeja</strong> print copies at www.thebandeja.com<br />

thebandeja.com | SUMMER <strong>2024</strong><br />


news<br />

news<br />

Women &<br />

children first<br />

the LTA’s strategy to 2027<br />

<strong>The</strong> Lawn Tennis Association (LTA), padel’s<br />

governing body in Britain, has a new strategy to take the game<br />

through to the end of 2026. <strong>The</strong> <strong>Bandeja</strong> spoke to Tom Murray,<br />

LTA Head of Padel, to find out more.<br />

Tom Murray<br />

<strong>The</strong> turn of <strong>2024</strong> marked a pivotal<br />

moment for padel in Britain - the<br />

number of courts hit 350, the<br />

magic number that Tom Murray needed<br />

to press ahead with phase two of<br />

developing the game.<br />

“It is exciting because we have finally<br />

got the sport to the place where we<br />

can justify greater investment and<br />

be specific about our strategy,” said<br />

Tom. “You could argue there is still not<br />

enough infrastructure (courts) and there<br />

isn’t, we are playing catch up with the<br />

rest of Europe, but there needs to be<br />

enough places to play so that marketing<br />

actions don’t fall on deaf ears.”<br />

It’s widely accepted that court numbers<br />

have now broken through the 400 mark<br />

and are heading towards 500 thanks to<br />

a flurry of new openings in the last few<br />

months, with many more planned for the<br />

rest of the year. <strong>The</strong>se growing numbers<br />

feed into the LTA’s Padel Strategy <strong>2024</strong>-<br />

2026, which forecasts 500 courts by the<br />

end of <strong>2024</strong>, 700 by the end of next year<br />

and 1,000 by the end of 2026.<br />

This exponential growth is being<br />

delivered, in the main, by the private<br />

sector. Since 2020 the LTA has provided<br />

35 tennis clubs with £3.9 million of<br />

‘Quick Access Loans’ funding for 67<br />

padel courts. In the same timescale<br />

the association’s total investment into<br />

padel has been around £5 million.<br />

(Note: Quick Access Loans have to be<br />

re-paid within 10 years).<br />

Player numbers are also on the rise.<br />

A recent LTA survey of venues put<br />

participation at between 139,000 and<br />

151,000, up from the association’s<br />

previously quoted figure of 89,000.<br />

“<strong>The</strong> next three years we are going to<br />

see padel really grow and that is when<br />

we are going to start to see changes,”<br />

said Tom. “It is a huge opportunity for<br />

everyone in the UK. Padel is growing,<br />

it’s great for the LTA, it’s great for the<br />

private sector and we are just there<br />

to facilitate that.<br />

“It (padel) is in a really good place and<br />

these next three years we will be able<br />

to show what the LTA is there for and<br />

what we can do with the sport,” added<br />

Tom, who denied critics’ claims that the<br />

organisation wishes to control padel to<br />

protect tennis. “It’s not let’s control padel,<br />

it is just about helping grow the sport in<br />

the right way,” he said.<br />

Strategy<br />

A key LTA focus is growing the sport in<br />

the right way, particularly in encouraging<br />

more women and children on to court.<br />

This will be delivered via the LTA’s<br />

updated padel strategy, which is split<br />

into six key actions:<br />

Invest in the visibility of padel and<br />

its infrastructure to increase padel<br />

awareness, for example through<br />

content creation, strategic marketing<br />

and commercial partnerships.<br />

Diversify event space/focus on<br />

commercial partnerships and ensure<br />

padel is safe, inclusive and sustainable.<br />

In practice this includes a medium/long<br />

term major event strategy that supports<br />

British players and drives visibility.<br />

Grow the player base by making<br />

programmes and the competition<br />

landscape more accessible. <strong>The</strong> LTA<br />

will developing competitions to improve<br />

accessibility and increase participation<br />

with a focus on local, county and<br />

regional level.<br />

Perform: build a pathway that supports<br />

and future current players, for example<br />

through youth activation sessions/<br />

player identification opportunities.<br />

Support the padel workforce, for<br />

example through an education and<br />

qualification pathway.<br />

Lead padel in Britain to the highest<br />

standards to ensure it is safe, inclusive<br />

and sustainable.<br />

County network<br />

Tom explained that they are looking<br />

to the LTA’s network of regional and<br />

county teams to support national<br />

efforts. “Counties can play a huge role<br />

in this, as they do with tennis, from<br />

county competitions to grassroots<br />

programmes,” he said. With all counties<br />

now having LTA padel ambassadors, all<br />

but a few having courts and LTA funding<br />

in place to support them, there’s a<br />

real opportunity to supercharge padel<br />

activations at grassroots level<br />

So what is he most excited about?<br />

“Growing padel participation. That<br />

might sound pretty plain but for me<br />

that is huge,” he said. “<strong>The</strong> <strong>issue</strong> was<br />

infrastructure, there just weren’t enough<br />

courts to be able to do all the things I<br />

wanted to do. We are turning the corner<br />

but still we have a long way to go.”<br />

24 SUMMER <strong>2024</strong> | thebandeja.com thebandeja.com | SUMMER <strong>2024</strong><br />



www.padelshack.com<br />

info@padelshack.com<br />

01206 808 014<br />


padium<br />

“I have never seen this degree of complexity<br />

on any other site and there will probably never<br />

be another site like it,”<br />

Paul Ross, director and founder at Edinbrugh-based Padel Tech<br />

Padium<br />

the most complex<br />

padel build EVER?<br />

Just two minutes’ walk from the<br />

top of the huge escalator that<br />

rises out of Canary Wharf tube<br />

station, Padium is not hard to spot<br />

with its three-arched roof and brightly<br />

coloured frontage nestled amongst<br />

30 and 40-storey skyscrapers.<br />

But what visitors to the club won’t<br />

see is the engineering ingenuity<br />

hidden deep beneath the building.<br />

For Padium was constructed on a<br />

15m high scaffold sitting deep inside<br />

a basement constructed in readiness<br />

for a future skyscraper.<br />

“I have never seen this degree of<br />

complexity on any other site and<br />

there will probably never be another<br />

site like it,” said Paul Ross, director and<br />

founder at Edinbrugh-based Padel<br />

Tech, which constructed Padium’s<br />

structure and courts.<br />

extensive coordination and teamwork<br />

from a large cast of companies.<br />

From Canary Wharf’s designers and<br />

designated contractors, to Padium,<br />

Padel Tech and canopy supplier<br />

Okatent, to the people who look after<br />

the everyday safety, security and<br />

logistics of London’s leading financial<br />

district, there were many <strong>issue</strong>s and<br />

interfaces to juggle.<br />

customer experience - how it<br />

feels when you step into the club,<br />

the interior design, changing rooms,<br />

courts, even the smell.”<br />

Having considered warehouse<br />

locations on the outskirts of the<br />

capital he realised that he needed<br />

a more flagship location. Canary<br />

Wharf was high on his hit-list.<br />

Padium. It’s London’s flagship padel<br />

club, an eight court oasis slotted<br />

between the towering skyscrapers of<br />

Canary Wharf. Within six months of<br />

opening 5,000 people had streamed<br />

through its doors and plans are afoot<br />

to add another court and roll out the<br />

Padium brand - backed by Spotify<br />

co-founder Martin Lorentzon - to a<br />

second location. But building the club<br />

wasn’t just a challenge, it was an<br />

audacious plan requiring heavyweight<br />

engineering par excellence, as<br />

Kristina Smith reports.<br />

It’s quite a statement from a<br />

company which has built padel<br />

courts in some rather unusual places,<br />

from onboard a ship to a remote<br />

Caribbean island for a celebrity client.<br />

It has also constructed around 50% of<br />

the UK’s 400 or so padel courts and<br />

draws on the experience of adidas’s<br />

AFP Court installers around the world<br />

as AFP’s only UK partner.<br />

Aside from the weight of the<br />

Padium building itself, the<br />

connection between structure and<br />

scaffold at the Canary Wharf Bank<br />

Street site had to take the uplift forces<br />

of the winds that blow through the<br />

former London docklands area. With<br />

the corridor effect created by the tall<br />

buildings these can be substantial<br />

and capricious.<br />

Designing and constructing this<br />

most unique padel facility required<br />

Padium founder<br />

Houman Ashrafzadeh.<br />

“It needed lots of eyes, lots of brain<br />

and lots of brain power,” said Paul.<br />

“It was a real team effort that<br />

delivered this project.”<br />

Vision<br />

Padium is the brainchild of serial<br />

entrepreneur Houman Ashrafzadeh,<br />

already a tenant at Canary Wharf<br />

with one of his healthy fast-food<br />

restaurants Urban Greens. Inspired by<br />

clubs in Sweden, where he grew up,<br />

Houman was keen to create a highend<br />

padel experience in the UK.<br />

“Back in 2019 there were only a<br />

few courts in the UK and we didn’t<br />

have premium facilities like the<br />

ones we have in Sweden,” said<br />

Houman. “I wanted to elevate the<br />

“<strong>The</strong>re were four or five other<br />

operators bidding for the same site<br />

but we wanted to do something quite<br />

different,” said Houman. “Canary<br />

Wharf already knew me as a tenant<br />

through Urban Greens so they knew<br />

that I am detail oriented, brand<br />

oriented and a good tenant.”<br />

Another happy coincidence was<br />

that the wife of Canary Wharf’s CEO<br />

Shobi Khan was already a keen padel<br />

player. And now Shobi is a fan too,<br />

enjoying games with Houman.<br />

Engineering ingenuity<br />

Originally Padium was to be built on<br />

a site in Wood Wharf, a good location<br />

but further from Canary Wharf tube<br />

station. <strong>The</strong> basement structure there<br />

26<br />

Buy <strong>The</strong> <strong>Bandeja</strong> print copies at www.thebandeja.com<br />

thebandeja.com | SUMMER <strong>2024</strong><br />


padium<br />

padium<br />

had been constructed but, with a<br />

tenant earmarked for the level below<br />

ground, there were <strong>issue</strong>s that would<br />

have complicated the structure and<br />

layout of Padium. And so Canary<br />

Wharf proposed the Bank Street site.<br />

This required an even more complex<br />

build but Houman welcomed the idea<br />

with open arms - and a vision for an<br />

even more premium club.<br />

For Padel Tech, the shift in location<br />

meant ripping up the designs it had<br />

been working on for Wood Wharf<br />

and addressing the challenge of<br />

how to build on top of that scaffold.<br />

Fortunately, they had the expertise<br />

of Dr Mark Richards, director of NESTA<br />

Consulting Engineers, who advises<br />

Canary Wharf on structural <strong>issue</strong>s.<br />

“That scaffolding was not intended<br />

to have a building on top of it,”<br />

explained Mark. “It was designed to<br />

take loadings from an area being<br />

used for various sports but not a<br />

facility like Padium. I had to do a<br />

feasibility study to look at whether<br />

the scaffold could take the facility.”<br />

Working with Padel Tech, Okatent,<br />

Canary Wharf-approved specialist<br />

contractors ProPlant which built<br />

the scaffold and ConCast, which<br />

constructed the concrete slab on<br />

which Padium sits, Mark helped guide<br />

a bespoke design by the specialist<br />

contractors which safely transfers<br />

building and wind loads.<br />

Under the arches<br />

But the challenges didn’t end there.<br />

In a different location Padium’s roof<br />

would have been one arched canopy,<br />

spanning from one edge of the plot<br />

to the other. However, this would have<br />

put too much force onto the edges of<br />

the scaffolding.<br />

<strong>The</strong> solution was to install four<br />

specialist trusses running from<br />

the front to the back of the site<br />

– which is one city block in size –<br />

with three arches spanning the<br />

smaller distances between trusses.<br />

Positioning of the arches allowed<br />

the courts to be located perfectly<br />

between them.<br />

“We needed to increase the number<br />

of point loads to spread the load<br />

across the surface,” said Padel Tech<br />

design and estimating manager Andy<br />

Ponton. “<strong>The</strong> trusses are bolted to the<br />

scaffolding and have built-in points<br />

to which the canopy is anchored. <strong>The</strong><br />

concrete slab was initially cast up to<br />

the trusses and then the trusses were<br />

infilled afterwards.”<br />

Some parts of the scaffolding had to<br />

be beefed up too to resist wind uplift<br />

forces from the roof structure, as Mark<br />

explained: “<strong>The</strong> scaffolding had to be<br />

strengthened along the truss lines.<br />

We married that up with the forces<br />

coming from the roof.”<br />

It wasn’t just the final loadings that<br />

had to be considered. With input<br />

from Mark, Padel Tech planned every<br />

move of the construction sequence<br />

carefully so that the scaffolding was<br />

not overloaded, from the weight<br />

and position of construction<br />

equipment used to deliveries of<br />

steel and materials and where they<br />

would be placed.<br />

Delivering the project safely and<br />

with minimum impacts on Canary<br />

Wharf’s tenants and the environment<br />

were key, said Paul: “<strong>The</strong>ir tenants<br />

pay a premium to know they are in<br />

a safe environment. That’s part of<br />

the USP of being in Canary Wharf.<br />

We had weekly meetings with<br />

multiple parties at Canary Wharf.”<br />

Work to install the trusses and<br />

concrete slab began in October 2022,<br />

with Padel Tech starting on site in<br />

February 2023. Towards the end of the<br />

build Padel Tech liaised with Padium’s<br />

fit-out contractor S&G Shopfitters<br />

which constructed the mezzanine<br />

level within the club from where<br />

players can view the facility’s seven<br />

internal courts.<br />

Lux<br />

For engineers the ‘wow’ factor for<br />

Padium lies hidden, but for players it<br />

begins as soon as they enter<br />

the building. Walking through the<br />

front door, with the showcase<br />

centre court ahead, it feels like<br />

you might be about to play in a<br />

major tournament.<br />

With an internal roof height of over<br />

10m and details including acoustic<br />

dampening, elegant, curved lighting<br />

poles, pro shop and changing<br />

rooms complete with matt-black<br />

toilets and Dyson hair dryers,<br />

Houman has worked to create his<br />

perfect club and the attention to<br />

detail from Padium’s design team<br />

is evident everywhere.<br />

Since opening in September,<br />

Houman has added heating and air<br />

conditioning to the mezzanine floor<br />

which overlooks the indoor courts,<br />

and is now looking to heat the whole<br />

club. Players can also look forward<br />

to a bar on the mezzanine and<br />

perhaps a second outdoor court.<br />

Oasis<br />

For Canary Wharf’s tenants the<br />

timing of Padium couldn’t have<br />

been better. It opened as big<br />

corporates were searching for<br />

ways to lure employees back to<br />

the office from home working. And<br />

its location is about to get even<br />

better. Canary Wharf has started<br />

work on its ambitious Middle Dock<br />

project to create an outdoor<br />

oasis centred around the dock,<br />

with trees and gardens, floating<br />

boardwalks, water sports and<br />

spaces for arts and culture right<br />

on Padium’s doorstep.<br />

Meanwhile, Houman is plotting the<br />

next location for a second club.<br />

Padium Factfile<br />

Courts: 7 indoors, one outdoors<br />

Head Coach: Jorge Martinez<br />

Booking: via Playtomic app<br />

(pay-and-play or membership)<br />

Opening hours: 6am-10pm<br />

Cost: From £80/hr/court<br />

Address: 10 Bank Street, E14 4DE<br />

<strong>The</strong> complexity of this build, alongside<br />

challenges linked to the disruption of<br />

material deliveries and rising costs<br />

has not deterred him in his mission to<br />

make Padium the biggest and most<br />

premium brand in the UK.<br />

“I know that challenges are coming<br />

and I know that I will tackle them<br />

somehow,” he said. “With five years’<br />

experience of building a brand and<br />

a business with Urban Greens I had a<br />

lot of things in my toolbox I could<br />

reach for.”<br />

Padel Tech’s Paul echoed the<br />

sentiment. His team’s experience on<br />

major construction projects means<br />

that he too relishes the intricacies<br />

and demands of a complex build.<br />

“We thrive on difficult projects,” he<br />

said. “We are really looking forward<br />

to the next one.” •<br />

28<br />

SUMMER <strong>2024</strong> | thebandeja.com thebandeja.com | SUMMER <strong>2024</strong><br />


Photo credit: IOC Greg Martin.<br />

to padel’s Olympic dreams?<br />

If breakdancing can make it to the Olympics surely there’s<br />

a place for padel? Duncan Mackay reports on how it could<br />

be who you know and how big your socials are that count<br />

on the path to Olympic glory.<br />

For a sport to be added to the<br />

Olympic programme there used<br />

to be a well-defined process.<br />

Become a member of SportAccord,<br />

now the Global Association of<br />

International Sports Federations,<br />

demonstrate that you had signed<br />

up to the World Anti-Doping<br />

code, get International Olympic<br />

Committee recognition and then try<br />

to persuade them to vote for you to<br />

join the Games.<br />

Some, like rugby sevens, taekwondo<br />

and triathlon, were successful. Others,<br />

like squash, were not.<br />

<strong>The</strong>n Thomas Bach was elected<br />

President of the IOC in 2013 and this<br />

system was ripped up. His mantra<br />

of ‘change or be changed’ and<br />

Could padel be celebrating Olympic inclusion any time<br />

soon? (Photo courtesy Premier Padel)<br />

‘getting the couch potatoes off the<br />

couch’ was designed to ensure<br />

the Olympics appealed to a new<br />

generation of youngsters.<br />

AI & Esports<br />

<strong>The</strong> Olympic Games have endured<br />

the test of time, evolving from<br />

their ancient origins, through the<br />

19th century, flourishing in the 20th<br />

century and now trying to redefine<br />

themselves in the 21st century. While<br />

television ratings may be shifting,<br />

this change signifies an opportunity<br />

to diversify viewership platforms<br />

and engage younger audiences<br />

while emphasising the essence of<br />

unity that the Olympics represent.<br />

Indeed, Bach’s references to the<br />

use of artificial intelligence and<br />

exploration of Olympic Esports<br />

Games represent a visionary step<br />

towards the future.<br />

New sports<br />

With the implementation of Olympic<br />

Agenda 2020, adopted in December<br />

2014, ‘the process of establishing<br />

the Olympic programme changed<br />

to enhance the popularity of the<br />

Games while ensuring that the<br />

numbers of athletes, and the cost<br />

International Olympic Committee President<br />

Thomas Bach.<br />

and complexity of the event, remain<br />

manageable’, according to the IOC.<br />

As part of this new process the<br />

Organising Committee of a specific<br />

edition of the Olympic Games may<br />

propose to the IOC the inclusion for<br />

such edition only of one or more<br />

additional sports.<br />

For Tokyo 2020 the IOC voted to<br />

add baseball / softball, karate, sport<br />

climbing, surfing, and skateboarding<br />

as optional sports. For Paris <strong>2024</strong>, the<br />

Organising Committee proposed<br />

the inclusion of breaking (break<br />

dancing), skateboarding, sport<br />

climbing and surfing.<br />

But it is the process for Los Angeles<br />

2028 that offers real hope for<br />

padel’s Olympic ambitions. Baseball/<br />

softball was an obvious addition<br />

due to its importance in American<br />

society, but cricket, flag football,<br />

lacrosse and squash probably all<br />

owed more to the fact that they<br />

each had powerful backers able to<br />

put the case for their sport.<br />

Premier Padel connection<br />

If connections are to be the driving<br />

force then surely few are better<br />

placed than Nasser Al-Khelaïfi, head<br />

of Qatar Sports Investments, which<br />

last August bought out the World<br />

Padel Tour, encompassing it within his<br />

worldwide Premier Padel tour. Among<br />

the many hats worn by Al-Khelaïfi<br />

are chairman of beIN Media Group,<br />

President of Paris Saint-Germain FC<br />

and the Qatar Tennis Federation.<br />

Social Media<br />

Is the previously held notion that<br />

Olympic acceptance is all about how<br />

many countries a sport is played in<br />

now being replaced by social media<br />

following? Cricket, for example,<br />

may be played in relatively few<br />

countries but the International Cricket<br />

Council consistently comes top of<br />

international federation social media<br />

rankings. In the latest list published<br />

in January, the ICC had a total of<br />

106,519,541 followers on Facebook,<br />

Instagram, LinkedIn, Threads, TikTok,<br />

YouTube and X. That’s nearly 50<br />

million more than FIFA.<br />

<strong>The</strong> International Padel Federation<br />

(FIP) currently has, according to<br />

my calculations, just over 200,000<br />

followers on its social media channels.<br />

<strong>The</strong> sport needs to take a lesson from<br />

cricket and get its numbers up into<br />

the tens of millions otherwise the IOC<br />

may not even consider it.<br />

<strong>The</strong> next opportunity padel will<br />

have to bid to be on the Olympic<br />

programme is for Brisbane 2032.<br />

Perhaps a better chance may be<br />

2036 when it is widely expected the<br />

Games will be heading to Doha. If<br />

they do, then Al-Khelaïfi is certain<br />

to have a say in which sports Qatar<br />

adds to the Olympic programme.<br />

And that could be very good news<br />

for padel. •<br />

Duncan Mackay has been covering<br />

the Olympic movement for more<br />

than 30 years. He was the founder<br />

of insidethegames, a leading<br />

independent source for news on the<br />

Olympic Games, and is a former<br />

winner of the UK Sports Journalist<br />

of the Year and UK Internet Sports<br />

Journalist of the Year awards.<br />

30<br />

Buy <strong>The</strong> <strong>Bandeja</strong> print copies at www.thebandeja.com<br />

thebandeja.com | SUMMER <strong>2024</strong><br />


heading<br />

for 550?<br />

Rocket Padel at Battersea Power Station<br />

Counting padel court numbers in Britain is increasingly like herding cats;<br />

with so many new courts going up it’s become an almost impossible task<br />

to keep track.<br />

At the end of 2023 the LTA put<br />

a figure on court numbers<br />

of around 350, a little shy of<br />

its stated aim of 400 but it’s widely<br />

accepted that that number has now<br />

been reached and surpassed, with<br />

many more new courts and clubs in<br />

the pipeline.<br />

High profile projects planned include<br />

Rocket Padel/Battersea Power Station;<br />

<strong>The</strong> Padel Club/TraffordCity; the<br />

Padel Social Club/London’s O2 arena;<br />

Game4Padel/Hove Beach Park and<br />

Rocks Lane’s continued expansion.<br />

club in Canary Wharf, London), the<br />

audacious and brilliant four-court<br />

Club de Padel in Manchester city<br />

centre and the sport’s northern<br />

Mecca that is True Padel (nine indoor<br />

courts). Padel United (PDL) is also<br />

worth a mention, it’s quietly going<br />

about its business opening courts<br />

around the country (Colchester and<br />

Torbay are new launches on the<br />

horizon) and, as mentioned earlier,<br />

Rocks Lane (based in Chiswick,<br />

London) has just opened new courts<br />

at its centre in Barnes and has<br />

planning in for Barnet, north London.<br />

these problems will ease. <strong>The</strong>re<br />

is understandable hesitance<br />

from councils and committees who are<br />

yet to understand the benefits of padel<br />

to their community or club,” he said.<br />

Love all<br />

Tennis continues to embrace the sport;<br />

according to Tom Murray, Head of<br />

Padel at the LTA, 50% of British courts<br />

are located at tennis clubs. Golf, rugby,<br />

hockey and cricket are also getting<br />

in on the act, as are leisure operators<br />

(including some of the Better and<br />

Everyone Active sites).<br />

PadelStars is fairly new out of the<br />

traps with its first club having<br />

recently opened in Reading (one<br />

court) but it has ambitious plans<br />

and the financial backing of<br />

leisure specialist Dwellcourt, which<br />

has taken a major stake in the<br />

company, founded by Andy Knee<br />

and Jamie Brooke. Many of its<br />

future sites (Basildon, Chigwell,<br />

St Albans, Bournemouth and<br />

Bracknell particularly) are in<br />

locations with other padel facilities<br />

within striking distance.<br />

Smash Padel opened with three<br />

courts in Bicester and recently<br />

acquired MVP in Oxford. Its next<br />

move is three covered courts in<br />

partnership with Whitstable RUFC<br />

(east Kent is a virtual padel desert<br />

at present) and courts in Cardiff,<br />

another area that is padel deprived.<br />

Pure Padel’s first venue has three<br />

courts in Alderley Park, Manchester,<br />

but company founders Sammy<br />

Amora and Fraser Higson now have<br />

planning in for two additional sites,<br />

including an indoor venue.<br />

So where’s next for padel to pop?<br />

Birmingham is looking a good bet.<br />

It has a handful of clubs, some<br />

private. CorteSport has just opened<br />

three courts at <strong>The</strong> Hayes, home<br />

to Alvechurch FC in Kings Norton,<br />

and Powerleague is moving in too.<br />

And where would we like the next<br />

hotspot to be? Exeter - it’s the place<br />

we get most messages about re<br />

playing padel.<br />

Game4Padel<br />

pushes ahead with<br />

court roll-out<br />

Brighton & Hove padel players are in for a<br />

treat after Game4Padel, working with the city<br />

council, announced it will be opening four<br />

padel courts on the seafront.<br />

<strong>The</strong> courts (plus six tennis courts) form part of the new Hove Beach Park,<br />

which includes bowls, croquet, a skatepark, pump track and roller area, and<br />

are due to open this <strong>summer</strong>.<br />

Game4Padel, which has tennis stars Andy and Jamie Murray, Annabel Croft<br />

and Andrew Castle as investors, is also opening a permanent three-court<br />

covered floodlit facility at Withdean Sports Complex in Brighton this <strong>summer</strong>.<br />

A temporary court it’s operated there since October 2022 has proved<br />

extremely popular with ‘excellent’ court occupancy. With significant demand<br />

in the city for more padel facilities the new courts are sure to hit the spot.<br />

Green Quarter<br />

Game4Padel has also scored a first with the opening of courts at Parkside<br />

Padel Club in West London. <strong>The</strong> three-court facility at Berkeley Homes’<br />

new Green Quarter development in Southall represents the first time a<br />

residential developer has planned padel into a scheme. “This is a<br />

game-changing partnership for Game4Padel”, said CEO Michael Gradon.<br />

“This first project with the Berkeley Group is exciting because the potential<br />

to introduce padel across their residential developments could mean a<br />

much faster roll out of the sport, helping us achieve our goal of nearly<br />

400 padel courts in the UK by 2027.”<br />

James Purton, Operations Director at Berkeley Group, added: “Padel has<br />

proven to be more than just a sport; it’s a catalyst for creating vibrant<br />

communities and fostering social connections. As an avid player myself I<br />

have seen first-hand how it brings people together and it will provide an<br />

opportunity for a new generation of padel players.”<br />

Game4Padel currently has 59 courts across some 25 venues plus clubs in<br />

Spain, Australia and New Zealand.<br />

Big names are also seeing the<br />

potential - David Lloyd Clubs are<br />

installing courts around the country,<br />

with plans for 33 in 14 UK clubs by<br />

the end of the year. And five-a-side<br />

football specialist Powerleague is<br />

developing padel facilities in London,<br />

Birmingham and, most notably<br />

Gateshead, where it wants to install<br />

courts on top of the Metro Centre.<br />

<strong>The</strong>se add to padel’s recent ‘big wins’<br />

of Padium (a gorgeous eight-court<br />

Ian Colligon, founder of iPadel, said<br />

the overall outlook is ‘really positive’<br />

in terms of organisations wanting<br />

to build padel courts, adding: “But it<br />

is still extremely frustrating at how<br />

difficult it is to actually get them built.<br />

So many have finance, planning<br />

or club committee <strong>issue</strong>s, so many<br />

obstacles that make the process<br />

difficult and long.<br />

“However, as padel becomes<br />

more well-known and mainstream<br />

Fancy a weekend break with padel<br />

thrown in? <strong>The</strong>n check out the Manor<br />

and Ashbury resorts in Devon, which<br />

boast their own indoor courts. And we<br />

don’t know if Ryan Reynolds or Rob<br />

McElhenney play padel but good news<br />

if they do - Wrexham Lawn Tennis<br />

Club has gained permission for three<br />

covered courts.<br />

Looking ahead, keep your eyes<br />

on PadelStars, Smash Padel and<br />

Pure Padel.<br />

Padel is Us<br />

Gloucester is to get 9 courts<br />

following Cheshire-based <strong>The</strong><br />

Padel Club’s announcement that<br />

it is turning the city’s former Toys<br />

R Us store into an indoor padel<br />

centre. Work has already started<br />

on the project, which is hoped to<br />

be open by Autumn. Bookings will<br />

be via Playtomic.<br />

An artist’s impression of the<br />

new Hove Beach Park<br />

32<br />

SUMMER <strong>2024</strong> | thebandeja.com<br />

thebandeja.com | SUMMER <strong>2024</strong><br />


Padel Social<br />

Club to score<br />

a first?<br />

Rooftop padel is coming to Wandsworth,<br />

London, after the Padel Social Club gained<br />

planning permission to build six covered<br />

courts above Southside Shopping Centre.<br />

sport powerhouses<br />

set to drive padel<br />

expansion<br />

<strong>The</strong> two-level, 30,000ft2 club, is scheduled<br />

to open at the end of the year and could<br />

be the UK’s first rooftop padel venue if<br />

Powerleague doesn’t achieve it first with<br />

its plans for courts on top of a car park at<br />

Gateshead’s Metrocentre.<br />

<strong>The</strong> Wandsworth project includes<br />

changing rooms, wellness area, food<br />

and drink kiosks, social spaces (including<br />

co-working spaces overlooking the padel<br />

courts), seating and an outdoor area with<br />

views over Wandsworth.<br />

“We’re delighted to see this project<br />

coming to life and to be able to bring<br />

our all-encompassing padel experience<br />

to Wandsworth”, said Padel Social Club<br />

CEO Kristian Hunter.<br />

Rebecca Ruddle, Centre Director at<br />

Southside Shopping Centre, said: “We’re<br />

confident that this new facility will bring<br />

something new and exciting for our<br />

community and create a vibrant space<br />

that fosters connections whilst introducing<br />

a sport that is becoming increasingly<br />

popular throughout the UK.”<br />

<strong>The</strong> Padel Social Club has already opened<br />

five outdoor courts in Empress Place, Earls<br />

Court, London, and has plans for an indoor<br />

centre on the banks of the River Thames<br />

at the 02.<br />

bringing padel<br />

home to Durham<br />

To paraphrase the Hollywood<br />

movie Field of Dreams – if you<br />

build it they will come - and the<br />

baseball-themed film could<br />

have been describing the impact<br />

of True Padel, which has seen<br />

massive interest since opening<br />

in January.<br />

<strong>The</strong> Durham venue is the ‘field<br />

of dreams’ for brothers Alex and<br />

Adam Carr, who quit jobs overseas<br />

to return home and build what is<br />

one of the largest indoor centres<br />

in the UK, with nine indoor courts.<br />

<strong>The</strong> club, which has quickly<br />

become a padel Mecca in the<br />

North East, has gone into the<br />

former Soccarena football centre<br />

in Belmont Industrial Estate,<br />

New Ferens Park. A key feature<br />

of the venue is roof height – at<br />

its maximum it offers 14m of<br />

clearance, making it one of -<br />

if not the - highest indoor padel<br />

centre in the UK.<br />

Plans<br />

<strong>The</strong> centre has been a big hit,<br />

attracting players from Durham<br />

County Cricket Club, Newcastle<br />

United FC and Sunderland FC,<br />

a small but significant Spanish<br />

community and students from<br />

the city’s university.<br />

And even with nine courts,<br />

demand for peak times means<br />

booking days in advance, with the<br />

real masterstroke in attracting<br />

people to padel being its ‘mix-in’<br />

events and ‘introduction to padel’<br />

sessions, as Alex explained: “It’s<br />

just been crazy. It’s a massive<br />

relief, but also exciting to see<br />

people walk through the doors<br />

and enjoy the game for the first<br />

time. I think the biggest thing for<br />

us is a lot of the introduction to<br />

padel sessions. <strong>The</strong>y’ve been<br />

really key as we put them on<br />

extremely cheaply over weekends<br />

and through the week. <strong>The</strong>y’re<br />

very, very popular and pretty<br />

much every one gets fully booked.<br />

It’s a good way for people to get<br />

used to the rules, get used to the<br />

court and meet people.<br />

“<strong>The</strong>se sessions lead straight into<br />

our mix-in events, which have<br />

also been extremely successful.<br />

We put three or four on every<br />

week. People turn up on their own<br />

or with a partner and by the end<br />

they have met another 20 or so<br />

players that are a similar level.<br />

Straight away communities are<br />

starting to be built.”<br />

<strong>The</strong> club has built on this early<br />

enthusiasm by hiring a full-time<br />

coach - Spaniard Suso - and<br />

developing an academy, leagues<br />

and tournaments. Plans are<br />

already afoot to open a second<br />

True Padel venue.<br />

Sporting giants Powerleague and David Lloyd<br />

are both accelerating their efforts to drive padel<br />

forward in the UK.<br />

Five-a-side football specialists<br />

Powerleague announced its<br />

intentions to diversify into padel<br />

last <strong>summer</strong> with plans for a<br />

rooftop facility in Gateshead.<br />

However, sites in Birmingham<br />

and London have leapt ahead of<br />

Gateshead and are set to be the<br />

company’s first facilities to open,<br />

according to Powerleague head<br />

of padel Freya Tringham.<br />

Work has just got underway at the<br />

Birmingham venue, located in the<br />

Aston area of the city. It will have<br />

three covered courts. Shoreditch<br />

will have four courts.<br />

“We’re hoping to launch in<br />

Manchester (Manchester Nicholls<br />

site) before the end of the year<br />

and I would say at least another<br />

two clubs,” said Freya. “We’ve got<br />

ambitious plans for the next two<br />

years. <strong>The</strong>re’s plenty more in the<br />

planning pipeline that we should<br />

hear back on imminently.”<br />

David Lloyd<br />

It is a similar picture with David<br />

Lloyd, which has ambitions to be<br />

the UK’s largest padel operator with<br />

plans for 33 courts in 14 UK clubs<br />

by the end of the year. This is in<br />

addition to almost 90 courts across<br />

133 clubs in nine other countries, and<br />

further plans for expansion.<br />

expanding<br />

its reach<br />

Rocks Lane is continuing to expand its padel<br />

provision, this time with the addition of four courts<br />

at its centre in Barnes Common, London.<br />

<strong>The</strong> new courts bring the organisation’s total court<br />

count in the capital to 16 (its Rocks Lane Chiswick<br />

HQ has four covered and eight outdoor, including<br />

a singles). It also has four courts in Cornwall and<br />

plans for four courts at Dyrham Park Golf & Country<br />

Club in Barnet, North London, bringing its total to 24.<br />

<strong>The</strong> <strong>Bandeja</strong> understands that Rocks Lane founder<br />

Chris Warren is looking to add another six courts<br />

to the portfolio at a location yet to be revealed.<br />

<strong>The</strong> operator currently offers<br />

padel in eight UK Clubs - Chigwell,<br />

Bushey, Raynes Park, Bicester,<br />

Cheadle, Harbour Club Chelsea,<br />

as well as new clubs Rugby and<br />

Shawfair, Edinburgh.<br />

David Lloyd spokesperson Liz<br />

Bartlett said: “<strong>The</strong> aim is to have<br />

about 170 courts across 133 clubs<br />

by the middle of next year. Spain<br />

already had a good share of courts,<br />

but we’re spreading. We’re building<br />

them in other countries, but a big<br />

focus on the UK. We’re expanding<br />

at pace and it’s an area where we<br />

are seriously investing in. Where<br />

it’s possible, where it’s practical,<br />

we’re introducing it.”<br />

34 Buy <strong>The</strong> <strong>Bandeja</strong> print copies at www.thebandeja.com<br />

thebandeja.com | SUMMER <strong>2024</strong><br />


Move over<br />

football...<br />

<strong>The</strong> Social Sports Society has opened its first venue<br />

- three courts close to Wembley Stadium in North London.<br />

Wembley Padel is the<br />

neighbourhood’s first padel venue<br />

and bookings have been rolling in<br />

via Playtomic. A series of events<br />

and coaching programmes will be<br />

announced for <strong>summer</strong>.<br />

A Social Sports Society spokesperson<br />

said: “<strong>The</strong> venue will be welcomed<br />

by local padel fans, among whom<br />

there’s a high demand for courts.<br />

With an on-site snack bar and comfy<br />

seating, players will enjoy a space<br />

to socialise before and after matches.<br />

It boasts a central location close to<br />

Wembley BOXPARK, London Designer<br />

Outlet and, of course, Wembley<br />

Stadium itself.”<br />

After securing the site from<br />

developers Quintain Living last year,<br />

the company worked with courts<br />

manufacturer MejorSet to prepare<br />

for opening.<br />

Hayling Island life<br />

Life on Hayling Island may soon be<br />

boosted by the addition of padel if<br />

Seacourt Tennis Club gets plans for<br />

two floodlit courts past planners at<br />

Havant Borough Council.<br />

<strong>The</strong> club is unusual in that it already<br />

offers padel, but on a rackets court<br />

that is slightly shorter and narrower.<br />

Despite this, the Seacourt Padel<br />

Group has been running for several<br />

years, with ‘upwards of 100 people<br />

playing’ according to comments on the<br />

borough council’s planning portal.<br />

<strong>The</strong> scheme has attracted strong<br />

feelings for and against. One<br />

supporter said: “<strong>The</strong> current makeshift<br />

padel court at Seacourt is the<br />

wrong size and has the wrong wall and<br />

floor playing surfaces. It floods when<br />

it rains and is insufferably hot and<br />

airless when the sun shines. Despite<br />

these drawbacks the demand to play<br />

Social Sports Society founder Jesper<br />

Konstantinov, a London-based<br />

entrepreneur, said: “Padel is one of<br />

the most fun, accessible sports. It can<br />

be played at any level, it’s easy to<br />

learn and has a unique ability to bring<br />

together a cross-section of society.”<br />

* To read more about the Social Sports<br />

Society and Jesper’s padel plans for<br />

the UK visit www.thebandeja.com<br />

and search ‘Jesper’<br />

is ever-increasing and, as word gets<br />

around, will soon outgrow even these<br />

very much sub-standard facilities.”<br />

<strong>The</strong> plan also has the support of the<br />

council’s leisure officer, who said the<br />

courts had ‘the potential to impact<br />

positively on the borough’s poor<br />

physical activity levels and health<br />

inequalities by providing a new<br />

sporting offer to the borough’.<br />

A decision on the scheme is awaited.<br />

PadelStars<br />

shoots onto the<br />

club scene<br />

PadelStars is a new name with big<br />

ambitions - eight new padel clubs<br />

and 27 courts to be precise - with its<br />

first (one court at Berkshire County<br />

Sports Club in Reading) already<br />

up and running.<br />

Founders Andy Knee and Jamie<br />

Brooke are working with sports clubs<br />

and leisure facilities to introduce padel<br />

to their sites, with five more venues<br />

planned to open this year - Golfplex,<br />

Bracknell (four courts); Trojans Hockey<br />

Club, Southampton (six courts);<br />

Ferndown, Bournemouth (two courts<br />

plus pickleball); Batchwood Golf and<br />

Sports Centre, Harpenden (two courts)<br />

and Old Loughtonians Hockey Club,<br />

Chigwell (four courts). <strong>The</strong> company<br />

is using its own app - PadelStars<br />

- for court bookings.<br />

PadelStars is sponsoring Southampton’s Trojans Hockey Club<br />

U16 boys team, which had an amazing 2022-3 season (English<br />

Hockey Tier 1 Championship & English Hockey Tier 1 Supra<br />

League Championship winners).<br />

PadelStars’ Jamie<br />

Brooke, Jeevan<br />

Gill (Director of<br />

Operations) and<br />

Andy Knee.<br />

In addition, it has plans to develop<br />

padel at Basildon Sporting Village in<br />

Essex (four courts) and <strong>The</strong> Three Hills<br />

Sports Park in Folkestone (three courts).<br />

PadelStars recently announced<br />

major investment in the business by<br />

leisure specialist the Dwellcourt<br />

Group. Jeff Hilliard, Dwellcourt<br />

Chairman, said they’d ‘had several’<br />

approaches by padel operators hoping<br />

to build courts on their sites. “Andy<br />

and Jamie stood apart for their vision,<br />

dynamism and professionalism,”<br />

he said. “With a pipeline of strong new<br />

sites being secured, we have decided<br />

to once again back impressive<br />

people and see how we might offer<br />

our operational experience as well as<br />

our investment to help them scale<br />

their business.”<br />

10 court<br />

plan<br />

An ambitious scheme to build<br />

indoor padel courts could score<br />

two UK firsts - the first listed<br />

building to be turned into a padel<br />

centre and the first to have two<br />

floors of courts. Owners of the<br />

Grade II*-listed Machine Shop<br />

No 8, at Chatham Dockside, Kent,<br />

have gained consent to install 10<br />

padel courts - two floors of five<br />

- into the historic building, built<br />

in 1840 and believed to be one of<br />

the oldest surviving iron-framed<br />

dry dock covers. <strong>The</strong> building<br />

will be restored and partially<br />

clad in aluminium to protect the<br />

skeleton structure.<br />

Padel<br />

Enable-d<br />

Four popup padel courts have<br />

opened for the <strong>summer</strong> in<br />

Battersea Park’s Millennium<br />

Arena thanks to an initiative<br />

by not-for-profit organisation<br />

Enable, which manages facilities<br />

for Wandsworth Council.<br />

Enable has also turned the popup<br />

court it installed at Battersea<br />

Sports Centre last September<br />

into a permanent court, with<br />

hopes that it may be able to do<br />

the same at Battersea Park.<br />

All courts are bookable through<br />

the Padel Mates app.<br />

36 SUMMER <strong>2024</strong> | thebandeja.com thebandeja.com | SUMMER <strong>2024</strong><br />


feature<br />

padium<br />

Pinpointing<br />

padel nirvana<br />

On the road - Paul Lloyd<br />

38<br />

What makes a great padel club? It’s a question with a lot of answers<br />

- and to nail them down Soul Padel went on a road trip visiting UK<br />

venues ahead of opening its own. <strong>The</strong> <strong>Bandeja</strong> reports.<br />

With facilities popping up quicker than<br />

daffodils in spring, ensuring you have<br />

all the right elements to be a success<br />

is essential.<br />

So what better way to find out than<br />

go to those that have already trodden<br />

this path, which is exactly what Mark<br />

Hewlett, founder of Soul Padel, and his<br />

business partner Paul Lloyd, did.<br />

<strong>The</strong>y chalked up more than 1,400<br />

miles, visiting eight venues in pursuit<br />

of perfection, calling in to Bristol’s<br />

Rocket Padel and Surge Padel, plus<br />

Surge Padel in Harrogate. <strong>The</strong>re was<br />

a double date in the north-east<br />

going to the newly opened True<br />

Padel in Durham and Middlesbrough<br />

Padel Club (one of the UK’s longest<br />

running clubs). <strong>The</strong> final destinations<br />

were Chiswick’s Rocks Lane, Club de<br />

Padel in Manchester and Alderley<br />

Park in Cheshire.<br />

Mark shares why he and Paul decided<br />

to embark on such an extensive<br />

research mission, what he has learned<br />

about the padel scene in the UK.<br />

What gave you the idea to<br />

visit other venues?<br />

We wanted to make friends in the<br />

padel world and learn from those that<br />

have travelled the path we are taking.<br />

What did you want to learn?<br />

Firstly, how to play padel better! And<br />

ultimately what is the ‘secret sauce’<br />

that makes a great venue.<br />

Mark Hewlett<br />

What did you learn?<br />

<strong>The</strong> venue has to be about much<br />

more than playing padel. Successful<br />

clubs are also places where people<br />

want to be. Meeting friends, playing<br />

padel and making new connections.<br />

Competitive socialising is what we are<br />

calling it.<br />

What do these venues do well?<br />

• <strong>The</strong> quality of the courts really<br />

matters. Players are looking for<br />

consistency of conditions to help<br />

improve their games.<br />

• Access to good quality coaching<br />

is vital to enhance development<br />

and encourage new players to take<br />

up the sport.<br />

• A welcoming and friendly<br />

atmosphere is a must.<br />

• A good mix of events, competitions,<br />

leagues and corporate hosting<br />

all make for a great club<br />

environment too.<br />

Who did you meet on<br />

your travels?<br />

At Rock’s Lane we met club owner<br />

Chris Warren and longtime friend<br />

and iPadel guru Ian Colligon.<br />

At Middlesborough Padel Centre<br />

we met owner and padel<br />

pioneer Nigel Garton alongside his<br />

son <strong>The</strong>o, ranked in the top eight<br />

GB men. We also had the pleasure<br />

of hitting with Libby Fletcher, coach<br />

of the GB ladies padel team. At<br />

Surge Padel we met owner Stuart<br />

Perrin and got resoundingly<br />

beaten by him and his operations<br />

manager 6-0 6-0 6-0!<br />

Did you play padel at<br />

each venue?<br />

Almost. We wanted to get a<br />

real customer experience -<br />

experiencing playing indoors vs<br />

outdoors, different lighting systems,<br />

alternate turf colours, the quality<br />

and price of rental gear, the<br />

showers and changing facilities.<br />

Which brands had they partnered<br />

with and why? What was the proshop<br />

like? Could we park easily and<br />

find the venue quickly - basically<br />

we looked at absolutely everything.<br />

Soul Padel has partnered<br />

with Decathlon to open two<br />

courts each at Decathlon<br />

Stockport and Glasgow for the<br />

<strong>summer</strong>. Book via its website<br />

www.soulpadel.co.uk<br />

<strong>The</strong> Padel & Pickleball Club Builder is a<br />

new-launch B2B supplier directory for<br />

organisations and companies supporting<br />

the development of padel and pickleball<br />

clubs and venues.<br />

It is brought to you by the team behind<br />

<strong>The</strong> <strong>Bandeja</strong>.<br />

If you are a court manufacturer, court<br />

builder, canopy supplier, manufacturer of<br />

portable buildings, acoustic curtains, or<br />

provide F&B services, planning assistance,<br />

legal support, security solutions, turf, nets,<br />

equipment, rackets and apparel for pro<br />

shops etc get in touch for more information.<br />

emma@thebandeja.com<br />

To order print copies<br />

of <strong>The</strong> <strong>Bandeja</strong> head over<br />

to our web shop<br />

www.thebandeja.com<br />

/buy-gear/<br />

Buy <strong>The</strong> <strong>Bandeja</strong> print copies at www.thebandeja.com thebandeja.com | SUMMER <strong>2024</strong><br />

39<br />

ISSUE 3 / Summer <strong>2024</strong> £6<br />

From tennis<br />

to padel<br />

soft, patient, lob!<br />

Manchester<br />

a padel oasis<br />

padel at the<br />

Olympics<br />

when & where?<br />

WIN! A £295<br />

Wilson Racket<br />

Heads up<br />

it’s a BOA!

Club de Padel, Manchester.<br />

Image courtesy of JPDrone.<br />

Manchester<br />

A padel oasis<br />

In the last <strong>issue</strong> we threw a spotlight on padel’s takeover of Bristol. But<br />

while it was basking in the glory of being the UK’s padel hero with 35<br />

courts, Manchester and its surrounds were making plans to claim the<br />

crown, with 24 courts now open and 38 planned. <strong>The</strong> <strong>Bandeja</strong> reports.<br />

First we need to start with a<br />

disclaimer. Wilmslow is actually<br />

in Cheshire but for the purposes<br />

of this piece we’re bringing it into<br />

the Manchester/Greater Manchester<br />

fold because conversation about<br />

the city’s padel scene really needs to<br />

start with <strong>The</strong> Padel Club in Wilmslow.<br />

This is where padel’s ascent in the<br />

North West began, with two ‘concept<br />

courts’ growing into a thriving fourcourt<br />

padel hub with expansion plans<br />

for four new - and covered - courts<br />

on an adjacent site. <strong>The</strong> Padel Club<br />

is also behind £2 million plans for 11<br />

courts (nine of which will be covered)<br />

at TraffordCity, a scheme hoped to be<br />

open by the end of the year.<br />

In less than two years the club has<br />

established a strong and committed<br />

player base; founder and CEO Kris<br />

Ball recently stated that it’s had<br />

more than 10,000 players through the<br />

doors at Wilmslow, and more than<br />

1,000 ‘unique’ players each month.<br />

Included in these numbers are a fair<br />

few celebs, including former England<br />

cricket captains Michael Vaughan<br />

and Jos Butler, actors, footballers and<br />

even Strictly stars (Katya Jones is a<br />

big fan, as is her friend and former<br />

40 SUMMER <strong>2024</strong> | thebandeja.com<br />

thebandeja.com | SUMMER <strong>2024</strong><br />


<strong>The</strong> Padel Club, Wilmslow.<br />

Aimee Fuller and Scott Thomas at <strong>The</strong> Padel Club.<br />

An impression of how <strong>The</strong> Padel Club<br />

at TraffordCity will look.<br />

<strong>The</strong> team at Manchester Padel Club (from left) Director of Padel<br />

Leo Padovani, coach Rachel Thomas and co-founder David Thomas.<br />

Olympic snowboarder turned<br />

media personality/HOP tournament<br />

compere Aimee Fuller).<br />

Football - and padel’s popularity<br />

with its high-profile players - has no<br />

doubt been a driver in the game’s<br />

development, as Kris explained: “It<br />

has been very good for the growth<br />

of the sport in general,” he said. And<br />

Manchester in particular? “A lot of<br />

footballers are playing and that<br />

brings a lot of exposure in social<br />

media. That is a big factor, and<br />

including cricket and rugby players,<br />

it undoubtedly helps.”<br />

Manchester Padel Club<br />

David Thomas, co-founder of<br />

Manchester Padel Club in Heald<br />

Green, credits <strong>The</strong> Padel Club for<br />

getting the ball rolling and he too<br />

believes that football has been<br />

integral to padel gaining a strong<br />

foothold in and around the city.<br />

“<strong>The</strong> football connection to padel<br />

is strong, the two sports work well<br />

together,” David told <strong>The</strong> <strong>Bandeja</strong>.<br />

“Padel really took off in the region<br />

with the opening of the Padel Club.<br />

<strong>The</strong> team there did a great job of<br />

marketing the sport. Since then Club<br />

de Padel has opened as well as our<br />

own club, Manchester Padel Club.”<br />

But, as is the case for most padel<br />

facility operators, the route to<br />

opening new courts has not been<br />

quick, as David explained: “While it<br />

may seem like padel is just gaining<br />

traction in the city, the journey to<br />

this point spans at least 15 years.<br />

Initially the only court in Greater<br />

Manchester was tucked away in a<br />

warehouse in Bury. Frustrated by the<br />

lack of accessibility, players often<br />

travelled to Yorkshire to play.<br />

“From there, Manchester City<br />

Football Club built a private court<br />

at its training facility. Some local<br />

players were lucky enough to be<br />

invited to play there but there was<br />

still unmet demand for courts,”<br />

added David, who was keen to<br />

develop his own padel facility.<br />

“However at this point we were well<br />

aware that not that many people<br />

knew what padel was. An indoor<br />

club in Birmingham had also gone<br />

bust so as a business opportunity it<br />

was seen as a risk,” he said.<br />

Fast forward a few years and David<br />

was given a helping hand by former<br />

world No 1 Fernando Belasteguin’s<br />

agent and former Deportivo de<br />

La Coruña player Francisco (Fran)<br />

González Pérez, leading to a<br />

meeting with Leo Padovani, a former<br />

international padel champion. He had<br />

been scouting for his own location<br />

and the pair joined forces.<br />

<strong>The</strong> result is Manchester Padel Club,<br />

with Leo in place as Director of Padel.<br />

His elite standing - he’s a former<br />

world top 10 player and coach to<br />

many of the world’s leading players<br />

including former No 1 Juan Martin Diaz<br />

who recently featured in the ITVtelevised<br />

Hexagon Cup.<br />

Leo said: “We’re establishing a worldclass<br />

padel academy in Greater<br />

Manchester. Having played alongside<br />

and coached some of the world’s<br />

best players, I’m confident that, with<br />

the benefits of our unique training<br />

facilities and our team’s experience<br />

in padel, we can introduce a<br />

whole new level of padel sporting<br />

excellence to the region.”<br />

<strong>The</strong> pay-to-play club opened last<br />

July with one court and now has<br />

three, including a game-changer<br />

tech-enabled covered show court<br />

with stadium seating, making it a<br />

perfect location for tournaments.<br />

David described it as ‘one of<br />

Manchester’s best kept sporting<br />

secrets’ - but it’s now stepped into<br />

the spotlight and is rolling out a<br />

programme of initiatives, including<br />

padel for schools and hopes for a<br />

disability/adaptive padel scheme in<br />

collaboration with specialist advisors<br />

(including Paul Kelly from Manchester<br />

City’s City in the Community disability<br />

programme and the LTA’s Sue<br />

Morrison).<br />

“We want to establish our club -<br />

and the region - as the place where<br />

people from elite level all the way<br />

through to beginners can come to<br />

learn the game, improve their skills<br />

and ultimately have fun,” said David.<br />

Manchester Padel Club.<br />

And when he talks elite he means<br />

elite, even if the sport is not padel;<br />

Usain Bolt has been training and<br />

playing at the club when in town<br />

and a number of well-known names<br />

have also enjoyed honing their skills<br />

in what has until now been a relatively<br />

private setting.<br />

Club de Padel<br />

One of the most exciting padel<br />

developments in Manchester is<br />

Club de Padel in the city centre. <strong>The</strong><br />

brainwave of three friends with a<br />

Olympic sprinter<br />

Usain Bolt on court at<br />

Manchester Padel Club.<br />

passion for padel - David Blake,<br />

Matt McKinlay and James<br />

Wigglesworth - the club has proved<br />

hugely popular, with thousands<br />

of players streaming through its<br />

doors since it opened just before<br />

Christmas. <strong>The</strong> location is an<br />

inspired choice; Club de Padel<br />

nestles beneath the tallest towers<br />

in Manchester in the city’s emerging<br />

New Jackson on Deansgate area.<br />

Exposure for the sport is guaranteed,<br />

with thousands of people living and<br />

working in the area.<br />

42<br />

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thebandeja.com | SUMMER <strong>2024</strong><br />


feature<br />

Pure Padel founders Sammy Amora<br />

& Fraser Higson.<br />

<strong>The</strong> Pure Padel courts<br />

at Alderley Park.<br />

<strong>The</strong> courts may serve a city centre<br />

population of 80,000 but its founders<br />

didn’t take it as red that ‘build<br />

and they will come’ would apply,<br />

with David Blake explaining that<br />

organising a variety of sessions,<br />

including coaching, has been key to<br />

building a padel community - and<br />

an occupancy rate that rarely drops<br />

below 90%.<br />

“We were always quite confident that<br />

a new padel club in Manchester city<br />

centre would be popular, but to be<br />

honest even we’ve been surprised by<br />

how busy it’s been,” he said. “We’ve<br />

hosted more than 6,000 matches in<br />

our first four months and coached<br />

close to 1,000 players - many of<br />

whom were completely new to the<br />

sport and are now regular players,<br />

which is really rewarding to see.<br />

“Community and experience<br />

are absolutely key for us. We’re<br />

an experience-led club - the<br />

service, music, merchandise and<br />

community are at the forefront of<br />

our minds. Anyone can buy great<br />

courts and maintain them. It’s all in<br />

the extras for us. We’ve created a<br />

third space for city dwellers and<br />

the resident workforce alike,<br />

hosting first dates, meetings, hens<br />

& birthday parties, global sporting<br />

brands and world class athletes<br />

in their downtime.<br />

Pure Padel, Alderley Park.<br />

“Our Padel 101 sessions - teaching the<br />

basics to new players - continue to<br />

be some of the most popular, which<br />

is great, as it means we’re welcoming<br />

dozens of new players into our<br />

community every week. Equally our<br />

new ‘Improver & Intermediate Socials’<br />

are selling out well in advance.<br />

We’re proud to be at the vanguard<br />

of padel in Manchester, which is<br />

being driven in no small part by our<br />

active, experience-seeking and social<br />

media-savvy community. Manchester<br />

is one of the most famous sporting<br />

cities in the world so it’s no surprise<br />

the world’s fastest growing sport has<br />

exploded here.”<br />

Meanwhile<br />

Club de Padel is also interesting<br />

because it’s a ‘meanwhile project’,<br />

making use of a site earmarked for<br />

development but with no date for<br />

that yet in the calendar. It’s a growing<br />

trend - Padium in Canary Wharf,<br />

London, is another example and<br />

more applications are being made<br />

for padel facilities citing ‘temporary<br />

change of use’ or ‘temporary<br />

permission’. Given the level of<br />

investment that goes into developing<br />

these projects there is very little<br />

temporary about them. Savvy<br />

building owners and commercial<br />

property agents are increasingly<br />

seeing the value in a padel tenant,<br />

Club de Padel founders David Blake,<br />

James Wigglesworth, Matt McKinlay.<br />

which is a real positive for those<br />

searching for sites.<br />

Pure Padel<br />

<strong>The</strong> Padel Club in Wilmslow is<br />

not the only operator looking to<br />

branch out with new sites. Pure<br />

Padel, which opened three courts<br />

in Alderley Park last October has<br />

planning applications currently under<br />

consideration for six indoor courts<br />

in Cheetham Hill and five courts at<br />

Manchester Maccabi Community<br />

and Sports Club in Prestwich. <strong>The</strong><br />

Cheetham Hill scheme, if successful,<br />

will be the first indoor padel club in<br />

the region, a huge feather in the cap<br />

of Fraser Higson and Sammy Amora,<br />

the team behind Pure Padel.<br />

<strong>The</strong> number of players it’s welcomed<br />

runs into the thousands, something<br />

Sammy puts down to using court<br />

booking platform Playtomic: “It really<br />

helped us achieve those numbers<br />

in such a short space of time as we<br />

could really tap into a huge customer<br />

base that other padel clubs in the<br />

area generated beforehand! We are<br />

operating at high court occupancy,<br />

the key to operate successful padel<br />

clubs is to drive occupancy during<br />

the off peak hours of the day.”<br />

<strong>The</strong> venue also works hard to raise<br />

awareness of the sport and, as<br />

Sammy put it, ‘get as many rackets<br />

in hands’ as possible. Pure Padel hosts<br />

regular intro to padel sessions and<br />

beginner socials, plus private events<br />

- think birthday parties, team<br />

bonding, networking days etc -<br />

and has a keen focus on coaching.<br />

“We place a huge impetus on<br />

delivering great coaching. It not only<br />

drives occupancy during the off peak<br />

hours but it is also great for customer<br />

retention when people see their level<br />

and ability improve,” added Sammy.<br />

Northern’s rock<br />

At the Northern Lawn Tennis Club,<br />

its two covered padel courts have<br />

generated significant income for the<br />

private club, with peak hours and<br />

weekends generally fully booked<br />

since the courts opened in November.<br />

Managing director Jonathan Kinsella<br />

described their introduction as<br />

‘transformative’ in bringing the club<br />

together: “It has allowed people to<br />

find common ground, have a bit<br />

of a laugh and a joke and given us<br />

an opportunity for growth. It’s been<br />

massive for the club,” he said.<br />

“<strong>The</strong> money generated from<br />

padel is astounding.”<br />

<strong>The</strong> courts - opened by Stockport’s<br />

Wimbledon ace Liam Broady - are<br />

open to non-members (who pay<br />

more) and the club has seen interest<br />

from its health and fitness members<br />

too, including those who have never<br />

played a racket sport, as well as<br />

tennis and squash players. “It has<br />

been something that has really<br />

bought the club together and we are<br />

glad that we made a leap of faith<br />

with it,” added Jonathan.<br />

However, the road to gaining planning<br />

for the courts was ‘brutal’ according<br />

to Jonathan, with fierce local<br />

opposition to the scheme and the<br />

involvement of MPs. But, despite the<br />

two courts replacing championship<br />

level grass tennis courts, the scheme<br />

gained the backing of planners<br />

and pressed ahead with the help<br />

of funding from the LTA (the tennis<br />

courts were replaced with three<br />

synthetic courts).<br />

Courts Open<br />

Manchester Padel Club 3 courts Heald Green<br />

Soul Padel 2 courts Stockport Decathlon (3 months only)<br />

<strong>The</strong> Padel Club 4 courts Wilmslow<br />

Pure Padel 3 courts Alderly Park<br />

Club de Padel 4 courts Deansgate<br />

David Lloyd 3 courts Manchester TraffordCity<br />

2 courts Cheadle<br />

Hale Country Club 2 courts Altrincham<br />

Courts Planned<br />

<strong>The</strong> Padel Club<br />

4 covered Wilmslow<br />

11 courts TraffordCity<br />

Pure Padel 6 indoor Cheetham Hill<br />

5 courts Manchester Maccabi Community<br />

& Sports Club, Prestwich<br />

Powerleague 6 courts Manchester Nicholls site<br />

Dunham Forest Golf Club 2 courts Altrincham<br />

Manchester Padel Club 2 courts Heald Green<br />

Discussions are now underway to add<br />

a third - and possibly fourth - padel<br />

court. Just don’t tell the neighbours!<br />

Let’s get social<br />

Manchester’s court count had been<br />

heading for 64 but the Social Sports<br />

Society’s plans for nine covered<br />

courts in Peary Street were withdrawn.<br />

Let’s hope they return to the table -<br />

the scheme for temporary use of a<br />

former industrial site included multiuse<br />

courts, boule/pétanque courts,<br />

a bouldering wall and kids’ obstacle<br />

course, would no doubt have been a<br />

valuable addition to the area. •<br />

<strong>The</strong> Hook Club 4 courts Champneys Mottram Hall Hotel<br />

44<br />

SUMMER <strong>2024</strong> | thebandeja.com thebandeja.com | SUMMER <strong>2024</strong><br />


Jack’s<br />

blockbuster<br />

year of<br />

padel<br />

By Robert Mitchell<br />

By any account Jack Binstead has<br />

packed a lot into his 27 years.<br />

But before we even roll the<br />

highlights reel it’s important to<br />

note that everything Jack has<br />

achieved must be prefixed by the fact<br />

that he suffers from Osteogenesis<br />

Imperfecta or Brittle Bone disease,<br />

which has seen him suffer more<br />

100 broken bones as a result of this<br />

debilitating and potentially lifethreatening<br />

condition.<br />

Yet Jack is a special character and<br />

despite this ‘challenging condition’<br />

by the age of nine he was already<br />

wheelchair racing before going on<br />

to represent the disabled England<br />

pool team in his early 20s. <strong>The</strong>n of<br />

course there was his starring role as<br />

Rem Dog in BBC 3’s Bad Education<br />

which spawned a part in the Disney<br />

production of 101 Dalmatians.<br />

Jack & Alessandro<br />

But now Jack’s love of padel is looking<br />

to make <strong>2024</strong> his blockbuster year.<br />

He’s already represented the newly<br />

founded GB Adaptive Padel Team in<br />

international competition in Dubai,<br />

Milan and Barcelona, at the behest<br />

of the legendary Alessandro Ossola,<br />

founder of the Inclusive Padel Tour<br />

(padel played by a disabled player<br />

partnering a non-disabled partner).<br />

<strong>The</strong>n there is the small matter of<br />

Jack lobbying for padel to become a<br />

paralympic sport!<br />

“Alessandro is one of the loveliest<br />

guys I’ve met and he is so passionate<br />

about what he does. He made<br />

contact with me back in October<br />

about coming out to Dubai and<br />

being part of the IPT association. So<br />

I’ve now played alongside him and I<br />

know he has big plans to expand over<br />

the next couple of years and there is<br />

a chance I will play a part in that and<br />

that is very exciting,” said Jack, who<br />

is supported by, Rocks Lane padel<br />

centre in Chiswick, West London.<br />

“I’m in Rome in June under the IPT<br />

with Alessandro, it will be slightly<br />

different as I won’t have Luke<br />

(Dolphin) as my doubles partner<br />

there due to an injury he suffered,<br />

so another coach from Rocks Lane<br />

will hopefully fill in. <strong>The</strong>re will also be<br />

a few more tournaments over the<br />

year with the biggest one in Nigeria<br />

in December. I will be attending that<br />

one and that is exciting. I am also in<br />

conversation with a few international<br />

padel clubs about hosting with us<br />

from an England Adaptive Padel<br />

Team perspective – so a lot going<br />

on really!”<br />

GB aspirations<br />

Jack’s horizons are, however, far<br />

from limited by the calendar year:<br />

“Because padel is not a paralympic<br />

sport there isn’t a paralympic<br />

GB team. I am looking to have<br />

conversations with the right people<br />

so we can officially have a GB<br />

padel team for wheelchairs and<br />

disabilities as there is, of course, a<br />

Team GB for able-bodied people.<br />

“<strong>The</strong>re is great potential for<br />

collaboration with them at some<br />

point but when I came into padel<br />

I was made aware that I was one<br />

of the only people in a wheelchair<br />

playing padel, so we were already<br />

late to the game compared with<br />

Europe. What I don’t want to find<br />

is that they approve padel for the<br />

Olympics and we don’t have a<br />

team until it’s too late.”<br />

LTA support<br />

With Jack now a ‘veteran’ of three<br />

international padel tournaments<br />

at which his form has steadily<br />

Jack is now Padel Site Supervisor for<br />

the Social Sports Society’s new padel<br />

centre in Wembley, North London.<br />

improved, his prospects have been<br />

given a huge boost by the donation<br />

of a ‘quickie’ wheelchair from the<br />

LTA, which helped propel him to his<br />

best padel yet at an international<br />

tournament in Barcelona.<br />

When it comes to the benefits of<br />

a new set of wheels, Jack admits<br />

it has been a game-changer:<br />

“Although I don’t actually have the<br />

upgraded chair I’d like at this point<br />

(weighing 6kg and costing around<br />

£5,000) through training with the<br />

LTA I was given an upgraded tennis<br />

chair to use and this is pretty<br />

significant compared to what I<br />

used out in Dubai.<br />

“I have made contact with RGK<br />

wheelchairs, which provides chairs<br />

for all the top disability player in<br />

tennis like Alfie Hewitt and Gordon<br />

Reid, so I’ve been sized up for<br />

a chair and I have a quote but<br />

at this point I can’t afford it all<br />

myself and I’m looking to get<br />

sponsorship to cover it. <strong>The</strong>re is a<br />

fair amount I can provide in return<br />

for sponsorship,” added Jack.<br />

His determination to make a<br />

difference by making padel<br />

accessible to people like him is<br />

impressive: “I am looking to find<br />

as many people with disabilities<br />

as possible and get them onto<br />

a court and give them a racket<br />

and I am sure they will fall in love<br />

with padel just like I did the first<br />

time I played it. So far it’s me and<br />

Rob Teague, who was originally a<br />

wheelchair tennis player and who<br />

Jack<br />

with Luke<br />

Dolphin.<br />

made the final 16 in Milan and he<br />

is very strong and powerful and<br />

just a good player.<br />

“I have managed to get two<br />

others along with wheelchairs to<br />

Rocks Lane and they will come<br />

back whenever they can and I<br />

am in conversations with a few<br />

different padel companies and<br />

clubs about them helping me in<br />

growing the team and getting<br />

more people to join us.”<br />

If you are interested in<br />

supporting Jack’s ambitions for<br />

adaptive padel, helping sponsor<br />

his new wheelchair or want to<br />

know more about joining Jack’s<br />

adaptive padel squad email:<br />

luke@rockslane.co.uk. •<br />

46 Buy <strong>The</strong> <strong>Bandeja</strong> print copies at www.thebandeja.com<br />

thebandeja.com | SUMMER <strong>2024</strong><br />


ireland<br />

the most inclusive<br />

Padel club in the<br />

world?<br />

When Padel Tennis Ireland threw open its doors in November<br />

it was less an ‘opening’ and more a crashing onto the padel<br />

scene, with it quickly scooping up scores of new players and<br />

a raft of awards. Lee McLaughlan reports.<br />

It’s fair to say that Padel Tennis<br />

Ireland founder Mark White is<br />

a man on a mission - and that<br />

mission is very clear.“Our ethos is<br />

all about inclusivity and we want to<br />

do everything possible - and give<br />

back as much as we can - to the<br />

amazing Cork organisations that are<br />

doing so much for so many,” he said.<br />

That the club is a shining beacon of<br />

inclusivity is driven by Mark’s personal<br />

experience: “I was bullied the whole<br />

way through secondary school. From<br />

the age of 13 to 18 I went to school<br />

every day with a knot in my stomach,<br />

not wanting to talk about it – so I<br />

know what it’s like to be different.<br />

At several times in my life I’ve been<br />

excluded from things - so for me it<br />

feels very rewarding to have a facility<br />

where everyone feels welcome and<br />

nobody is excluded,” he added.<br />

It’s therefore no surprise that the<br />

latest award making its way into the<br />

already groaning Padel Tennis Ireland<br />

trophy cabinet is for inclusivity and<br />

diversity, with the judges of <strong>The</strong> Pride<br />

of Cork Awards <strong>2024</strong> recognising<br />

the impact the facility has had<br />

in making padel accessible to the<br />

whole community. <strong>The</strong> award joins<br />

the trophy for Cork’s New Business<br />

of the Year 2023, scooped just three<br />

weeks after opening. <br />

This was further cemented in<br />

March when Mark and his partner<br />

Jeremy Coyle announced a new<br />

Sports Partnership Programme<br />

working with 300 businesses to<br />

deliver tangible impacts for 300<br />

voluntary, social, civic, charitable<br />

and non-profit organisations in the<br />

county.Mark, an experienced tennis<br />

coach, has been working in inclusive<br />

sports for a decade, leading<br />

programmes for blind and visually<br />

impaired children, <strong>summer</strong> camps<br />

for children with neurological and<br />

physical disabilities and those with<br />

dyspraxia and autism.<br />

He said: “I used to get dozens of<br />

heartfelt messages from people<br />

saying you really don’t appreciate<br />

how that one hour is the highlight<br />

of the week for those children and<br />

their families. I don’t do it for the<br />

money, it’s not for a moral<br />

compass either, I do that because<br />

I enjoy it.”<br />

Bougie<br />

<strong>The</strong> idea of opening a padel facility<br />

began on a tennis trip to La Manga<br />

in May 2022. Mark and Jeremy, a<br />

wine maker from Sydney, had taken<br />

a group of Mark’s tennis playing<br />

clients on a tennis and wine trip<br />

to Spain. After the tennis sessions<br />

everyone would indulge in game<br />

of padel and feedback from the trip<br />

was nothing short of a holiday of a<br />

lifetime – with padel being the star of<br />

the show, which set Mark and Jeremy<br />

off on their padel adventure.Having<br />

competed in provincial and national<br />

level tennis tournaments in Cork for<br />

most of his childhood, Mark knew it<br />

had all the right ingredients for their<br />

foray into padel, particularly given<br />

the Cork population’s love of sport. <br />

<strong>The</strong>y drafted a business plan, found<br />

a location and their passion for<br />

the project, mixed with inclusivity<br />

at the core, secured them silent<br />

investors.Mark said: “We got the<br />

funding on a Monday, purchased the<br />

courts on a Tuesday and the<br />

fit-out started in the middle of August.<br />

We opened the doors on November<br />

4th - so it all came together very<br />

quickly! We have created is an<br />

incredible sports facility for everyone.<br />

<strong>The</strong> word bougie is only in my<br />

vocabulary since we opened, but<br />

people say the facility is very bougie<br />

with a slick and eye-catching blue,<br />

black and grey colour scheme.”<strong>The</strong><br />

inclusivity theme continues in how the<br />

facility operates, with no joining fee<br />

or membership structure, so reduced<br />

economic barriers to participation. <br />

Rebels<br />

Padel Tennis Ireland founder Mark White (fifth from left).<br />

“It was amazing that the<br />

narrative of what we’re trying<br />

to get across has been so read,<br />

so received, even at the highest<br />

level of Irish government.”<br />

To generate interest in their new<br />

business Mark contacted more than<br />

100 schools and put on a range of<br />

activities for clubs and associations<br />

across Cork. Users have included<br />

the Rebel Wheelers, a group of<br />

youngsters using wheelchairs who<br />

tried padel for the first time, the<br />

Sundays Well Rebels, a mixed<br />

ability rugby team, and the Bloom<br />

Youth Group, for children aged<br />

eight to 16 years who have<br />

neurological disabilities.<br />

While the club’s inclusivity<br />

programmes have been a smash<br />

hit, the centre has proved hugely<br />

popular with the wider Cork sportsloving<br />

community, with more than<br />

11,000 players passing through its<br />

Mark White, founder, Padel Tennis Ireland<br />

doors in under five months.It<br />

also welcomed Irish government<br />

Minister Simon Coveney to officially<br />

open the courts.<br />

A second community opening<br />

was broadcast on local TV and<br />

attended by Speaker of the Irish<br />

Senate, Senator Jerry Buttimer,<br />

David Stanton TD (equivalent of<br />

a UK MP) and Coun Anthony Barry.<br />

Blind padel player Anna Nora took<br />

a starring role at the event,<br />

stepping up to cut the ribbon.<br />

All VIPs were forthcoming in their<br />

praise of Mark and Jeremy. “<strong>The</strong>re<br />

was such flattery, and I don’t know<br />

how many times the word inclusion<br />

was used,” Mark said. “It was<br />

amazing to hear that the narrative<br />

of what we’re trying to get across<br />

has been so read, so received,<br />

even at the highest level of<br />

Irish government.” •<br />

Tennis Ireland<br />

Factfile<br />

Courts<br />

4 indoors with plans for 4 more<br />

Head Coach<br />

Laia Raigal<br />

Booking<br />

via TPC-Matchpoint on<br />

the website<br />

Opening hours<br />

9am-10pm<br />

Cost<br />

From €43.60/hr/court<br />

Address<br />

Fota Junction Retail Park,<br />

Carrigtwohill, Co Cork<br />

48<br />

SUMMER <strong>2024</strong> | thebandeja.com<br />

thebandeja.com | SUMMER <strong>2024</strong><br />


Friends Anne Wodhams<br />

& Diane Caulkett.<br />

Anne & Diane entered last December’s Super Seniors Padel Festival at<br />

<strong>The</strong> Padel Hub, Slough, coming second in the Phoenix Cup for females<br />

aged 69 years+. <strong>The</strong>y lost out to Rosie Connell and Louise Dalgleish.<br />

Pictured with them is <strong>The</strong> Padel Hub’s Charles Winterton.<br />

you’re never too<br />

old... for padel<br />

Certainly the first part of<br />

Kassem’s claim could have<br />

been penned specifically<br />

to sum up Diane Caulkett and<br />

Anne Wodhams, who play at Padel<br />

United in Maldon, Essex. Respectively<br />

septuagenarian and octogenarian,<br />

the ladies took up padel some 18<br />

months ago and haven’t looked<br />

back. But don’t think they are on<br />

court for a gentle game (or even<br />

worse say it out loud!) for the friends<br />

are fiercely competitive and most<br />

definitely in it to win it.<br />

And neither do they expect<br />

concessions because of their<br />

age, as Diane, who plays up to four<br />

times a week, explained: “I’m quite<br />

competitive and the thing about<br />

padel is you are always involved,<br />

it’s just so fast but it’s also tactical<br />

and I like the challenge of working<br />

out the tactics.<br />

“I still play tennis and sometimes<br />

that is a bad thing as some padel<br />

players don’t like tennis players as<br />

we can hit the ball too hard!”<br />

laughed Diane. “Fortunately I’ve<br />

learned to temper that but also a<br />

long while ago I played squash so<br />

the back wall isn’t too much of<br />

a problem.<br />

“We have ‘mix-ins’ at the club<br />

and so I play with a wide variety<br />

of people but because Anne and<br />

I joined together we tend to play<br />

together if there is a competition.”<br />

Social<br />

When it comes to the benefits<br />

of belting a padel ball Diane -<br />

who has amazingly used padel<br />

as part of her rehab from a knee<br />

replacement - was in no doubt:<br />

“Socially I get an awful lot. <strong>The</strong><br />

club is really sociable and the<br />

people really friendly and activity<br />

wise it’s great.<br />

Robert Mitchell<br />

reports.<br />

<strong>The</strong> American writer/artist Suzy Kassem famously said ‘you are never<br />

too old to learn something new or too young to learn too much’.<br />

“I think padel is an addictive sport<br />

as you know you can do it, so you<br />

want to keep doing it and keep<br />

practising difficult serves and taking<br />

the ball off the back wall, and we’ve<br />

had lessons.<br />

“In fact our best lesson was with<br />

Aimee (Gibson, GB No 2) and she<br />

gave us one very useful tip which<br />

was to send balls down the middle<br />

and we’ve just built on that and it’s<br />

such fun, I just love it.”<br />

Next into bat is Diane’s padel<br />

partner in crime Anne, who has little<br />

doubt about the type of attitude<br />

that is required to make a success<br />

of a sporting pursuit found later<br />

in life: “<strong>The</strong>re seem to be a couple<br />

of attitudes to playing any sport.<br />

One: you just play for fun and tootle<br />

around. Two: you are competitive<br />

and you want to improve and Diane<br />

and I have a similar attitude in that<br />

we want to improve.<br />

“As with tennis you play every point<br />

to win as otherwise there is no<br />

point in playing but as to the actual<br />

outcome that is not the be all and<br />

end all. That said I’m just keen<br />

to get better as I don’t like doing<br />

things badly.”<br />

Structure<br />

When it comes to the benefits that<br />

most appeal to her about padel, Anne<br />

said: “<strong>The</strong> pluses are enormous. We<br />

both play tennis so we are still clearly<br />

active anyway. We thoroughly enjoy<br />

padel because there are different<br />

challenges with it and our club in<br />

Maldon is full of nice, friendly and kind<br />

people and it works really well.”<br />

“Sport gives you a structure to your<br />

life and it’s a huge benefit. Obviously<br />

I am not particularly young and the<br />

smaller area in terms of the court is a<br />

blessing in terms of charging around.”<br />

For both of the ladies there is one<br />

huge plus which elevates padel<br />

above other activities, as Anne<br />

explained: “Everyone is younger than I<br />

am and it’s absolutely magic to play<br />

with them. That is perhaps the most<br />

special thing about padel, despite<br />

the disparity in age I am accepted<br />

and welcomed to play with them no<br />

matter their age.” •<br />

Sally Bickerton & Rosie Connell winning<br />

their team match against Italy.<br />

GB ASpirations<br />

Put a racket in Rosie Connell’s hand<br />

and it’s likely you’ll get a winning<br />

shot back, whether the sport is<br />

racketball, tennis, squash or more<br />

recently padel, her new love of some<br />

three years standing.<br />

For Rosie, who’s in her seventies, has<br />

notched up a host of achievements<br />

in the first three sports, including<br />

playing up to national standard.<br />

But it’s padel that delivered her first<br />

taste of representing her country -<br />

and she’s delighted.<br />

“I could never have dreamt that<br />

within two years (of starting to play<br />

padel) I would have been training<br />

to represent the country,” said Rosie,<br />

who plays mostly at Rawdon and<br />

Chapel Allerton clubs in Yorkshire. “I<br />

am very proud, I am the first one in<br />

my family to play for my country.”<br />

Libby Horn with her<br />

daughter Nicola.<br />

racket sport number 4!<br />

Racket sports have been a huge part<br />

of Libby Horn’s life for decades - and<br />

she’s determined not to give up her<br />

love of hitting a ball despite injuries<br />

that have ruled out tennis and squash.<br />

Four years ago, as she was heading<br />

towards her 80th year, Libby<br />

discovered a new love thanks to<br />

daughter Nicola, a GB padel senior<br />

player, Yorkshire padel force of<br />

nature and champion for female<br />

participation in the game.<br />

Libby said: “Nicola started playing<br />

padel about four years ago and then<br />

coaching it. I joined in and enjoyed<br />

it immensely. It is fabulous. I play 2/3<br />

times a week and with ladies quite a<br />

lot younger than I am. I am the eldest<br />

in the club by about five or six years<br />

but they all treat me very kindly.”<br />

Padel has filled a potential rackets<br />

void for Libby, who had to give<br />

up squash some 30 years ago<br />

following a hip replacement, and<br />

tennis after breaking a wrist. “I<br />

found it difficult to hit the (tennis)<br />

ball back as I wanted,” said Libby.<br />

“Tennis is very different to padel<br />

because you have a much bigger<br />

court and more court to cover. With<br />

padel you have the walls, and the<br />

ball can’t get any further.”<br />

Libby’s ‘home’ club is Harrogate<br />

Sports & Fitness but she also plays<br />

at the North Yorkshire town’s sixcourt<br />

Surge and admits to being<br />

spoilt for choice with courts at<br />

Harrogate Spa Tennis and Ripon<br />

Tennis Centre, adding to those<br />

already at Huddersfield Lawn<br />

Tennis & Squash Club and Rawdon<br />

Golf & Lawn Tennis.<br />

Given that she captained the<br />

Yorkshire lacrosse team at one<br />

point, was squash county No 2,<br />

played in the tennis vets team and<br />

has coached all three sports, it’s fair<br />

to assume she’s no push over on a<br />

padel court. But she’s modest about<br />

her padel aspirations, despite<br />

continuing to play tournaments:<br />

“Padel just means that I can get<br />

out a lot more; I have got a ‘thing’<br />

apart from dog walking!”<br />

Her introduction to padel, which she<br />

described as a ‘wonderful’ game,<br />

came when Rawdon added two<br />

padel courts to its golf and tennis<br />

facilities and she hasn’t looked back<br />

since. She was soon trialling for the<br />

GB senior squad, securing her place<br />

and going on to help the team claim<br />

a raft of impressive wins at home<br />

and abroad.<br />

Rosie firmly believes that you are<br />

never too old for padel, which she<br />

likened to a game of chess, working<br />

out the strength and weaknesses<br />

of opponents, and advised other<br />

players to just keep playing for as<br />

long as possible. •<br />

50<br />

Buy <strong>The</strong> <strong>Bandeja</strong> print copies at www.thebandeja.com<br />

thebandeja.com | SUMMER <strong>2024</strong><br />


feature<br />

products<br />

Paul Jenkins (far right) was the non-playing captain of the Welsh team<br />

at the recent Four Nations Super Seniors at Rocket Padel, Bristol.<br />

Decathlon KUIKMA<br />

RRP: From £109.99<br />

www.decathlon.co.uk<br />

Padel’s<br />

senior service<br />

Paul Jenkins’ padel odyssey, which began in the picturesque southern<br />

Costa Blanca village of Dehesa de Campoamor when he was aged 57,<br />

is still going strong some 15 years later and is perhaps a prime example<br />

of the senior service padel can provide. Robert Mitchell reports.<br />

<strong>The</strong> Welshman, who has twice<br />

skippered the Welsh super<br />

seniors at the now annual<br />

Four Nations tournament (playing<br />

in 2023) was, by his own admission,<br />

topping the scales at 20st when<br />

he was offered the chance to try a<br />

sport he’d never heard of – and the<br />

rest, as those who know the popular<br />

Welshman will agree, is history!<br />

“I took up padel in 2008 in Spain after<br />

we had moved there to live,” said<br />

Paul. “Someone said to me come and<br />

have a game of padel and I said ‘it<br />

must be rubbish, I’m a quizmaster<br />

and know every sport going but<br />

haven’t heard of padel!’”.<br />

“I was 20st and they gave me a crap<br />

bat and I stood in the corner and all<br />

these guys who had been going to<br />

coaching were going nuts. All my<br />

years of squash and table tennis<br />

came flooding back and that was<br />

it – I was gripped!”<br />

“I also ended up at one point<br />

captaining the team at the<br />

Montepiedra club, which was full<br />

of much younger Spanish boys<br />

– not because I was the best but<br />

because I was older and they<br />

wouldn’t argue with me! I still head<br />

over now for a game or two and<br />

they call me Capitano because<br />

they feel like they owe me that<br />

loyalty, which is very nice.”<br />

By his own admission Paul is<br />

still learning, even at 73. He is<br />

now an LTA Level One qualified<br />

coach and his finest moment<br />

in padel arrived last year when<br />

he donned the Welsh colours to<br />

captain the national team for the<br />

Super Seniors at We Are Padel,<br />

Derby, which he described as a<br />

‘very proud moment’.<br />

Paul said: “I don’t go for many<br />

winners and I like to dink and<br />

make my opponent play one more<br />

shot. For me the best game of the<br />

tournament (Super Seniors 2023)<br />

was John Byrne for Scotland playing<br />

lovely cultured slow padel and<br />

beating the guys younger than him<br />

who wanted to play hard and fast.<br />

That showed just what you can still<br />

achieve on a padel court well into<br />

your 50s and beyond.” •<br />

Decathlon has released two new padel racket ranges with a focus<br />

on performance and durability. <strong>The</strong>re are three rackets in each<br />

range (round-shaped Control, diamond-shaped Power and Hybrid),<br />

all with rough faces and longer, thinner handles. Decathlon has<br />

added two technologies from its Pro racket range - the Shock Block<br />

system (elastomer inside handles to reduce impact vibrations) and<br />

Air Foam Frame (a double-tube frame to enhance rigidity and<br />

power, with EVA foam inside the tubes in the racket head to<br />

reinforce the frame and increase durability).<br />

<strong>The</strong> Metal range uses medium-density EVA foam and incorporates<br />

Decathlon’s Metal Biaxial Core, a metal mesh intertwined with<br />

fiberglass in the core of the racket to provide improved resistance<br />

to bending. It is ideal for players wanting control, versatility or power<br />

and is the collection with the softest touch, ideal for players looking for<br />

lightness and flexibility in the racket face. Racket weight is 365g.<strong>The</strong><br />

Carbon ranges uses high-density EVA foam with a 12K carbon face. Its<br />

rackets are slightly heavier, at up to 372g, and designed for precision<br />

and power, with weight shifted towards the handle.<br />

objects<br />

of desire<br />

Joma<br />

RRP: From £135.99<br />

www.joma-sport.com<br />

Joma is a relatively new padel brand in the<br />

UK but it comes with an established reputation<br />

for performance and value for money across<br />

its range, which includes shoes, apparel and<br />

rackets. <strong>The</strong> new Joma Pro rackets are<br />

made from high density Black Eva foam<br />

for power and control and a 100%<br />

carbon frame for durability and rigidity.<br />

And, thanks to what Joma describes<br />

as its Vibra-Out Gold system, racket<br />

vibrations are reduced by 40%.<strong>The</strong><br />

Pro range comprises the Gold Pro,<br />

Tournament Pro and Slam Pro. All have<br />

high balance, weigh 350-350g and<br />

are geared to experienced players.<br />

Heads up, it’s a BOA!<br />

www.head.com<br />

<strong>The</strong> innovation boffins at Head<br />

are at it again with more industry<br />

firsts - this time they’ve taken their<br />

Motion Pro shoes and added the<br />

BOA lacing system, delivering super<br />

quick and easy lacing with great fit.<br />

And that’s not all, they’ve matched<br />

their ‘hole-less’ racket technology<br />

(see page 50) with the lightest<br />

materials and secret know-how<br />

to develop the first 300g racket,<br />

shaving some 30g off the lightest<br />

yet. Both innovations were revealed<br />

at the Padel World Summit in<br />

Malaga recently. Keep your eyes on<br />

the ‘Gear’ section of our website<br />

(www.thebandeja.com) for news of<br />

the launches, where to buy etc.<br />

52<br />

SUMMER <strong>2024</strong> | thebandeja.com<br />

thebandeja.com | SUMMER <strong>2024</strong><br />


products<br />

products<br />

padel products<br />

Cuera<br />

RRP: from £19.99 for socks<br />

www.cuera.co<br />

Named in tribute to padel’s inventor Enrique<br />

Corcuera, Danish apparel brand Cuera fuses<br />

sustainability, performance and quality to produce<br />

sportswear for on and off court. <strong>The</strong> range, in muted<br />

colourways of grey, black, brown, beige and offwhite<br />

(with some orange thrown in) includes socks,<br />

shorts, t-shirts, sweatshirts, caps and skorts made<br />

from recycled polyester and organic cotton.<br />

Snauwaert<br />

RRP: from €79<br />

www.snauwaert.com<br />

Snauwaert is an established name in tennis<br />

(established 1928, re-launched in 2018) and now<br />

you can take advantage of its expertise channelled<br />

into padel. Rackets start from €79, rising to<br />

€399.00 for the Vitas Tour 3D, its most advanced<br />

and powerful racket with 3D braid carbon, EVA 10<br />

foam, large sweetspot, hybrid shape and built-in<br />

dampening system.<br />

Babolat new Ace padel ball has been<br />

developed specifically for competition and is<br />

approved by the International Padel Federation<br />

(FIP). Compared to ‘regular’ balls it is made of<br />

firmer rubber and with a more tightly woven<br />

felt, making it more reactive and slightly less<br />

cushioned than recreational padel balls.<br />

RRP: £6.49 per tube of 3<br />

Ace it!<br />

<strong>The</strong> Roger Clubhouse Pro is the latest addition<br />

to On’s almost cult-like shoe collection.<br />

Designed in conjunction with tennis giant<br />

Roger Federer (who has been spotted playing<br />

padel), the Clubhouse Pro is being marketed to<br />

‘everyday tennis’ fans and padel players, likely<br />

because it has a herringbone sole. <strong>The</strong> shoes<br />

have more cushioning than the standard<br />

Roger Pro, with a combination of soft foam<br />

and the award-winning CloudTec® sole.<br />

RRP: £150<br />

www.on.com<br />

THE Roger Clubhouse Pro<br />

Perfect Pete<br />

www.originalpenguin.co.uk<br />

We’re loving Original Penguin, both for men and<br />

women. <strong>The</strong> men’s piped blade collar performance<br />

shirt (£45, in bright white, quarry or turquoise) is a new<br />

release made from 35% recycled polyester. <strong>The</strong> wicking<br />

fabric is slightly stretchy and the shirt is finished with a<br />

cute Pete the Penguin logo on the chest. <strong>The</strong> women’s<br />

16” asymmetrical golf skort (£70) is, quite frankly,<br />

wasted on golf! <strong>The</strong> Black Iris colour way is dark navy<br />

with pink pleats hidden behind a zip. You can choose<br />

how much - or how little - pink you want on show.<br />

Babolat Veron<br />

RRP: from £209.99<br />

Babolat’s new Veron rackets have an integrated shockabsorbing<br />

elastomer to absorb vibrations, a bonus for players<br />

concerned with (or recovering from) arm/elbow injuries.<br />

Babolat has worked with materials/damping specialist SMAC<br />

to develop the range, which is suitable for players of all levels<br />

wanting power and control. It also features the manufacturer’s<br />

Carbonflex surface, a weave of two racket face materials<br />

combining carbon and fiberglass for strength and durability.<br />

54<br />

Buy <strong>The</strong> <strong>Bandeja</strong> print copies at www.thebandeja.com<br />

thebandeja.com | SUMMER <strong>2024</strong><br />


products<br />

products<br />

nox<br />

RRP: apparel from €32.23<br />

Luxury Genius rackets from €247.89<br />

<strong>The</strong> <strong>summer</strong> Nox Pro apparel has landed,<br />

featuring navy blue, purple and pink across the<br />

men’s and ladies’ ranges of tops, shorts and<br />

skirts. And once dressed like a pro why not try<br />

and emulate their play with a racket from Nox’s<br />

sponsored player Augustin Tapia? <strong>The</strong> AT Luxury<br />

Genius range has three variants, including Tapia’s<br />

weapon of choice, the 18K Alum <strong>2024</strong>.<br />

WIN!<br />

Lion’s mane tea<br />

RRP: From £4.99<br />

Various outlets<br />

We’re big fans of a cuppa at <strong>Bandeja</strong> HQ so were super<br />

intrigued when a box of Cheerful Buddha Lion’s Mane<br />

mushroom green tea dropped onto our desk. A little bit of<br />

research and we’re hooked - the Lion’s Mane mushroom (a<br />

shaggy little thing that’s protected in the UK) is packed with<br />

health benefits (supporting mental wellness, brain function, gut<br />

bacteria and a good night’s sleep). Combined with Sencha<br />

green tea, which brings inflammation reduction to the tea<br />

party, and Cheerful Buddha is a powerhouse of goodness.<br />

We have a Bela V2.5 Pro (worth £295)<br />

to give away - see page 53.<br />

<strong>The</strong> Bela V2.5 is an updated version of the V2, with<br />

a new look, new protective ‘bumper’ strip for better<br />

durability and what Wilson describes as ‘C2 tubular<br />

construction’ for enhanced durability and great<br />

shot control. <strong>The</strong> range comprises three versions -<br />

the Pro (firm EVA foam, 370g), Elite (soft EVA foam,<br />

365g) and the LT (soft EVA foam, 355g).<br />

Bullpadel’s Vertex range continues to dominate the<br />

brand’s sales. Seven months after launch the Vertex<br />

04 range accounts for 26% of Bullpadel UK sales, with<br />

the Vertex 04 model alone taking a 10% share. Of the<br />

Bullpadel performance rackets launched for <strong>2024</strong>,<br />

the Vertex range accounts for 55% of sales. In Spain<br />

it is regarded as the best-selling performance racket<br />

of all-time, according to Bullpadel. Expect stability,<br />

reduced torsion and great power/control from a<br />

Vertex racket. <strong>The</strong> 12K carbon used in the Vertex 04<br />

(diamond shape) and Vertex 04 Hybrid (hybrid-round<br />

shape) delivers feel and power. <strong>The</strong> carbon and<br />

fibreglass Vertex 04 Comfort is softer and lighter and<br />

the Vertex 04 Woman lighter with a carbon/fibreglass<br />

composition for performance and comfort.<br />

RRP: from £195<br />

BULLpadel<br />

TUYO<br />

RRP: from €79.95<br />

www.tuyopadel.co.uk<br />

Unsure what padel racket to go for? Help is<br />

at hand from Tuyo, a new Spanish/Dutch<br />

brand which has a handy racket selector on<br />

its website. Just select your style of play, skill<br />

level and other racket sport experience and<br />

it will come up with suggestions. Tuyo has<br />

rackets for novices through to advanced<br />

players, all developed in collaboration with<br />

padel professionals.<br />

RRP: from £200<br />

www.wilson.com<br />

Bela V2.5 Pro<br />

Starting out on your padel<br />

journey and not sure you have<br />

the right grip? <strong>The</strong>n check-out<br />

Gripfixer, a teaching aid that fits<br />

on racket handles to guide your<br />

fingers into the correct position.<br />

According to developer Morten<br />

Dannerfjord, Gripfixer helps<br />

achieve the correct grip from<br />

day one.<br />

RRP: £16.00<br />

www.amazon.co.uk<br />

gripfixer<br />

padel intelligent<br />

RRP: from €3<br />

www.padelintelligent.com<br />

Check out two products from Padel<br />

Intelligent - the Comfort Bracelet and<br />

the Closing Ball. <strong>The</strong> silicone Comfort<br />

Bracelet slips over racket safety<br />

straps to make them a bit more funky,<br />

reduce friction between the strap<br />

and your wrist and slack in the strap.<br />

<strong>The</strong> Closing Ball reduces slack in wrist<br />

straps that don’t have a sliding knot<br />

closure, ensuring a snug fit.<br />

Head<br />

Alfonso Hohenlohe<br />

RRP: from £44<br />

www.head.com<br />

We’re loving the new campaign<br />

from Head promoting its<br />

collaboration with the<br />

Alfonso Hohenlohe Padel<br />

Club in Italy in tribute to<br />

‘the pioneering prince who<br />

fell in love with the game’.<br />

<strong>The</strong> range has men’s and<br />

women’s apparel plus a<br />

Speed Motion padel racket<br />

kitted out with cactus motifs.<br />

56 SUMMER <strong>2024</strong> | thebandeja.com<br />

thebandeja.com | SUMMER <strong>2024</strong><br />


Padel Court<br />

Construction<br />

Free, independent consultancy<br />

service for installing padel courts.<br />

Why use iPadel<br />

<strong>The</strong> only UK company to offer an<br />

independent advisory service<br />

All courts supplied by leading manufacturers<br />

in Spain, Sweden and Italy<br />

A variety of options to give you choice<br />

depending on your requirements<br />

Finance and investment solutions available<br />

We have done the research for you<br />

“Ian is one of the industry leaders when it comes<br />

to the padel industry. A pioneer in padel, who has<br />

amassed an amazing knowledge and expertise in<br />

this field. If you have an interest in developing padel<br />

at your club or facility, speaking with Ian is a must!<br />

I can’t thank him enough for all the help, support<br />

and encouragement he has given me. It has been<br />

invaluable in building may first padel venture.”<br />

BORN<br />

IN SPAIN<br />

Gordon Watson<br />

Padel Verse<br />

07765 403 769<br />

Email: ian@ipadel.co.uk | www.ipadel.co.uk<br />

Lane End, Little Common Lane, Bletchingley, Surrey RH1 4QF<br />

Conquering the world since 2020. TUYO, the Dutch padel brand<br />

that was conceived and born in Spain. Check out our rackets &<br />

gear and get TUYO! WWW.TUYOPADEL.CO.UK<br />

SUMMER <strong>2024</strong> | thebandeja.com thebandeja.com | SUMMER <strong>2024</strong><br />

59<br />


entrepreneurs<br />

Wesley Teixeira<br />

no shocks<br />

Amy & Hannah, Pokita founders.<br />

Stuck on you<br />

<strong>The</strong> Pickpad is an ingenious piece of kit<br />

specifically designed to fit padel rackets and<br />

help players collect balls from the ground<br />

without fully bending their knees or back.<br />

<strong>The</strong> hook-and-loop accessory sticks to the<br />

top rim of rackets to pick balls off the floor<br />

- just position your racket head on the ball,<br />

twist and pick up.<br />

Inventor is padel player (and architect)<br />

David Dionísio, who came up with the<br />

idea in response to a player’s difficulty in<br />

bending over repeatedly: “In the games<br />

and tournaments we played, one of our<br />

partners had difficulty bending down to pick<br />

up the balls due to an old hip injury. That’s<br />

when i had the idea of attaching a light and<br />

practical accessory to the top of the racket<br />

to hold the ball,” said David.<br />

Get a grip!<br />

Perk up your padel racket with<br />

Vibepadel’s colourful overgrips,<br />

which come in a range of colours<br />

and patterns. Its Grip ‘n’ Rip Overgrip<br />

features three-layer technology<br />

for a great tacky grip, comfort and<br />

sweat absorption. And, because<br />

they are specifically designed for<br />

padel rackets, they are just the right<br />

size so no cutting and no waste.<br />

entrepreneurs<br />

<strong>The</strong> grips are the brainchild of Geoff Woodman, who is intent on<br />

improving players’ padel experience with high-quality, stylish and<br />

affordable equipment which strikes a balance between performance<br />

and good looks. <strong>The</strong>re’s a range of rackets coming soon too, keep an<br />

eye on Vibepadel’s website for details.<br />

RRP: From £9.99 for three<br />

www.vibepadel.co<br />

Wesley Teixeira is uniquely placed to talk<br />

about padel rackets and injuries, being an<br />

experienced physiotherapist with his own<br />

racket range geared to injury prevention.<br />

<strong>The</strong> specialist physio noticed a surge in<br />

padel-related injuries at his practice in the<br />

Queen’s Club, London, setting him off on a<br />

journey of investigation which culminated<br />

in the formation of his racket brand Bas3line,<br />

founded on evidence-based research and<br />

cutting-edge technology to ensure players’<br />

safety and performance.<br />

<strong>The</strong> design of Bas3line rackets incorporates<br />

ergonomic features coupled with high-grade<br />

Japanese carbonfibre and super soft EVA foam,<br />

combining to deliver great weight distribution<br />

and shock absorption to help players to reduce<br />

the risk of injury and improve their gameplay.<br />

Racket design also includes new technologies,<br />

including Vibrasorb technology for greater air<br />

flow in the handle to reduce the risk of wrist<br />

injuries, and the Shockwave Flex system to<br />

absorb vibrations, further guarding against<br />

tennis elbow and other arm injuries.<br />

“Bas3line rackets are designed with a balance<br />

between power and control, ensuring players<br />

can strike the ball accurately and effectively<br />

without overexerting themselves,” said Wesley.<br />


RRP: £100<br />

www.bas3line.com<br />

Pocketing<br />

Pokita<br />

Padel playing friends Amy and<br />

Hannah took the search for good<br />

quality, well-fitting, sustainable<br />

sportswear into their own hands when<br />

they couldn’t find kit that hit the spot<br />

and wasn’t too short - and their brand<br />

Pokita was born.<br />

Pokita is characterised by bold animal-inspired prints, great<br />

colours and well-designed tops and bottoms. <strong>The</strong> leggings, skorts<br />

and skeggings (skirt/leggings combo) are blessed with well-sized<br />

pockets for phones and balls. Sustainability is key, with the brand<br />

championing ‘regenerated’ fabric made from leftover material<br />

and waste garments to make new, high quality activewear fibres<br />

that are soft and wicking.<br />

<strong>The</strong> <strong>Bandeja</strong> first encountered Amy and Hannah at <strong>The</strong> Padel<br />

Club in Slough, where Pokita is stocked, along with other clubs<br />

and padel facilities across the south east. You may even has<br />

spotted their red and white combo being rocked by super<br />

snowboarder and Strictly star Aimee Fuller, who loves the<br />

colourway despite it not quite being ‘Wimpy Whites’!<br />

Navy leopard embossed skirt is high-waisted with<br />

silicone dots to keep the shorts in place.<br />

RRP: £58 (check website for offers)<br />

<strong>The</strong> <strong>Bandeja</strong> asked player Jane, from<br />

Padel United in Maldon, to test out Pickpad<br />

after she returned to padel following a hip<br />

replacement. Her verdict? “It is useful and<br />

does help to pick up balls without bending<br />

right down. It did take me a few attempts<br />

before I got the knack of doing it properly.<br />

It think it is a great idea, especially for the<br />

older generation.”<br />

Pickpad<br />

RRP: £9<br />

www.thebandeja.com/buy-gear/<br />

If you’ve plans to visit Dubai then make a note to check out<br />

BearFish sports caps, the brainwave of former Emirates airline<br />

executive Roger Duthie, who was fed up ruining caps when<br />

travelling so decided to design his own.<br />

Lightweight and in bright colours (one of Roger’s goals is to make<br />

sportswear more colourful), the caps come with a crush-proof<br />

carry case to keep them pristine when not in use.<br />

“When I was travelling and playing golf or tennis I used to purchase<br />

caps in golf pro or local shops. When I came back to Dubai the caps<br />

were smashed or ruined so I thought of developing a small carry case<br />

that could clip to the side of a golf bag or sports bag,” said Roger.<br />

<strong>The</strong> boutique Dubai brand, a spin-off of Roger’s sport marketing<br />

consultancy, takes its name from his wife’s nicknames for their<br />

children - Ollie is OllieBear and Isabella IssyFish. With plans afoot to<br />

develop shirts and hoodies and a desire to go global, BearFish could<br />

well be coming to a court near you!<br />

RRP: $70<br />

www.bearfishsportsmarketing.com<br />

Is it a fish? Is it a bear?<br />

No, it’s a cap!<br />

60<br />

SUMMER <strong>2024</strong> | thebandeja.com<br />

thebandeja.com | SUMMER <strong>2024</strong><br />


products<br />

products<br />

All holes<br />

barred<br />

Padel rackets are round (ish) with<br />

approximately 55 holes, right? Er. wrong,<br />

according to racket manufacturers Head,<br />

Stiga and Siux, which have pushed the<br />

boundaries of design. <strong>The</strong> <strong>Bandeja</strong> finds<br />

out more.<br />

<strong>The</strong> Head Extreme One is extreme for one reason<br />

- there’s just one hole in the racket face. But why?<br />

And how? We’ve spoken to Head’s R&D boffins to<br />

find out more.<br />

<strong>The</strong> Head Extreme One is a good<br />

looking racket that attracts<br />

attention even before other<br />

players realise it has no holes - then<br />

there’s a double take and questions,<br />

usually about weight, wind resistance<br />

and having a go with it! Court time is<br />

precious so generally the answer is<br />

short - light, no major difference and<br />

of course.<br />

Yes, light. <strong>The</strong> design experts at Head<br />

have managed to create a solid<br />

racket that is extremely light at just<br />

345g. Compare this with standard<br />

bats which can be up to 380g and<br />

‘light’ rackets which are generally less<br />

than 355g (even with a grip added the<br />

Extreme One is still sub 355g).<br />

Lightness doesn’t mean a compromise<br />

on power though. <strong>The</strong> diamondshaped<br />

racket is aimed at higher level<br />

players and in tests was a hit with those<br />

playing tournaments. Head recognises<br />

it may not have enough ‘mass’ for some<br />

but considers that its key advantages<br />

will hit the sweetspot for a wide range<br />

of people.<br />

Better without<br />

Head returned to the design drawing<br />

board for what it considers to be one<br />

very good reason - that padel rackets<br />

without holes make more sense than<br />

padel rackets with holes, delivering<br />

potential for improved manoeuvrability,<br />

durability, aerodynamics and a<br />

consistent spin.<br />

Pasquale Ruzicka, Head Global Business<br />

Manager for padel, explained further:<br />

“We always had doubts with regards to<br />

the holes. We had limitations because<br />

there were holes in rackets and holes<br />

weaken the construction. It was<br />

therefore an ongoing process to think<br />

‘let’s wait a second, do we really need<br />

the holes?’ Always the answer was the<br />

best thing would be to have no holes.”<br />

Putting holes in rackets was borne<br />

out of the need to make early<br />

wooden padel rackets lighter, with<br />

players drilling their own to reduce<br />

weight. As the sport progressed<br />

holes became enshrined in FIP - the<br />

International Padel Federation - racket<br />

specifications, with it ruling that<br />

rackets must have at least one hole<br />

with a minimum 9mm diameter. Head<br />

has implemented this to the letter with<br />

a single 9mm diameter perforation<br />

very low down on the racket face.<br />

Air resistance & spin<br />

It’s a commonly held view that holes<br />

improve racket aerodynamics but<br />

Head research turned this thinking,<br />

quite literally, on its head; testing<br />

via external labs showed that<br />

aerodynamic performance was<br />

heavily influenced by the angle of<br />

each shot - and most padel shots are<br />

not hit straight but at an angle.<br />

“If you hit with the leading edge of the<br />

racket the air resistance of the holes<br />

make it less aerodynamic,” added<br />

Pasquale. “<strong>The</strong> air moves in the holes,<br />

out of the holes, in the holes, out of<br />

the holes and not really through the<br />

holes. Of course if you hit a smash<br />

it might behave differently because<br />

it is very straight and the air runs<br />

through. But in general we found that<br />

the aerodynamics of the (no holes)<br />

racket improves in total. Not on every<br />

shot, but in total, which was pretty<br />

interesting for us to see.”<br />

Removing holes also delivered a<br />

‘cleaner’ hitting surface. “You have<br />

a better consistency of play without<br />

holes,” said Pasquale. “You can<br />

generate spin with a hole if you hit<br />

it correctly but timing this is pretty<br />

tough depending on the level of your<br />

play. And if you don’t hit the hole as<br />

intended you have a different kind<br />

of spin. With the Extreme One spin<br />

surface everywhere there is more or<br />

less the same spin no matter where<br />

you hit the ball on the racket.”<br />

Former padel World Champion<br />

Mauri Andrini gave his verdict<br />

on the no-holes approach: “It<br />

makes the racket go very quick,<br />

the manoeuvrability of the racket<br />

is much quicker. I think it goes<br />

together with padel - padel is<br />

going faster, it is going quicker.”<br />

Durability<br />

When padel rackets break its often<br />

on the frame or between the holes.<br />

Designing-out holes allowed greater<br />

focus on designing-in strength and<br />

removing or redistributing weight. Many<br />

of the materials used are familiar -<br />

carbon and fibreglass - but they’ve<br />

been used in different ways. Or as<br />

Pasquale described it ‘more cleverly’.<br />

<strong>The</strong> result is a robust diamondshaped<br />

racket with a 12K carbon<br />

hitting surface and larger than normal<br />

sweetspot. Durability tests have shown<br />

the Extreme One to offer twice the<br />

durability of previous rackets in the<br />

Delta line (which the Extreme<br />

line replaced).<br />

According to Pasquale it’s also proved<br />

a hit with padel coaches: “We’ve had<br />

really good feedback from coaches<br />

- they are a long time on court and it’s<br />

not about the weight of the racket to<br />

demonstrate shots, it is more about<br />

consistency and a long period of<br />

time working with the racket.”<br />

Revolution<br />

A hole-less racket has been done<br />

before - Drop Shot launched a version<br />

some 10 years ago but the idea<br />

failed to take off. So will the Extreme<br />

One be different? We think it may<br />

well; Head hasn’t just removed the<br />

holes, it’s engineered a whole new<br />

racket with no holes, which is very<br />

different. Pasquale feels they have<br />

‘revolutionised the possibilities of<br />

rackets’ and he may well be right.<br />

For sure the science seems to stack<br />

up - remove the holes, use different<br />

types of carbon and fibreglass given<br />

you aren’t drilling through it, improve<br />

shot consistency thanks to the uniform<br />

hitting surface, beef up durability and<br />

positively impact manouverability. It’s<br />

a fun racket to play with and quick to<br />

get to know. And the durability aspect<br />

may well prove popular with those<br />

who’ve lost rackets to cracks.<br />

But we’ll leave the last word to Daniel<br />

Picot, Head product manager for padel:<br />

“This is the product I was looking for.<br />

When you have this racket in your<br />

hand the feeling is just amazing. <strong>The</strong><br />

racket plays amazingly even though<br />

it has less weight. We balanced the<br />

racket to be stable and solid. <strong>The</strong> 12k<br />

carbon hitting surface has a really nice<br />

feeling, it has a powerful feedback and<br />

the sound is something different, the<br />

sounds impresses you (editor’s note:<br />

we can vouch for this, it makes a much<br />

deeper ‘swoosh’ noise).”<br />

“It has been such a special project.<br />

Working so many hours with the team<br />

doing lab tests, creating prototypes<br />

etc, when you have this racket in your<br />

hand and play with it you have the<br />

feeling that what we have done is<br />

going to be perfect,” added Daniel. •<br />

Watch Pasquale Ruzicka talk<br />

about Extreme One on the Total<br />

Padel YouTube channel.<br />

62<br />

Buy <strong>The</strong> <strong>Bandeja</strong> print copies at www.thebandeja.com<br />

thebandeja.com | SUMMER <strong>2024</strong><br />


products<br />

products<br />

stiga<br />

& suix<br />

It was, perhaps, only a matter of time before<br />

Swedish manufacturer Stiga Sports looked at its<br />

hexagonal table tennis bats and thought... padel.<br />

Some two years and much<br />

research later and it’s launched<br />

the Stiga Cybershape, which<br />

ditches racket head curves for sides<br />

and angles. <strong>The</strong>re’s real hope that the<br />

Cybershape’s edges might deliver the<br />

ultimate weapon for digging balls out<br />

of corners and from the super tricky<br />

serve/floor/wall combo.<br />

And we’re not alone. Former World<br />

Padel Tour pro and Swedish national<br />

team coach Daniel Dios, instrumental<br />

in the development of the Cybershape,<br />

doesn’t think he will go back to round<br />

bats any time soon: “This racket takes<br />

the concepts of sweetspot and power<br />

to a whole new dimension,” he said.<br />

“<strong>The</strong> ability to reach balls close to the<br />

ground or the walls was probably the<br />

most surprising thing to me. Every shot<br />

feels fantastic and you can hit hard<br />

without compromising on technique.<br />

After testing Cybershape for almost a<br />

year I find it very hard to imagine going<br />

back to my old round rackets.”<br />

Sweetspot<br />

But that’s not all. Cybershape has<br />

a 20% larger sweetspot than round<br />

rackets meaning that, theoretically,<br />

you have a higher chance of hitting a<br />

decent shot. John Bandstigen, Product<br />

Manager Racket Sports at STIGA Sports,<br />

said this feature, combined with the<br />

racket’s ‘blistering’ acceleration’, is a<br />

benefit of the hexagonal mould. “As<br />

you hit harder and faster shots you get<br />

tremendous power and forward assist<br />

that gives you a sense of total control,<br />

despite the high speed,” said John.<br />

Testing<br />

In developing the Cybershape, Stiga<br />

wanted to address the ‘limitations<br />

of conventional round designs’, with<br />

extensive testing and collaboration<br />

involving Sweden’s Royal Institute<br />

of Technology. And it’s not just the<br />

shape that’s changed, Stiga has<br />

used advanced composites and<br />

manufacturing techniques to deliver<br />

performance and durability.<br />

Sell-out<br />

Perhaps one reason that we’ve been<br />

unable to get our hands on a racket<br />

is that Stiga can’t make enough,<br />

as a spokesman explained: “While<br />

innovative sports equipment often<br />

encounters a spectrum of reactions<br />

initially, the Cybershape’s reception<br />

has been overwhelmingly positive,<br />

a testament to its exceptional<br />

performance and the credibility of<br />

the professionals endorsing it. We are<br />

unable to meet demand.”<br />

<strong>The</strong> Stiga Sports Cybershape padel<br />

racket comes in three versions:<br />

Cybershape 3K, Cybershape 18K<br />

and Cybershape 18K Hard. All have<br />

a 100% carbon frame, longer<br />

handle and weight 360g +/-8g.<br />

Prices start from £279.90.<br />

Siux Fenix<br />

Pro 4<br />

Stiga isn’t the only padel<br />

manufacturer that thinks the<br />

padel racket world isn’t quite<br />

round. Specialised Spanish<br />

brand Siux has launched the Fenix<br />

Pro 4 in standard and lightweight<br />

versions. And while it’s not quite as<br />

angular as the Stiga, it’s definitely<br />

not a standard shape.<br />

Álvaro Alejandro, Product Manager<br />

at Siux, explained that they’ve<br />

developed the Fenix Pro 4 for<br />

players with an aggressive game.<br />

Its high balance, hard touch and<br />

sweetspot at the top of the racket<br />

are designed to enhance this style<br />

of play.<br />

Prices for the Fenix Pro 4<br />

start at around £195<br />

Editor’s note<br />

I had the pleasure of playing with<br />

this racket during a trip to Spain<br />

(thank you to Ana Belén Polo<br />

at Siux). First off it’s a fantastic<br />

looking racket and drew plenty of<br />

attention - it might not be quite<br />

so reflective in the British sun but<br />

under warm Spanish rays it glowed<br />

burnt orange, really eye-catching.<br />

In play it felt like a best friend<br />

from the off, beautifully balanced<br />

and just lovely to play with. I’m an<br />

average player so the level of tech<br />

in this racket is likely wasted on me<br />

but the overall package felt great<br />

and it played really well. <strong>The</strong> only<br />

downside? I had to give it back.<br />

With strings<br />

attached!<br />

Developing racket technology isn’t confined<br />

to established sports equipment manufacturers,<br />

as <strong>The</strong> <strong>Bandeja</strong> finds out…<br />

Solving the problem of padel<br />

rackets breaking proved an<br />

irresistible challenge for keen<br />

player and inventor Mikel Azcona.<br />

<strong>The</strong> Spaniard couldn’t help thinking<br />

that tennis rackets, which last longer,<br />

held the answer and so he invested<br />

almost a year and three attempts<br />

into a developing a prototype<br />

stringed padel racket.<br />

He told <strong>The</strong> <strong>Bandeja</strong>: “First I tried<br />

using a padel racket, removing the<br />

core and using the frame to attach<br />

string to a new core. It didn’t work<br />

very well since the frame didn’t have<br />

the necessary rigidity. <strong>The</strong>n I tried a<br />

tennis frame but it didn’t have the<br />

right dimensions or rigidity either. I<br />

finally decided to make the entire<br />

frame. I created a mould, prepared<br />

the materials and tools and then I<br />

achieved the first prototype. I did all<br />

of this by hand in the garage of my<br />

father’s house.”<br />

His invention was launched to the world<br />

via YouTube and LinkedIn - but Mikel’s<br />

joy at his new creation was short lived,<br />

as he explained: “I discovered after<br />

showing my work that the manufacturer<br />

Vairo tried the same solution some<br />

years ago with the Vairo Innovatic 7.2.<br />

“At first I was very disappointed given<br />

the effort I had invested in my research.<br />

After the initial disappointment I felt r<br />

elief and peace of mind as I’d decided<br />

not to patent it, so at least I saved<br />

myself some money.”<br />

But Mikel remains undeterred: “Creating<br />

the racket has helped me obtain<br />

valuable contacts in the padel world<br />

that may be useful in the future as I am<br />

already working on another innovation.”<br />

Mikel Azcona<br />

with his stringed<br />

padel racket.<br />

<strong>The</strong> version that Vairo<br />

developed, we think around<br />

17 years ago.<br />

WIN!<br />

Fancy playing with this gorgeous<br />

Wilson Bela 2.5 racket, worth £295?<br />

<strong>The</strong>n head over to our website<br />

www.thebandeja.com/competitions<br />

for details of how to enter our<br />

competition to win it.<br />

64<br />

SUMMER <strong>2024</strong> | thebandeja.com<br />

thebandeja.com | SUMMER <strong>2024</strong><br />


Making the shift<br />

from tennis<br />

to padel<br />

Padel is the world’s fastest growing sport and on a massive upward<br />

trajectory in the UK, with its popularity and demand at an all-time high. It’s<br />

often described as a cross between tennis and squash so it’s no surprise<br />

that many players from both sports are giving it a go. But tennis players<br />

particularly need to adjust their game, as Emily Thomas reports.<br />

Tennis players are at a natural<br />

advantage when picking<br />

up a padel racket, with their<br />

established hand/eye coordination<br />

and armoury of lobs, volleys and<br />

ground strokes<br />

<strong>The</strong>y may initially find the glass walls<br />

constrictive, claustrophobic and<br />

slightly impossible but quickly learn<br />

to love the exciting and dynamic<br />

opportunities the walls present to<br />

keep points alive. <strong>The</strong> game has an<br />

addictive quality and there’s little<br />

choice but to improve.<br />

However, tennis players may step<br />

onto the padel court with a bag full<br />

of shots and plenty of racket sport<br />

experience but their years of top spin,<br />

hard hitting and preparing early for<br />

sweeping ground strokes can work<br />

against them. And while both games<br />

are strategic, padel has a larger<br />

variety of shots to learn.<br />

So, tennis players, there are five key<br />

points that most padel aficionados<br />

agree upon when switching sports:<br />

• Power is not rewarded, placement<br />

of the ball is<br />

• Move up and down the court<br />

as a team.<br />

• Lobs are a vital element of padel<br />

• Make your racket swing smaller<br />

• Invest in coaching<br />

Slow burn<br />

I had the pleasure of speaking to<br />

former tennis pro and Octagon sports<br />

agent Abigail Tordoff about her rise in<br />

the padel world. Abigail contributed<br />

greatly to the GB tennis community,<br />

representing her country on several<br />

occasions. She is now CEO of tennis<br />

charity Give It Your Max, which<br />

enhances the lives of disadvantaged<br />

and vulnerable children in the UK<br />

through tennis. Abigail has also<br />

turned her hand to padel and in just<br />

two years ascended to being a padel<br />

pro, playing regularly for senior and<br />

open international sides and hosting<br />

coaching clinics.<br />

But it wasn’t love at first hit for Abigail:<br />

“I first picked up a padel bat in 2012,<br />

just before the London Olympics when<br />

I was out in Barcelona for work. I was<br />

invited to play with Spanish former pro<br />

motorcyclist Sete Gibernau in his back<br />

garden. I didn’t really enjoy it and kind<br />

of thought what is this game?”<br />

She didn’t play again until lockdown,<br />

when her love for the game<br />

blossomed. Having retired from<br />

professional tennis in 2000 she found<br />

she did not miss the tour. However,<br />

once playing padel regularly her<br />

competitive spirit shone through and<br />

she was hooked. “I got the padel bug<br />

that everyone talks about,” she said.<br />

“I’d had quite a lot of time out of<br />

competitive sport and I hadn’t realised<br />

that I had missed competing. Once I<br />

started competing in padel I thought<br />

this is amazing fun.”<br />

In her first year she partnered with Lisa<br />

Phillips and the duo dominated the UK<br />

padel scene, winning the vast majority<br />

of tournaments they entered. “We<br />

also played a couple of tournaments<br />

abroad, which was a huge eye<br />

As a tennis player<br />

“<br />

you think if you<br />

whack it hard<br />

enough they won’t<br />

get it back but to my<br />

initial surprise it kept<br />

coming back...<br />

”<br />

opener,” she said. She tries to play most<br />

days whether that be early in<br />

the morning, evenings or lunch breaks:<br />

“I work my padel sessions around my<br />

job and children, so it is a bit of<br />

a juggling act, but it is my passion<br />

and I absolutely love it.”<br />

Unlearning<br />

Tennis gives players a free pass into<br />

padel and Abigail’s game benefitted<br />

from years on the professional tennis<br />

tour. She acknowledged this ‘huge<br />

advantage’: “You have good hand eye<br />

coordination, you know how to volley,<br />

split step and move around the court<br />

and, most importantly, compete.”<br />

But even she had to unlearn some old<br />

tennis habits, as she explained: “As a<br />

tennis player you think if you whack<br />

it hard enough they won’t get it back<br />

but to my initial surprise it kept coming<br />

back.” A mental shift was required, with<br />

Abigail telling herself ‘you can’t whack<br />

this ball, less is definitely more in padel’.<br />

Room for two<br />

Abigail still loves tennis and believes<br />

the two sports can co-exist and<br />

complement each other. She’d like to<br />

see more tennis players make the shift,<br />

particularly semi-professionals nearing<br />

the end of their tennis journey, and is a<br />

firm advocate for getting more women<br />

and girls into padel.<br />

“<strong>The</strong>re are so many benefits both<br />

mentally and physically,” she said.<br />

“Especially when women get older,<br />

in terms of muscle loss, the benefit<br />

of playing any racquet sport is<br />

just so great.” •<br />

Abigail organises female-focussed<br />

coaching clinics through her company<br />

SET. For more information email<br />

hello@setpadel.club<br />

Shorter, flatter<br />

& off the glass<br />

Manchester Padel Club coach Rachel Thomas<br />

shares her top tips for making a successful<br />

transition from tennis to padel.<br />

1. Adapt shots and swings to the smaller court<br />

<strong>The</strong> smaller court in padel means there is much less time to prepare<br />

to hit the ball compared to tennis. This means your racket take-back<br />

needs to be shorter, a challenge for some players, particularly on the<br />

forehand where you can end up connecting with the ball later than<br />

intended. If you find that happening, focus on guiding the ball rather<br />

than hitting it.<br />

2. Reduce pace and topspin<br />

I would describe my tennis style of play as ‘aggressive baseliner’.<br />

I use topspin and pace on my groundstrokes to create an opportunity<br />

to go for a winner from the back of the court. In padel, this<br />

style of play is likely to lose you points. Pace and topspin<br />

can make the ball bounce higher, making it easier for<br />

your opponents to retrieve and counterattack. Instead,<br />

hit the ball flatter or with slice, which will cause it to<br />

bounce lower or die off the glass.<br />

3. Make use of the back glass<br />

<strong>The</strong> back glass can take some getting used to for<br />

players transitioning from tennis to padel. When I first<br />

started playing padel I would try and hit everything<br />

before the glass and end up hitting a difficult<br />

half volley, which would often lead to errors<br />

from me or an easy volley for my opponents.<br />

I’ve worked on this and now, by allowing<br />

the ball to hit the glass, I have more time<br />

to hit a better shot.<br />

4. Master the different<br />

overhead shots<br />

Mastering the different overhead<br />

shots in padel can be the difference<br />

between winning and losing. In tennis<br />

my strategy typically involves delivering<br />

a powerful smash to quickly conclude<br />

a point. In padel I use multiple overhead<br />

shots during a rally.<br />

Start by honing specific shots, such as the<br />

‘<strong>Bandeja</strong>’ and ‘Rulo’ overheads. Each of these<br />

shots demands a distinct technique and leads<br />

to a different outcome. Even after mastering<br />

them in practice, the decision-making process<br />

during a match scenario might take additional<br />

time. <strong>The</strong>refore, try and allow yourself the<br />

necessary time to make the right choice in<br />

the heat of the game. •<br />

66<br />

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thebandeja.com | SUMMER <strong>2024</strong><br />


A C A D E M Y<br />

More patience,<br />

less power and<br />

use the walls!<br />

Former padel World Champion<br />

Mauri Andrini - through his Hello<br />

Padel Academy - has partnered<br />

with <strong>The</strong> <strong>Bandeja</strong> to bring<br />

world-class coaching tips and<br />

insights to our readers.<br />

Former padel World Champion Mauri Andrini, of Hello Padel Academy,<br />

gives his top tips for making the transition from tennis to padel.<br />

Forget power shots<br />

A goal when we play padel is to make<br />

the opponent hit the ball from below<br />

net height, and us always above.<br />

<strong>The</strong>refore using strong strokes in<br />

padel will make the ball bounce and<br />

remain high, giving an opponent the<br />

opportunity to counter attack. It is<br />

more effective to make a slower or<br />

softer shot, looking for the ball to die<br />

off a wall and not bounce, making the<br />

counter shot much more difficult for<br />

rivals.<br />

Forget topspin shots<br />

Topspin makes the ball rise, both<br />

when it bounces on the ground and<br />

when it bounces off the wall, leaving<br />

an easier ball for the opponent. It is<br />

better to use flat or slice shots to try<br />

to get the ball to rise up as little as<br />

possible. Perhaps the only exceptions<br />

to using top spin would be when we<br />

seek to make a touch shot, return to<br />

the feet or when hitting the ball with<br />

the aim to bring it back to our side of<br />

the court or take it out of court.<br />

Be patient<br />

In tennis, especially if you are serving,<br />

it is likely that you can win the point<br />

relatively quickly by serving well. In<br />

padel it is very unusual to win a point<br />

with just a few strokes, especially as<br />

the level of the players increases.<br />

That’s why we have to play more<br />

patiently because finishing a point is<br />

more difficult. Tennis players have to<br />

change the psychological/tactical<br />

mind set of being aggressive and<br />

playing with powerful strokes to the<br />

mindset of being patient and working<br />

on the point until they get a ball to<br />

finish it.<br />

Make fewer<br />

definitive smashes<br />

It is very common to see tennis<br />

players try to hit strong smashes<br />

to finish points. In padel (leaving<br />

aside professional players) we rarely<br />

manage to finish the point with a<br />

smash and should not try to win<br />

every ball that is hit to us from above.<br />

Often it is better to hit a less powerful<br />

and well-placed smash with a good<br />

spin (or a bandeja/vibora) than a<br />

very powerful and flat smash, as the<br />

opponent can intercept this more<br />

easily.<br />

Learn the bandeja<br />

& víbora<br />

This point is linked to the previous<br />

point. In padel, when we are faced<br />

with a lob or a high ball, in the<br />

majority of cases it will be more<br />

effective to hit a bandeja or a víbora<br />

than a winning smash. <strong>The</strong>refore,<br />

learning how to do, above all, the<br />

bandeja, should be a priority for<br />

players who come from tennis.<br />

Use the walls.<br />

It is typical to see that tennis players<br />

who have only recently started<br />

playing padel don’t use the walls.<br />

From the back of the court they will<br />

play without letting balls bounce off<br />

the glass. <strong>The</strong>y will even volley from<br />

the back rather than let the ball<br />

bounce off the glass. In padel this<br />

is a mistake. <strong>The</strong> walls are not our<br />

enemies but we have to know how<br />

to make them work in our favour and<br />

not against us.<br />

Hit more lobs<br />

In tennis you rarely use the lob<br />

when your opponent goes up to the<br />

net. Most of the time you opt for a<br />

passing shot as the tennis court is<br />

big and the player can’t cover the<br />

whole court. In padel the court is<br />

smaller, there are walls that make<br />

the balls bounce back into play and<br />

we always play doubles, so getting<br />

a passing shot is almost impossible.<br />

That’s why we hit a lot of lobs, with<br />

the aim of sending our opponents to<br />

the back and gaining the net, which<br />

is where we win points and matches.<br />

Switch between<br />

attack & defence<br />

In tennis when one of the players<br />

takes the initiative they keep it<br />

until they win the point, force the<br />

opponent to make a mistake or<br />

make an error themselves. Rarely<br />

is there a change of role within the<br />

same point. In padel it is very typical<br />

to see both partners switch from<br />

attacking to defending several times<br />

within the same point.<br />

Play the middle<br />

In tennis you try to play to the sides<br />

and open up angles to make your<br />

opponent run and force errors. Padel<br />

is not like that. As there are walls the<br />

ball will always bounce and return<br />

into court. It can be more effective<br />

to hit the ball to the centre, moving<br />

both players to the middle and<br />

generating gaps on the sides and at<br />

the same time there is a chance (in<br />

less experienced pairings) that the<br />

opponents are not sure whose ball<br />

it is.<br />

Get to the net<br />

Many tennis points are won from the<br />

baseline. In padel it is more difficult to<br />

win a point from the baseline. That’s<br />

why, as soon as you have the chance,<br />

you should go to the net, which is<br />

where you win most points and<br />

matches.<br />

Slice volleys<br />

Padel players rarely win a point with a<br />

power volley. Most of the time we will<br />

have to play a volley that is not very<br />

powerful with a short spin, looking<br />

for it to barely bounce and rise from<br />

the glass to make it as difficult as<br />

possible for our opponent to return.<br />

More forward &<br />

backward movements<br />

In tennis the vast majority of<br />

movements are lateral. In padel<br />

there are lateral movements but<br />

also many forward and backward<br />

moves because of rebounds on the<br />

back wall and because one of the<br />

objectives is to win the net whenever<br />

possible.<br />

Move as a couple<br />

In padel it is very important that the<br />

couple moves in unison, for example<br />

up to the net, moving to the back<br />

court and when moving to the<br />

corresponding side when at the net.<br />

Shorter racket preP<br />

& follow through<br />

Make shorter stroke preparations than<br />

in tennis. <strong>The</strong> court is smaller and<br />

hitting hard will often work against us.<br />

Also, by doing a short preparation we<br />

are ready earlier. It will give us much<br />

more ball control and help to hit the<br />

ball in front of the body.<br />

Serve more slowly<br />

In tennis the vast majority of first<br />

serves are about power. In padel you<br />

have to serve from the maximum<br />

height of the waist and serving faster<br />

will give less control of the direction<br />

of the ball, more chances to miss and<br />

less time to get to the net. We benefit<br />

more from a low serve with a slice<br />

spin (so the ball is not lifted) and a<br />

medium speed, giving us a chance to<br />

be near the net before the opponent<br />

returns. Even if we manage to hit a<br />

very fast and well-placed serve, the<br />

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opponent will almost certainly be<br />

able to return it as he can always let<br />

the ball pass and wait for it to bounce<br />

off the glass. If you need convincing<br />

of this look at professional padel to<br />

see how many points you see won<br />

with the serve or if the pros always<br />

serve strongly. •<br />

68<br />

SUMMER <strong>2024</strong> | thebandeja.com<br />

thebandeja.com | SUMMER <strong>2024</strong><br />


the last word<br />

<strong>The</strong> Last Word<br />

with Christoffer Granfelt,<br />

co-founder of Instantpadel<br />

Swedish entrepreneur Christoffer Granfelt and<br />

business partner Magnus Berglund are the brains<br />

behind Instantpadel, arguably one of the most<br />

important developments in padel.<br />

70<br />

In under six hours you can have a<br />

Instantpadel court up and ready<br />

to play, no planning permission or<br />

groundwork required. <strong>The</strong>y’ve been<br />

installed on ships, in shopping centres,<br />

posh members clubs (think Babington<br />

House) and now come with pickleball,<br />

footy and basketball marked out.<br />

Where did the idea for Instantpadel<br />

come from?<br />

Magnus got the idea during Sweden’s<br />

padel boom in 2020. He felt the sport<br />

wasn’t as accessible as it should be.<br />

<strong>The</strong> question was ‘does it have to be<br />

so complicated to build a padel court?’<br />

What are Instantpadel’s USPs?<br />

Instantpadel is unique, a portable court<br />

that doesn’t require major groundwork<br />

and has less need for permits (ie<br />

planning in the UK). Courts are easy to<br />

install - the team from Game4Padel<br />

holds the unofficial world record for<br />

building an Instantpadel court in two<br />

hours and 15 minutes. Normal time is<br />

approximately 4-6 hours.<br />

What challenges have you faced?<br />

We’ve needed to put time in to<br />

explaining our concept and guiding<br />

clients on when and why they should<br />

use us. We are not suitable for all<br />

projects but perfect for others. We have<br />

a court that delivers great access to<br />

many unique city centres to increase<br />

the sport’s accessibility.<br />

Your success in numbers?<br />

Since launch in 2021 we have installed<br />

160 Instantpadel courts in 18 countries.<br />

What’s the difference between<br />

InstantPadel and a normal court?<br />

We use polycarbonate panels instead<br />

of glass because they are lighter (100kg<br />

v 250kg), therefore easier to transport<br />

and install. You don’t need to bolt our<br />

courts to the ground.<br />

Player feedback?<br />

<strong>The</strong> response has been overwhelming.<br />

In the UK our partners Game4Padel and<br />

Hexa Padel have completed several<br />

installations with very good response.<br />

Hexa had a client in Torquay who<br />

installed our court on an existing tennis<br />

court and within three months got 120<br />

new club members.<br />

How important has Instantpadel<br />

been in introducing padel to<br />

communities?<br />

I believe we are, for sure, part of the<br />

global growth of padel since our<br />

installations at iconic locations have<br />

created attention for the sport. We<br />

are truly humble and happy about<br />

the role we are playing in the padel<br />

industry worldwide.<br />

One goal is to get councils, public<br />

sector, parks etc to explore us more.<br />

We are the perfect solution for turning<br />

unused community areas into active,<br />

fun social spaces. Our courts are very<br />

easy to move around if needed.<br />

Your favourite Instantpadel<br />

installation?<br />

Westfield Padel Festival (November 2022)<br />

at Westfield shopping centre in West<br />

London in conjunction with Game4Padel<br />

(see Issue 2 of <strong>The</strong> <strong>Bandeja</strong> for the full<br />

story). Andy Murray and Tia Norton,<br />

together with other high profile people,<br />

played on our court. It was such a great<br />

success, and we are still getting global<br />

articles about our presence there.<br />

<strong>The</strong> most unusual installation?<br />

On a ship outside Kuwait City. It really<br />

proves that we can install a padel court<br />

anywhere and everywhere.<br />

An installation you are especially<br />

proud of?<br />

We are installing at the iconic West<br />

Side Tennis Club in New York. It has<br />

hosted 60 US Opens and several Davis<br />

Cup and will be our first installation<br />

in the States.<br />

You’ve developed a dual surface<br />

court for padel and pickleball. Why?<br />

To reduce barriers into sport and focus<br />

on accessibility. This concept is perfect<br />

and cost effective for tennis clubs<br />

pivoting into a rackets club. We are also<br />

launching a multi-sports court soon;<br />

by changing the flooring and lines<br />

you can use our cage for soccer and<br />

basketball. It will be very exciting to see<br />

where this leads us. •<br />

<strong>The</strong> Padel & Pickleball Club Builder is a<br />

new-launch B2B supplier directory for<br />

organisations and companies supporting<br />

the development of padel and pickleball<br />

clubs and venues.<br />

It is brought to you by the team behind<br />

<strong>The</strong> <strong>Bandeja</strong>.<br />

If you are a court manufacturer, court<br />

builder, canopy supplier, manufacturer of<br />

portable buildings, acoustic curtains, or<br />

provide F&B services, planning assistance,<br />

legal support, security solutions, turf, nets,<br />

equipment, rackets and apparel for pro<br />

shops etc get in touch for more information.<br />

emma@thebandeja.com<br />

To order print copies<br />

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www.thebandeja.com<br />

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From tennis<br />

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when & where?<br />

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