For a sport which dates back to the early 20th century, padel is fairly uncharted waters for those in the UK despite its popularity across the Mediterranean.
A combination of both tennis and squash, padel offers a fun alternative to the regular racket sports that some have fallen out of love with.
So, ‘what are the differences from tennis’ you ask? Well, it is played on a court which is three quarters the size of tennis’ and it is surrounded by glass walls which the players can play shots off of. The sport is often played in doubles and underarm serves are the method of choice to get the game started. The only other major difference from tennis is that the racket is slightly different – it is smaller and completely solid which makes the technique of hitting the ball easier.
The scoring is the same as tennis, six games are needed to win a set and the team which wins two sets wins the game.
Andrea Butland is the Chair at East Glos Club – a centre that is based in Cheltenham and will be the only local venue offering padel facilities.
“We’re the first courts in the South-West,” she said. “You have to go to Solihull or Southampton otherwise.”
Butland is delighted that the Gloucestershire club are opening padel courts and hopes that they will be ready at the start of next year.
She said: “We’re converting an area that used to be large grass courts into three padel courts and the diggers are currently taking the soil out of the ground to lay the base.
“The courts should be fitted, we hope, by the end of January and certainly early February depending on the weather.”
As the sport is fairly unknown, there is no surprise that there aren’t many clubs that offer the game and by the time the courts are built, East Glos Club will be in a relatively exclusive group.
“I think there are only 82 courts in the UK,” she added. “We’ll be numbers 83 to 85.”
Butland feels that padel offers many advantages and is something that can be played across generations.
“It’s always played as doubles so it’s a very sociable thing to do but that’s not to say it can’t be competitive – there is already a world tour and championships,” she said. “It’s a game that families, children and generations can play together.”
As well as it being sociable amongst families, padel offers a more Covid friendly alternative to indoor rackets sports such as squash.
“It’s also something for our squash members who have been much more badly affected by the Covid restrictions than the outdoor tennis players,” Butland said.
So, Gloucestershire, keep an eye out for this unique and entertaining sport which will be opening its doors from the start of next year at East Glos Club – it could be the next big thing.