For the uninitiated, padel is a racquet sport, typically played in doubles, on an enclosed court a third the size of a tennis court. Scoring is the same as normal tennis and shots can be played off the enclosed walls in a similar way as in the game of squash. The height of the ball being served must be at or below waist level. The balls used are similar but with a little less air pressure, while the racquets are solid and stringless.
Forty teams of doubles, with names including the Lobstoppers, Le Rocque Stars and the Flying Aces, have joined the local summer league, divided into four divisions of ‘experts’, intermediates and two beginners groups with games scheduled on Wednesday and Friday evenings. It follows a successful first season last summer that has piqued the interest of many Islanders keen to get involved, after the padel courts at the Recreation Grounds – built five years ago – had remained largely dormant.
The league has been organised by Tom Price on behalf of the Jersey Squash and Racketball Club, who administer the use of the padel courts.
‘Last year it took off brilliantly,’ said Price. ‘We had 12 teams compete which was won by Mike Hopkins and Richie Brocken, which we finished in September and we actually ended taking a team over to Guernsey for our first inter-insular which was fantastic and we’re hoping to do that again this year. After that, people got pretty hooked and started playing right through the winter when they could get a dry day.
‘I came up with a proposal with the board of the JSRC to give to the Recreational Grounds and that was to take on padel through the club and entice members to the club, which they accepted.
‘We were going to do a big launch in April but then Covid hit us. But then we got the go-ahead a few weeks ago that we can play doubles on the court, I thought “forget about the launch, let’s just get the league going again”. So I’ve posted something on Facebook and before you know it I’ve got 30 teams.
‘The padel courts have now been extremely busy. I think people realise how sociable the game is, it’s a doubles game and it’s quite a relatively easy sport to take up and play.’
The Summer League is also looking for a new sponsor to cover the cost of trophies and prizes.
‘We’re not looking for much,’ said Price. ‘They’ll be able to get on the social media page. They’ll have their advertising on the court, that sort of thing.’
Padel was invented by Enrique Corcuera in Acapulco, Mexico in 1969 but it’s popularity is growing rapidly across Europe and the rest of the world. It is particularly popular in Spain.
Potential sponsors can contact Tom Price on 07797 758834 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.