THE gulf between Jersey and Guernsey’s padel communities appears to have shrunk further in recent months, although the Sarnians enjoyed superiority once more on Saturday as they qualified for a national tournament at their hosts’ expense.
The latest inter-island clash was not an official inter-insular but regional bragging rights were still up for grabs at St Clement’s Recreation Grounds – with an extra carrot attached. Two sides from each island were battling to qualify for the 2022 National Padel League; a club competition bringing the best squads together throughout the summer before an end-of-season finale in London.
For hosts Island Padel Jersey, the event ended in disappointment as Guernsey Padel Club’s top quartet squeezed through with an unbeaten record. It was a close call, though, with the visitors requiring a tiebreak to see off ‘Jersey A’ after the teams had claimed one win apiece.
And it is that margin which has filled Island Padel co-founder Scott Clayton with optimism.
‘There is disappointment but we’re talking about two points between us,’ he said. ‘If you look at the bigger picture … we went to Guernsey last year for the inter-insular and didn’t do very well. Now, that gap has closed and in terms of depth; we’re there. Give us another few months, until the next inter-insular here in October, and we’ll have ourselves in a good place.’
Guernsey’s padel scene is still in its infancy too, having only sprouted from the turf at Guernsey Tennis Club in 2017, but the early construction of three covered courts paved the way to success at a sharper rate.
The Caesareans have been left to play catch-up.
Jersey’s players have yet to taste victory at inter-insular level – they lost 10-5 in 2019 and 36-15 in 2021 – but a spike in interest over the last two years, aided by the recent extension of the padel facility in St Clement, has brought new talent into the game.
‘We have a great group here who are starting to play much better,’ former tennis professional Clayton explained. ‘And now we have three indoor courts and two outdoor courts, it allows us to improve at a quicker rate, which is really important.
‘I always competed in national club leagues in tennis, even when I was playing professionally. I played for a club in London and they were always great events. It’s nice to play as a team where you’re relying on other results and it’s definitely something we’ll be looking to enter every year now. And, with the way we’re progressing here, I do believe we could do well in a few years’ time.’
Island Padel will stage an official opening for the new courts on Saturday 18 June and the St Clement site has already been earmarked to host high-profile events later in the year, including one sanctioned by the Lawn Tennis Association, which took responsibility for British padel in 2019.
Clayton added: ‘We’ve got 250-300 players playing each week and we’ve got our schools programme starting in a couple of weeks’ time. We also have our summer camps, our corporate league and our club spring league, which is the biggest in Great Britain.
‘We’ve already applied and had meetings with the LTA about tournaments and they’ve accepted a grade 1 event, which will be their biggest of the year, to take place in Jersey in September. We’re really happy we’ve already got that.’
National Padel League – CI qualifier
Results (Jersey players named first)
Jersey A 1-2 Guernsey A (Gsy win on tiebreak): Scott Clayton/Jon Southern bt Pat Ogier/Matt de la Mare 6-4 6-2; Bero Bobus/Tom Middleton lst Rob West/Jon Young 7-5 6-3.
Jersey A 2-0 Guernsey B: Clayton/Southern bt Inder/Pitarch 6-1 6-2; Bobus/Middleton bt Kandili/Eggimann 6-3 6-4
Jersey B 0-2 Guernsey A: Legge/Amir Ibrahim lst Ogier/de la Mare 6-1 6-2; Higgins/Jubb lst West/Young 6-4 6-4.
Jersey B 2-0 Guernsey B: Rueben Legge/Mark Greenfields bt Ben Inder/Omar Pitarch 6-4 6-4; Aaron Higgins/Morgan Jubb bt Tim Ebbimann/Omar Kandili 6-4 7-5
Jersey A 2-1 Jersey B (A win on tiebreak): Clayton/Southern bt Greenfield/Legge 6-2 6-3; Bobus/Middleton lst Ibrahim/Higgins 6-2 7-6.
Guernsey A 2-0 Guernsey B: Ogier/de la Mare bt Pitach/Inder; West/Young bt Kandili/Eggimann 6-3 6-4.