Why is Padel So Popular?
Martin Stew: It’s the fastest growing sport in the world you’ve probably never heard of.
John Leach: Padel is aiming to be a big hit in London soon too. This is a Padel court, it is cross between tennis and squash. So it’s very similar to tennis – same rules same setup, but you have a glass and fence surroundings to keep the ball in play.
Martin Stew: Cool can you show me some basics?
John Leach: Sure. Okay. Let’s get going.
Martin Stew: I’ve played a bit of tennis before. Padel balls are similar but a bit less bouncy, and the racquets are more like a foam-filled swing ball bat.
Like squash you can bounce off the walls. Unlike squash, it’s always played as double.
So John why do you like this game so much?
John Leach: There’s a lot of elements: firstly it’s a very social sport. Second it’s very simple to start the sport. The bats are small, nice and easy to control the ball. So to get going you don’t need to be that good, you can just jump on the court and start.
Martin Stew: That bodes well for me. I’m in good hands.
My coach and partner John Leach is the Great Britain captain and has just flown back from the World Championships in Paraguay.
John Leach: 16 destinations in the world compete there, and we were there for the tournament two weeks ago.
Martin Stew: And how did you do?
John Leach: We had a very tough group. We lost a couple of close matches to Uruguay and Belgium, so unfortunately just short of the quarter finals but we had a good team performance.
Martin Stew: John hopes the sport could grow as fast here as it has in Central America and parts of Europe.
Just how big is it in Spain?
John Leach: Spain it’s huge. It’s now more popular than tennis.
Martin Stew: Wow!
John Leach: It’s probably only football that is more popular. So it’s a real real passion in Spain.
Martin Stew: London has the most courts in the UK. Many are currently private clubs like Chelsea Harbour, but more and more are opening to the public.
John Leach: Hyde Park for example, Regent’s Park, Bishop’s Park in Fulham and there’s a brand new club, indoor club in Stratford, which will be open the start of December, and that’s the pay and play clubs.
Martin Stew: Surprisingly easy to pick up, reassuringly difficult to master. John even says it’s kinder on ageing bodies the traditional tennis and squash.
John Leach: So good, so good.
Martin Stew: Cheers John.