In another blog I have written about the sport of pelota/ pilota – a ball game traditionally linked to Spain. Not unlike pelota, Spanish padel tennis has strong associations with Spanish-speaking countries. However, it is not as old a sport and was developed in the late sixties in South America. It was then introduced into Europe through southern Spain during the mid seventies.
At a distance you could be forgiven for thinking that padel tennis players are playing tennis but inside a greenhouse. It is played on a court but at closer inspection you would see that padel courts are smaller than a regular tennis court at 20 x 10 metres.
The greenhouse effect is due to the courts being surrounded by back and side walls. These walls aren’t just for show. The players are allowed to bounce the ball off them, a little like squash. This is a fast-moving game without the hold-ups that come from retrieving your ball, if you’re not lucky enough to have brought your ball boy with you.
The racquets are different too. Rather than being strung as in the traditional tennis type, they are small fibre paddles with holes in them and look a little like a flat cullinder. The balls can be regular tennis balls although officially they are slightly deflated.
The game is played as a doubles, the scoring is the same as in tennis and the rules are similar too. The ball is only allowed to bounce once but a player can also bounce it off the surrounding walls to return it to his opponent. For those who struggle with the tradditional tennis serve this could be the game for you as you serve under-arm.
Padel is becoming increasingly popular partly because it is easy to pick up and players can soon become quite proficient although it is also taxing for the expert too.
To really get a feel for the game, watch this YouTube video from the London Padel Club.