TV presenter and former British No. 1 tennis player Annabel Croft launched new Padel tennis courts at Crystal Palace National Sports Centre in London earlier this month as part of a national roll out of the game by GLL, the UK’s largest operator of tennis courts, in partnership with padel specialists Game4Padel.
Annabel was be joined by Jamaican Bobsleigh Winter Olympian Matthew Wekpe – a Padel enthusiast and top Game4Padel coach James Rose. Local families also took part in a series of free Padel lessons throughout the day.
Padel was recently described as ‘the biggest fitness trend of the Summer’ by GQ magazine and by The Times as the ‘racket sport that’s rapidly becoming a big hit’. The game originally started in Mexico and quickly swept through South America and then into Europe. Spain is reckoned to have over 20,000 Padel courts, and an estimated six million players – it is now the country’s second biggest participation sport after football.
Padel is played in 91 countries and is the fastest growing sport in countries such as Sweden and Italy. Forecasters predict Padel will become an Olympic sport by 2032.
Annabel Croft said: “It’s really growing in popularity in the UK, and I think a lot of its appeal is that it’s very easy to learn. Most people, even without any racket experience, can pick up the basics pretty quickly. And because the court is small, the ball is in play a lot more than in tennis, where you have to walk much further to pick up balls after a rally has finished, which can be frustrating and waste a lot of time when you are just starting out.”
Andrew Clark, GLL’s Head of Sport and Aquatics added: “Everyone who tries Padel loves it. The game is easy to pick up, can be played by people of all ages and abilities and is extremely fun and sociable. That’s why we’re working with Game4Padel to roll out courts at Better leisure centres across the UK over the coming 12 months, making Padel more accessible and continuing to ensure our sport & leisure facilities offer exciting and affordable activities, which can bring communities together and help them to stay active and healthy.”
Padel is a cross between tennis and squash that is easy to play, fun and extremely sociable. It is played mainly in a doubles format on an enclosed court that is two thirds the size of a tennis court. It has an army of high-profile fans including Andy Murray, David Beckham, and Lionel Messi.
A Padel court is smaller than a tennis court (10m x 20m) and is surrounded by glass walls and metallic fence (3m and 4m high). It is a racket sport that combines elements of tennis, squash and badminton and is played by over 18 million people worldwide. The balls are similar to those used in tennis, but the rackets are easier to play with as they are smaller and don’t have strings. You do not need any previous racquet experience to play Padel.
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