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What is padel tennis? The summer sports trend sweeping the UK, and where you can play it

The squash-tennis hybrid is currently the world’s fastest growing sport.

By LLM Reporters  |  April 16, 2022
Padel Tennis

Summer is just around the corner, and as we all know, it’s the most exciting season of the year for sports. Last year, we had the postponed and long-awaited Summer Olympics in Tokyo, as well as the nail-biting Euro 2020 football tournament that saw England finish as runners up. This year, we’re waiting on the edge of our seats for the UEFA Champions League final and the beginning of much-loved British tennis tournament, Wimbledon, with stars like Novak Djokovic, Serena Williams and Roger Federer battling it out on the courts to be crowned this year’s winners.

While most of us love nothing more than to sit back and watch the action unfold, some of us like to go one better than that and get involved in the to- and fro-ing ourselves, with summer the season we’re most likely to get off our sofas, head outdoors and play a good-natured game of whatever our favourite sport happens to be with friends or family.

This year, one particular sport is garnering a lot of attention, making a name for itself as the most enjoyable game to play for people of all ages. From adults to children, padel tennis is a growing trend in the sporting world – but what exactly is it, and how do you play it?

Padel Tennis player
The squash-tennis hybrid is currently the world’s fastest growing sport.

Why is everyone talking about padel tennis?

Also known as ‘padel’ or ‘paddle’, this exciting game might be new to you, but it already has a legion of loyal fans across the globe. Although still an emerging trend in the UK, this year we’re set to see a growing number of Brits take up the sport – and it’s about time, since the game was initially invented by an inspired man named Enrique Corcuera in Acapulco, Mexico, all the way back in 1969.

Over the next 25 years, it became hugely popular in Spain, where the first annual tournaments began to take place – and today, the competitive game, which is officially recognised as a discipline of tennis in the UK, is the fastest growing sport in the world.

How to play padel

Tennis enthusiasts will have little trouble getting to grips with padel, as just like the original sport, it is a ‘bat and ball’ style game that is scored in sets of six games. But unlike tennis, it isn’t played with racquets and traditional tennis balls, but foam ‘padels’ and specially adapted balls. A player or pair must be ahead by two games in order to be crowned the winners, or participate in a tiebreaker if there is a draw.

Although it can be played in singles, it is usually played by pairs in an enclosed court that is around three quarters of the size of a standard tennis court, with walls featuring in the game much like they do in squash – so deliberately bouncing the ball off the walls in a bid to score points is all part of the fun.

Padel Tennis racket and ball
Padel tennis, also known as padel or paddle, is played by more than ten million people worldwide

Celebrity fans of padel

Although we’re only now beginning to hear about padel in the UK, it seems much of the world is well ahead of the game, with Argentinian football star Lionel Messi, former England players David Beckham and Peter Crouch, and Scottish tennis ace Andy Murray all thought to be fans of the sport.

Where to play padel in the UK

There is a growing community of padel players in Britain, with the largest found in capital city, London. If you’d like to find out more about clubs and courts near you, then here’s a comprehensive list of where to play padel in the UK.

All you’ll need to get started is your own ‘padel’ and a set of depressurised balls, which you can purchase online or from most sports shops. If you’re looking for a new hobby to take up this summer, then give padel a try – it’s fun, fast-paced and great for amateur players of all ages.