With 25 million players in 110 countries according to the website Padel FYI, padel is apparently the fastest growing sport in the world. Opportunities to play in Ibiza are increasing all the time, which is great.
Padel was born in Acapulco. In 1969, keen squash player Enrique Corcuera mixed elements of an obscure version of tennis called platform tennis with squash to create what he called ‘Paddle Corcuera’. Today, he’s regarded as the inventor of padel.
A Spanish friend of Enrique’s named Alfonso tried the sport, fell in love with it and brought it back to Marbella, Spain where he created the first two padel courts in 1974. Alfonso modified Enrique’s original concept to make it more competitive.
Next, in 1975, Julio Menditeguy – a member of Alfonso’s Marbella tennis club – decided to take the sport to his native Argentina.
By 2005, there were more than 1000 clubs in Spain. This was the year of the first international padel championship. A World Padel Series was launched in 2014 with tournaments played in Spain as well as other countries that include the US and United Arab Emirates.
Today, Padel FYI estimates that there are around 40,000 padel courts worldwide.
The first time I played padel was around eight years ago in Mallorca. A few of my friends came over to visit me on the island. They’d heard about padel, which was pretty underground in the UK back then, and we spontaneously decided to have a knockabout.
Playing padel was great fun, particularly because it was much easier to pick up than tennis. With tennis, it takes a while to get to a level of skill that’s decent enough for you to be able to rally and really enjoy the game. Pretty much anyone can pick up padel and quickly get better.
I now play padel regularly with a group of friends – a mix of men and women. Partly because you need four people to play a game, there’s a real social element to padel. Padel is a good fun workout that’s now part of my social life. I’m hooked. It’s my new favourite sport.
It seems I’m not alone in falling for padel. My brother Charlie and our good friend Tim, part of the Charles Marlow Ibiza team, are getting into the sport. Several of our clients have fallen in love with padel and are thinking about building their own courts.
Meanwhile, the Bubble Club Ibiza offering six state of the art padel courts has just opened in the countryside outside San Antonio. The club describes itself as offering a ‘luxury padel tennis experience’. It has dedicated coaches for padel and tennis for players of all levels from beginner to advanced, all ages. Training is one to one or in groups.
The Bubble Club is keen to promote the social side of padel which, as I mentioned, is one of the reasons why I enjoy the sport. It’s a place to hang out. The kitchen and two bars offer a healthy menu, smoothies and juices.
I’m looking forward to playing padel at the Bubble Club with Tim and Charlie but we’ll need one more player to make up a foursome. If anyone who lives in Ibiza is reading this and fancies a game, feel free to get in touch.