First of all, you might ask, “What is this sport ‘Padel’ that everyone is talking about?”
You need to know that it’s a sort of cross between tennis and squash, though more tactical than either, but somewhat like tennis with walls, balls are similar and the scoring is identical.
It’s also the fastest growing sport in the world! It originated in Mexico in the 1970s and after a slow start, in the last 15 years, participant numbers have exploded, led by Spain and Latin countries, but more recently it’s also happening just about everywhere in Europe.
This was the first time that a Padel World Championships for “Seniors” had been held! Apparently, the definition of a “Senior” is anyone over 35, which is a little worrying!! ;)
This type of event takes a huge amount of organisation and the FIP management did a brilliant job of keeping everything together, especially considering somewhat unseasonal heavy rain at times!
There were 16 Countries which signed up. Team GB registered first!! GB is definitely one of the “Cinderella” Padel countries. Although our national federation was originally founded back in 1992, currently we only have 50 courts (October 2018). However, this number is set to expand rapidly once Padel gains full UK Sports Council recognition, hence community support and funding. It’s a fantastic game! If you play it once, you WILL BE HOOKED! So watch this space!
The event was sponsored by several high-profile brands, including Hyundai, Coca-Cola, Head and Estepona and Marbella City Halls. All the Padel “dignitaries” were in attendance too.
Team GB was fortunate enough to be sponsored by Acuity, we were grateful to have received some national kit and it made it easier for GB to enter both men’s and ladies teams into the competition.
The total numbers of participants from all over the world was estimated to be in excess of 500. Pretty good for an inaugural tournament! Plus all the partners, coaches and locals from the area made for a good crowd at every match. Many of the games were also filmed for various YouTube and local news channels, so the sponsors received some very good publicity!
Tournament diary, day by day
Sunday 7th October
Ladies team practice at Club Octagono, Sotogrande, near Gibraltar.
Many of the team have not met previously or even played together, so it’s an important moment! Everyone is looking slightly nervous!!
The Opening ceremony and cocktail party takes place! We are all proudly wearing our Acuity GB kit and it’s a grand affair at the spectacular Benahavis Hotel, up in the mountains, inland from Estepona.
Some players from other countries (not us ;) ) look like they had a few too many cocktails last night!
Today’s schedule sees Debbie and Natasha playing in the Open competition, against a top ranked pair from Spain (40+). Result – LOST!! But not disgraced!!
For the Ladies team (3 pairs, 35+, 40+ and 45+) it’s the first round of the round robin and Italy is the opposition! They are reported to be very good, second favourites only behind Spain. Rumour has it that they have been in a full time training camp for the previous 2 months! Judging by their suntans, it’s probably true!
After a hard fought battle Italy comes up trumps 2-1. But it was close!
Open match - 35+ Carol and Leanne v. Portugal – WON WITH STYLE!!
Team round robin v. Brazil – WON 2-1!!
Team morale was high after an inspiring days play!
Open match - 35+ Carol and Leanne v. Spain – AN EXCITING GAME, VERY CLOSE, BUT LOST!
Open match - 40+ Debbie and Tasha v. Portugal – LOST
Team round robin v. Holland – LOST 2-1
A lovely hot sunny day, but not such good results!! But team spirits are still high.
HEAVY RAIN INTERRUPTS PLAY!! This is Spain?? Anyway, we went to watch a Spanish pair that Carol has been helping, what a fantastic Padel exhibition!!
Our coach Belen put on an exhibition of her own and showed us some good Padel skills, while also holding an umbrella! After that she was known to us as Mary Poppins. Pure magic.
Team Consolation competition v. Germany – WON 2-1!! GREAT RESULT!! Lots of happy faces!
LAST DAY OF PLAY!
Team play off for 9th and 10th position v. Mexico – LOST 2-1. A shame to end on a loss, but the Mexicans had a very good team that played strategically. They also had an unlucky draw in the competition and should have finished higher.
The prize giving and closing ceremony took place at the Villa Padierna Padel Club, with various high profile Padel dignitaries in front of a noisy and happy crowd.
The first ever FIP Seniors World Championships 2018 was pronounced a great success! The first of many to come!
Team GB entered the competition with a strong ladies team. Unfortunately, the draw for the competition was not very kind and with only two to qualify from our group, we drew Italy (eventual runners-up), Holland (5th) and Brazil! Just the luck of the draw….
The 35+ ladies (Captains, Carol and Leanne) were undefeated in the team event, an amazing achievement! In the Open competition we were again unlucky to draw a top Spanish pair in the Quarter finals. Our talented ladies put in a strong performance in difficult weather conditions and the match could have gone either way, but in the end it wasn’t to be.
But the feeling from the camp is that our seniors’ ladies are definitely on the right track for future GB glory! The team hardly even knew each other before the event and many pairs had never played together, unlike most of the other countries. However, the ladies bonded really well as a team from Day 1, which was great to see. Also, we were unbelievably fortunate enough to have with us a very skillful and experienced Spanish coach, Belen Castrillo, a 4-time World Champion!! Not only a great coach, but a real personality! Such a lovely person too!!
'The glue that held everything together was of course our Captain/Coach and number 1 player, Carolina Prado, who organised just about everything from start to finish! She was the iconic role model! What an asset for GB!! We’re so glad you with us Carol, Spain’s loss!!', Debby White, GB Padel team member.
There is already talk of future Team GB training camps in the UK and Spain, hopefully with Belen and I at the helm. We can definitely go a long way!!
Some team quotes from the week:
“You are never really playing an opponent; you are playing yourself and your own highest standards. When you reach your limits, that is pure joy!”
“Coming together is a beginning, staying together is progress and working together is success!”
“Better to aim too high and fail, than to aim too low and succeed!”
ONE TEAM, ONE DREAM, LETS GO GB!!
On behalf of the ladies team, many thanks again ACUITY for all your help!! We hope you will continue to support us!!
Authored by Debbie White, GB Padel Team Member.