The comic book druid Panoramix needed a lot of complicated ingredients to create a magical drink for the intrepid Gauls. Sometimes, however, the recipe can be simpler and the result just as explosive. When someone came up with the combination of tennis and Basque pelota in Mexico decades ago, he didn’t expect that the game titled padel would captivate millions of hearts around the world.
That someone mentioned earlier was Enrique Corcuera, who literally invented padel in Acapulco, Mexico. He liked to play with a bouncing ball in his backyard, but was unable to control it because it often flew out of his area and landed in the bushes or at his neighbor’s house. So in 1969 he decided to build walls 3 to 4 meters high. The idea appealed to his friend, who took the game to Spain. Alfonso de Hohenloh created the first court in the city of Marbella in 1974.
A year later padel made its way to Argentina where in a few years it became the most practiced sport in the country. South American countries were very eager to embrace the new sport, but it was also reaching increasing popularity in Europe. This resulted in the founding of the International Padla Federation, which was established in 1991 in La Moraleja, Madrid. Membership was held by the countries of Spain, Uruguay and Argentina. It is in the Iberian Peninsula country that padel has achieved great fame. In Spain, it is the second most popular sport in the country after soccer, which is played by everyone regardless of age.
What is the situation in Poland? In our homeland padel is still a niche sport, but every year it gathers more and more fans. More and more padel courts are being built, and this translates into increased interest among our countrymen in the sport.
– It’s easy to fall in love with paddling. It is a sport that gives a lot of satisfaction, a lot of fun and is very social. These days it’s very important to actively spend time with your loved ones. This sport provides such an opportunity. It is a sport that does not have to be practiced for many years to reach a certain level. It does not require such a great technique as, for example, tennis – says vice president of the Polish Padel Federation, Aleksandra Smolarska.
The rules of the game are not complicated. The game is played between two pairs of players on a 10×20m court. The competition arena is fenced with a net, and the back and part of the side walls are made of tempered glass or concrete blocks. Do you know the dimensions of the tennis court? It is on its surface that three padel courts will fit. This is not the end of the similarities between the two sports. In padel we also have gems and sets. The goal of a pair is to win two sets. As in tennis, the game begins with a serve, executed “from the bottom.” The players’ goal is to hit the ball in such a way that it bounces twice on the rivals’ court, or leaves the court after a basket. In paddle, as in squash, the ball can bounce off the walls, but after prior contact with the surface. Otherwise, it risks being deducted a point.
During the European Games Krakow – Malopolska 2023, padel will play among other disciplines. This is a chance for a big promotion of the sport, which will additionally be played in the beautiful Kraków market square.
– It is definitely a location that we are very excited about. Not only in terms of the fact that you will be able to see the semifinals and finals at the highest level in the world, but above all we hope to reach a wide audience with the discipline, not only the Games, but also passers-by, tourists. It is a great place for the game and we hope it will bring a great benefit – adds Aleksandra Smolarska.
The padel is played with a racquet that, unlike a tennis racquet, has no tension. It is made of carbon, eve foam or carbon fiber. Initially, racquets were made of wood.
Padel is not a particularly expensive sport. The first steps can be taken by attending one of the many clubs in Poland. All the accessories we can rent are available there. When we catch the “bug” the first equipment is a cost in the range of 200-300 zlotys.
– The presence of paddle at the European Games is a milestone in the history of the sport. This is the first time this sport appears in the main program of such a large event. We are definitely looking forward to the excitement of paddle,” commented the vice-president of the Polish Paddle Federation.
However, before the best perform in Krakow’s Old Town, a series of eliminations awaits them. These will be held at the “Prądniczanka” sports club. 128 competitors from the Old Continent will take part in them. During the fifth day of the competition, the semifinals and the final will take place on the Main Square in Cracow. This one will be adapted to accommodate 750 fans. Admission to this event is free.
The historic final of the struggle will take place on Sunday, June 25.
Tickets for the competition at the European Games can be purchased HERE.