Harrogate Centre of Padel Tennis Craze
David Beckham plays it, Andy Murray has invested in it, and now Yorkshire has been hit by it.
Harrogate is set to be an epicentre of the UK’s padel craze as it hosts a professional padel tournament from 8- 9 October at Surge Padel, one of the UK’s largest premium indoor padel tennis centres in Harrogate.
Padel, a fast-paced racket sport similar to tennis with a dash of squash thrown in, is the fastest growing sport in Europe.
In Spain, it is second only to football and is classified as a national sport. Founded in Mexico in the 1960s, padel quickly took off in Argentina and across Europe. Data from Padel National Observatory shows padel courts have increased fivefold in Italy since 2020.
Home of Padel (HOP) in Harrogate will host the professional padel tournament at Surge, which features six indoor state-of the-art courts and facilities. HOP is the top UK padel event organiser, run by Javi Serrats and John Leach, current National GB Men’s Coach for padel.
Javi Serrats started playing padel in Spain 22 years ago, and has been coaching for 17 years. He competed professionally in his junior career, competing in the European Championships representing Spain. Since living in the UK, he has competed in the British Tour, becoming the UK #1 player from 2017 to 2019.
Javi said: “Padel is played on a court the third of the size of a standard tennis court. The mass appeal of it is that any age and ability can play. The tournament in October is an official event counting towards UK rankings and includes £3,000 of prize money. The tournament will showcase the best padel players in the country.”
There are now just shy of 200 padel courts in Britain, spread across 66 venues including tennis clubs, as well as leisure partners and padel only operators. The latest participation data shows there are now 89,000 active players, with around 15,000 participating each month.
By the end of this year, the Lawn Tennis Association (LTA) aims to add another 50 courts throughout the country.
Padel is played with a slightly less pressurised tennis ball, on a smaller court (surrounded by glass) and a small, chunky racket. The LTA is campaigning for it to be an Olympic Sport.
Professional footballers play the sport regularly as part of their training. Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp and ace striker Mo Salah are enthusiastic fans of the sport. Even Argentine striker Sergio Aguero is understood to have been the best padel player during his decade at Manchester City.
But you don’t have to be professional to love padel. Padel is accessible, fun and extremely sociable; 83-year-old Libby Horn plays regularly to keep fit, and Louise Sinclair took it up after a bout of depression following the pandemic.
Louise said: “Padel has changed my life, and that’s no understatement. As a divorced mum of two, I felt very isolated during and post lockdown. Playing padel has resulted in not just new friends, it’s boosted my mental and physical health. It’s so addictive! I try and play most days and have never felt better!”
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Photo shows professional Padel Coach Javi Serrats and Louise Sinclair plus Harrogate Padel players.