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The History

The History

The Evolution of Padel: From Mexico to Britain

What is Padel?

Padel is a dynamic and sociable sport combining elements of tennis and squash. Played as doubles on a court about one-third the size of a tennis court, it’s perfect for groups of mixed ages and abilities. The game uses the same scoring as tennis but features unique rackets and lower-pressure balls, making it fast-paced and exciting.

Origins of Padel

Padel’s roots trace back to the 19th century when British cruise ship passengers played a similar game. By the 1910s, 'platform tennis' emerged in Washington and New York, using paddles instead of tennis rackets. The modern version was born in 1969 when Mexican businessman Enrique Corcuera built the first padel court at his Acapulco holiday home, enclosing it with walls and a metallic fence to keep the ball from escaping.

Padel Goes International

Spanish entrepreneur Alfonso de Hohenlohe discovered padel in Mexico in 1974 and introduced it to Spain’s Costa del Sol by constructing the first two courts at the Marbella Club. The game quickly gained popularity, attracting notable players like tennis champion Manolo Santana. In 1975, Argentine millionaire Julio Menditenguia brought padel to Argentina, where it thrived. Today, Argentina has over two million padel players and more than 10,000 courts. Spain also embraced padel, boasting over 20,000 courts and six million players, making it the country’s second-most popular sport after football.

Professionalization of Padel

The International Paddle Federation was formed in 1991, and the first world championships took place in Madrid and Seville in 1992. Spain’s Sports Council recognized padel as an official sport in 1993, modifying its spelling for Spanish pronunciation. The first professional world tour, Padel Pro Tour, launched in 2005, evolving into the World Padel Tour in 2013, which continues to host events globally.

Padel in Britain

The British Paddle Association was established in 1992 by expats eager to compete in the World Championships. Padel’s popularity has steadily grown in Britain, with the LTA integrating British Padel into its operations in 2019. As of November 2020, the UK had around 6,000 active players and 82 courts across 45 clubs. The LTA aims to expand this to 400 courts by 2023 as part of its Padel Development Plan.

Padel’s journey from a Mexican holiday home to an international phenomenon highlights its universal appeal and dynamic nature, promising a bright future for the sport worldwide.