Huge weekend ahead for padel as Andy Murray’s former coach gives us his verdict

Tia Norton on a padel court

The relentless rise of padel continues and this weekend will witness the biggest event yet to be staged in Britain.

The European qualifiers for the World Padel Championships will be hosted at We Are Padel Derby, the largest padel venue in Britain, featuring 11 courts.

There will be 15 women’s and 18 men’s teams competing in the qualifiers in Derby with the women’s event featuring Austria, Bulgaria, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Great Britain, Hungary, Ireland, Lithuania, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Czech Republic, Sweden and Switzerland.

Great Britain will enter as the second seed behind Denmark, with Sweden and Finland as the third and fourth seeds.

The teams taking part in the men’s competition are Austria, Bulgaria, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Germany, Great Britain, Hungary, Ireland, Lithuania, Monaco, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Czech Republic, Sweden and Switzerland.

The Brits will also be the second seeds in their event, with Germany as the top seeds. Poland come in as the third seeds, while Denmark come in as the fourth seeds.

The presence of Europe’s elite players in Derby highlights Britain’s commitment to padel, under the watch of the sport’s governing body, the Lawn Tennis Association.

A cross between tennis and squash, played on a court surrounded by a heavy-duty glass surround that allows players to hit the ball after it bounces back off the wall, the game originally started in Mexico and quickly swept through South America and then into Europe.

And in the opinion of Andy Murray’s former coach Jamie Delgado, the sport is rising at a rapid rate in the UK.

“I have been reasonably aware of how popular is it abroad, in Spain, France, Italy and Sweden,” Delgado told Tennis365 in an exclusive interview with Game4Padel.

“I remember always chatting to the guys about whether it will work in England and would it work there.

“Now it has come across and a few of my friends have started playing. Jamie Murray playing an exhibition event and that was the first I’ve heard of it in England.

“We now have lots of courts and there are plans for more courts to go down so it is defiantly getting bigger each year now.

“I was speaking to some friends about padel and the first question they asked was is it easier to play than tennis? And my answer was yes.

“Tennis is quite a hard game to play. Whether it is the bigger court or the equipment that is harder to use, to play it at a decent high level, you have to have played from a young age and put a lot of hours into it.

“With Padel, even if you have never played before, you can pick it up quite quickly and have a good game. So it is much more attractive for some people to play padel than tennis for a lot of people.

“You can have a bit of banter with your friends playing padel, try to work out showing to play it and it is also a good work out doing it.

“Tennis can be a bit tough to get rallies going when you start and you spend a lot of time picking balls up, but that doesn’t happen with padel.

“It is a sport that is going places and anyone who plays it falls in love with it, so I’m excited to be part of the story with Game4Padel.”

Former British No 1 Annabel Croft told us that padel is a sport moving forward at a pace in the UK, in an exclusive interview with Tennis365.

“It really feels like the game is on an upward curve. It can engage with people who might find tennis too difficult and that’s the beauty of padel.

“Each time I play padel, I come off with a big smile on my face. It is very similar skills to tennis because of all the volleying and the touch and feel.

“I haven’t quite mastered the back wall yet, but it is a very social game. There are always a lot of smiles on court and it is a great game. I really enjoy it.

“I’m still trying to learn all the different skills and I’ve learned that top spin doesn’t work in padel. What I would say is that as a sport, it is a lot easier to pick up. Serving is a lot less stressful as you literally just bounce the ball and slice it into the court.

“You can have great rallies and even if you are not a tennis player, your level can come up quite quickly. Obviously the pros that play will be on a different level, but I really enjoy playing.”

The World Padel Championships Finals will be staged in Dubai between October 31st and November 5th.