PADEL pioneer Ramón Morcillo has pledged to work towards its inclusion in the Olympic Games in Paris.
The President of the Spanish Padel Federation said: “In Spain, paddle tennis has a great presence, but the Olympic charter includes a series of requirements that require a minimum of 75 countries where it is practiced in the case of men’s sport and 40 in the case of women’s sport.
“Currently, the International Federation has around 50 members but, although paddle tennis is practiced in more than 75 countries, we still do not have that strength to be able to be an Olympic sport.”
But Morcillo is striving to change all that by encouraging more people to take up the sport.
He emphasised the importance of the racket sport, which originated from Mexico, because it required ‘agility, endurance, speed and requires mental strength’.
He added that knowledge of tennis was not necessary to try out the sport.
“There are people who have not played tennis and are very great players,” he said. “Playing tennis gives you the ease of coordination but also it gives certain complications.”
Padel was invented in Estipac, a town near Guadalajara, Mexico in the late 1960s. A wealthy sports fanatic Enrique Corcuer originally set out to build a tennis court inside his homeBut the cramped measurements of his house meant the court had to be stuffed inside 3-4 metre high walls and measured just 10 by 20 metres in size.
Undeterred, Enrique invited his rich pals around to play a fast-paced game he called Paddle Corcuera and soon all of the Mexican elite were batting away with shorter, stringless rackets and smacking tennis balls that ricocheted off the walls.
One of the aforementioned friends was bohemian aristocrat Alfonso De Hohenlohe, Marbella’s ‘father figure’ who founded the Marbella club in 1954 as a private residence and meeting place for the grand families of Europe and the stars whom he rubbed shoulders within Hollywood.
Alfonso quickly fell in love with the quirky sport and decided to introduce the game to Spain by building Europe’s first padel club in 1974, even adding a few modifications to the game to make it even more competitive.
Soon even the Spanish royal Juan Carlos was bouncing off the walls and the King’s new hobby quickly caught the attention of the public.
Once ex-Wimbledon champion Manolo Santana started playing too, the sport soared in popularity and the next 25 years saw an eruption of courts across Spain.
Today padel is a €500m industry, played by a whopping ten million people – dwarfing tennis which, by comparison, only around 200,000 who actively play tennis worldwide.