So a month ago I was driving back from a movie premiere at Hyde Park by Melrose in Johannesburg and I looked at the people who were still happily playing “tennis” at 21:30. This is no ordinary tennis either; no, the rackets let me on a “swing ball” think and floodlights illuminate the trendy lanes with their glass panels.
It looks like great fun, I think to myself, and that fun is of course paddle tennis!
The once obscure sport, which has been played in Mexico since the late 60s, has really caught fire in South Africa in the last two years.
A new padel tennis court has just been opened in the city of Jakaranda at Wingate Park country club and RNews was invited to come and test the courts.
Why is the sport so popular? “Play first, then you’ll know right away,” jokes Tamy Pieters, owner and operational manager of Proactive Padel.
She and Kim Kasselmann, shareholder and marketing manager of Proactive Padel, who also runs a court at Irene country club, believe it is because padel tennis is so much easier than regular tennis.
“You’re probably only going to play for 10 to 15 minutes to get into the rhythm of it, whereas you have to play tennis for years and even get coaching to play well,” says Kim.
It is a mixture of squash and tennis, and players of any age and skill level can take up the sport with ease. Padel is played on a smaller court with a special padel racket and ball, but the scoring is actually the same as in tennis.
“Padel tennis is a social sport; families can enjoy playing together. We also have corporate leagues at our courts in Irene, so it’s a great place to network,” adds Kim.
Did RNews enjoy that game of paddle tennis? Yes, definitely, from the more experienced tennis player in our team, who has also played a few times on a padel court, to the player who last held a tennis racket properly in her hands as an eight-year-old – everyone agreed – a match of padel tennis is a delicious way to enjoy a Saturday morning.
We are also in very good company, because more than 25 million players worldwide play padel tennis in 90 countries. According to Padelathltetes.com, it is already Spain’s favorite sport after soccer, with more than six million players regularly signing up for the country’s 20,000 courts.
Sports personalities such as Andy Murray, Serena Williams, David Beckham, Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and the manager of the Liverpool football club, Jürgen Klopper, reportedly play padel regularly.
Just in case you’re wondering: padel tennis looks similar to pickleball, but each evolved from different sports. Padel originated from tennis and the racket has holes in it, while pickleball developed from badminton and is played with a solid racket.
Book your padel tennis match like this
The sport boasts its own app, Playtomic, which is used worldwide as a booking system for most padel companies.
Playtomic enables you to book the nearest lane and you can book a private match with your friends or get players to fill your lane.
One can book the court at R400 to R500 per hour, which means it costs a player R100 to R125 to come and play.
Rackets can also be rented for R50 and padel balls must be purchased. The balls are smaller with less spring. Fortunately, you can always use the balls for future matches.
- Would you like to come and play paddle tennis yourself? Proactive Padel has its official launch of the Wingate Park courts on this country club’s grounds on Saturday 9 September. Players can book the courts for free until Friday 8 September on the Playtomic app and only have to pay for the rental of rackets and balls. For more information visit Proactivepadel.com.