Padel, which is a mix of squash, tennis, and (less known sport) platform tennis, is a fun and engaging sport. Though relatively new, this racquet sport has gained acceptance in different parts of the world, probably due to its simplicity and similarity to tennis.
Padel traces its origin to the Mexican City of Acapulco. The sport was invented by a Mexican businessman, Enrique Corcuera, in 1962. He developed, in his home squash court, this racquet sport, now known as Padel.
During the last decades, the sport has spread to different parts of the globe. Nowadays, you’ll find more people playing Padel in North America, Latin America, and some regions in Southern Europe.
These are 10 countries where Padel is popular.
The game was introduced in the country by the Spanish Monarchy, and within a short time, the sport had gained popularity. The
In the 1970s, Alfonso de Hohenlohe was invited by Enrique Corcuera to visit him in his home country, Mexico. During the visit, Alfonso fell in love with the sport. As soon as he returned to Spain, he introduces the sport to fellow countrymen. In the beginning, Alfonso constructed two padel courts and added new rules to the sport.
Ambassadors of the
No.1 racquet sport
To most Spaniards, the sport is fun, dynamic, and more engaging than tennis. It is no secret that Spanish people have fallen in love with this game. It allows them to stay social and establish new connections.
As we speak today, this racquet sport has overtaken tennis as the main racquet sport in Spain. This is even clear from the number of equipment sold each year. Every year, more padel tennis racquets are sold in Spain when compared to tennis racquets.
Besides the millions of amateur padel players in the country, there is an increasing number of Spaniard professional players. Several of these pro players have dominated the game in many international competitions.
Padel was first introduced in Argentina in the 1970s by Julio Menditengui. Alfonso de Hohenlohe and Julio have been friends for many years. So, when the latter visited Alfonso in Spain, he became intrigued by the new sport. When he returned to his native country, Argentina, the first task was to popularize the sport.
Within a few years, Padel became one of the most popular sports in the country.
2nd most popular sport
The sport is, arguably, rivaling soccer as the country’s most-played sport. In the 90s, this racquet sport was the second most popular sport in the country.
However, because of the nation’s hard economic situation in the 2000s, several clubs had to close down. This may have affected the adaption of the sport. Despite that, many people are playing Padel again. Some old clubs are resuming normal operation, and new clubs are also cropping up.
A culture that embraces sports
Generally, Argentinians are among the few nations that are mad about sports in general. In fact, no city in the world rivals Buenos Aires in terms of the number of soccer clubs. This culture of fandom could be the reason why Padel is so prevalent in the country.
Argentina boasts several top pro padel players, including Juan Martin Daz, one of the greatest players of all time. Some of its top players are household names in the country. The country, also, organized several international tournaments, mainly in Buenos Aires.
Being the country where Padel was first invented, Mexico is among the countries in North America where the sport has gained popularity. In the initial years, the game was played by the Mexican elites, but later it became a game for all.
The Mexican Padel Federation (FEMEPA) was started in 1992 to spearhead the development of the sport in the country. Since then, it has organized many international padel tournaments, which include Panamerican Junior Championship in 2014, 3 World Padel Championships held in Cancun and Mexico between 2010 and 2012, and 2 World Junior Padel Championships.
In fact, the 2018 World Padel Tour was staged in Mexico City. Some of the region’s most popular media outlets such as Fox Sports, ESPN, and TV Azteca were present, thus confirming the importance of the sport in the country.
4. United Kingdom
Padel is among the fastest-growing sports in the United Kingdom. Over the past few years, Padel, in the UK, has registered over a 75 percent increase in adoption.
With new courts being developed in different parts of the country from Bangor, in Northern Ireland, to Bury, in Northern England, Padel is on its way to becoming one of the top racquet sports in the country.
5. United States
Padel entered the US at the same time it spread to several countries in Latin America. But it was until the early 1990s that the sport gained acceptance. In 1993, the US Padel Association was formed, and in the same year, two courts were opened in Chattanooga, Tennessee.
It didn’t take too long before another Padel organization; the American Paddle Association was founded. The latter built several private courts in Florida, Texas, and Los Angeles.
Today, several efforts are being made to make Padel one of the most popular racquet sports in the country. In recent years, the country has hosted several international tournaments including one in Miami, which was organized by the World Padel Tour.
Being a close neighbor to Spain, Portugal has a huge number of padel players and fans. You will find several outstanding padel courts across the country, especially in Algarve.
Like in other countries, the sport is among the fastest-growing games in the nation. A majority of Portuguese may not be playing the game, but they enjoy watching and supporting their teams.
Being at the heart of Europe, Belgium is among several of the European countries where the sport is well-known. It’, actually, one of the first nations in the region to embrace the game. In 1992, the Belgian Padel Federation joined the IPF.
In recent years, the country has hosted several international tournaments. Also, not too long ago, the “World Padel Tour Brussel Exhibition” took place in the capital.
The Brussels Exhibition attracted top players, who included Belgium’s, Barbara Laurent. Despite the rain forecast and the fact that it was just an exhibition, many fans came in large numbers to support all the players, as well as, the sport. This is a clear sign that Padel has become a favorite sport among Belgians.
8. The Netherlands
Padel in the Netherlands is still new. The country started playing Padel professionally in the late 2000s. With that said, the sport is quite popular today.
In 2010, the Dutch Padel Federation was formed to manage the sport in the country. Since then, the federation has experienced rapid growth in licensed players and club members.
The popularity of the sport keeps increasing thanks to the many Padel international events being held in the country. In recent years, two major tournaments were held in the Netherlands – The World Padel Championships and the European Championship.
However, in 2008, the Italian tennis federation become the Padel governing organization in the country; as a result, things started to change, and Italians, slowly, began to appreciate the sport.
During recent years, the growth of the sport (in terms of popularity) has been astronomical; nowadays, Italy is one of the countries with the highest number of padel courts. One of the major drivers of this success is Andrea Baldacci – an Italian, who spend many years in Spain. Today, the game is quite popular in Rome and other cities like Florence, Milan, and Turin.
While the sport reached France much later than other regions, such as South America, the sport has been well accepted in the country. The first padel club in France was set up by the Beachcomber French Riviera.
Today, the country has a sizable number of players in the World Padel Tour. According to Tennis Europe, France is among the countries with the highest number of padel tournaments, as well as, players. Even though that number falls short when compared to that of Spain, it is still higher than in most countries.
To sum up
Padel is considered one of the fastest-growing sports in the world. Despite its increasing popularity, the sport has not, yet, achieved the same professional status as tennis on the world stage. It’s still largely unheard of in various parts of the globe, such as Asia and Africa.
Nonetheless, padel lovers in these countries and others have been pushing hard for international recognition. And the game is gradually crossing borders.
Also, the World Padel Tour has helped to improve the profile of the sport among aspiring players. In the last few years alone, the World Padel Tour was staged in Dubai and Monte Carlo, which signifies that the sport could potentially reach every region in the globe.
If you’re new to this sport, know that Padel, which is an enjoyable sport played in doubles, has many similarities to most other racquet sports. So if you are coming from another racquet sport, you will probably love the game.