If I tell you « padel », what do you think it is? Probably paddleboard. This sport which looks quite alike surf. The point is to surf using arms to paddle. Well, as you know, there is no sea in Toulouse. Despite the Garonne, there are only a few lakes. I want to talk about what is called “padel” in French and paddle tennis in English. A good mix between tennis and squash. Kevin Tournemire is twenty eight and he is the director of the padel club in Toulouse, in the neighbourhood of Saint Martin du Touch.
He opened his own padel center in 2015 and now, more and more inhabitants of Toulouse know the difference between paddle and “padel”.
Cécile Mootz : How do you play padel?
Kevin Tournemire: “There are a lot of similarities with tennis. Rules, games, etc. However, the court is not the same. For padel, it is smaller than tennis. The floor is a synthetic lawn, it’s flexible and it’s less dangerous for your joints. The ball is approximately the same as the one in tennis. You can catch it and run with it, hit it straight away, or wait one bounce. In each side of the walls there is a three metres glass. The exchanges last longer than in tennis. The racket is smaller and you have a strap it to secure around the wrist. The service is not the same than in tennis, it’s a basic service: underhand. This sport is easy for all ages, all types of players.”
C.M: What is the particularity of “padel”?
K.T: “In Spain, paddle tennis is really popular. From the taxi driver to the doctor, everybody plays paddle tennis. From what I’ve seen “padel” is a real social sport. Everyone can have fun and can quickly improve. No need to run. It’s not a violent sport. You can put the physical intensity that you want. For this reason, padel is really attracting to people. In five minutes you can have fun, and be able to play, but then you realise that you can really improve and have better tactics. There is a thousand of punches that you can do. Today, our coach gives a lot of classes.
Another spectacular aspect: there are doors. When you reach a certain level, you can even play outside of the court; and outside of the doors! If the player smashes, and the ball hits the glass, it can go outside of the field and you can keep playing! For this game, the key is anticipation.
C.M: Which kind of players do you have?
K.T: Many players are between 25 and 40, but early in the morning some retired people come to play. They find back the love of the racket without the same intensity than tennis. There are a lot of students in the afternoon. From my mother who doesn’t practice a lot, to my father who is a great squash player, (they could be reunited in an activity). But in France I can notice that it’s still a men game. In Spain there are as many men players as women. In France it’s not the case yet. We are working on it.”
C.M: So, “padel” is a good compromise between tennis and squash?
K.T: “I’m a former tennis player. I was immediately attracted to padel and I put my tennis racket away to take a new one, smaller and lighter. Tennis is a solo sport. Here it’s always in pairs. It is a team sport.
It’s the same rules on average. The structure, the court is closer than squash. The ball never goes out, it always comes back to you. It’s really a game of anticipation, more than strength or rapidity. In padel, good players are those who can slow down the game. The total contrary of squash. One game of padel can last one hour or one hour and a half, on average! ”
C.M: Why is “padel” popular in Toulouse?
K.T: “On the 9th September we were in the Capitol square to introduce “padel” to people from Toulouse. In 2000, some competitions took place there. Toulouse is the second great place ofor “padel” in France, with Nice. In Spain, “padel” started in social clubs, and now it’s huge! In France, it started slow, but it’s becoming very popular now. Now, a lot of inhabitants of Toulouse practice this sport. Next year, the French “padel” championship will even take place here on the last weekend of September.”,
C.M: Do you think that today padel is more popular than tennis?
K.T: “Padel is still connected with tennis because there is no French Federation of Padel. This sport depends on the Tennis’ Federation. In France, a lot of tennis players are also “padel” players. For exemple, Alizée Cornet plays Padel. Her brother is currently opening a centre in Lyon.
So yes, today there are more and more players. First, we only had five courts in Toulouse, and now we have ten. Around one hundred persons per day come in our club, and every day new people start this activity. It’s good that more and more “padel” centres open. Contrary to tennis which tends to loose members. In Spain there is more padel players than tennis players. But two years ago, a lot of people didn’t know what padel was. It has changed, and now, few and few people make the mistake and do not mix up paddleboard and paddle tennis any more. At least I hope so…”
Toulouse Padel club : http://www.toulousepadelclub.com/
11, rue Marie-Louise Dissard
31300 Toulouse (Saint-Martin-du-Touch)