Top Padel Tennis Competition hosted at the Harbour Club Chelsea

The Harbour Club Chelsea welcomed the top padel tennis players in the country to compete in the inaugural Home of Padel Pro tournament on the May Day Bank Holiday.

The knockout competition, organised by GB captain John Leach, involved eight doubles pairs fighting to be crowned champions and to take home a trophy and cash prize.

HOP Pro Padel Competition comes to South West London

South West London’s very own Chris Salisbury proved victorious alongside partner Rafa Vega, overcoming GB’s Number 1 Jorge Martinez and Alfonso Patacho in the final.

Salisbury is brother of tennis doubles star Joe Salisbury who is current US Doubles Champion alongside Rajeev Ram.

HOP Pro Champions Salisbury and Vega Image Credit: John Leach

What is padel?

Padel is a fast paced and fun version of tennis. It’s played mainly in doubles in an enclosed court around a third of the size of a normal tennis court.

The game is one of the fastest growing sports in Europe, with Spain the most dominant force.

Four of the top ten male players are Spanish.

What are the rules?

The rules are broadly similar to tennis, however players serve underarm and the walls are part of the game.

It is played with a padel which has no strings instead of a racquet.

These adjustments from tennis make it an all action game with plenty of smashes, volleys and long rallies.

Where does it originate from?

The sport originated in Mexico in 1969 and then spread across Latin America and Iberia.

Padel has steadily grown since 1992 when a group of British expats set up the British Padel Association so they could compete in the 1992 World Padel Championships.

How popular is it?

Interest over time for tennis, padel, squash and badminton in the United Kingdom Data Credit: Google Trends

Padel is a growing sport in the United Kingdom but it still lags in popularity behind other racquet sports.

The data shows interest over time for tennis, padel, badminton and squash and it is clear that the former is by far the most popular of these sports.

Padel is the least popular whilst squash is marginally more popular than badminton, although the gap between the two is closing.

For comparison, the data below shows interest over time for padel and tennis in Spain, where both are popular.

Interest over time for tennis and padel in Spain Data Credit: Google Trends

From 2004 to the present, the two sports have continued to switch as the most popular.

There are an estimated six million active padel players in Spain compared to 89,000 in the UK.

Who dominates the sport?

At the elite level, Spain is the most dominant force.

The country has the most amount of players in the top 100 rankings of the World Padel Tour for both men and women with 73 and 72 respectively.

Argentina has the second most players in the top 100 for the men’s game and Italy has the second most for the women’s game.

World Padel Tour: Number of Top 100 Padel players (male) by country Data as of 10/05/2022

Only eight countries are represented in the rankings for male padel and nine are represented for female padel.

The United Kingdom does not have a male or female player in the top 100.

World Padel Tour: Number of Top 100 Padel players (female) by country Data as of 10/05/2022

What do the experts say?

John Leach has experienced the growth of padel in the UK first hand, first as GB captain and now as GB coach. 

He can only see the sport growing further as people become more aware of it and play for themselves.

He said: “I’ve been involved in padel since 2009, I started playing then and there weren’t that many people playing.

“What I’ve really seen in the last couple of years is that padel is booming in the UK. It’s of huge interest now. 

“Participation figures are flying, everybody is becoming aware and wanting to get on court. 

“It’s really why the Home of Padel was set up, we want to provide another platform for players to compete.

“We have a pro tour which is for the best level in the UK and we also have an amateur tour which aims to get more people playing padel.”

The players were quick to praise the HOP Pro Competition for providing the type of games they need to improve.

Salisbury said: “Competitions are really important, if you want to play at a good level then you have to play against the other best players.”

While, Martinez added: “The HOP Pro Competition was amazing. We had drinks, towels and everything we needed.”

Feature Image Credit: John Leach

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