46 years ago a sport was born in Latin America. In the last years Padel, a combination of squash and tennis elements is gaining popularity throughout whole Europe. Slowly, the trend sport settles in Ireland as well.
Padel was created in Mexico in 1969 by Enrique Corquera. Unsurprisingly, the best Padel players are from Spanish speaking countries like Argentina and Spain. In 2011, British fans of the sport, who discovered it mainly in their vacations at the Costa del Sol in Spain, launched the UK Padel Federation in 2011. An Irish Padel Federation exists as well.
Padel is played in doubles on a court of 10 Meter width and 20 Meter length. The court is enclosed by walls. In the middle a net of 10 Meter length is stretched. The Padel racket, which gives the game it’s name, is basically a tennis racket with a shorter handle, so that it looks like a paddle. The ball is played against the ground and the walls.
The entrepreneurs and padel tennis supporters John Paul Ennis (36) and Paul Kenneally (55) are promoting the game in Ireland. “Padel is a very sociable sport. It is a competitive and fast game. You need a wide range of skills. It is a great cardio workout. That’s why I like this sport so much”. John Paul Ennis is on fire, when he talks about padel tennis. “My business partner, Paul Kenneally, who saw the game in Marbella in Spain, draw my attention to the sport. He told me, that we needed to bring this sport to Ireland.” In Spain about 135.000 courts are existing and more than 400.000 Padel rackets were sold. It emerges as one of the most popular sports after soccer.
Ennis manages SportWorks.ie, an Irish-based company specialised in construction, design and maintenance of sports ground surfaces in Ireland and Europe. He and his company design and build Padel courts for interested sports clubs. In his opinion, “Padel is predestined for inner cities”. The courts in Ireland have different requirements than the courts at the Spanish coast. “Because of the higher wind loads in Ireland, we needed structures, that are a lot heavier”. One Padel court costs €18 to 35 000, depending on different factors like the underground. It takes roughly four weeks to build a Padel court. In Ireland, there are already existing Padel courts, for example at the Cavan Lawn Tennis Club in Cavan or in Dublin at Rockbrook Park School in Dublin 16 and at the Bective Lawn Tennis Club.
At the moment, Ennis and his company are building four new courts at Bushy Park:
Ennis and Kenneally were so convinced of the sport, that they built the company Padel-Works , whose key task is to “promote the game of Padel in UK and Ireland”. The Irish entrepreneurs explain: “From a business perspective, it is very unique to find a sport that is emerging. It’s a game for every age group. When it comes to Padel, the performance doesn’t change that much when players advance in age. A 15 year old can play in the same team with a 40 year old. There is no age restriction, the players are just divided into beginners, intermediates and advanced players”.
The newest Padel innovation of Padel-Works is an all-weather ball. “Padel is mostly played indoors, because the ball changes it’s motion and speed, when the court is wet. Moisture was a huge problem. With the new ball it is not an indoor sport anymore. Without the new ball, we wouldn’t have build a court in Ireland. It is a revolution!”. Another plan involves an app, that helps connecting Padel players with each others. Furthermore, Padel-Works aims at establishing “a Padel court in every Irish school”, to tackle the problem of lacking awareness for Padel in Irish children. “We have to promote the game at grass root level, but the councils have picked it up”, says Ennis. The first Padel court at Rockbrook Park was opened by the Minister of Transport, Tourism and Sport Michael Ring. John Paul Ennis and Paul Kenneally look positive in the future: “Seeing people enjoying Padel, is what drives us. Our dream would be a Padel centre with 12 or more courts in Dublin”.