Originating in Mexico in the 1960s, the sport of padel is probably the most popular new sporting trend in the Western Algarve.
The recently renovated Clube de Ténis e Padel de Lagos has four padel courts which are so popular that you have to be a member – or very lucky with a last-minute cancellation – to be able to find a slot, such is the growing demand for this easy-to-learn racket sport.
Five brand new courts open this Spring in Praia da Luz based on a ‘pay and play’ concept. Luz Ocean Club has transformed the old tennis courts, using the latest carpet surface endorsed by the World Padel Tour. “The new courts will be the most modern in Portugal” resort manager Donna Hill explains. The Ocean Padel Club adjoins the refurbished Garden Club offering healthy, locally-sourced post-padel drinks and snacks. “Everyone is welcome and we are excited to introduce padel tennis to many more people. It will be an inspirational place filled with positive energy”, says Hill.
Fundamentally, the padel appeal is that it is quicker to learn, eminently suitable to play as doubles and in round-robin formats, and is easier to mix standards within the same game. As such, it is a more lighthearted sport than tennis although equally competitive and good for fitness and stamina. “You can have a really good fun game of padel very, very quickly whereas in tennis you’d still be struggling to learn how to serve the ball over the net and into the right area of the court,” says tennis and padel player, Sue Livesey. “It’s also much better for mixed ages, abilities and fitness levels. As it’s almost always played as doubles you can easily arrange the sides to get a competitive game even with people of differing skills. I like it because you can have a lot of exercise whilst having loads of fun and laughs.”
A padel court is similar to a traditional tennis court but slightly smaller with glass wrapped around each end which is used to bounce the ball off like squash. Rackets are shorter and lighter than tennis rackets with holes instead of strings and the balls are smaller and less bouncy than tennis balls.
Livesey is excited to play at the new Luz courts which are walking distance from her home. “We have loads of friends in Luz who love padel,” she says. “The beautiful courts in Lagos are almost always fully booked, so we definitely had the need for more courts in this area.” Livesey points out that veteran tennis players find padel more gentle on their joints as they get older. She also says that it is easier for non-tennis players to learn. “This is a new, but rapidly growing sport that suits people of all ages and abilities,” she adds.
Elsewhere in the Algarve you can find courts at The Campus Quinta da Lago, Algarve Tennis and Fitness Club near Vale do Lobo, Vilamoura Tennis Academy and Clube Ténis de Portimão e Rocha, Centro de Tenis de Faro, and Clube de Ténis at Vila Real de Santo Antonio.
With the new-normal emphasis on outdoor activities plus the Algarve’s perfect climate, padel is definitely here to stay.