Updated: May 26, 2021
By Steve Pratt
I entered my first padel box in the middle of May at the South End Racquet and Health Club in Torrance, Calif. I rallied back and forth with a club member named Mike, who answered ALL my questions about padel, a red-hot paddle sport in Spain, Italy and Argentina – and just starting to take off in America.
Mine were elementary questions about the sport played on an enclosed court roughly 25 percent smaller than the size of a tennis court. Questions like: Was the padel ball the same as a new tennis ball?
Mike’s response: No, but it would be a day or two after opening a new can of tennis balls. The pressure of a new tennis balls is about 14 PSI (pounds per square inch), while a padel ball is a little flatter at around 11 PSI.
Q: Is there singles in padel? Or only doubles?
Mike: Doubles only.
Q: How do you serve?
Mike: Both first and second serves must be underhand.
Q: Was the scoring the same as tennis?
Mike: Yes. The scoring method is the same as in tennis.
After patiently fielding all my questions, Mike and I started to hit. The ball bounce off the red carpet (with sand for sliding) was clean, and I connected effectively on each hit using my first padel paddle with holes in it. After 10 minutes or so, I tried hitting off the back wall, which took getting used to. It reminded me a lot of my high school racquetball days and games with my dad. I immediately realized this was a sport I could spend hours having a blast playing.
Hoosh Nader, the General Manager at South End, was kind enough to allow me to demo the court on this day, and said he is open to allowing any local South Bay resident or Los Angeles visitor a free pass for a day to try out padel for a small fee.
I was first encouraged to try padel at South End by Ana Claver, the General Manager of the company ThePadelBox. Claver’s website found at: http://www.thepadelbox.com/
is clean and provides photo galleries of padel courts her company is responsible for building.
Besides the South End Racquet Club, Claver told me there are gorgeous padel courts now at private residences in Bel Air, Beverly Hills, and the Coachella Valley, and most recently one was built at Steve Wynn’s compound in Palm Beach, Fla.
Claver helped start ThePadelBox in 2012 and the company is presently manufacturing over one thousand courts a year and working in more than 20 countries, according to the website.
According to Wikipedia, the U.S. Padel Association was founded in Chattanooga, Tenn., in 1993, after opening two courts in the Chattanooga area. The American Paddle Association was formed in 1995 and built its first courts at a private club in Houston, Texas, for exhibition games. The first public courts opened in Miami, Fla., in 2009, and then spread to Los Angeles in the mid-2010s.
“When we started in 2012, there were only a few courts in the U.S.,” Claver said. “So my partners and I started contacting clubs in New York and Los Angeles in hopes of building more courts.”
When a club reaches out to Claver and ThePadelBox, Claver serves as the project manager on new court construction and uses local engineers and construction workers to build the courts. “If the client calls us we have most of the answers,” Claver said. “2021 has been an incredible year and we have already built 25 courts.”
Claver said there are currently 60 or 70 courts in the United States in clubs and private houses. “By the end of the year there will be 150 courts,” she said. “Everything we have worked for over the past eight years has all happened in the past four months. The sport of padel is growing at a rapid rate, and once people play, there are no complaints about the game.”