The decommissioned tennis courts at Jack Seaton Park have been given a new life, with Padel. The first court in British Columbia has been installed and all summer long Chris Thorburn has been teaching kids, teens and adults the joys of a sport that is wildly popular in Latin countries around the world.
Padel (pronounced pa-DELL) is a fun, easy cross of racquet ball, squash and tennis. The courts are small so you can play position, none of the sprinting and grunting of tennis. The rules call for strategic bounces of the tennis ball, so you avoid the seemingly rocket fuelled ball of racquetball. The short handled paddle gives you control, power and finesse eliminating the high athletic demands of squash.
“This is very much a thinking game,” explains Thorburn. “It is all strategy. If you play position and place your shots correctly there is no need to race around the court and swing hard at the ball. There really is not the same intimidation factor that comes with some of the other racquet sports.”
Seniors all the way to juniors can learn the sport in well under an hour. Play as doubles in a foursome and you can be having a great time almost immediately. In padel, the ball can be played off of the back wall from a single bounce. While shot selection is important the game is played with the racquet in front of the body in small swings.
The sport is very social, perhaps because of its origins. Padel was created in Mexico in 1969. Brazil, Spain and Argentina are major centers for the sport. Twenty countries around the world belong to the sport Federation. Currently there are three clubs in Canada: Calgary, Montreal and Lake Country.
At Seaton Park the outdoor court has been outfitted with a steel and glass skin, similar to racquet ball. A second court is scheduled to go in the Labour Day long weekend, courtesy of a material donation from Rona.
It is easy to find the courts, use the main entrance to Jack Seaton Park and walk up the small hill to the tennis courts. The Padel Club operates on an annual membership basis. Visit www.lakecountrypadel.com for your free lesson. Pay your annual membership dues of $55 this first year and you are on your way to enjoying the sport for yourself.
As a player if you have the knack, now is the time to pursue padel. With the sport so new in Canada it is easy to move up the national rankings and join a sport with international horizons far beyond the valleys of Lake Country.