Move over Wimbledon – a Capital sports complex is giving tennis a twist by serving up Scotland’s first court for the world’s fastest-growing racket sport.
Billed as a fusion of tennis and squash, padel has been a smash-hit overseas, particularly in South America, the United States and Spain.
And just last week, tennis world No.1 Rafael Nadal said playing it was helping his game as he gears up for the All England Club next week.
Now, tennis fans can try their hand at the Edinburgh Sports Club, which has unveiled a new walled court at its Belford Place base.
The world’s best padel player, Juani Mieres, flew in to Edinburgh from Madrid to help launch the new facility and coach enthusiastic youngsters. The Argentinian’s playing partner and brother Diego was also on hand at the West End complex yesterday to introduce the sport.
At 20 metres by 10 metres, paddle courts are just over one-third the size of a tennis court – and they have surrounding walls, like a squash court.
Typically played in doubles, the game removes the advantage of the overhand serve and allows players to use the glass walls to create angles.
Rather than strung rackets, players use small fibre paddles to hit a decompressed tennis ball, although common balls can be also used.
It has been described as a “great leveller” for players of all ages and abilities, as it is typically seen as easier to play than tennis.
Scoring is the same as tennis, but the rules are slightly different, as the balls can be played off the walls as in squash.
Edinburgh Sports Club manager JJ Tait said the project was an exciting addition to the venue’s six squash courts, three tennis courts, table tennis arena and the UK’s only squash doubles hardball court.
He said: “It’s a totally unique court in Scotland. It’s the fastest growing sport – and it’s great fun. It’s very addictive.
“It removes a lot of the complexities of the tennis, and it’s in an enclosed court although it is open to the elements. It is best described as a tennis-squash crossover.”
He added: “We’re Scotland’s premier racket club, so it was a natural progression for us to put a court like that in.
“There are courts down south, and when people realise how popular it is, a lot of other clubs will want to put it in. It’s good that we’ll hopefully pick up new blood.”
The club has already linked up with the nearest padel court – in Huddersfield – to arrange a cross-border competition in August.
Mr Tait said the new facility was a “big commitment” for the club, however he could not disclose the cost of the project. He said he hoped that sports lovers who were due to go to this weekend’s cancelled Champions of Tennis event in Stockbridge – called off just this week due to problems with a specialist roof – would go along to see the new court instead.
“It’s a great shame,” he said. “The padel was going to be showcased at the Champions of Tennis. It was a very last-minute cancellation.
“There were lots of people who were going there to see the padel. But from the disappointment, we’re trying to help out.”
Mr Tait added: “We just want people to come down and have a hit. That opportunity is very important to us.”