Sports fans across the city are celebrating an early Christmas present after one of the world’s fastest-growing sports has arrived at Withdean Sports Complex.
Padel, a tennis and squash hybrid, can now be played on a newly built exhibition court at Withdean Sports Complex, operated by Freedom Leisure, on behalf of Brighton & Hove City Council.
The court has been installed by Game4Padel, the UK’s leading padel brand, and is the first of several permanent courts planned for Withdean as demand for the sport grows.
Councillor Martin Osborne, co-chair of the council’s tourism, equalities, communities and culture committee, said: “As a sporting city, we are proud to be bringing padel to Brighton & Hove, and offering residents the opportunity to try this exciting and fast-growing sport.”
Six million players
Padel, a game suitable for all ages and abilities, already boasts six million players in Spain and is rapidly gaining in popularity across the UK, continental Europe and the rest of the world.
Celebrity fans and players include Andy Murray, Zinedine Zidane, Rafael Nadal, David Beckham, Lionel Messi, Maria Sharapova, Jurgen Klopp and Pep Guardiola.
Padel is played with four players in a glass-enclosed court about one-third of the size of a tennis court. The rules are broadly similar to tennis, although players serve underarm, making it much easier for beginners, and the walls are used as part of the game, resulting in longer rallies. It can be played in groups of mixed ages and abilities and is really good fun.
There are currently 130 padel courts around Britain with more opening all the time and the Lawn Tennis Association (LTA), the governing body for the game in the UK, has forecast 400% growth in the number of courts by 2023.
Plans for more courts
Game4Padel, will operate the Withdean court for approximately six months, giving residents a chance to play padel in the city before plans for permanent courts at Withdean are progressed.
Darryl Keech, Area Manager of Freedom Leisure, said: “There is a huge and growing demand for padel in the area and we are really proud and excited to partner with Game4Padel, the UK’s leading padel operator, to open Brighton & Hove’s first ever padel venue. We are confident we can grow Withdean into one of the biggest and best padel venues in the country. We also look forward to exploring with Game4Padel the potential to add padel to other suitable Freedom Leisure sites across the country.”
Michael Gradon, Co-founder and Chief Executive of Game4Padel, added: “Padel is great fun and incredibly addictive once you’ve had your first taste of playing, so we’re very pleased to be able to give people in Brighton & Hove the opportunity to do so at a great venue like Withdean.
“It’s an easy game for beginners to pick up quickly, so you don’t need to have played tennis or squash or other racket sports before in order to enjoy playing padel. Because you don’t have to cover a large court area, it is manageable for both young and old players, hence the huge participation levels you see in countries like Spain and Sweden.
“We look forward to seeing people of all ages play and hearing about their experiences of what is still a relatively new but fast-growing game in the UK, but one that will now have a significant presence in Brighton thanks to Freedom Leisure and Brighton & Hove City Council.”