Padel Grows in Popularity


Pablo Arango, Grade 11, jumps to reach the ball while playing in a padel tournament at Club Campestre on May 10.

Imagine a sport that combines the intensity of tennis with the tactical finesse of squash. A sport where it’s necessary to adapt and overcome different situations to thrive. This sport is padel.

This year, padel has gained remarkable popularity at TCS, captivating students and reshaping the sports scene. For some students, playing padel has become the top choice when it comes to what to do after school, as many state that it has a captivating factor that other sports don’t have.

“It’s really entertaining. I began playing a year ago when I saw some of my friends playing too. Since then, I spend many afternoons after school playing padel with my friends. The sport has something special, it’s really enjoyable for some reason,” Tomas Villegas, Grade 11, said.

Padel is a racquet sport that combines elements of tennis and squash and is played on a smaller court enclosed by glass walls and a mesh. The smaller court makes it fast-paced, and the glass walls help the points to be longer and more entertaining as no one knows what to expect.

The sport originated in Mexico in the late 1960s quickly gained traction throughout Latin America and Spain. It was invented by Enrique Corcuera, who was inspired by the need for a game that could be played within limited spaces.

Corcuera constructed the first padel court in his backyard in 1969, and the sport quickly spread across Europe and Latin America. Although it has been around for decades, the first padel court in Medellin was opened just 5 years ago in the municipality of La Estrella.

“Padel had a late arrival at our city. I already knew about the sport as many coaches that I’m friends with taught it in their cities. I think this delay happened because of the high cost of making a court,” Javer Estrada, padel and tennis coach from El Club Campestre, said.

Padel is a played in doubles, which encourages teamwork, social interaction, and competition. Usually, students play with their friends creating an environment of friendship and enjoyment, being one of the reasons the sport has captivated students.

“I think that padel’s rapid growth is thanks to its unique characteristics, such as its strategic use of walls and the ease of learning it. Padel has become a global sensation, and has given me another job as well, as I am now a Padel coach too,” Estrada said.

But the main reason padel has gained so much popularity is due to the chemistry of the brain. According to Manuel Padilla, padel trainer from El Templo del Pádel, padel, due to its particular dynamic of play, the small space, long rallies, ease to learn, and social interactions invite your body to generate higher levels of adrenaline, dopamine and endorphins than in tennis or squash.

“Padel is a ball game and that means the sport contains speed. The speed of the ball, the speed of tactical changes between players, the speed of different ball changes. All much more than in tennis,” Padilla stated.

There are multiple courts in Medellin as the sport is rapidly growing in popularity. Among students of TCS, the two courts of El Club Campestre are the most frequented. The courts have gained popularity among students due to its proximity and facilities.

“I am a member of the Club Campestre, so I can go and play in the Padel courts for free. Many other students of the school are also members of the club, so most times I meet up with them and spend our afternoons playing padel at the Campestre,” Mariana Mesa, Grade 11, said.

Other padel courts in Medellin are located at La Jaula del Angel in El Tesoro, World Padel Colombia in Loma Escobero, La Cancha Soccer & Padel in el Poblado, and El Templo del Pádel in Envigado.

Padel shares the same scoring system as tennis, the rules, and the strokes. The only difference is that the techniques are different. To play padel, all you need is a racket, a ball, and the court. The racket is smaller than a tennis racket but it weighs more since it has a much thicker body. Padel balls are similar to Tennis balls, however, they differ slightly in size and have different internal pressures.

“The sport has become almost addictive for many of us, and I think it will continue spreading through the school and Medellin. It is a great sport for spending time with friends and family and to have a few laughs,” Tomas Villegas said.