Despite the very Dutch autumn weather, some thirty students convened at the outdoor courts of Victoria Tennis Club on Thursday to play padel, a racquet sport that is a little reminiscent of tennis and squash. It is incredibly popular in Latin America and Spain but still quite new and unknown in the Netherlands. In the end, the tournament had two female victors, as well as two female losers.
Definitely something to do again
“I had only played the game once before,” says trainee flight attendant and loser of the game Eliana Mol, 20. Along with her doubles partner, Mylène Romeijn (21, Bachelor of Education), she lost every single one of her games. “We had never played together before, so we are not at all attuned to each other,” is Romeijn’s excuse. “But it’s a fun sport, definitely something I’d do again,” Mol says in closing. The two students are offered a free lesson by way of consolation prize.
The people taking part in the tournament play on courts surrounded by glass walls and equipped with lines, similar to those which can be found on tennis or squash courts. Pairs of two players challenge other pairs, with the winners being the pair that is the first to score ten points. It is easy to see which pairs have experience of the sport, competitions in which have only been held in the Netherlands for one year.
For the winners of this evening’s tournament, former EUR Economics student Susanne Docter, 25, and medical student Lisette Blankers, 22, this clearly was not the first time they were on a padel court. “We played a fair number of games over the summer. I was introduced to the sport when I was living in Spain. Everyone plays padel over there,” says Docter, who particularly loves the speed of the game.
“You don’t have to spend a lot of time doing other things, such as picking up balls, as you do with tennis,” Docter goes on to say. Nevertheless the winning pair prefers tennis. “When you’re playing padel, you always feel like you’re only playing a game, as opposed to a genuine sport. It’s a fun thing to do on top of your own sport,” Blankers says.
Padel instructor Arwin Romeijn does not agree with that assessment. “It’s a very dynamic sport with a lot of game-like aspects. In addition, it is easy to learn, so it can be played at any level,” says Romeijn, trying to promote the sport. For his part, Pim van Zuilekom, the initiator of the tournament and founder of the club, adds, “What could be more fun than hitting the ball a lot and feeling like you’ve mastered a sport the very first time you play it? Even when you’re playing an opponent whose skill level is different from yours, it doesn’t make much of a difference. There will always be rallies.”
“After playing just fifteen minutes, you’ll be wiping the sweat from your brow. Well, apart from today, obviously,” says Romeijn, referring to the rain, which is somewhat ruining the tournament. “Playing with wet balls is far from ideal, because they tend to be less bouncy.” Even so, the participants are clearly enjoying the game.
EUR students who hold an Erasmus Sport ID card may use the club’s padel courts free of charge, even in winter. “The courts are made of artificial grass, so they can be played year round,” Van Zuilekom explains. Training sessions for beginners, which can be attended without participants having to sign up beforehand, are taught every Monday and Thursday.