Over the years, there has been nothing but discussion about the difference between padel and tennis, about whether or not we need to find similarities between the two sports. Good. But how useful can this be? I mean, how useful can such a definition be, among sports experts, if we already know from the beginning that the disciplines involve dedication and concentration at high levels with equal physical resources? I can say that tennis does not have glass, but that is not the point. The point is that they are different sports. Could you ever say that tennis and squash are similar? Or tennis and table tennis? No, precisely.
Besides the fact that there are different rules. Different rules from each other sport and that alone entails further difference and particularity.
I can tell you, to make you notice the matter better, the substantial difference in the rackets: the tennis one is long, while the padel one is not only shorter but is made of rubber or carbon or fiberglass making it heavier as well. Can I tell you that there is a lot of physical effort especially for that? Yes. Another thing: the tennis court, of course, is longer, while padel in its being “shorter” has glass and grates and is played exclusively only two-on-two at the professional level: that is, we are talking about a different kind of immediate concentration and speed that involves a necessary adequate training. This determines the soul of a sport in itself. So it is not comparable.
Certainly historically it was born out of an idea of training for tennis and as a result certain strokes may resemble each other between smash and volee, but … everything becomes different after that. They are shots made with different techniques and different force, with different timing and weight making padel further detached from tennis in movement and force distribution.
This search for a superiority of discipline has also led to other discourses, which I personally consider harmful to the spirit of the sport. One discourse that is always talked about is that the tennis player is reluctant to consider padel properly as a sport and instead sees it as an alternative, or a toy, or fun, even today, despite the incredible development of padel in italy, Europe, or the world, as well as the inapposite fact that people want to play padel more and more. I leave out the well-known names in tennis who have hinted at this “superiority,” not knowing or not actually evaluating the difference, with sometimes belated excuses that bridge little awareness, however. The tennis player does not conceive it, or at best there is the joke that padel is a second rebirth for a failed tennis player.
I don’t think that’s a fair thing to say. It is not respectful.
Right now becoming a professional player in padel certainly leads to qualification and rating recognition more easily than in tennis, certainly it’s more complicated in tennis, but that’s now. From tomorrow it will be more difficult for padel professionals because athletes will increase in presence and strength, and reaching the top will be much more complicated.
I don’t believe in the “failed tennis player” label, or I don’t believe in sour jokes rich in bitterness, simply from experience I see what it is: they are different sports. Padel attracts. Everyone has fun and stays in competition while having fun. We get into it by competition and this creates spread with so many tournaments and an increasingly full world circuit developing in the Middle East, Asia, Europe, and taking the sport to very high levels.
Other thing: the fees, for now, are not comparable to tennis, no question, but the prize money will go up as the spread continues and internal quality increases.
There is a difference between tennis and table tennis, there is also a difference between tennis and padel. And that should make people think about something else as well.
You become a professional padel player because you are emotionally, mentally and physically suited to it.
Padel needs continuous concentration and immediate decision-making, fast, quick strategy, and this factor that makes it rare and, if I may say so, annihilates that excessive snobbery that part of the tennis world, fortunately not all of it, may carry, not agreeing with the contemporary public that lives by quick challenges in its normal day-to-day. The metaphor of padel in the world is clear: the common man lives by immediate challenges in the day-to-day, not by firm salons of prejudice. For better or for worse. That is what padel is all about.