Despite promising to only find indoor activities to avoid the summer heat, I tested padel tennis in a sweltering 40C. To say it was uncomfortable would be lying because I actually had quite a bit of fun, which compensated for the sweaty affair.
The Murray v Janowicz semi-final match kept me up until 1am here in Dubai, so I’ve been a bit lethargic today (I’m convinced watching is more exhausting than playing).
Wimbledon season normally sees a friend and I hit the park; kitted in our best sports attire and after successfully hitting the ball, proclaiming somewhat naively, that we’ll make the championships.
‘Next year!’ we exclaim, but it is only code for acknowledging we won’t be any better at tennis than we are today. The hype of Wimbledon gets us doing something active at least, even if it is always ceremoniously followed by strawberries, cream and a rather large Pimms!
As my husband will vouch, I am inept at racquet sports. Last summer we decided to play squash together – until I was replaced by a more suitable opponent; namely one that can hit the ball, understands the rules and even more heart-breaking; provides a challenge.
Depsite that though, ahead of the Murray and Djokovic final, I was adamant to test another type of tennis and it was with a few nerves that I walked into my taster session of padel tennis at Emirates Golf Club. I haven’t misspelt it. There are actually, on further investigation, two similar sports with almost identical names: paddle tennis and padel tennis, which according to Wikipedia, are both quite different.
A padel tennis court is a hybrid of a squash court and a tennis court. There is a net in the centre and the back and side walls are glass. The rules are also a hybrid. Our coach Sergio explained that as in squash, you can hit the ball back into play after it has hit the glass. The racquet is also different – it better resembles a table tennis racquet with holes punched through it, yet is large like a tennis racquet – it reminded me of a red, fat, plastic monstrosity I had in childhood. Oh, the memories!
Sergio took us through the basics and I gained tips from my fellow beginners such as ‘hold the racquet like a hammer’. Sergio kept telling me to not be afraid of the ball and after that was able to return quite a few; it was a joyous moment.
With a tendency to switch hands in squash and play with my right in tennis, it came as no surprise that my body felt wanted to play left-handed for this activity. As a lefty, I’ve adapted over the years to the right-handed modern world, but sport still leaves me confused. I’m yet to decipher if I’m ambidextrous at sport, indecisive about what feels more natural or just lacking any real talent.
At the end of the session I was asked if I wanted to play in the tournament; I choked over the mere thought but was assured there would be someone to play at my level…the poor soul! While I doubt I have a career or even hobby carved out of padel tennis, I’d certainly consider it for something fun to do with friends.