Norfolk gets first courts for fast growing sport padel tennis
- Credit: Simon Parkin
It is one of the world's fastest growing sports, tipped as a future Olympic event, and now a Norfolk sports club has looked to be first to take advantage of the boom in padel tennis.
Heywood Health and Fitness in Walcot Road, Diss, has just completed the building of two new state-of-the-art courts that are the first in Norfolk.
The club is run by Tom Bobbins, 38, and partner Amy Bobbins, 37, who both live in Diss and have invested £90,000 in the courts, partly built in conjunction with Adidas.
Padel tennis, which is growing rapidly all over Europe, is played on an enclosed court about one third the size of a tennis court.
The rules are the same as tennis, played with the same balls although serving is under-hand using shorter thicker rackets and the walls are used as part of the game like squash.
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It is usually played in doubles and is Spain's second largest participation sport, has seen rapid growth in Germany and Scandivavia, and is now predicted to take off in the UK.
The Lawn Tennis Association (LTA) this month announced it will integrate British padel into its five-year plan to grow the game by offering formats that are easier to play.
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Mr Bobbins said: "Having played it and seen the growth on the continent I think it is only a matter of time until it really takes off here. The LTA have big plans for padel tennis in the UK. Andy Murray has also invested heavily into a padel company which is quite a big endorsement.
"It is a very easy game to pick up. There is not as much technique as there is in squash and tennis so it is easier to play and you get longer rallies and less faffing around."
The nearest padel courts are currently close to Chelmsford in Essex, with no dedicated facilities in Norfolk, Suffolk or Cambridgeshire.
"We've already had lots of interest and just from social media it has gone a bit crazy," said Mr Bobbins. "There is a Facebook page of Spanish speakers in Norwich who have been on to us wanting to come and the UEA have been in contact for a block booking.
The padel courts are part of a major revamp of the Diss sports club that also includes refurbishments of two tennis courts and a football pitch.