Padel is now one of the fastest growing sports in the world. But how did it all start? To find out, we need to backtrack just over a century to the neighborhoods of Manhattan before ending up in a garden in Acapulco, Mexico. Let's give you a quick history lesson on the origins of padel.
The origin of padel
New York, 1898. Priest Frank Peer Beal was looking for a meaningful recreational activity for the poor children of Manhattan. He created a version of lawn tennis that was played on a much smaller court than regular tennis courts (50 x 20 feet) and replaced the tennis racket with a short-handled wooden racket. One court became several in New York and "paddle tennis" quickly became established. In the 1920s, a tennis court was built with walls around it on a cruise ship. The combination of a new type of racket and different tennis court has shaped the sport of paddle tennis as we know it today.
Acapulco, 1969. Mexican businessman Enrique Corcuera had a small tennis court in his garden, measuring 20 x 10 meters, surrounded by the plants in his yard and adjacent to his neighbor's property. To avoid having to run to the neighbor's house to get the ball and to prevent the plants from entering the court, he had walls built around it. In a game with friends, they realized that it was great fun to let the ball go into the wall and then continue playing. Enrique's wife Viviana wrote down the first set of rules in a book that she gave to her husband on his birthday, and it became the first official rulebook for the sport as we know it today.
Enrique Corcuera and the first court.
Padel takes off
Marbella, 1974. Enrique's Spanish friend, Prince Alfonso de Hohenlohe, got hooked on the sport after a few balls in Corcuera's garden. Alfonso introduced the game at home in 1974 when he built two padel courts at the tennis club in Marbella. He adapted the course and rules slightly to make it more competitive. Another amigo, Argentinian millionaire Julio Menditenguia, also took a liking to the sport and decided to launch the game in Argentina in 1975. The sport spread throughout South America, and the rest is history.