Padel – a racquet sport that’s a cross between tennis and squash – is taking root in Huddersfield and more women are being invited to get involved.

Huddersfield Lawn Tennis & Squash Club pioneered the sport back in 2011 and now has an all-weather canopy that allows play all year round.

The sport is big in Europe but Huddersfield is one of the UK hubs where padel is growing in popularity.

Now Huddersfield Lawn Tennis & Squash Club (HLTSC) want to encourage more women to give it a go. It’s played competitively but it’s a great social sport too.

Natalie Gill, 40, of Holmfirth, trains at the club and has represented Great Britain despite only taking up the sport two years ago.

Natalie is one of the top players in her age group and believes padel will one day overtake tennis as the number one racquet sport.

She said: “Padel is a great game and it’s much easier for people to get into it than tennis. It’s less technical and it’s fun to play.

“The scoring system is the same as tennis but padel is an easier sport to get the hang of. I first played tennis at the age of 11 and played that for a long time. But two years ago I got into padel and haven’t looked back since.

“At the club we have 25 women of all ages playing padel, which is great. Recently three of us took part in a solo tournament in Harrogate. I won the tournament but the other two women from HLTSC got to the semi-finals and did well too.

“I want to encourage more women to enter tournaments and whilst you do have to pay to enter them, if you win them you can win some big prizes.”

Padel is played by over 10 million people worldwide. Having started as a sport in Mexico it quickly swept through South America and then into Europe.

Spain is reckoned to have over 20,000 padel courts and an estimated six million players. It is now the country’s second biggest participation sport after football.

Now it is becoming bigger in England and whilst still a relatively new sport, Gill says it is growing all the time. 

She added: “I really do think padel will take over tennis as the number one racquet sport. I just think it’s so easy.

“I coach the sport and usually people get into it right away. We are looking at setting up a number of matches with clubs in the North of England. We also play in a league. Games last up to 90 minutes with two games taking place so it’s three hours in total.

“We also hold social events and we are looking to grow as a club and get more women involved in the sport. If people want to take part they just need to contact the club and come down and try it out in a session.”

For more information go to the Huddersfield Lawn Tennis & Squash Club website HERE.

What is padel?

  • A mixture of tennis, squash and racketball, played indoors or outdoors in doubles format
  • The court is two thirds the size of a tennis court and enclosed with wire mesh
  • The glass walls at either ends are used to play off (like squash) which means you can have long rallies
  • Scoring is the same as in tennis but with underarm serving – easy!

What are the benefits?

  • Easy to play for all ages and abilities as the ball strike is made close to the hand and body
  • Rewarding at any level, it has a rapid learning curve which has low emphasis on technical skill and power
  • Smaller enclosed court means play is continuous, so you are never ‘ball collecting’
  • Played as doubles it is very sociable and between four is inexpensive
  • Great aerobic work out
  • Padel is addictive and great fun – every time!