Newly crowned LTA Padel Regional/Game4Padel Tour Mixed champion Antonio Fernandez-Liebrez Martin is hoping that Saturday’s Edinburgh Park victory will be the first of many for him and partner Mercedes Perez Gonzales.
The all-Spanish pairing were playing in their first tournament together and defeated Karen Crawford and Alex Lalos 6-1, 6-4 in a high quality final which was watched by an appreciative knot of their fellow competitors.
Antonio is also determined to make this fine victory for his burgeoning partnership with ‘MPG,’ which was defensively particularly impressive, a real launchpad to further success.
While Mercedes, who partnered Flora Sanches Rubio to victory at the first LTA/Game4Padel Tour Grade 5 Ladies event at Thistle Tennis and Padel Club last month, is now two from two in our events.
The new Game4padel Mixed champion said: “I have known Mercedes for a couple of years and we met at WOSP (West Of Scotland Padel) and have become good friends but this was our first tournament playing together so to win it was extra special for us.
“The level is getting higher all the time and we had a couple of tough matches and I just want to say well done to Karen and Alex for making the final.
“But for Mercedes and me, we hope to play again and I think we can make a strong partnership.”
Antonio, who hails from Malaga and is the padel coach at Edinburgh Sports Club, is also in no doubt about the importance of the Game4Padel Tour events.
He said: “I really enjoyed the tournament and it is just great to have this opportunity to compete against other players from all over Scotland.
“Hopefully we will get more of these tournaments as they are so important for padel players in Scotland and the development of the game. Up until now too many people have had to go to England if they want to play in a competition so what Game4Padel is doing in promoting these tournaments is vital for the game here.”
Game4Padel Tour director Neil Harden was also in no doubt about the success of the 10-pair Edinburgh Park event and he said: “The Regional went really well, the standard was pretty good and everyone really seemed to enjoy themselves even if it was a bit chilly! So a big thank you to all who entered.
“We had Mercedes competing, who has to be the best female player in Scotland, and I think although she and Antonio won the final and congratulations to them for that, the other players saw they could actually compete with them.
“Antonio and Mercedes had pressure put on them by Aly Findlay and Emma Birch in the semis and again in the final at stages by Alex and Karen, so from a padel point of view the difference in standard wasn’t as much as some of the players may have thought. For me I think that was a big positive and very encouraging going forward.
“So these players, with a bit of work can come back again and close that gap even more and that has to be a source of real positivity for them.”
Neil added: “With regard to the beaten finalists Alex Lalos has played for maybe just seven months and then you have Karen Crawford and she just played her first event at Thistle last month in the ladies event we held, so this was also the first time they played together and that really shows you how quickly people can gel and develop as a pairing.
“But over the whole tournament we had a number of closely fought matches, where although the scorelines seemed quite decisive, the winning pair had to work very hard in virtually every game and again that bodes well for the level of quality rising.”
Scottish Ladies Padel founder Rachel Richmond was also competing after teaming up with husband Adrian to produce a creditable run to the quarter-finals where they fell to the top seeded and ultimate champion Spanish pairing.
For Rachel the signs were clear to see that the Game4Padel Tour is already starting to help foster a sense of community around padel in Alba and she said: “It was a really lovely event and it has been great to see players from WOSP, Thistle and Edinburgh Sports Club and even a lady down from Aberdeen playing and all that in an environment which was so friendly.
“You can see that the players from different clubs are starting to get to know each other because of these Game4Padel tournaments and you had people recognising each other from the ladies tournament last month and coming in and hugging each other so it was a very friendly and just a warm welcoming atmosphere.
“It really feels like we are starting to grow a padel community in Scotland and the Game4Padel Tour events are a big part of helping that to develop.”
We will shortly be confirming details of our next tournament which is set for May 6/7 and incorporates both a Ladies and Men’s tournament.