Updated: Sep 7
JAMIE DELGADO has revealed the unique attraction behind his new status as a Game4Padel investor and ambassador.
The internationally renowned tennis coach, who was a key part of Sir Andy Murray’s team while having coached such tennis luminaries as Denis Shapovalov, is also a keen padel player and has now become a fellow Game4Padel investor alongside the first knight of tennis.
With Spanish blood Delgado is acutely aware of the boom in padel in the land of the señors which has meant it has displaced tennis as the nation’s second favourite sport.
While on his travels to the great cities of the globe Jamie has observed the incredible pace with which the sport’s popularity has engulfed Europe, and now with the creation of the first Professional Padel League mooted for 2023, is taking hold in the USA.
Yet for Delgado there was a singular appeal in coming on board with Game4Padel when CEO Michael Gradon held talks with him and he explained: “What really excited me was just how it would grow. The idea that Game4Padel don’t just build the courts and wander off into the sunset was clear from the start.
“Game4Padel really want to develop the game, put in a structure that will help achieve that and through their connection with Padel MBA develop coaches and of course players.
“So there is a strong aspect of building a padel community around the courts – one that will improve players’ skills, increase their enjoyment level, and help them have more fun.
“It is very much the opposite of dropping courts and disappearing. But in terms of Michael himself I know him personally and he is just a very impressive man and he is behind it all. In our conversations his passion about developing that sense of community and really building something with roots came over very strongly.
“The bottom line is that Michael is someone who I respect very much, he has also built a fantastic team at Game4Padel, and I am excited to be joining the company.”
Jamie continued: “That said, from a personal point of view I’ve watched padel over the years and have been aware of how it has developed in countries like Sweden and Italy and of course I am half Spanish.
“On top of that Jamie Murray (a fellow Game4Padel investor and ambassador) was always going off to play at the Chelsea Harbour Club, then the LTA got some courts at the NTC (National Training Centre) and I’ve just always believed that padel is a game that can be played by people of all ages and skill levels.
“It really started with Jamie (Murray), we’d done a couple of sessions at Wimbledon and started talking about padel and he mentioned Game4Padel. I gave Michael a call to see if I could come on board and he was really enthusiastic.
“I fancied being part of it in some way and I just went for it and now I’m delighted to be associated with Game4Padel.”
Delgado holds the all-time male record for playing in consecutive Wimbledon tournaments, playing for the 23rd time in 2014 at the age of 37 and bearing that in mind and his stellar coaching resume Jamie is more than well placed to share his thoughts on why padel is proving such a popular crossover sport for elite athletes from other fields.
He said: “Obviously with Virgil Van Dijk from Liverpool Football Club joining up with Game4Padel it shows the attraction the sport has but guys like Virgil also have that winning mentality.
“So when they go on the padel court they may be just learning padel but that winner’s mentality kicks in. It is also a great way to stay in shape once you have stopped playing your sport at the top level.
“It is active, competitive, and just great fun, skilful and they can play with friends and meet new people.
“I think that when you are involved in sport you obviously enjoy the sport you are currently in and you are passionate about that but you will probably love sport in general, enjoy competing and I think that never leaves you.”
When it came to his own burgeoning career as a padel player Jamie admitted that he has been pleasantly surprised about his ability to adjust to the subtle differences between tennis and padel.
He said: “I haven’t played an amazing number of times, and from tennis it took a bit of time getting used to the feel of the ball on the racket, but I found that although I was perhaps the guy playing for the first time with people who had played a lot I was, almost, able to play with them straight away. I stress the almost in there!
“Then it became obvious it was just a fun game which I really enjoyed and one which still gave you a workout. If you are out there moving up and back, with sharp movements and in a team as well with four of you having to play it is more fun, there is a strong social side with great opportunity for banter!
“So for me, padel is just an addictive game with a different skill-set of having to play off the walls and the tactics of padel are entirely different to tennis and that is a huge part of the attraction to padel.”
Yet as Jamie revealed he has another strong motivation to improve his padel game: “I haven’t played Jamie Murray and he is way better than me but now we are both ambassadors at Game4Padel I will have to get on court with him soon. Yeah, Jamie definitely has a target on his back there!”