GAME4PADEL ambassador Tia Norton is facing a hectic 48hours as she gears up for the second weekend of the inaugural US Professional Padel League.
Having played a key part in helping Las Vegas Smash get off to a winning start against Arkansas Matrix in the opening fixture round, the British No.1 will face Toronto Polar Bears on Saturday and then return to the court on Sunday to match up against Cancun Waves.
Tia and partner Ana De La Pena lost out in an epic opening match against a true legend of padel in four-time former world champion Cata Tenorio in a deciding third set tie-break 7-5 and is determined to use that experience to best effect when she walks out on the court tomorrow afternoon at the Sarah Vande Berg Tennis & Wellness Center on Florida's Sports Coast.
Reflecting on her memorable US debut Tia said: “Really it was marginal and there were just a few points in it. Obviously it was my first match with Palila (Ana Paula De La Pena) and although we had a few days training together going into a competitive situation is a completely different scenario. Yet we both came away from the match feeling very comfortable playing with each other and excited to compete more together going into this weekend.
“But I must say that tactically Cata (Tenorio) was on another level, she just knew where the ball was going before I hit it! I would try and move her around but it was like she was always a step ahead.
“I guess Cata has years and years of being in these situations and she is also an absolute warrior. She played that three-set match against us on Saturday and then she had to play the mixed match which was another three-set match. Then Arkansas had another match which also went to a deciding mixed doubles in the evening and Cata won the women’s tie which was three sets and then won the mixed as well. So at 48 she is still unbelievably competitive and it was great to get the chance to play her in my first match.
“But from my perspective I learned an awful lot from playing Cata and hopefully I have absorbed all of that and can bring it out this weekend against Toronto and Cancun. Palila and I had never played a competitive match before but now we have that experience under our belts – and what a way to get it against someone like Cata. So, we are determined to make it count.”
Last Saturday’s match with Arkansas was rain impacted and played over two days with Tia’s ladies doubles played in 34-degree heat at 55% humidity but with Monday being a rest day before she returned to training Tia is now good to go again and fully briefed on this weekend’s opposition.
The GB No.1 said: “We play Toronto on Saturday and Cancun on Sunday, so it’s a double whammy! We watched both teams over the course of the first weekend and we have a good idea of who we will be playing, especially if they keep the same line-ups.
“Plus a few of our players already know their players so we have a good heads-up but being able to watch their matches is a benefit and tactically we have a pretty good idea of how they will go about things.
“On top of that Juan Manuel Vazquez, who is our player coach, led us through a video analysis and review session from last weekend in which the whole team contributed and that was hugely beneficial and for me it just highlighted the level of professionalism in the US PPL.
“During the match itself when you are changing sides the players all have an input and I think the way we all bonded and have developed as a really tight team unit helped get us through against Arkansas. We were meant to play all the matches on Saturday but because of the weather the men were forced to play at 08.30hrs on Sunday morning and everyone was there behind them and then it was the same for the mixed.
“Palila, my partner, played in the mixed last weekend so if that happens this weekend and we go to a decider then it may be me who gets the call but it will be the owner or Juan who makes that call. That said, having the two games back-to-back this weekend is something that really excites me and I just can’t wait to get back out there again.
“Sunday after the Arkansas match it was a pretty chilled evening and then Monday it was a day off and back to training Tuesday and then everything has just built and built towards the second weekend and I have had another good week behind me and with that first game also in the bank I am determined to get my first win on the board.”
The Las Vegas Smash Team. Picture courtesy of US PPL Photographer Tacy Briggs-Troncoso.