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Six Nations Wrap & Tia Update

Michael (in white, left) with teammate Bjorn Schroeder.

GAME4PADEL people have starred on the padel courts of Switzerland and Florida in the last few days with both CEO Michael Gradon and Ambassador Tia Norton in action in premium international events.

Michael was first onto court in Baden, Switzerland where he played a key part in England Seniors attempt to land the prestigious ‘Six Nations’ title at the exclusive Padel Baregg club and he was pleased with a third-placed finish.

As he revealed there was plenty of drama behind the scenes: “Unfortunately one of our players (Simon England) got stuck in a horrendous traffic jam, missed his flight at Heathrow by five minutes and had to sleep the night on the floor of a Caffe Nero before flying via Basel very early next morning.

“So the first match with Estonia we had to juggle our team around and I had the privilege of playing with Mike Jenkins’ wife, who is a seriously good player and has played in the GB ladies side, but we lost out after a pretty epic 7-5, 7-5 defeat to the Estonian third pair. Who knows, if we’d had our full team out it may have been different!”

This year’s event has extra significance – serving as the perfect warm up for next month’s first ever European Senior Championships in Alicante.

The Game4Padel CEO said: “It was a very hot and humid indoor venue and on the first day there were three very full on matches and I went into the event nursing an injury so by the end of day one I was pretty exhausted.

“By completion of day two and our last match against the Swiss second pair, which went to 15-13 in the Champions tie-break third set decider, I was completely spent.

But it was really good practise for the Europeans in terms of both fitness and the amount of padel balls we hit – pretty invaluable in that respect.

“But I love these things as while we all want to win, there is a huge amount of fun and banter and every time we do it there are new faces – while it’s also great to reconvene with old friends and in particular with the Scots and the Irish with whom there is a natural affinity.

“It was also nice to get to know some of the Swiss guys who have now played in a couple of the Six Nations. I think we may well see a proliferation of these unofficial international events in the future as they are so popular and enjoyable.”

Michael was also keen to record his thanks to tournament organiser and Irish Padel Association president Barry Coffey for a job well done and he said: “A huge, huge thanks to Barry. Most of us probably underestimate how much work goes into this type of event and full credit to him and Dale (Bof) the Swiss captain and also Mike Kemp (Team Ireland) who also supported Barry behind the scenes. All the players are really grateful for how much work Barry and his team put in and it was just a great weekend of padel.”

Meanwhile at the Sarah Vande Berg Tennis Centre, in Florida Game4Padel Ambassador Tia Norton was once again starring for Las Vegas Smash in the inaugural US Pro Padel League.

With matches against unbeaten leaders Miami and San Diego Stingrays, Tia has revealed that she endured an emotional rollercoaster across the weekend.

The GB No.1 lady said: “Really every emotion under the sun was felt last weekend. In our first match (ladies doubles) against Miami on Saturday we were up against the former World No.1 Marta Marrero and it went to a deciding set. Unfortunately Miami broke us and although it was only one break at 5-2 with me serving we didn’t manage to hold serve and lost it 6-2.

“That said there wasn’t a lot in it and a lot of the games were decided on golden points so we definitely felt like we were in the match 100% but they were quicker out the blocks in the third set and Marta has so much experience which made the difference when it mattered most. I’m hoping there will be another opportunity to play against Marta if all goes to plan and we make the semi-finals.”

While there was disappointment against leaders Miami, within 24 hours a vital victory was secured against San Diego that has put Las Vegas in a strong position to secure a semi-final place on Saturday week.

Reflecting on this Tia said: “On Sunday against San Diego we got the win but the main thing was getting through the match! After Saturday there were a lot of emotions running high and San Diego was a match we had to win otherwise we would have been out of the tournament.

“So there was a lot riding on that tie and it wasn’t my best day of padel – it took about six match points to actually get the job done. I felt like I missed every match ball so San Diego was more of a mental battle than anything and it felt like I was fighting against myself really.

“But every match is highly competitive and the players we are competing against are exceptional. So there was definitely happiness but a lot of negative emotions that we didn’t get it done in two sets – but we got the win we needed and won the tie overall and that is all that matters.”

This weekend Tia and her Las Vegas Smash team mates face Los Angeles Beat knowing that victory will secure them a place in the semi-finals of the US PPL and all at Game4Padel wish her the very best of luck.


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