The Game4Padel Tour
GAME4PADEL is delighted to share an exciting new development in our continuing efforts to grow the padel community within Great Britain.
At two venues in Edinburgh last weekend, we held tester events for what we hope will become a ground-breaking Game4Padel Tour, which we are on course to formally establish by 2024 with events rolling out across our UK venues.
The Game4Padel Tour will feature LTA-Graded events, but with a distinct difference to those currently being staged across our green and pleasant land, and is the brainchild of our Growth and Participation Director Vincent Hivert and the Game4Padel Tour’s newly appointed manager Neil Harden.
Neil is a vastly experienced and respected tennis coach, having worked at such famous Scottish clubs as Aberdour, St Serfs and South Queensferry, and who along with Vincent created the pioneering ROGY Junior Tour which has been a source of inspiration for our new concept and has at its heart a determination to build a sense of community through the opportunity to enjoy local competition.
Reflecting on all of this Neil explained: “I have known Vincent since he first came to Scotland and that was through tennis. I always knew how passionate he was about padel and after he co-founded Game4Padel I started playing the sport and enjoying it.
“With a shared history of organising tennis tournaments, we began to talk about diversifying our experience into padel tournaments and that is basically how I got involved with Game4Padel. I am heavily involved with tennis coaching and also help to organise tennis tournaments and the organisation of padel competitions is an extension of that.”
Turning his attention to the inspiration behind the Game4Padel Tour Neil revealed: “Vincent and I ran a tennis tour for kids called the ROGY Junior Tour – basically Red, Orange, Green and Yellow groups that play with correspondingly-coloured balls, and our aim for that was to offer local opportunities for kids from six years old through to 18 to compete.
“So we used that idea as a template for our plans for padel in terms of creating local competition – initially in and around Edinburgh – as that is where the bulk of the courts are in Scotland and also where I am based. This will provide local padel players with the opportunity to compete at the club they are linked to or a member of.
“We have Thistle and Edinburgh Park each with two courts and canopy roofs so we can run events at them but obviously we have clubs down south too. Huddersfield is one that we are looking at next and then we can roll this tournament activity out at the other Game4Padel clubs across the UK.”
As Neil revealed there is one pivotal difference to the Game4Padel Tour concept, “We have done a couple of test events so far and what we don’t do is just have one event for all levels. So in the men you may enter one event but with the knowledge that it will be split into two different levels.
“For example, we have a Grade Three competition for the higher-level players and a Grade 4 for the players who are just below that which means when you enter an event with Game4Padel you are entering one that is for your level.
“What we don’t want is people joining up to our tournaments and finding they are out of their depth. It is really important that we get people to play competitive padel at their own level and enjoy it – not be put off.
“Down the line if we can split that one competition into three levels then we will run three distinct events over one weekend if, of course, we have the numbers, and as far as I can see no other padel club.
“The norm seems to be that if you enter a padel competition and you are out of your depth then too bad, so this is our USP (unique selling point). We want to attract more people and if that means more organisation to accommodate different levels, then so be it.”
Game4Padel held our first tester events last weekend across Edinburgh and the reaction has been overwhelmingly positive as Neil revealed: “We used Edinburgh Park and Thistle and had 10 female pairings at Thistle while the men were split into two draws with eight pairs at Thistle and six pairs at Edinburgh Park.
“The women’s event was a Grade Five, which is the lowest level of competing, and we saw straight off the bat that we had players who suited Five and players who suited Four and the one pair who won it had played Grade Two.
“The age range was 27 to 70 and the experience levels were all over the place but at the end of the day everyone loved it. They also got to see the better players and enjoyed that but if we get 16 ladies’ pairs next time the plan will be to split it across two events.
“These were essentially dry runs and our plan is that 2023 is about us finding our feet – trial and error – speaking to people who have competed and getting their feedback and making any tweaks we then need to make. It is pointless to go ahead if people haven’t enjoyed it.”
As Neil admitted, an ability to grow the number of padel players will be vital to the tour: “In terms of the format, Vincent and I are happy with that and so is everybody who has competed so far. So the plan between now and the end of the year is to build our base of players so that people know what we are doing.
“Then once we have a good core of people by 2024, if we activate an event, we can put on three competitions within the one tournament with a Grade Three, Grade Four and Grade Five. That in essence would be the tour.
“Also, with new clubs popping up around the UK we can continue to implement test events and get the word out that this is going on, and when 2024 comes we will have more clubs and players and be good to go.”