GAME4PADEL ambassador Tia Norton will today make her debut in the US Professional Padel League.
GB padel’s leading lady was selected to play for Las Vegas Smash in the inaugural player draft for the league’s 2023 debut season and was also selected as one of only 52 players from approximately 500 entries into the competition as well as being the first women’s player picked by the Nevada outfit to join their team.
As she finished off her preparations to face Arkansas Matrix, Game4Padel’s Golden Girl spoke exclusively with us about her excitement at headlining on the pop-up court at the Sarah Vande Berg Tennis & Wellness Center on Florida’s Sports Coast.
Tia said: “I am just really excited about this opportunity and although I’ve come here knowing pretty much no one, everyone here has been so friendly and so welcoming and it is just what padel is all about in bringing people together in such a community and family-friendly environment. That has been really highlighted this week.
“I landed in Florida on Sunday evening and I’ve had a good amount of time to acclimatise to the conditions as it is up in the 30s temperature wise and there is a humidity aspect as well.
“We are playing against Arkansas Matrix on Saturday with a 3.30pm kick-off with us being the third match on.
The format is a men’s match and a women’s match and if you win both matches you are the winners but if it is one-match all it goes to a mixed match and that is exciting for me as in most professional tournaments they don’t normally have an opportunity to play mixed.
“So this will be a new experience and one I am really looking forward to. It is a one-court event and I’m sure that will generate a great atmosphere.”
The PPL features a seven team roster of Toronto Polar Bears, Miami Padel Club, Cancun Waves, Los Angeles Beat, San Diego, Arkansas Matrix, and Tia’s Las Vegas Smash side. The teams will battle it out over the next six Saturdays at the Sarah Vande Berg Tennis Centre before the inaugural season concludes with the PPL CUP in June of 2023 where the four best teams will compete for the title.
Tia's opening encounter is with Arkansas Matrix, who apparently won’t be featuring Keanu Reeves in their ranks, but will have Cata Tenorio the Argentinian former four times World Champion and former World No.1 in their ranks. Tia is looking forward to the challenge of facing the South American padel icon.
The British No.1 said: “We are playing the Argentine legend Cata Tenorio, who used to be the World No.1. The standard is very high and of course it’s great experience for me playing against a player of that quality and learning from it. So I am just very excited to be here and playing in the PPL.
“If any sport goes well in the US then it really goes big time and to be the first female picked for Las Vegas is something I am very proud of.
“Although I am playing for Las Vegas Smash I’m not going to be in Vegas much, but there will be plenty of sight-seeing around Florida over the next few weeks and it’s great to have my parents joining me out here, that makes it extra special.”
Meanwhile, Game4Padel CEO Michael Gradon has been picked to play for the GB Seniors at the FIP European Senior Championships and Tia was keen to wish Michael, whom she has played with at various Game4Padel events, all the very best for the trip to La Nucia, Alicante, in Spain.
Tia said: “I’ve played with Michael quite a few times and he definitely has the skill level to be on the GB Seniors Teams, so a huge congratulations to him for his selection for the European Seniors Championships. I wish him and the rest of the GB team the very best of luck.”