Adidas charges up HOP’s junior aspirations
by Chief Writer RJ Mitchell
Home of Padel (HOP) is set to hold the UK’s biggest youth padel competition later this year.
The HOP Youth event has been enabled by HOP’s partnership with Adidas, the tour’s new naming partner, after a five figure deal was agreed.
One of the key tenets of the deal was that the iconic ‘three-stripe’ brand reached agreement with HOP co-founders John Leach and Javi Serrats to host a youth tournament which would look to secure entries from all four corners of the UK.
Speaking exclusively to The Bandeja, John revealed his delight at finally being able to fulfil a long held ambition: “Javi and I have always intended to do a tournament specifically for juniors, it has just been a question of time and finding the right kind of location. It’s always been on our minds but has been accelerated through our collaboration with Adidas, who were extremely keen on setting up a youth programme in the UK.
“In terms of format that is still something we are chewing over as we have to see what demand is like but we want to encourage as many juniors as we can to compete from around the country so there will be a selection of all age groups – once we have established the demand.”
Interestingly there is, at this embryonic stage, no connection with the LTA as yet. However it is understood that HOP is open to discussion on a collaboration with the governing body. With John also fulfilling the pivotal role of GB Men’s National Head Coach, and a former GB international and team captain, HOP already enjoys a good working relationship with the LTA.
And LTA Performance Manager Matt Stanforth is turning his attention to youth development as part of his remit, so a collaboration seems logical at some stage.
Projecting forward to his hopes for the first HOP Youth event, John said: “We want to open competitions up for juniors as well as seniors, so we need to put these tournaments out there and just have a look at the younger age groups. The important thing is to give them that competitive pathway.
“What will be fascinating about this tournament is that it will give us a gauge regarding the level of the juniors in the UK and where they are based. From a HOP perspective it is very exciting to put this event on and really see what kind of talent we have coming through with our younger players.”
Reflecting on HOP’s new deal with Adidas, which will also cover equipment and naming rights for all four HOP Tours, John admitted it had been a game-changer: “The collaboration we set up with Adidas earlier this year was very exciting and has opened up various opportunities for us.
Up for grabs is the location of the first HOP Youth event. Short money must be on the likes of Rocks Lane, Chiswick, and We Are Padel, Derby, while the National Tennis Centre in Roehampton could also come into the equation. 🎾