GB ladies ride padel wave at FIP seniors championships
A fantastic week of padel involving 500 players from 17 nations has culminated in the first International Padel Federation (FIP) European Seniors Championships being described as an ‘amazing event’. The Bandeja Chief Writer Robert Mitchell reports.
The championships, held in Alicante, saw Spain sweep the boards in both seniors and super seniors categories in the male and female competitions as the game’s super power flexed its muscles in impressive fashion.
However with GB Ladies finishing eighth in the seniors event (40+, 45+, 50+) and fifth in the super tournament (50+, 55+, 60+) and the GB Men placed 10th in the seniors and 9th in the supers, our seniors players gained valuable experience against the cream of the continent in an environment that was inspirational with a warm sense of camaraderie.
Everyone was on a padel wave and it was amazing.
Jo Ward, GB Super Seniors captain
Looking back on an unforgettable week of padel, GB Ladies supers captain Jo Ward said: “The event has been everything I’d hoped it would be and more. FIP put on an amazing championship and congratulations to them because there were four sets of teams spanning men’s and women’s in both seniors and super seniors and I don’t even know how many teams there were in total!
“The opening ceremony was superb and it was absolutely phenomenal to be in among the best padel players in Europe and to see some of these players in action live. To be surrounded by seniors women players who are amazing was a joy and our team spirit was tremendous. Everyone was just on a padel wave and it was amazing. For me the standout of the week was the camaraderie and team spirit. It’s been fantastic,” added Jo.
Unbeatable ‘super’ Bickerton
With the GB Ladies +50, +55, +60 side having their very own ‘supers star’ in Sally Bickerton, who was unbeaten for the week, captain Jo was keen to salute her side after they dispatched the Belgians 3-0 to clinch fifth place.
Jo, who also starred in the +45 bracket for the seniors side, said: “I couldn’t be prouder of the supers. We mixed things around with the team against Belgium and it paid off, so to be 5th in Europe, well who would have thought, it really has been a tremendous effort.
“Sally was outstanding over the week and was tremendous along with Audrey Henderson in the 60s. In the 55s we had Louise Baker and Sally Fisher and in the 50s it was Emma Devonport and Nicky Horn and what an effort from every one of the girls. But that was the key to the week, everyone got stuck in. In terms of the two teams, myself, Libby (Fletcher), Dawn (Foxhall), Sally (Fisher) and Helen (Crook) all fulfilled the captaincy role and it was a real community effort.”
In the same category Ireland finished seventh.
Seniors on target
GB Ladies seniors captain Libby Fletcher was also pleased with her side’s 8th place after they narrowly lost their finale to Denmark 2-1. She said: “We set our sights on making a top eight finish and that’s what we’ve done and I’m really pleased with that.
“The opportunity to play against the No 1 and No 2 teams in the world in Spain and France and actually compete with them has been tremendous. Six months to a year back we wouldn’t have been able to do that and I’m delighted we did. Spain were very good and Jo (Ward) and I lost a tight three-set match against the French 45 pair which could have gone either way.
“But this has been a learning experience for us and it’s clear we are much stronger than we were last year but we are still progressing as we are such a young nation in padel terms and events like this first European Seniors Championship are essential to continuing our development,” added Libby.
In the same category Ireland finished 12th.
Supers lead charge for GB men
In the men’s tournament there was a disappointing end for the seniors who lost 2-1 to the Netherlands to finish 10th.
In the same category Ireland finished 15th.
However there was a triumphant climax for the ‘supers men’ who defeated Austria 3-0 to finish 9th. In the same category Ireland claimed 11th place.