GB padel’s poster girl Tia smashes US PPL win
It’s was a night of celebration for world-class GB padel player Tia Norton, 19, part of the Las Vegas Smash team which yesterday clinched top honours in the debut US Pro Padel League. The Bandeja has been reporting on her progress over the last month as the tournament progressed and we are beyond delighted to bring news of her team’s history-making win. RJ Mitchell reports.
Tia described victory in the US Pro Padel League as an ‘incredible journey’ after she and partner Ana Paula De La Penna paved the way for Las Vegas Smash’s victory in yesterday’s final against Cancun Waves. She and Ana defeated the Waves’ Ana Maria Cabrejas & Anna Cortiles 6-1, 3-6, 6-0. Shortly after Pablo Amora and Juan Manuel Vazquez scored a straight sets Smash victory in the men’s doubles, with the poster girl of GB padel engulfed by team mates as the triumphant players celebrated.
Right: Tia Norton and her Smash team mates celebrate victory in the US Pro Padel League.
Without doubt this is one of, if not the, proudest moments of my life.
Speaking exclusively with The Bandeja last night before she attended the championship dinner Tia said: “It has been an incredible journey. I’ve really had to struggle with getting used to the climate out here, both with the heat and the humidity. Maybe that has been the biggest challenge but we got there and got the job done and it’s something I will never forget.
“The Smash are all a family and that was something that we wanted to create from the start. We have been spending every day with each other for the past five weeks and to be honest I think we are the closest group of all the teams.
“I think we were victorious because we all just had each other’s backs and everyone supported the other so strongly in the tough moments, and there were plenty of those every week. That is what got us through.
“Spending time off court together whether that was a day out, baseball match or shopping, it all brings you closer together and helps you get to know your team mates that bit more and forge even stronger bonds. It’s been one hell of an experience.”
Looking back at her pivotal doubles success with partner Palila, Tia admitted that a concentration lapse after their first set success required urgent action before the decider against a pair who had beaten legendary former World No 1 Marta Marrero and Paloma Cortina 7-5, 6-2 24 hours earlier to help Cancun Waves remove Miami Padel Club and book their place in the finals.
Taking stock Tia revealed: “It was the same pair (Cabrejas & Cortiles) who we played in the group stage for Cancun. One of them is former top-30 World Padel Tour and is an incredible player. The key was getting the momentum back. Winning the first set 6-1 perhaps our concentration levels slipped a bit but when we began that decider it was like ‘now or never’ and we just really went for it and refused to lose.
“I think our ability to do that was because of the experiences we have had over the last five weeks or so and all those tough matches against the likes of Cata Tenorio and Marta Marrero. Not only have they brought us closer together as a team but also provided so many learning points for us. All of that really got us through the tough moments and we finished very strongly which was so pleasing.
“After our match I was getting congratulations but I was thinking to myself this isn’t over and it was tough to keep a lid on it. Thankfully the boys then got it done but that didn’t stop my heart rate going up to 106! As soon as we won that match point everyone ran into a huddle and it was pure joy with a few tears, it was such a historic moment, we couldn’t believe it.
“Without doubt this is right up there as one of, if not the, proudest moments of my life and I can’t say I’ve ever cried (before) after winning a match.”
Tia is flying home tonight and already looking forward to next year and a return to the PPL: “I hope they’ll want me back and if they do I will for sure accept the offer – there is no doubt about that! I am definitely keen to come back and win it all again but for now it’s about enjoying the moment and making the most of that.
“It will take some time for it all to sink in I guess but right now I just want to enjoy winning the first ever US PPL with my team mates. It has been a huge honour to represent Las Vegas these last five weeks and last night was just the cherry on the cake.”
Everyone at The Bandeja would like to offer our heartfelt and huge congratulations to Tia, her team mates and family for an incredible achievement. 🎾