GB’s Harris ready to rock US PPL

British padel star Louie Harris is determined to seize a ‘massive opportunity’ when he competes against the world’s elite at the 2024 Pro Padel League (PPL), which started on Tuesday (April 2) in Miami.

The 21-year-old ended 2023 as the top-ranked player in the LTA padel rankings and was selected by the San Diego Stingrays in last month’s draft to play in the the PPL’s second season. 

The PPL is the only professional padel league in the world to feature team-based competition in a city-based, franchise format. The competition debuted last year with British No 1 Tia Norton part of the Las Vegas Smash team that lifted the inaugural title

This year the competition has expanded from seven to 10 teams, is being played over four qualifying events (two in Miami this month and two in Los Angeles in August) leading to the PPL Cup final in New York on 18-23 November. The stellar 2024 roster of players includes five ranked No 1 in their respective countries, along with Agustin Tapia and Ariana Sanchez Fallada, top players in the International Padel Federation (FIP) rankings.

The league kicked off on April 2 at the Ultra Club in Miami – and Cardiff-born Louie cannot wait to make his debut. He flew out to Miami on Saturday and spent Easter weekend meeting and training with his new team-mates, which include former world No.2 Miguel Lamperti, former world No 2 Maxi Sanchez and former world No 1 Lucia Sainz. It is his first time in the States.

He said: “It’s mega! It’s super exciting. I’ve never been to America before so just the fact of travelling over here alone is huge, but to be able to do that whilst playing padel in a big event like this is incredible.

“America is known for having massive sporting competitions so to be able to compete in a tournament on such a big scale is huge. The level is so high in my team and all the other teams too, so it’s going to be very special.”

Watch the PPL action here

Louie (second left) with some of his Stingray team mates.

Louie, a former personal trainer, won six titles on the LTA British Padel Tour last year. He is likely to play a back-up role in the San Diego Stingrays squad but is keen to absorb the wisdom and experience of the stellar players he’ll be surrounded by – and grab his chance of competitive court time if it comes his way.

“I understand where everyone’s at in terms of their level but if I can get a couple of chances to get on there and show what I can do, I’ll be all over it,” he said.

Last year’s inaugural PPL was notable for its classic American promotional razzmatazz, with rapper Daddy Yankee – best known for his hits – Gasolina and Despacito – making appearances at the first round and the final.

Louie added: “When I found out the news that I’d been selected I was over the moon, but I haven’t thought about the off-court side of it. I’m more focused on learning from my team-mates and getting a few chances to play. Whatever comes on top of that is extra. I’m definitely ready for anything that’s thrown my way.”

Experience of a team environment will be advantageous for Louie as he and Team GB build towards the European Championships in Sardinia in July, which are much-anticipated after being postponed last year.

“When I get back from Miami, I’ll be playing a few LTA Grade One events in the UK then blasting out as many FIP events as I can in Europe, building up to the European Championships. That will be a team set-up, competing daily and supporting one another, so the next couple of weeks in Miami will be good practice!” 🎾