German aces give talented Brit teenagers winning masterclass

By RJ Mitchell

Theo Garton has described the recent HOP London Padel Open as the ultimate learning experience.

The talented teenager, who with partner Cameron Dollimore drew Germany’s No 1 pairing of Matthias Wunner and Johannes Lindmeyer in the opening round at the National Tennis Centre, found themselves outgunned by the Germans 6-1, 6-3. It was an experience that put in perspective just what the GB No 7 needs to work on if he wants to take his game to the next level and force his way into GB captain John Leach’s plans.

Theo Garton (right) and Cameron Dollimore at the Rocks Lane LTA Padel British Tour Grade 1 tournament.

Impressively candid, the Tennis World Middlesbrough ace said: “When you play against guys of that level and see what they are doing it makes it a lot easier to see where you need to go yourself to improve your game. The experience, especially on the big points, was massive and it really underlined that Wunner and Lindmeyer had been there and done it. When we first stepped on court they were also that bit more relaxed and the more relaxed you are the better you tend to play.

“So when we did get chances we tended to snatch at them or they just played the bigger points that bit better. Their experience was crucial but for us getting to play a team of that quality was really beneficial and gave us a lot to think about. This is the level we are striving to be at and getting matches at that level and seeing first hand where we need to make the improvements was invaluable,” added Theo.

Johannes Lindmeyer and Matthias Wunner

They hardly missed a ball for two full sets and just put us under so much pressure from the start.

So where do Garton and Dollimore need to make improvements? “At the end I was blowing and really tired whereas the Germans were as fresh as daisies so fitness is something I need to really look at,” said Theo. “I also need to impose myself on the net more and be more aggressive as against these boys you felt like you couldn’t breathe at times as it was just relentless.

“But for us the big one was consistency. They hardly missed a ball for two full sets and they just put us under so much pressure from the start. They didn’t just hit the ball at us they were really winding up and they put us under so much pressure because of that. We were under pressure on our shots and really feeling we had to take every chance so it was a vicious circle and that was all because of their quality.

“The other big takeaway was that 100%, mainly when they served, they were always on top of the point. Straight away it was a really well worked serve and very accurate with it and then a big volley behind it whereas when we served we were just getting in the points.

“Also it was noticeable how much more aggressive they were and they really got to the net well and held it strongly whereas when we took the net off them we didn’t impose ourselves as much.” 

Theo made the Team GB training camp for the European Championships earlier this year but didn’t make the cut to the short-list and the de-brief for the London Open, which was conducted by his father Nigel, one of the British game’s most revered coaches, was subsequently of huge importance.

Theo said: “My dad was watching and of course he is hugely knowledgeable and he had a few pointers for me and has given me plenty to think on and work on back at Middlesbrough so that when the next time comes I am ready. John (Leach) also had a few words and was really encouraging. He watched a bit of our match and gave me some feedback which was very helpful.”

But of one thing Theo is sure – and that is that the 2023 London Open was the experience of his padel life – so far! He said: “The atmosphere with us being one of the British pairs was superb and for me the tournament was as good as it could have been and definitely the best I have ever played in. The whole set up around the courts was great with the food kiosks and all the other stuff going on so it seemed like a really nice experience for the spectators too.

“Getting the German No 1 pairing in the first round was tough that is what you’ve got to expect in tournaments like the London Open. Overall it was an unbelievable tournament and I can’t wait for the next one.” 🎾