LTA appoints Spaniard to head men’s elite coaching
by the LTA
As padel in Great Britain continues to grow at a grassroots level – with more than 340 courts as of December 2023 – we’re also continuing to build momentum in the professional game as well.
Over the last 12 months we’ve seen the first British stars commit to the professional game full-time, players like British No 1s Tia Norton and Christian Medina Murphy, who have been enjoying success on the international stage.
A crucial step on that journey this year has been the relationships built with professional academies in Spain, which many of the British players now use as a training base throughout the season.
One such academy, which now supports the British men’s players, is the JMB Academy in Alicante – run by former world No 10 and now LTA Men’s National Coach Jordi Muñoz, who will now work alongside current National Coach John Leach.
During a recent visit to the National Tennis Centre in Roehampton we caught up with Muñoz to find out a bit more about his padel journey, his academy and working with the British players.
Muñoz: “I started out playing tennis and managed to play professionally, but when I decided to stop at the age of 29 back in 2005, I wanted to make the switch and try padel instead.
“From there I started playing a bit more and eventually I went to Madrid, which is where the Spanish Padel Federation is based. My first World Cup came the following year in 2006 – the first of four that I played for Spain, and I managed to win it twice.”
Adding to his accolades, Muñoz was also a three-time European champion and reached four Masters Finals before retiring in 2022.
In the background however, Muñoz had already been working on setting up the next chapter in his career – moving into coaching and setting up his own academy.
“I began coaching at the academy three years ago in Alicante,” he said. “I started out with just one player and now I coach probably about 95% of professional players in the Valencian region. The academy is focused on professional players and up-and-coming stars, but I also want to have a junior academy opened in the future as well.
“It happened quite naturally (working with the LTA). I was coaching three or four of the British players anyway, so the LTA then contacted me about becoming a National Coach and to have a training base out in Spain, and now here we are.”
“it’s a great opportunity for British players to come here and train, but they can also have the chance to play with other professional players who are training to become the best.
Jordi Muñoz, LTA Men’s National Coach
Having a base where the British players can take advantage of the best coaches in the world is vitally important to their progression, but the academy also offers something unique – an elite performance environment.
Every day the players have exposure to other players at the top of the game and being around them, competing with them and training like them on a daily basis, will only help support player development going forward.
In just a short space of time Muñoz has seen promising signs from the British players and believes there is a lot of potential still yet to uncover in both those he is working with already and other players coming through.
“For players like Christian (Medina Murphy), the progress I’ve noticed so far has been good, but I think he has a lot of potential,” Muñoz explained. “He’s only been with me for one year, but I think to become a top professional you need three or four years of working hard and his level is already increasing.
“I think it’s a great opportunity for British players to come here and train, but they can also have the chance to play with other professional players who are training to become the best.
“The possibilities for British padel are very positive, based on the infrastructure, the resources and how the LTA is already looking to invest in its players and pathway. Only good things can come from that.
“Having infrastructure that supports players through their journey is crucial – especially as British padel is still in its infancy.”
Muñoz recently paid his first visit to Great Britain since being named as the LTA Men’s National Coach to come and see the players compete in Stratford at the third FIP RISE tournament in the UK this year.
This has been the first year that three international padel events have been held in Great Britain, which has been supported by a comprehensive calendar of British Padel Tour Grade 1 tournaments for our top players.
“It’s very important to have these tournaments in Great Britain,” Muñoz said. “You need somewhere to start, and these are international tournaments where you can play against strong players from around the world as well as the best in Great Britain. I think this experience is crucial.
“I want to see players with a good attitude and the will to compete. You can always improve the level, but if you don’t have this, you can’t reach your full potential.
“The objective for the next year is not just results. It’s the level, it’s the work that the players put in – with this the results will come in the end. We want to lay down the right foundation.
“If we do that well the next generation will hopefully see it and that’s where you start to create a pathway for many years to come.”