Medic Victoria has eyes on Rocks Lane win

The domestic padel scene has been sprinkled with tales of meteoric rises through the rankings –  and Victoria Nicholas is one to add to the list.

For Victoria has combined her role as a junior doctor at St Mary’s Hospital in Paddington, London, with her determination to hit the height’s in padel, which has seen her ascend to No 8 in the LTA domestic rankings in just 18 months.

A county tennis player with Cambridgeshire, Victoria is a passionate member of Rocks Lane Padel in Chiswick, where this weekend she is seeded No 2 with playing partner and GB No 2 Aimee Gibson (who herself has risen through the padel ranks in super quick time) in the LTA Padel British Tour Grade 1 tournament. Victoria’s motivation to triumph on her home courts is almost palpable. 

Victoria (right) with Aimee Gibson.

But first, just how does she juggle a demanding job at a major hospital with pursuing her padel obsession?

Victoria explained: “I am lucky in that although I am a junior doctor and medical registrar  I have been fortunate that I don’t work weekends and nights and that has obviously been a huge help.

“I started playing padel for fun about 18 months ago and then I gravitated to playing in LTA tournaments and taking it all a bit more seriously. I really enjoy being active and it definitely helps me to escape from everything and from the demands of my job. When you are on court you focus on each point and leave everything else and all the stresses behind. Also, when it is competitive that just adds to it all but mainly it is just very good fun and also just extremely sociable and that is the perfect for me.”

Her journey from padel novice to GB’s eighth ranked player in a year-and-a-half has been fuelled by coaching at Rocks Lane: “I have been improving quite quickly with the help of my coaches at Rocks Lane. Rafa (Vega – now with Smash Padel, Bicester)) and Antonio Cifuentes,” said Victoria. 

“Rafa was instrumental in my initial progress and he encouraged me to start playing in tournaments. Antonio has been great with group sessions at Rocks Lane, which have been a big help,” added Victoria. “From tennis my volleying has come quite naturally and my overhead is pretty strong but the guys have improved my vibora (high volley), my tactical awareness and positioning. Also my defence has improved greatly with all the work they have done but it is something I need to keep working hard on.”

The hard work has started to pay off and Victoria has had success with a variety of partners this year: “I recently partnered with Aimee (Gibson) and we went to Belgium to play our first FIP tournament. We made the quarter-finals and it was really satisfying to see improvement every time.

“I partnered Claire Smith (GB No 5) and we won at Stratford in an LTA Grade 1 in June, that was my best result and we had a tight final against Lisa Phillips (GB No 3) and Sophia Haine (GB No 17). We were really happy to get that win.”

Victoria (right) with Claire Smith.

With this weekend’s tournament boasting pairings battling it out over the men’s and women’s open events as well as the 40+ and 50+ years categories, the action is sure to be fast and furious, with Victoria hoping she and Aimee make it into the final.

“With it being my home club and also having missed out last year due to the ankle injury I am really determined to do well this time around,” Victoria said. “The top seeds are Claire Smith and Abi Tordoff and we know they will be tough but Aimee and I have friends coming along and it would be great to win it. Rocks Lane is just a great place to play padel, it’s my local club and they have been very supportive of me and helped with my coaching and I am really grateful for that. It would be nice to repay everyone at Rocks Lane with a win this weekend.” 

Tournament details

This weekend’s LTA Padel British Tour is the sixth of seven Grade 1 events to take place across England, Scotland and the Channel Islands as part of the British Tour which encompasses the top padel competitions in the UK.

Grade 1 events see the very best British players and international competitors competing across full weekends for prize money. Acceptance onto British Tour events is based on players’ LTA padel ranking. Full details of players participating this weekend are here.

Chris Warren, Rocks Lane founder, said: “The seniors’ events (over 40s and 50s) will take place on Friday. The Open takes place on Saturday, with all finals on Sunday. Spectators are welcome to come and watch some of the best British talent in action for free, and meet them in person, it’s guaranteed to inspire our next generation of padel stars.” 🎾

We wish Victoria, Aimee and all their fellow players the best of luck.