Oz ‘padel freaks’ complete the ultimate self-build

It’s padel’s version of the Magnificent Seven – and the story begins in Spain 17 years ago. Robert Mitchell reports…

Picture the scene – a young Australian senorita thousands of miles from home falls for a tall, dark, handsome hombre and together they have a dream to return to her homeland and build not just a home but their very own padel club. And now those dreams have become reality with the opening of Sol Padel in Albury, New South Wales.

Let us introduce you to Erin Purtle and her husband Mark Monjonell who followed their dreams from the Spanish town of Sant Cugat, 20k from the centre of Barcelona, all the way to Albury, New South Wales. It’s a journey of almost 17,000km but one which Erin explained was instrumental in their plans: “Before coming back to Australia we travelled through the UK, Sweden and Spain and met loads of people who were all padel freaks just like us. We’ve put all of that shared information and knowledge to good use.”

The end result is Sol Padel, Erin and Mark’s labour of love and only the seventh padel club in Australia (and the first regional one). They’ve installed four court bases and have three padel courts at the moment, plus a bar and coffee shop. “Our aim is to bring that Spanish vibe of the traditional padel club where you play padel and enjoy the social aspects,” said Erin. “We’re based in Thurgoona Golf Club in the city of Albury which has about 100,0000 people and is just a lovely area.”

Mark Monjonell (photo: Layton Holley, The Border Mail)
Erin and Mark.

Ultimate self-build

There have been challenges along the way, many of them familiar to anyone looking to develop courts in the UK: “I’d say there are different phases of challenge really,” said Erin. “The first challenge was finding the venue and that took us a long time and then once we found that it was the build which, similar to England, has its own issues in terms of council processes. We got through that and the next challenge is the fact that not a lot of people know about padel and we are having to teach them from the beginning.

“We’ve been creating special ‘learn to play activities’ and are at the stage of teaching padel all day long as they (Aussies) just haven’t played before. But already it’s amazing how people are picking up padel very quickly.”

Sol Padel, between Sydney and Melbourne.


When it comes to growing membership Sol Padel is ahead of the game, with more than 200 people registered via the Sol Padel app within weeks of opening, which Erin described as ‘amazing’. She added: “What is really interesting is that 75% of people registering are 35 years plus, so you definitely see that the profile of padel players is in that older bracket. With the juniors we are trying to get as many young people to play as possible. On a Sunday morning we have a special learn to play for kids which is dedicated to youngsters.”

AO master classes

Recognition of Erin and Mark’s success has swiftly grown and Sol Padel was invited by Tennis Australia to help put on padel master classes at this year’s Australian Open, with the likes of Aussie sporting icons Pat Rafter and Todd Woodridge reaching out.

“We were invited to the Aussie Open essentially to teach people how to play padel,” said Erin. “It was just fantastic for us! We had five minutes with 1,000 people. They picked it up immediately and we were really surprised with how good they were. Todd Woodridge talked to us via Instagram and Pat Rafter as well. It was just great for us to be involved.”

Padel holiday down under?

Erin believes there’s no better place to use as your base if you are heading for New South Wales Country. The Sol Padel owner said: “We’d be delighted to have The Bandeja readers at Sol Padel. If you’re travelling with a group we have a beautiful hotel here and, of course, we are based at the Thurgoona Golf Club, so we’d be delighted if people came across, played some padel, a bit of golf and just enjoyed Australia.” 🎾

Interested? Click here or check out Insta @solpadel.