‘Shell-shocked’ padel twin lifts first major title

Rising teenage padel star Cameron Gomes hopes winning his maiden LTA Grade 2 title will inspire him to greater success. Neil Goulding reports.

The highly-rated Guernsey teenager dazzled alongside mentor and Team GB player Nikhil Mohindra to win the Padel Tournament UK Grade 2 event at Rocket Padel, Ilford, earlier this month.

And no wonder the 16-year-old is hungry for more success having proved his calibre to become one of the youngest players to win a Grade 2. Speaking exclusively to The Bandeja, Cameron said: “I honestly didn’t think I’d win a title this early in my career.”

He usually plays alongside twin brother Luke, with the pair aptly known as the ‘Padel Twinz’. But Luke injured tendons in his hand before the tournament and mentor Nikhil, the GB No 3, stepped in as a late replacement.

“I actually thought I was going to win first with Luke, winning a final with him and going from there,” added Cameron. “But it’s fine, me and him will get there and win something together. We’re working hard, training hard and hopefully it (a title) will come.

“But what I’ve achieved has sunk in now, it’s just amazing. I was just so honoured to play with Nikhil. He’s mentoring me and Luke through our journey. We know how lucky we are to have him helping us, it’s such an honour to have him by our side, helping us with our careers. We have a good bond between us all, which really helps.”

Both Nikhil, Cameron and Luke are with management company R3 Sport. Chairman Jonathan Rowland described the win as a ‘major milestone’ for the teenager, adding: “It is also a major milestone for R3 Sport in our focus on identifying promising British youth players and supporting their development within padel.”

The PadelTwinz Cameron and Luke Gomes.

Bewley/Cull highlight

Cameron and Nikhil impressed by winning five matches to the take the crown in East London, combining well to beat some strong competition.

They started the tournament in style with a convincing 6-2 6-4 victory over Joshua Seth Kashdan and Romain Luquet, followed by a battling 6-7 6-3 10-7 win against Albert Gibbs and Steve Zahui in the next round.

On a roll, the duo then thumped Oliver Hayday and Oscar Warneryd 6-1 6-2, before a nerve-jangling deciding set 6-3 2-6 11-9 semi-final triumph over GB No 8 Jake Bewley and former tennis player Olly Cull.

“Beating them was probably the highlight of the tournament,” reflected Cameron. “They’re both top ten UK players, it was such an amazing experience to play against them.”

But the best was yet to come as Cameron and Nikhail sparkled in the final with a resounding 6-4 6-3 win over Tom Hands and Christopher Kindred.

“I was just shell-shocked we’d won to be honest,” admitted Cameron. “I just said to myself ‘have I just beaten these guys?’. “I’d been watching them through so many tournaments before and was always thinking to myself ‘imagine playing against them’. So to beat them was like ‘wow, that was weird!’”

Understandably the ‘winning-feeling’ is something Cameron would love to experience again. And he hopes his success at such a young age will lead to greater things in the sport.

“My confidence has definitely gone up, it really has hit me what I’ve achieved,” he added.

“You’ve just got to belief, hey? I’ll keep working hard, it just goes to show you can achieve whatever you want if you put your mind to it.”

Cameron and Luke – selected for the GB youth squad, sponsored by Bullpadel and currently studying for their GCSEs – used to play hockey but discovered padel during the Covid-19 lockdown when team sports ground to halt. Their father Rick introduced them to the game and it wasn’t long before they were making waves.

“We picked it up pretty quickly,” said Cameron. “In hockey you’ve always got to stay pretty low and be on your toes, which is the same purpose in padel with all the moves.

“Hopefully now me and Luke can win something. We play really well together and spur each other on, we love playing padel together. We’d love to get into the GB senior squad at some stage, that’s also a big ambition.” 🎾