Sports collaboration delivers padel to Aberdeen
by RJ Mitchell
LTA president Sandi Procter believes the creation of the Aberdeen Padel Tennis Centre will be just the start of a roll-out of padel courts across Scotland.
Award-winning charity Sport Aberdeen is behind the opening of the city’s first padel courts after the Lawn Tennis Association provided the charity with a six-figure interest free loan to bring the project to life.
And with Tennis Scotland playing a key part in helping implement the LTA’s padel development programme north of the border, court numbers may almost double to 30 by the end of the calendar year.
Sandi has a strong affinity to the Granite City having spent two spells in residence in the North East at the iconic Cults Lawn Tennis Club, where she coached many of the best tennis players the area has produced in the last 40 years.
At the official opening of the centre’s Padel Tech-installed canopied courts, her affection for Aberdeen was clear as she launched the UK’s most northerly padel facilities in tandem with Sport Aberdeen Chairman Tony Dawson, who 50 years ago won the last North East of Scotland grass court tennis championship on the very same spot.
Sandi said: “It’s enormously important for the LTA to start establishing padel courts in Scotland as we want to make padel as accessible as we can. We need to have as many courts within driving distance and walking distance as possible, for example I’ve heard of a female player in Aberdeen (Game4Padel Tour competitor Karen Crawford) who goes all the way to Edinburgh to play. We really have to get it near people and of course these superb courts at the Aberdeen Padel Tennis Centre are brilliant in that they have a canopy over them.”
Sandi, who announced her LTA presidency with a picture of herself playing padel, added: “It’s a game that speaks for itself as it’s naturally enjoyable, naturally sociable, and naturally easy to learn. Once we have the infrastructures in as many places as we can it will just grow of itself. Aberdeen is very important to the North East of Scotland as a region and this development is vital in that respect. Now we need to start developing more centres around Scotland.”
The opening ceremony, to which The Bandeja was invited, was attended by more than 30 members of the area’s great and good who were treated to an exhibition match featuring Tennis Scotland CEO Blane Dodds and a selection of local coaches.
The two new padel courts are adjacent to the charity’s Aberdeen Tennis Centre in Westburn Park, operating within the North East Tennis District. They are the 17th and 18th (LTA figures) to be constructed in Scotland. At present Edinburgh has the greatest number of courts. West of Scotland Padel in North Ayrshire is an established club
Padel offers a unique and exciting future and is becoming increasingly popular in Scotland.
Tennis Scotland CEO Blane Dodds
Sport Aberdeen is providing equipment including padel rackets and balls for customers and members who wish to play. The charity’s chairman Tony Dawson said: “We are so excited to bring this fast-paced, social sport to the city – thanks to the Lawn Tennis Association for the financial support which has made it possible. I have played padel for a few years now in Spain – having witnessed the growing popularity of the sport across Europe we decided it was time to introduce this offering to the north-east. Padel tennis is suitable for anyone to play, so if you are reading this we strongly encourage you to come along and have a go for yourself.”
Padel v squash
Interestingly Sandi, herself a fine former squash player, believes that padel will prevail in the long run where squash, which experienced a similar boom in the 1970s, has dwindled dangerously in participation numbers. She has no doubt about the reasons behind that: “I think the climate is different to when squash boomed. When that happened there weren’t as many sports and activities available and now there are loads more for people in general. It’s also likely to sustain its popularity slightly better than squash because it is easier and not as demanding physically. At the very top level padel is demanding but even a recreational squash player can put their health in a little bit of danger by going mad whereas at recreational level in padel that isn’t likely to happen.”
Padel v tennis
Tennis Scotland CEO Blane Dodds believes padel will co-exist to mutual benefit alongside tennis: “Padel will help our tennis clubs and venues across Scotland further engage with their members, attract new members and offer increased options for our local communities. As a sport padel offers a unique and exciting future and is becoming increasingly popular in Scotland as we continue to work with venues and operators to maximise opportunities for growth.” 🎾