Tia gears up for hot weekend of padel
by Chief Writer RJ Mitchell
Tia Norton has admitted that she faces the most gruelling weekend of padel in her career as she prepares for a ‘double whammy’ of fixtures in the US Professional Padel League at the Sarah Vande Berg Tennis & Wellness Center on Florida’s Sports Coast this weekend.
The GB No 1 will face sweatshop conditions with humidity riding at 55% and temperatures of around 34° as she gets ready to face the ironically named Toronto Polar Bears on Saturday before lining up to play the Cancun Waves on Sunday.
All this comes after Tia and her Las Vegas Smash team mates managed to edge Arkansas Matrix 2-1 in their opening fixture last weekend. Yet while momentum is with the first lady of GB padel, handling the heat will potentially provide the 19-year-old with her toughest opponent this weekend.
Speaking to The Bandeja, Tia said: “I am getting used to the climate, playing on Saturday we played right in the prime of the heat and we had to use ice towels and electrolyte drinks but the climate is just something else and definitely not the most comfortable.
“It was 34° and the humidity was up at 55%. I don’t know how much I had to drink on Saturday but it was quite ridiculous trying to stay hydrated!
“Dealing with all of that has been something new but it is all about making sure you take care of the details and this is something I am learning -fast!”
Last weekend Tia and partner Ana De La Pena lost out in an epic opening match against a true legend of padel in four-time former world champion Cata Tenorio in a deciding third set tie-break 7-5. But despite that Las Vegas smashed it in the end and the GB No 1 believes team spirit got her side through the opener.
Tia said: “I just really enjoyed the experience and the team has bonded really well and everyone supported each other and I think that is what got us through on Sunday.
“We really came together as a team and everyone helped support everyone else and that made a difference. And, of course, that is crucial in close matches that go to the wire.”
When it comes to standards Tia has no doubt that the US PPL’s debut season has already provided a level of quality that is as good as anything she has come across.
The GB No 1 said: “The level here is very, very high and I can’t really compare it to say an LTA Grade One. We have former World No 1s playing, the best players in North America and there are a couple of World Padel Tour players – one was main draw and has just retired. The level is very competitive and I am very pleased to be here, the environment is superb.
“Obviously I am only used to playing in Europe so I am exposing myself to a whole new game, different tactics and a different padel culture. If I had to compare it to anything I would say it is World Padel Tour level; you’ve got former World No 1s and they don’t just lose their level. Their quality is still unbelievably high and consistent and it is great for me to get the chance to match up against these legends.
“Tactically last week against Cata (Tenorio) she was on another level, she just knew where the ball was going before I hit it! I would try and move her around but it was like she was always a step ahead. I guess Cata has years and years of being in these situations and she is also an absolute warrior.” 🎾