Waiting lists for aspiring padel players have been mounting to six years in some cases as the sport becomes more popular.
Interest in the sport, which has elements of tennis and squash, has “soared” since the pandemic, Benoit Gilissen, manager of tennis club umbrella organisation KNTLB, told RTL Nieuws.
There are currently 500 locations which offer padel facilities, double the number compared to four years ago. A hundred of them have waiting lists while others are not taking on new members at all.
In 2019, some 550,000 people played padel and/or tennis at one of the 334 tennis and padel clubs. Three years later the number of players had gone up to 630,000, figures from the KNTLB show.
Some 100,000 people reserve time on a padel court via the KNTLB online platform at one of the 166 commercial centres which offer padel facilities.
The surge in interest has resulted in a shortage of padel courts. Waiting lists for aspiring padel players are particularly common in the big cities, Gillissen said. “Waiting times of up to two years ears are normal in Amsterdam, Rotterdam, Haarlem, Leiden, The Hague, Utrecht and Tilburg. They are even longer at popular clubs,” he said.
Padel instructor Stef Rigaux, who introduced the sport at TPV de Doordraaiers club in Houten, where waiting times can run to six or seven years, said the sport is popular because it has a low threshold. “It’s easier than tennis. I can explain it in 10 minutes. Games are short which attracts young people who have little time. Play for an hour and you have let off steam,” he said.
Padel is also more sociable, he said. “You’re quite near to your fellow players. You’re not going to talk to your tennis partner. And tennis is a more serious sport, with strict rules. Padel is more lighthearted.”
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