The story begins with Mexican Enrique Corcuera who came up with the sport at home in Acapulco in 1969. Although similar sports are said to have been played on cruise ships as early as the 1920s, Corcuera is widely regarded as the father of modern padel. Corcuera had a small tennis court in his home, surrounded by a great deal of vegetation. To ensure that the trees and plants wouldn’t invade his court, he had walls built around the edges. Years later, however, it’s said that the real reason Corcuera built the walls was because his neighbor’s property was just on the other side of the court; the players found it annoying to constantly run over to the neighbor to pick up any errant balls.
While playing games with friends, however, they realized that it was rather fun to let the ball hit the wall and then to continue playing. Thus, the seed of the idea was born.
For his birthday, Enrique Corcuera received a very special gift from his wife — she had created a rulebook for the sport, which at that time was known as Paddle Corcuera or Paddle Tennis. This would become the first formalized set of rules for the game.
Padel spreads to Argentina and Spain
Corcuera had a Spanish friend, Prince Alfonso de Hohenlohe, who often came to visit; the prince quickly became hooked on the fun new sport that he played with Corcuera. He liked the sport so much that he had the first dedicated padel courts built at the historic Hotel Marbella Club.
Marbella was host to many Argentine horse polo practitioners that would come visit the club as they became increasingly attached to the new racket sport. Among the players was millionaire Julio Menditenguia who took the sport home to Argentina where he had his own courses built. The sport thus spread in both Spain and Argentina — and the rest is, as they say, history.
Today, padel is today one of the biggest sports in Spain and Argentina in terms of the number of players. It is also played extensively in other countries such as Brazil, Portugal, and Italy. In other parts of the world the sport is growing like never before — in many parts of Europe and the US it is among the fastest growing sports.
World Padel Tour
Even though the sport has existed since the 70’s, it took many years before padel became the tour de force that it is today. In 2012, the World Padel Tour was formed that hosts numerous tournaments. Other professional tournaments are played in Spain and Argentina along with other countries such as Brazil, Mexico, Italy, Sweden, the US and the UK.