Alexise Duchêne, initially a tennis player, began her transition to padel alongside his partner Charlyne Tonda. She explains to us how she was able to go from 97th to 13th place in the French rankings in just two years.
His story with padel
“It all started a little by chance in 2019. Friends of my partner were Aficionados du padel and invited him to join them for a game. He suggested that I accompany him, and, being a tennis player, I seized the opportunity to discover this sport. Afterwards, I still continued to play tennis, I practiced padel truly leisure. We met once a week to exchange a few balls, in a purely playful spirit. Then there was COVID in 2020, which disrupted my sporting habits and as a result my return to tennis proved complicated.
I started playing tennis at the age of 5, and subsequently devoted many years to the sport. Having reached the ranking of -15, I can attest to the investment and rigor that this requires. However, over time, I realized that I no longer found myself in this discipline. Married life and the responsibilities that come with it made it difficult to maintain such an intense commitment, especially with traveling alone every weekend. Tennis, despite its joys, can be a lonely journey, and I gradually realized that I didn't want it anymore. As a result, little by little, I turned towards padel. This transition happened almost naturally, and to my great surprise, the padel started to really please me.”
From 97th to 13th French in two years
“I started playing in December 2022 alongside Charlyne Tonda, who is still my partner to this day. I firmly believe that this collaboration is the key to my rapid progress. Indeed, the “challenge of padel”, which is also one of its strengths, lies in the fact that registration for tournaments depends on the combined ranking of the pair.
And I had a ranking that was not very high and as long as I did not have a partner who had a good ranking, I entered relatively far into tournaments and was quickly faced with top seeds. And from the moment I was with Charlyne who was very well ranked, we were able to enter tournaments more easily and both progress. Before playing with her, with my ranking, I didn't even fit in the P2000, and now we are seeded!
I think what I found in the padel, it's about having fun, sharing moments with people I adore. Charlyne has become a friend, we also train a lot with my partner. For me it's more almost the fact of having fun that made me progress. I want to play all the time, it’s very fun!”
His areas of progress?
“I should take training with teachers I think. When you come from tennis, you still have good foundations, even if only on the fly, and it's a bit of a trap because you have the impression that you don't necessarily have too much need to train. Whereas when you get into the Top 20, if you don't train, you won't get there anymore.
I don't have a coach who follows me, I don't have a physical trainer, I don't have a mental trainer. I work next to the padel, and Charlyne too so we don't have a lot of time but we play a lot of games together. We’re lucky to live more or less in the same place and we train at least twice a week together.”
The future with Charlyne
“I plan to stay with Charlyne, it’s not even a discussion. We both really evolved together. She was “kind enough” to welcome me with my ranking lower than hers and we get along very well whether on or off the field. Frankly I think we are very lucky to have found each other, we already knew each other a little from tennis but the padel brought us closer. When we spend weekends together, when we spend hours in transport to go to tournaments, it is in our interest to get along well with our partner.”
His next tournaments
“We are going to participate in the P1500 in Bordeaux and have made a list of tournaments in which we plan to participate together. Initially, the idea was to give everyone the freedom to engage in other competitions with a different partner. However, we always end up playing together, our bond on the field being so strong that the idea of separating does not even occur to us. We take part in all the P2000 and P1500, without forgetting the French Pairs Championships and the Interclubs. We are also open to a few P1000s, as long as they are not too far away. My personal life plays a major role in organizing my sports calendar. I have a partner who has two children and that obviously has an important place in my life: I don’t do everything I want, I don’t go away every weekend.”
“My partner is a big fan of padel, and together we follow the FIP tournaments. Recently, we have noticed an increasing presence of French players in these competitions, as well as French female players, who, despite being lower ranked than us, are also participating. This made us realize that embarking on an adventure could be within our reach with Charlyne. However, managing this with our respective jobs represents a real organizational challenge. But why not do a FIP this year as long as it's not too far away.
Charlyne and I are not the pretentious type, but reaching 13th place in the French ranking naturally leads us to consider new possibilities. Of course, the idea of quitting our job is not an option. It is inspiring to see players from the French team, like Jessica Ginier and Lucile Pothier, who manage to reconcile professional careers and high-level competitions. THE padel offers this unique opportunity of not having to sacrifice everything to succeed, at least at the national level. I am not talking here about the international circuit, where commitment must be total, like Carla Touly, whose journey is admirable, but involves sacrifices.
With Charlyne, we find ourselves at the gates of the French top 10, and the idea of being able to participate in the French team training course is seriously starting to germinate in our minds. This would represent an incredible opportunity to push our limits even further.”
I would like to express my deep gratitude to a few key people who played an essential role in my journey. First of all, a huge thank you to Yannick Quignon, for introducing me to the padel. I must also send a special thought to my companion for being so passionate and following me in this project I also thank Charlyne Tonda, for being such an awesome partner and friend. Finally, I would like to thank the brand Wilson, my sponsor. Their material support and their confidence in my potential are valuable assets.
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