Former high-level squash player, Benoît Letourneau has now entered the world of padel. Involved in the creation of a structure of padel based near Montpellier, GM Squash & Padel, this experienced squash coach talks with us about his career and the direction he would like the padel take in this period of expansion.

GM Squash & Padel Benoit Letourneau Kevin Milla Jerome Cortes

First contact with the padel

I was No. 15 French in squash. Without performing at a high level, I was good. I immediately turned to teaching. I started coaching very early, left with the Federation and ended up in charge of Pole for 20 years. What interests me is developing the practice among young people.

I was coaching a young girl who played at the Pyramids, so I discovered the padel over there. Then I stopped Pole, I went south to Montpellier to set up a high-level center, but it only lasted one season. Next, Kevin Milla (editor’s note: former professional rugby player) asked me to continue to develop squash in its structure (GM Squash), we had a good dynamic. What drives me is developing, animating, and everything related to events. And in the padel, there are plenty of things to do with very young people.

Children and teaching

At Le Mans, I had more than 70 young people aged four to seven, I could have had more, but I lacked the initiators to follow them. There are few activities for the minis, so the goal is to train in several disciplines at the same time and then have the choice to continue towards the competition with the right teacher within the structure, whether either squash or padel. When we have had them since they were little, and they know who they are dealing with, the relationship is much more frank, fairer and richer.

I don't have the impression that there is a big ambition with toddlers in the padel, when there is so much to do. There is incredible enthusiasm, it's unheard of, and yet I have the feeling that we are wasting time. I tell them “don't make the same mistake as in squash where you didn't know how to take the right doors at the right time”. We have to be avant-garde.

The priority is to engage the schools of Lunel-Viel and Lunel to welcome a younger audience and introduce them to the practice of racket sports. This is a very important area. We will use the educational policy of the French Squash Federation to integrate the mini-padel.

The goal is to create a multi-racquet school and try to have a hundred young people within three years, that would be great! Children could progress more quickly by learning to play with the windows in squash and gaining power in padel.

Padel and squash

I think these are two compatible activities. Being passionate about squash, I love it padel – I did another tournament this weekend – which is more suitable for me today. I'm not saying that it's only for people who no longer want to run, but in squash where you're one against one, it's clear that the energy expenditure is intense.

Le padel in Hérault

In the Occitanie region and particularly in the Hérault department, it's great, we have seven clubs with more than 500 licensees, including the Palavas club which has a big competitive dynamic, but each has its niches. There are courses that open all the time, municipal clubs that build slopes…

Afterwards it's like everywhere: there will be good private clubs, less good private clubs. If there is competition, it will pull everyone up and we will offer more quality, more atmosphere, more entertainment. We must be with each other, not against.

The GM Squash & Project Padel

It is a club with three squash courts which will move to Lunel-Viel, 15 minutes from Montpellier. We will go from three to five squash courts, and we will therefore have three squash courts. padel indoor. We are currently negotiating to have the land opposite to be able to build four outdoor tracks in a second phase, within six months or a year.

GM Squash é Padel Room

We plan to open in three months around mid-July, the exterior building is almost finished. We were delivered in padel last week, the pitches should be set up in 15 days. We are planning an inauguration with elected officials in September.

The restaurant was an opportunity to bring my wife down from Le Mans to come to Montpellier and take care of the room, she who is a trained medical secretary. We have restaurateur friends who told us: “ getting involved in this kind of project at 55, you must be crazy! ". But hey, you have to be a little crazy in life (laughs)!

I will only take care of the squash part and the minis at padel at the training level. We'll have to find a teacher padel who adheres to our vision and who invests in our ambition.

To summarize there will be five squash courts, three tennis courts padel, a pilates room, a seminar room and a restaurant. If we manage to install the four exterior tracks, it will be an interesting challenge because they will have to be filled!

GM Squash & Padel
Martin Schmuda

A competitive tennis player, Martin discovered the padel in 2015 in Alsace and appeared in a few tournaments in Paris. Today a journalist, he deals with current affairs padel while continuing its rise in the world of the little yellow ball!