Headed to Serbia alongside Gracia Radovanovic. Returning to her country of origin a year ago, the former Top 25 in the French rankings has become a key piece in the development of padel in the Balkans.
Return to the origins and integration of padel in Serbia
“A year ago, I decided to leave everything and go back to live in my country of origin, Serbia, more precisely in Belgrade, the capital. Before taking this big turning point, I would like to point out that never, in France, had I considered teaching padel, nor to participate in its development. For me, having been a tennis player, and having devoted my entire life to it, I saw the padel more like a hobby, despite my training in Palavas with Valentin Durand and my ranking in the top 25.”
The evolution of padel in Serbia and my role in it
“When I arrived in Serbia, there were only two clubs padel. But a year after my return, the number of clubs increased significantly. Furthermore, it is surprising to note that despite this growing popularity, Serbia does not have a federation of padel. This regulatory void means that there are no standards for tournaments, no ranking of players. So it was like I was there at the very beginning of the sport in the country.
One of the anecdotes that I can share concerns the lack of organization in tournaments padel, coupled with this incredible ambient freshness. We have introduced P100 and P250, with financial grants reaching €500. However, there is no real ranking or seeding. The tables are drawn up by drawing lots. I am currently experiencing the beginnings of padel in Serbia. But, Frank, you know what I'm talking about! We forget it, but in France, not so long ago, there was almost nothing.”
My transition from player to teacher
“How did I become a teacher? By pure chance, during a tournament in Vamos Padel, a club from Belgrade. The club managers doubted my level, but after seeing the level of local play, they offered me an offer to teach beginners which I accepted. And so, I started teaching the basics of padel, because I repeat, I am not a teacher of padel training.”
Collaborations and sports development
“I met Djordje Mijailovic, the manager of Padel Centar, who is passionate about padel. He asked me to collaborate on the organization of Belgrade Padel Open, an event he had been planning for a long time. Little by little, the popularity of padel grew up in Serbia, but the level of play did not follow due to the lack of qualified coaches. This is why I called on my former coach, Valentin, to come and offer courses and raise the level.”
Promotion of padel and official recognition
“When I arrived in Serbia, there was no store dedicated to equipment padel. So I collaborated with Head France to open an online store. But the highlight was Belgrade Padel Open. This tournament, financed largely by the city, attracted players from different countries, including the French who won the title. And today the Ministry of Sports is ready to officially recognize the federation, paving the way for regulation and the possibility for Serbia to participate in international competitions.”
Franck Binisti discovers the padel at the Club des Pyramides in 2009 in the Paris region. Since padel is part of his life. You often see him touring France going to cover the major events of padel French.