Ksenia Sharifova is not a player well known to the general public and yet we find her more and more in the final tables of Premier Padel. This player also has a particularity: she is the only Russian player present on the circuit.

Discovered last year by the general public, the now teammate of Lucia Martinez placeholder image came to our microphone after her round of 16 loss to Gemma Triay et Claudia fernandez. She tells us her story.

Her new life as a player padel

I used to be a tennis player and I stopped. Now that I'm a player padel, I am truly grateful to have in this life.

The way in which Premier Padel organizes the tournaments is really good. It's magnificent, as we can see on the court here, there are a lot of people there, watching the matches, the organization is good. We have a lot of fun playing these kinds of tournaments.

Bordeaux could easily be a P1. The way it is organized is really great. We really like this place.

The only Russian player on the circuit

Being the only Russian player on the tour is a very strong feeling. I know that there are a lot of people in Russia who watch me, who know me. They call me often, they ask me about my experiences. I speak a lot with team managers in Russia.

I'm trying to develop the padel in Russia so I really feel like it's a job to be the first from my country and I hope that one day we will have more Russian players on the tour.

Finally, I feel a little special because there are so many Spaniards, Argentinians, Italians, French and I am the only one. That's why I feel special and why I consider it a job because I have the feeling that I must help my country to develop padel.

Bordeaux P2 Ksenia Sharifova

Le padel in Russia

Le padel has existed in Russia for years and there are a lot of new clubs, with lots of courts. The population greatly appreciates the padel. However, I think there is still a lack of training.

There are still quite a few coaches who give lessons, many of them go to Spain to learn how to teach people in Russia.

It's growing really quickly. A lot of people play, there are a lot of courts which fill up quickly. There are a lot of people playing in Moscow, St. Petersburg and the north of Russia.

There is a great club that has been set up, which is located in the middle of a shopping center. It's really great because there are a lot of people who are there, who are shopping and then they hear the padel so they come to see. So they sign up, they come and try. It's a great way to introduce people and a good method of marketing.

The lack of Russian players internationally

The sport is still young in the country. Many former tennis professionals still don't understand how they can make money with tennis. padel. It's difficult to make a living in Russia and they would have to move to Spain.

Few players are willing to leave everything behind and just go to train in Spain. They would have to start from scratch, learn the basics and the technique.

So yes, there are some coaches in Russia who teach padel to people but they still need time. There is a nice team that has been set up, with former tennis players. The problem, is that they still play tennis on the track.

I follow them, I watch their matches, I see their training and they improve very quickly. I think we can create a really good team, with a lot of big smashers.

His encounter with the padel

It's a very cool story, actually. I worked as a receptionist at my tennis club. Sometimes I would play tennis for fun. There was a coach, Marco Lucas, and he saw me playing tennis and he said to me, “oh, you know how to play tennis” and I told him yes, that I was a former professional tennis player.

He suggested that I play padel and I told him no. I had already played padel before and I didn't understand how to turn, how to defend the window. It was too complicated for me, it drove me totally crazy. He told me : "please let me train you for a month and I will teach you how to play“. He told me that with my background in tennis, my physique, I could learn very quickly and earn more money with padel than with my job as a receptionist.

His debut in the competition

I told him he was making fun of me... but after two or three training sessions, he showed me everything and I was proud of myself because I could defend. After a month, I played my first national tournament in Valencia. I felt, once again, this adrenalineThis rush to play in a tournament, when you are competing.

I told him that's what I wanted, that I missed it a lot. From then on, I started training more and more. I quit my job, my coach helped me with sponsors so I could pay for training and travel.

At the beginning, it was complicated because I couldn't enter the tournaments, I didn't have any points. I was lucky because the Valencian Federation allowed me to have wildcards for the World Padel Tour. From that moment on, I was able to win my first matches and earn my first points.

I did previas for months, I couldn't switch to previas. Then I managed to get in and stayed there for a long time. It's been a long journey, last year I was still in qualifying. This year, I'm lucky to play with Lucia Martinez and I can be in the Top 16 in the world pairs.

Lucia Martinez Ksenia Shafirova Bordeaux P2

Amsterdam, the revelation

I did an interview two months ago and the person asked me my best moment, the one where I felt the most emotions and I told him talked about this moment in Amsterdam. Before playing this match, we had very complicated matches in qualifying, with matches in three sets.

We arrived in the table facing to the Alayeto twins and we said to ourselves that we had to take advantage of this moment. But during the first set, we felt like we could win. Sometimes, you enter the field telling yourself that whatever you do, it will work. We had this feeling and we said to ourselves: “lets fight".

When we won, in three sets, it was crazy. It was such an incredible feeling. When we got back to the hotel, we lay down repeating to ourselves: “What did we just do?". We had just had the best match of our lives.

Marta [Borrero] is a player of padel since she was very young and she kept repeating: “I can't believe we beat the twins“. It's like I beat Maria Sharapova or Serena Williams. For Marta, it was an incredible moment in her life.

The many trips around the world

Having been a tennis player before makes me think that this schedule is not a problem for me. Previously, I played tournaments all over the world, far from home. It's hard sometimes financially, especially in South America where tickets are very expensive. But I find that the prize money on the Premier Padel are good, which allows us to pay for our tickets. Sponsors also help us a lot.

I don't find it hard to travel but I think it's complicated when the players don't get along because you have to think so much of the time with the same person. In South America there were times when some teams were tired of always being together.

After South America, some teams became stronger, more united… and others decided to separate, even from a coach sometimes.

If you want to see the entire interview, it's here:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kYsNkiH8BUk&ab_channel=PadelMagazine
Gwenaelle Souyri

It was his brother who one day told him to accompany him on a track. padel, since then, Gwenaëlle has never left the court. Except when it comes to going to watch the broadcast of Padel Magazine, World Padel Tour… or Premier Padel…or the French Championships. In short, she is a fan of this sport.