How many of us are convinced that le padel was born at the dawn of the 2010s, at a time when the sport was experiencing some very slight tremors. What if I told you that in France, the story begins 20 years ago. That at the end of the 80s, a federation was created for the practice of padel. So, don't blame me, I'll go back to writing from yesteryear. So I said, a French Paddle Federation (FFP).
Few people know it, but this federation did indeed exist. Of course, today the padel was integrated by the French Tennis Federation (FFT) but in the last century, it was a very independent sport. Dive into the history of paddleboarding with me.
The arrival of padel, late 80s
Well, I'm going to insult you, but I'm going to tell you again: the padel was born in Mexico, early 70. The initiator of this sport is Enrique Corcuera. Not having enough space around his house for a tennis court, he built this strange court. Smaller dimensions, walls all around. A funny creature.
And then there is strange racket. A bit of a mix period wooden tennis racket and frying pan strewn with holes. THE padel was surprising, we cannot say the opposite. Even today, the few people who don't know this sport find this racket... special.
In 1974,, it's the prince Alfonso de Hohenlohe which exports this sport to Marbella, Spain. And the padel only arrived a few years later in France. It is no surprise, on the Spanish border, that the first club was born. The very first center of padel in France was created in 1992 in the city of Perpignan. (NB: In reality, the first club of padel would be that of Saint-Jean de Luz 1985 at Trinquet Anderenia)
Before 92, there was a man, Claude Baigts. He initiated the creation of the very first French Paddle Federation (FFP), in November 1989. He was one of the first to believe in this sport. And obviously he wasn't wrong.
The development of the times
Le padel does not have the success he can have today. But Claude Baigts and the entire FFP team do not lose hope. On the contrary, the slightest media coverage is the subject of a first step forward. TF1, France Info, RMC Sports, everyone is starting “slightly” to speak about this emerging, slightly strange sport, straight from our Iberian neighbors…
Even France 3 National talks about it, during an event which is still talked about today... The famous tournament of Little Aces, which is played in Tarbes, had promoted it via actions carried out by the FFP. A spotlight that could only do good for this federation.
Several FFP Departmental Centers were created in 1990: Blagnac-Toulouse, Perpignan, Castres, Arles. The following year, others joined the dance: Pau, Carcassonne, Saint-Vincent de Tyrosse and fifteen additional cities.
In 1990, during the Bridge of Generations, a track of padel had been mounted. Dorfman, the referee at Roland Garros, had to go get Yannick Noah et Stefan Edberg. Why ? Because they wanted to finish their Paddle set of course. And I understand them! The same evening, the company Snauwaert gives the FFP the racket of padel John Mc.Enroe.
Today, Claude Baigts, Pierre Lamouré and his teams organize the Intercontinental Club Cup every year. Padel within European Association of Clubs Padel.
The explosion in the 2010s
Le padel continued to develop, but in the shadows and anonymity. Few people knew about this sport. And the lands were very localized in the south of France… a bit like today in fact. You had to be a real insider or stumble upon it by chance.
Then, the Ministry of Sports will ask Lthe French Tennis Federation to integrate the padel in its statutes to form a large racquet sports house. In 2014,, there no longer exists a French paddle federation, nor a National Paddle League. Padel. Although the sport continues to persist and expand. In 2018, the first elected official in charge of padel FFT, Hubert Picquier, will launch the first major works around the padel.
Le padel explodes since COVID-19 in France as elsewhere. An outdoor sport, like tennis, it conquers hearts and players. Since then, the power of padel did his job. And the padel attracts more and more people, whatever the age group.
I'm not a soothsayer, I can't tell you what will happen to the padel of tomorrow. But I am convinced that good days await our beautiful sport. In any case, that's all we can wish for him... See you soon, on the slopes!
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.