While in mid-October in Las Vegas will take place the senior world championships more (+35, +40, +45, +50 and +55 years), Padel Magazine looked at the age pyramid of French competitors and the national and world elite. With a small question in mind: the padel is it a sport of "old"?
First of all, let's take a look at the elite tricolor, so the members of the top 10. For women, the average age of the top ten is 31,9 years. The youngest player in the top 5 is Lea Godallier who, at 26, is half the age of Géraldine Sorel, 52 years old and 6e French! Fiona Ligi, 22, is in 10th place.
Among men, the top 10 is more homogeneous, with an average age of 32,8 years : the youngest player is Bastien Blanqué, 26 years old, oldest Simon Boissé, 38 years old. Only two of the top ten are under 30.
Belasteguin and Marrero, deans of the top 10
Go to the top 10 of the World padel tour, where the average age is 30,4 years among the gentlemen and 30,6 years among the ladies. The older ones are Fernando Belasteguin (42 years old) for men and Marta Marrero (38 years old) for the ladies. The youngest are Agustin Tapia (22) and Bea Gonzalez (she will be 20 in November).
If we compare with tennis, two “great alumni” of almost 40 years still rank among the best in the world: Roger Federer is 9th at ATP and Serena Williams 16e of the WTA. But both save themselves by playing only a few rare tournaments with the mad hope of growing their legend. Unfortunately without much success: Federer's last Grand Slam title dates back to 2018, that of Williams dates back to 2017. But you should know that a Grand Slam victory implies winning no less than seven matches (best of five sets at gentlemen!) - a very heavy physical ordeal.
As for padel on the other hand, Fernando Belasteguin is still world No. 3 (he was No. 1 from 2002 to 2018), participates in all tournaments, wins a lot, and seems determined to play for several more years. Marta Marrero is she 9e world: it was at 1er rank in 2020 and nothing says that she will not find it.
The French top 500 drowned by the over 40s
But let's lower the level a little to take an interest in the 13 French rankings and in particular the 000 best players in this ranking. Among the gentlemen, 162 of the top 500 are over 40, or almost one in three players (-32,4%). The best forty-something is the native Alsatian Jean-Michel Pequery 13e tricolor at 43!
Fifty-year-olds are less numerous, but there are still 39 in the top 500, i.e. -7,8% of this group. And the two best ranked are respectively 92e and 93e French at the ages of 50 and… 57! Hats off to these gentlemen, who will recognize themselves ...
Finally, at 61, a player from the Occitanie league points to 443e place: it is the only sexagenarian of the top 500 for men!
233 of the 500 best French women are 40 years old and over
In the ladies' category, on the other hand, there are no less than five players over 60 in the 500. The best of them is ranked 110.e and plays in New Aquitaine.
Still among the top 500 French people, the over 50s number 77, or nearly one in six players. The brightest of them, it has been said, is nothing less than 10e French at 52! More globally, -46,6% of the top 500 are over 40, or 233 females.
Le padel feminine, based more on precision and endurance than on explosive power, thus allows to shine until ages which command respect. Moreover, the two oldest women in the top 500 are 67 and 68 years old!
The youngest are almost absent
The observation also applies to the padel masculine, where experience, the science of placement and the good management of the key moments of a match compensate for a power and a speed of movement that declines over the years. The fact that this sport is played in doubles, on a ground three times smaller than a tennis court, is obviously not foreign to this longevity.
And the fact that nearly 40% of male and female players padel of the top 500 are over 40 years old is perhaps not unrelated to tennis, of which many followers are diversifying or retraining in the practice of padel, less traumatic and more fun.
We can therefore confirm that the padel is a sport which allows the "old ones" to shine for a long time!
The flip side of this coin is an unbalanced age pyramid, where the youngest are almost absent from the French rankings. Indeed, we only count 7 boys and 6 girls under 18 in the top 500. This shows the way for significant development potential for young French players, the day when tournaments and interclubs will be reserved for them.
After 40 years of tennis, Jérôme falls into the pot of padel in 2018. Since then, he thinks about it every morning while shaving… but never shaves pala in hand! Journalist in Alsace, he has no other ambition than to share his passion with you, whether you speak French, Italian, Spanish or English.