When we told you that the padel attracted players from all walks of life, we kid you not: Léa Van Der Zwalmen (282e), world number 2 in palm tennis plays in these Interclubs N1 2024 for Big Padel. And she has just won her first meeting!
At 28, Léa wears many hats… or rather multi-rackets. She who started with squash at a very young age found herself playing tennis and the passion was born. Today, she added a string to her racket: player of padel to become.
His beginnings in the game of palm
Basically, I am a squash player. I started at the age of 8 and for 10 years I played in Toulouse. Afterwards, I had the chance to move to England and I did an equivalent of the BAC in an English school. And they had a tennis court on campus.
They came to pick me up and told me that with my squash background, I absolutely had to try this sport. What I have done, I loved and, in 2017, once my junior years were over, I devoted myself completely to playing tennis.
It's a very different sport and, at the same time, at the origin of all racquet sports. It's a bit of a padel XXL because it is a 30m by 10m court with old wooden tennis rackets and a fairly heavy ball.
I really liked the challenge of having to relearn everything, whether it be the technique or the strategic aspect which is very present in this game.
Since 2017, I challenged myself to go and titillate the world number 1 who is a bit like Serena Williams. So, after three hours of training for a year, I went from world number 20 to number 2.
Today, I am based in Bordeaux and I am president of the tennis club. I play less today with work but the objectives are still there: win a first title for France since the 50s.
His arrival in the padel
For a year and a half, I've been answering calls from friends to go play here and there padel. And I take a lot of pleasure to go there.
I am very happy to participate in these French team championships. It's true that having competed in the French Squash Championships, then in Jeu de Paume and now padel, it's a great experience.
I firmly believe that all these racquet sports are complementary. When I play tennis, I am convinced that it helps my padel and vice versa. It works on different aspects of the game.
I started playing padel in Bordeaux, during the summer, outdoors. It was a change for me because the tennis game is played exclusively indoors and it's sometimes frustrating when there's a bright sun outside. Step by step, I got spotted and I got involved in P250s, P500s and sometimes in slightly tougher tournaments.
But where I have the most fun is in mixed doubles. I play with a great friend, Thomas Lagarde. We travel a little bit, we earn points, even if in the end, I don't necessarily take it very seriously.
His presence at Interclubs
Despite everything, I must admit that having gradually climbed the ranks to reach the French championships, it's quite incredible. It makes me want to free up more time to get really serious about it!
In these interclubs, I'm amazed, I'm like a kid! The atmosphere is crazy. Having men and women playing at the same time makes it possible to see incredible matches. JI recognize quite a few stars that I admired in the P2000 and I am here to gain as much experience as possible and above all, to spend a great weekend with my friends.
You can follow the rest of these interclubs, live and in full, on Padel MagTV.
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.