Morgan Mannarino, French No. 22, and Lander Gabilondo, No. 3 from Gipuzkoa, met in the Spanish Basque Country, at the initiative of Sports Prestige. They will meet again in mid-July for a course that they will run together in San Sebastian.

The meeting between Mannarino and Gabilondo

In the Basque Country, opportunities to meet French and Spanish people around a track padel are not that numerous, while practitioners, on both sides of the border, are only separated by a few kilometers. Between Hendaye and Irun, you just have to cross the bridge to find yourself in Spain. This Thursday, May 9, thanks to Sport Prestige, which organizes training courses padel on the “other side”, as they say here, two of the best players from the French and Spanish Basque Country must meet: on the right Morgan Mannarino, French n°22, teaching in Saint-Jean-de-Luz and Tarnos, at left Lander Gabilondo, number 3 of Gipuzkoa, the province of San Sebastián, and sports director of BPX Sport.

The two coaches will lead a training course together padel, signed Sport prestige, in San Sebastian, from July 18 to 20, 2024. “In fact, it’s a great opportunity to meet,” says Morgan Mannarino, “to make connections, because it’s true that in our respective schedules, between court hours and tournaments on the weekend, we don't have the opportunity to meet each other. » Lander Gabilondo, former professional football player at Real Sociedad, confirms: “It was the only date in our schedule at the beginning of May! »

This Ascension Thursday, while San Sebastian, one of the most beautiful cities in Spain, is full of French tourists, the two coaches of padel preferred to have an important tournament before each and called on “friends” to take part in the friendly, but gala, match! Before going to the Caen tournament, Morgan's usual partner, Matthieu Armagnac, French n°19, came to neighboring Arcachon, where he is the coach of Padel touch. He will team up with Unaï Legarda.

The Biarrot Jean-Noël Insausti, French n°99, is associated with Pedro Etxarri, the Gipuzkoa n°1, unofficial double of Marco Verratti. The two French will play on the right, and the Spanish, on the left. “They usually play on the right, but that's not a problem for them, in Spain we're used to playing on both sides,” Lander said.

Morgan confirms: “In France, it's different, players at this level like to stick to one position, I play on the left with Matthieu, who, it's also true, is left-handed, so I don't have too much the choice (smile). There, it's nice, we'll see how the players approach the meeting, certainly friendly, but in the first exchanges, I see that it's serious and that it plays quickly. »

“He could have gone pro”

A hard-lived cliché suggests that in Spain, we play more slowly. Whatever the level. “For us, even with the intermediate players, we try to take stock quickly, during the courts, we try to make them slow down and keep the ball in the court,” says Morgan. At a high level, things are now happening very quickly, on both sides, among the French and the Spaniards. »

The meeting is physical, the four players multiply the long exchanges, Armagnac's left paw causes a sensation, while Etxarri shows the extent of his talent. “He could have gone pro, it didn’t matter much,” confides Lander. Morgan agrees: “He plays very, very well, touch and power, it's clean. » The two duos went blow for blow, until the tie-break won by Insausti/Etxarri after an anthology point, worthy of the pro circuit.

The spectators who came to discover “the” match applaud the last exchanges and the smile can be seen on the faces of the players. “It’s great, we’re having a blast,” says Jean-Noël. The second set will be one-sided, for the winners of the tie-break. Insausti and Etxarri are evolving a tone above. “It’s always interesting to play with partners you don’t know, especially from a different country; we have to talk to each other, understand each other and make tactical adjustments live,” judges Armagnac. Morgan Mannarino and Lander Gabilondon took the opportunity to discuss their future internship as a duo. And promised to meet on a padel, when their schedule allows them…

Internship in padel Prestige sport with Morgan Mannarino and Lander Gabilondo in San Sebastián, from July 18 to 20, 2024. Information and registration on www.sport-prestige.fr or by phone at the 06 82 67 23 12.