Former professional player Willy Lahoz spoke to our colleagues at Legal Sports. This legend of padel, who is now trying to spread our sport in South Africa, gives his opinion on many interesting topics. Excerpts.

The evolution of padel

“Before there was Juan Martín Díaz, who played very advanced, and at first you thought it was luck, but then you saw that he blocked all the balls. Now there is Chingotto, Paquito, Tapia, Coello… all the players today play in a square meter at crazy speed and with crazy reflexes. We notice that the sport is moving to another level!”

“In tennis, which is the number 1 racquet sport, if you have someone serving at 224 km/h, it's mission impossible to return. At padel, there are players who bring the ball into their court from the back of the court and sometimes you play under pressure because you cannot make lobs. That's why I'm a big fan of players like Chingotto, who without these resources, are capable of doing great things.

We are heading towards super athletes. The players are getting stronger and taller, the racket materials are always of better quality... We have to do something so that, as Paquito said, there are parts of the season on slower tracks.

In tennis, I always preferred the gladiatorial battle on clay to the “pim, pam, poom” of Wimbledon. When I started, the player was subjected to a lot of physical exertion which could even end up injuring him, because he didn't have the weapons to finish the points.

“You have to think about all the possibilities: the racket, the balls, the surface… The best of padel is the strategy it involves, seeing what decisions players make when they start to get worn down. We have to think about all aspects of the game to make it still attractive and allow it to continue to gain fans.”

Outdoor professional tournaments

“I think the players don't like it. On the Premier Padel, we see some surprises because of that and it's nice, but I don't think the best people like it very much. People who pay their entrance fee should see the padel in the best conditions."

“Indoors you lose the glamor of clubs like Club de Campo, Chamartín or Alameda where we played, but you have phenomenal comfort and the feeling that if you fail, you are the one who fails.”

His best memories

“I have a lot of good memories, like the Spanish championship that I won with Raúl Arias. With Marcello Jardim, I also have unforgettable tournaments, like an international at Club de Campo which we won and which was a bit of our consecration. The world championship that I won with Juani Mieres was also very special, as was the team championship with Paquito, where I felt that I was passing the torch to a player who was going to make history, and who also is a person of exceptional human quality.”

“The two tournaments with Bela were a bit of a gift because my career was marked by staying at Santander, which greatly limited my possibilities of forming competitive pairs. When the best player in the world called me, it was an opportunity to reaffirm myself and take advantage of it, in addition to demonstrating once again the talent of Belasteguín, capable of winning with a partner of already advanced age.

Nobody thought we were going to win, even if we believed we would because a few months before we had beaten Paquito and Lima in straight sets. With Bela, you always aim for the best, because you know that the first rule is respected, he will never betray you. If your shots are fair and you have confidence, you know you're going to enjoy it. And that's what happened."

Can Bela take the record for oldest player to win a major tournament?

Bela is capable of anything. He has it in mind because he's a man of records, and if there's anyone who deserves it, it's him. I wish there were many like him.

Xan is a fan of padel. But also rugby! And his posts are just as punchy. Physical trainer of several padel, he unearths atypical posts or deals with topical subjects. It also gives you some tips to develop your physique for the padel. Clearly, he imposes his offensive style as on the field of padel !