Padel Tennis debuts in India, in Bengaluru on March 25
Ronnie Sehgal is joining the league of UK-based Murray. It isn’t surprising, considering that Ronnie himself is a huge sports addict, tennis player and coach. But the Murray we are referring to is neither Andy nor Jamie (international tennis players). Ronnie is following the footsteps of Tom Murray, founder of British padel.
The founder of Bulldog Sportz Pvt Ltd, Ronnie is all set to bring padel tennis to India. Padel tennis is a hybrid of tennis and squash. It has been moving up the popularity charts around Europe and the UK. In fact, the sport has superseded tennis and football as Spain’s most popular sport. “There have been many padel courts coming up in Spain in the last four years,” says Ronnie. “The simple reason being, it’s a social sport that is much easier and more fun to play. Spanish culture focuses on family time (a lot like the Indian society), so padel tennis is popular in Spain,” explains Ronnie.
A shot at India
Lately, Indians have been reclaiming the outdoors. From long-distance runs, local football clubs, to extreme endurance ultra races and mud track events, most are seeking options for leisure sports. But with space and track limitations and incidence of injury, it’s difficult to pursue a leisure sport for long. “That’s why padel tennis works for India. Usually people in their late 40s switch to golf to avoid any sort of injury. This game is such that anyone from an 18-year-old to an 80-year-old can play it and they can compete against each other,” emphasises Ronnie.
A doubles-only game, padel tennis is played with over-sized ping-pong-like paddles, on an artifical soft turf court that is 1/3rd the size of a usual tennis court, surrounded by walls. “Scoring is the same as tennis, the only difference is that in tennis, there is an overhead serve, in this, it is an underhand serve,” explains Ronnie.
Interestingly, Padel Tennis started as a game for the affluent class in Spain and has remained so. While there are many theories surrounding its origin, one that’s reported in international media is how in the late 1960s, a Mexican billionaire whose mansion wasn’t big enough for a full-size tennis court, created a smaller court within. That’s how it all began.
The sport is equally popular among men and women. “In Spain, you can see a lot of women carrying their sporting gear and heading to clubs for a game,” shares Sneha Sehgal, co-founder, Bulldog Sportz Pvt Ltd, who has been working with Ronnie to bring the sport to India.
It’s taken four years to get all the permissions and sanctions to open the first court in Bengaluru. “Coach Andres Stamile from Canada has specially flown to India to coach rookie players,” reveals Ronnie. Right now, all the courts will be set up only in Bengaluru. A one-hour session is priced at Rs 1,200 upwards (depending on the club fee). Paddles will be available at the court for those who want to give it a try.
At Play Arena, Sarjapur Road. Details: 9900097604