From the fields to the slopes, there is only one step. More than a month after the victories of Rafael Nadal and Iga Swiatek at Roland-Garros, the padel is in turn at the party. The French Tennis Federation (FFT) organizes the first major padel tournament in France, Porte d’Auteuil, from Monday 11 July to Sunday 17 July.

Entitled Greenweez Paris Premier Padel Major, the tournament brings together the world’s 56 best male couples on the Philippe-Chatrier court and its outbuildings. For the occasion, the organizers are planning a “cash prize” record in this discipline that is played on small-format fields surrounded by a plexiglass cage. The amount has not been disclosed, but it will be “at least three times higher than the standards of the circuit“, according to former tennis player Arnaud Di Pasquale, who became director of the tournament.

According to Gilles Moretton, President of the FFT, this booming racket sport already has more than 300,000 followers in France. Of these, however, only 23,000 are registered, a gap that the federation intends to fill in particular thanks to this first event. “It must make people want to discover padel. We consider this a crucial moment in France“, the president detailed in June during a press conference during the Parisian tennis tournament. During the fortnight, a track was installed near the Philippe-Chatrier court to give the public a taste.

In addition to this event, almost sixty tournaments will be developed in France, all connected to the Premier padel circuit, supported by the QSI QSI investment fund. To contribute to the boom in the sport, the FFT intends to install 500 new paddle courts by the 2024 Paris Olympic Games. All must be largely funded by the state, said Gilles Moretton, through the installation of new local sports facilities. announced by Emmanuel Macron in October 2021.

For the federation, the growth of the sport represents a major challenge, as it lost licensees every year. The padel “it can bring back the friendliness that is slowly being lost in tennis clubs“, believes Gilles Morreton. In any case, it has allowed the federation to cross the symbolic bar of one million licensees once again.

Can we therefore imagine the padel that dethrones tennis? “I know it’s a scare of some clubs“, admits the president of the FFT. The example of Spain is often cited. There, padel has become the second national sport behind football by number of practitioners, recalls theas president of the International Padel Federation, Luigi Carraro.

Arnaud Di Pasquale, also director of the padel mission with the FFT, does not believe in this theory. “Those who leave tennis have their reasons. The figures tell us that 60% of the people who come to padel do not come from tennis.“Luigi Carraro is going in this direction. During the press conference he insisted on remembering that these two sports are”complementary “ and not “enemies“.

The black point of this edition remains the absence of a female painting. The International Association of Padel Players has an exclusive contract with a competing federation of the First paddle circuit until the 2023-2024 season, the World Padel Tour. “It is a war between the two“says Alix Collombon, the French number 1 in padel. The latter is one of the few players to make a living from the discipline in France.”Obviously I would have dreamed of playing at Roland-Garros, but I am waiting for the players to make a decision.“, Patient the 29-year-old sportswoman.

The player Alix Collombon in front of the padel exhibition area installed at Roland-Garros, June 2, 2022. (TOM NOUVIAN / FRANCEINFO: SPORT)

The principle is that players join us very quicklywishes Arnaud Di Pasquale. From next year if possible.“To make up for this shortcoming during the 2022 edition, the tournament organizers tried to schedule an exhibition match between the two of them. In vain. This does not surprise Alix Collombon.”In our contracts we are prohibited from exhibition matches outside the circuit.“For its inaugural edition, the first major padel tournament in France will therefore be exclusively for men.


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