It’s the era of the racquet sport.
State of play: Millions of people across the globe are picking up pickleball paddles and tennis racquets — and more and more people are playing padel.
Context: Padel was founded in Mexico and became popular in Spain. Think squash meets tennis, but the courts are smaller than tennis courts, with a higher net and glass walls surrounding them, as Axios’ Zachery Eanes reported.
Yes, but: Padel courts are hard to come by in Charlotte. When Miquel Correa and his wife Raquel moved here from Miami four years ago, they couldn’t find courts. So they built their own.
What’s happening: The Correa family installed three outdoor lighted padel courts at the Matthews Tennis & Swim Club just outside I-485. They’re renting out the space from the club and operate as their own business, which is called Charlotte Padel Club.
Why it matters: Padel is one of the fastest-growing sports in the world, as the New York Times recently reported. The Correas are on the ground floor in the Charlotte area.
- The sport is also very social, says Miguel Correa, who came to the U.S. to play tennis in college, adding he wanted to open a club to build a padel community in Charlotte.
How to play: Padel is a doubles game, meaning four people play in a single game. The scoring rules are similar to tennis, and the pair who wins two of the three sets wins the game. Your initial serve must hit the ground on the other side of the net, but after that, you can play the ball out of the air or off the wall. A team earns a point once the ball bounces twice.
Details: Charlotte Padel Club is located at 2110 Pleasant Plains Road. The space includes the courts, a pro shop and a lounge area. Reservations can be made online. Your first session is complimentary and includes a 30-minute lesson with one of their padel pros. Be prepared to sweat.
- Rackets can be purchased in their pro shop and range from $100-$375, or rented for $10. You can also rent an unopened container of balls (the game is played with a tennis ball so you don’t have to worry about the noise associated with pickleball) for $6 or use the complimentary balls.
- Renting a court for an hour costs $20 per person for non-members and $12 per person for members. A membership is $50 per month and includes discounts on lessons, clinics and merchandise, plus access to member events. Members can book courts 10 days in advance.
- Clinics are 90 minutes and cost $25. A 60-minute drill session is $20 and cardio padel, which is also 60 minutes is $20.
Zoom out: Charlotte Padel Club is one of two clubs in North Carolina, which is one of 10 states with padel clubs, per the United States Padel Association, the national governing body for the sport in the U.S.
What’s next: Mecklenburg County currently does not operate any padel courts and currently does not plan to add any.
- The county, however, has 46 pickleball courts, some of which are hybrid, meaning they can also be used for tennis. The county plans to add up to 55 new pickleball courts as part of its five-year Capital Improvement Plan, which was approved in June.
My thought bubble: Padel was more fun than pickleball for me, because of padel’s faster pace. But there’s plenty of room both in our growing city.
Take a look around Charlotte Padel Club.