This past weekend I was invited to brunch by my friends Lesley and Theresa. I think they took pity on me knowing Denise was out of town. As I arrived by train I noticed some tents and activity in the gardens in front of the Casino Estoril. I decided to take a look.
In Search of Pickleball
I learned that the casino was hosting the 2021 Cascais Padel Master Tournament. (Pronounced pe·dau in Portuguese) This was not my first exposure to the sport, though the first time I was able to observe it in person.
If you know us you know that Denise and I played a sport called pickleball for many years. Pickleball is a very popular court sport in over 55 communities. We were introduced to the sport in 2007 when we moved to The Villages. We played nearly every day. We played in lots and lots and lots of tournaments. We both became certified instructors. We even bought a motorhome named OLGA (Old Ladies Get Around) to tour the country and play in tournaments.
Denise was always the better player but on some occasions, she and I would play together. (Because she is a very kind person we are still married.) Unfortunately, complications associated with my bilateral total knee replacement forced me to stop playing. But Denise was still going strong when we moved to Portugal. In fact, there were a lot of pickleball paddles and balls in that cardboard box on the right.
While she knew that pickleball was not as popular here, there was a Pickleball Portugal Facebook group so she held out some hope. But after considerable searching, she came up short. That is when she decided to look into padel.
Perhaps she could find an expat at the padel club that knew how to play;
Perhaps she could convince club members or the padel instructor to take up pickleball;
Perhaps some of her court skills were transferable…
Denise did take a few lessons and watched lots of YouTube videos … but it seemed to bother her back more than playing pickleball. We still hold out hope that we will be able to start something once we get settled in the Algarve. (In fact, as we have looked for places we consider the size of the property or rooftop terraces that might accommodate play. We have a kind of, “If you build it they will come” mindset.)
But back to padel….which was supposed to be the point of this post. Padel is not paddle tennis or platform tennis. It was invented in Mexico and is popular in Europe, South America, etc. It is played on a court that is about 25% smaller than a tennis court and the scoring is identical to tennis. Glass walls surround the playing area, and like squash a player can play a ball that bounces off the wall. A paddle with holes in it is used along with a ball that is similar to a soft tennis ball. Like pickleball serves are hit below the waist. Also, like pickleball, many points are won with well-placed soft shots.
I’ve attached a YouTube video below showing some of the action from Saturday’s matches. If you are a pickleball player note:
at 20 seconds you can see the serve;
at 53 seconds note that the ball which bounces off the wall and is about to go over the net, must be touched by the player or is a fault;
at 1:43 a softly hit ball that won’t bounce off the wall is often more effective than one that is hit hard;
and perhaps one of my favorite rules is demonstrated at 3:42 where the ball can escape through the open door and the player is permitted to attempt to put it back in play.
Oh my. I get tired if I have to hit the Pickleball more than 3 times. Pedal is definitely for the young with good legs. Doubt the have a 75-79 division. LOL
A lot like platform tennis but you are not freezing!