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Lucia Sainz during an interview at Taj Hotel in Dubai on Thursday. Image Credit: Ahmed Ramzan

Dubai: Padel has been gaining international attention for quite some time now particularly in the Middle East. UAE has been in the forefront in promoting the game that has seen a substantial growth over the past decade. With more and more padel courts mushrooming in Dubai in the recent times, it has prompted the introduction of several tournaments, including the launch of World Padel League currently under way at the Coco-Cola Arena in Dubai.

“Padel is really a social sport. There are many people showing interest in the sport given the accessibility for amateurs as well as professionals,” said Lucía Sainz, a Spanish professional padel player. “It’s exciting days for padel lovers. When I started to play padel it was only known in few countries like Spain, Argentina, Brazil and Mexico. But now it’s spread globally with lots of people getting involved in the sport, which is a positive sign,” she added.

'Excited to be in Dubai'

Sainz, who is currently ranked 9 in the world, is part of the Panthers team of the World Padel league, which also consists of World No 4 Arturo Coello, World No 5 Beatriz Fernandez, Aranzazu Osoro, Alejandro Granados and UAE star Fares Aljanahi.

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“I’m all excited about the tournament. I am really happy to be here in Dubai and the next few days are really going to be exciting. I know it’s hot but I just love the city and the buildings here,” Sainz said looking forward to her matches later in the day.

Sainz, 38, played tennis early in her career. She won six doubles titles on the ITF Women’s Circuit. During her college days, she was part of the Fresno State Bulldogs tennis team from 2004 to 2006 before she retired from tennis in 2009. It was in 2015 she began her padel career.

'Knew the sport'

“The shift to padel was not a surprising one. When I was growing up as a kid in my club there used to be padel courts so I was already playing the sport with my family early on. So I knew the sport and I really loved it but I couldn’t focus on it much since I was playing tennis at that time. But once I quit tennis, I had time to focus on padel and then started participating in tournaments,” Sainz, who was awarded the Dona y Esport award as Barcelona’s best athlete, said.

Sainz, who attained the World No 1 ranking in 2020, said the sport needs a certain structure in place, just like in tennis that can help the padel grow professionally. “We need more courts and more coaches to come in at the professional level. And for that the money needs to come in. We need a proper structure in place at the junior and senior levels and need more events like the World Padel League. May be in the next five years you can see padel being one of the top sports in the world.”