SPO 230608 WPL ARAMZAN 28-1686247329229
Javier Garrido Gomez and Arturo Coello of Panthers in action against Federico Chingotto and Francisco Navarro Compan of Tigers during World Padel League at Coca Cola Arena in Dubai. Image Credit: Ahmed Ramzan/Gulf News

Dubai: Fun, team spirit and cameradrie were on display as the inaugural World Padel League got off to a sizzling start at the Coca-Cola Arena on Thursday.

Panthers were the team to beat as they were clinical and sometimes ruthless in taming Tigers 4-0 in their first match. The main architect of Panthers’ stunning start is 14th seeded Alex Ruiz, who won the mixed doubles with Bea Gonzalez and then partnered UAE’s talented Fares Aljanahi to give Panthers a breezy start.

Very comfortable

“Alex is a very calm person. He is consistent, whether winning or losing a point and that gave me the confidence and felt very comfortable,” said an elated Fares Aljanahi, ranked eighth in UAE.

SPO 230608 WPL ARAMZAN 34-1686247326101
Alejandro Ruiz was in stunning form for Panthers. Ruiz first forged a winning partnersip with Beatriz Gonzalez against Tigers. Image Credit: Ahmed Ramzan/Gulf News

Exciting times

Spaniard Ruiz heaped praise on his partner, calling him the best player in the world.

“He played very well and I am happy for his game. I am happy to see the growth of padel in Dubai and excited to be playing with my partner and with my team,” said Ruiz.

In a team game it is all about supporting each other and Tigers displayed their fighting qualities in the fourth set, despite being down 3-0.

SPO 230608 WPL ARAMZAN 44-1686247332097
Ruiz and Fares Al Janahi extend Panthers' winning run against Tigers. Image Credit: Ahmed Ramzan/Gulf News

Fredrico Chingotto and Paquito Navarro brought some hope to the Tigers as they fought tooth and nail to stay level with Panthers’ Arturo Coello, ranked fourth, and Javier Garrido. After staying level at 6-6, the set went into a tiebreaker, which Coello and Garrido won 10-8, bringing a marathon set to an end that enabled the Panthers to keep their slate clean.

Global audience

Garrido, who has had his hand in many sport including tennis, football, handball before keeping a firm hold on padel, feels the game is growing at a rapid pace and will reach a global audience in another 10 years’ time.

“When I started playing padel, my friends asked me what is padel?. Now all the people play padel. It is growing at a very fast pace in Europe and in Dubai,” said the 22-year-old, who is aiming to reach the No 1 status.

Franco Stupaczuk and Abdullah Abdulaziz Abdullah of Jaguars in action against Pablo Lima And Abdullah Ahli of Cheetahs. Image Credit: Ahmed Ramzan/Gulf News

“It is a young sport. In 10 years’ time it will grow to great heights. In Europe, we see Swedish and Italian players play, which is very important for the sport. If only you have players from a couple of countries like Aregntina, Brazil and Spain, then it’s not going be a global sport,” added the Spaniard, who now needs a good rest after the gruelling opening encounter.

The day started with Jaguars outwitting Cheetahs. The biggest surprise of the day was delivered by the Gemma Triay Pons and Alejandra Salazar. The third-ranked Jaguars’ duo shocked the world No. 1s Ariana Sanchez and Paula Josemaria Martín of Cheetahs to win the third set 6-4, that gave them the lead at 2-1 before they clinched the men’s doubles set to win the match 3-1.

SPO 230608 WPL ARAMZAN 19-1686247323097
Pablo Lima and Abdullah Ahli in action against Jaguars. Image Credit: Ahmed Ramzan/Gulf News

“It’s a new format and we are just having fun inside the inside the court, super fun. We are here to win and that’s team Jaguar’s culture,” the winning third-ranked duo said, announcing Jaguars’ intentions to pounce on their rivals.

Prodigious young talent

It was a day to remember for the four UAE players. UAE’s prodigious young talent Abdullah Abdullah, partnering Franco Stupaczuk, eased past Pablo Lima and UAE’s fourth-ranked player Abdullah Ahli 6-3, while Ruiz and Aljanahi defeated Paquito Navarr/Salem Alhouli by the same margin.

World Padel League, the Greatest Show on the Court, offers a total prize fund of Dh826,000. The champions will receive Dh550,000, while the runners-up will be awarded Dh275,000. The prize money is a reflection of the league’s commitment to promoting and rewarding excellence in the sport of padel. Each team will play men’s doubles, women’s doubles and a mixed doubles games of one set each.


Day 2 — June 9

2pm: Cheetahs vs Jaguars

6pm: Panthers vs Tigers

Day 3 — June 10

2pm: Cheetahs vs Jaguars

6pm: Panthers vs Tigers

Day 4 — June 11:

2pm: WPL Finals


June 9: Simply Red, 9.30pm

June 10: Nicky Romero, 9.30pm

June 11: Mithoon and friends, 7.00pm

Book your tickets now on Coca-Cola Arena’s official website, Platinum List, and Virgin Megastore. Tickets for Day 1 and Day 4 are at a special rate of Dh99 only and a single ticket is for both the padel matches and the concerts on Day 2 and Day 3.