REDDITCH HDA Tennis Club’s Felix Gill savoured bronze medal success at the World Junior Padel Tennis Championships in Mexico City.
Playing padel tennis – often referred to as ‘squash in the sun’ – in Mexico offered 13-year-old Gill the chance to broaden his horizons in both racket sports and the wider world.
As part of the Great Britain junior padel tennis team, he competed in the 14 and under age group in an event which was well organised by the Mexico Padel Federation and featured nine countries competing for the title across three age groups – 14 and under, 16 and under and 18 and under.
The nine competing countries were Mexico, Spain, Argentina, USA, Chile, Brazil, Paraguay, Uruguay and Great Britain. GB were not even seeded, which makes the achievement of the team even greater.
The other eight countries have enjoyed long-standing participation at junior and adult world championships and this was GB’s inaugural junior event.
Based on this excellent outcome, GB are expecting to maintain their participation and if Gill keeps up his hard work and dedication to racket sports he has every chance of returning to the next one and more.
Opening and closing events were memorable for traditional flag-waving entrances, foreign language speeches, Mexican folk dancing and an overall happy atmosphere as well as the medal ceremony on the last day.
Gill, having played padel tennis before including winning a ten and under tournament back in 2012 whilst at a tennis camp in Spain, picked it up again when the opportunity presented itself when four new indoor courts were installed at Padel Nation in Birmingham.
Padel tennis is an established variant of tennis in the doubles format and is very fast-paced as the ball is allowed to rebound off the court enclosure and play involves lots of volleys, smashes and slices, which is a good complement to Gill’s all-round tennis game.
Earlier this year British Padel reached out to padel clubs across the UK and to any British players currently living and playing abroad to undergo trials to assemble the junior GB squad.
Trials took place over a series of events and competitions in the run-up to the championships, resulting in two pairs per age group.
All the age group teams competed in various competition formats in both the boys’ and girls’ categories and the result depended on the outcome of each age group, so with three for each country the results varied between 3-0 and 2-1 for winners to proceed.
In the main competition for the world title GB were able to progress to the semis after beating both Uruguay and Brazil on the way. GB lost out in the semi to one of the top seeds Spain, who ultimately went on to win.
GB recovered from this to beat Paraguay in the third/fourth place play-off to take an unprecedented boys’ bronze medal.
The girls’ GB team were able to achieve a highly respectable sixth place overall, which again was much better than expected by the organisers the International Padel Federation.