This week the UK Padel Federation is again making history … for the first time ever a junior team will be participating in a world championship, to be more specific, in the 8th Junior World Championship which is being held in the autonomous city of Melilla, Spain. Our team of 10 highly motivated and talented UK players aged between 12 and 17 are participating in this exciting event.
Argentine German Schafer, the UK sport´s director and coach, who has already taken a ladies and men´s UK team to the World Padel Championship in Cancún, México in December of 2010, has chosen the following players for this important competition:
Under 14´s : Franky Batt , Alex Saenz, Alex Tom & Tom Lynk
Under 16´s : Dani Bristow & Andy Lynk
Under 18´s : Franky Langan, Charles Ferguson, Dylan Casciario & Ivan Gomez
Surprisingly enough, all but one of the players ( Charles ) currently live in the Costa del Sol in Spain and have been training there for years. Charles used to live in Spain and is now studying in the UK. Still, all 10 players are proud UK citizens and just are honored to represent their country in Melilla .
On the evening of Sunday, Oct.16th 6 members of the team their coach and his partner boarded a ferry in the port of Malaga , Spain together with the tournaments umpire Fabian Gelibter , members of the Portuguese , Spanish and Italian teams and hundreds of other passengers to head towards the autonomous city of Melilla which is located on the north western coast of Morocco. They arrived early on Monday morning where they checked into the sports residence which was going to be the official players “hotel” for the week. 2 rooms had been prepared for the UK team. The accommodation comprising a 4 and 8 beds to each room… It was by far not the players´ nor German´s dream hotel…but it would be their “home” for the next week. The 4 other team members who had not arrived by ferry and most of the parents had reached Melilla by plane and eventually everyone met up at the main tournament location, the” Parque de Ocio y Deporte El Fuerte “, around 11 am of the same morning.
The Fuerte Club turned out to be a beautiful place set on top of the hills of Melilla with 6 first class glass courts and just beside an old fort from the 1600´s. From the moment of arrival the atmosphere was unique. Hundreds of padel players all dressed in the official team outfits of the 8 participating countries, their coaches ,officials, parents and friends were already there and awaiting the opening ceremony .
At 12 am the teams were lined up and presented one by one : Argentina, Mexico, Uruguay, Brazil, Italy, Portugal , UK and Spain. The Argentinians who have come to the championship with an impressive total of 70 (!!) people were by far the loudest cheering crowd on site . Welcome speeches were held by the presidents of the Spanish and the world padel federation as well as the mayor of Melilla.
Before the first matches of the open pairs competition were to be played on this first day of the event the youngest , cutest and roundest member of the UK team, Franky Batt, had not only been chosen to be the team´s good luck charm but was also already being chased by various pretty girls from opposing teams …Unbelievable !
That same afternoon the matches started and all UK team members got to compete. In the under 18´s Franky Langan and Charly Ferguson played their best but lost to the experienced Spanish players Iñigo Alegría Vidal and Ignacio Oteo Gorbeo in 2 straight sets, 1/6, 2/6.
In the under 18´s Dylan Casciario and Ivan Gomez followed with their match and had no real chance against the Uruguayan couple Agustin Araújo and Diego Techera, losing it 0:6, 2:6.The opponents were just too good.
The next match played by Dani Bristow and Andy Lynk in the under 16´s competition scheduled at the 2nd tournament´s playing site called “Centro de Padel Ciudad Autónoma de Melilla”, a club with 4 glass courts located about 15 minutes away by car or bus. Dani and Andy completely dominated the match against the Uruguayans Hector Lauz and Gabriel Techera right from the beginning, won 6:0, 6:0 and hereby became the first junior UK players in history ever to win a match in a junior world championship. What an amazing feeling that was for the two UK boys and for their proud parents!
Back at the “El Fuerte Club” young Franky Batt and Alex Saenz played their first match against Italian Jacobo Alaimo and Gabriele Salvatore and won easily 6:0, 6:2. A fantastic start to the competition for these two UK boys.
The last UK match was played by Alex Tom and Tom Lynk in the under 14´s category. Their opponents were the Mexicans Sebastian Espejo and Diego Guzman. This match was definitely the most exciting and nerve wrecking match for the UK that day. After playing an amazing first set which, unfortunately, Alex and Tom lost 4:6. They made a weak start into the 2nd set and at one point were 1:5 down …but they were not going to give up, instead they put on their turbo and fought back to 5:5 only to lose the match in the tie break.
It has been a long and very exciting day and everyone just longs for a good meal and an even better rest to recharge the batteries for the upcoming day. Tomorrow, Tuesday, the first team match will be played at 9:30 am at the “Centro de Padel Club” and therefore all need an early night. Surely various team members will be playing matches even in their dreams tonight.