Padel is extremely popular, much to the dismay of some tennis players. The new racket sport, which resembles a mix of squash and tennis, threatens indoor tennis courts, which are increasingly being replaced by padel courts. The tennis players express their dissatisfaction with a petition and an open letter.
‘Arnolduspark has been the place where young and old enjoy playing tennis for decades. From recreational tennis players to ambitious youth players. Fun tournaments. Nice free play. Drinking coffee. Tennis lessons. That’s Arnoldus Park!’ this is how Erwin de Groot describes his beloved tennis club in Haarlemmermeer.
The problem: the owner of the club, Basic Fit, wants to replace the current indoor tennis courts with padel courts and a childcare facility. “That gravel is nice in the summer, but where are our children going to play tennis in the winter?” De Groot wonders.
The sport has long been popular in other countries, but it took a while for padel to get off the ground in the Netherlands. Last year, figures showed that there were 755 padel courts in the Netherlands in October 2021. A year later there were already 1450. For comparison: in 2016 there were less than a hundred. Tennis association KNLTB expects there to be more than 2000 jobs by the end of 2023.
It is therefore not the first time that there has been dissatisfaction from the tennis players. In March, tennis newspaper TennisPassion wrote an open letter to the KNLTB. It stated, among other things, that too many tennis courts are being replaced by padel courts. Also, most of the money that comes in from tennis associations would be put into padel by the KNLTB. TennisPassion wants to participate in this decision.
‘Can’t Make You’
De Groot is one of the many parents of children who like to play tennis. There is a tennis school and association in the Arnolduspark. “But in the end it remains a commercial event for Basic Fit.” The plans are clear, three tennis courts had already been converted and now the rest will follow. “I can make it all happen, but I thought I’d set up a petition.”
De Groot understands that padel is a lasting success. He therefore does not mind if some padel courts are added, he is only opposed to the tennis courts being completely replaced. “It gets in the way of children’s development, you can’t fix that,” says De Groot. “I understand the commercial interest, but there is also a social interest.” The KNLTB sympathizes with De Groot, but states that it cannot do anything about the choice of Basic Fit.
Perhaps the chance is indeed very small that something will be done about it, says De Groot. “But I thought I had to make a sound, who knows, we might keep two jobs.”
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