It has been almost three years since work started on Padel Tech’s development of a three-court facility at the East Glos club in Cheltenham.
Dating back to the 1880s, East Glos is arguably the premier racket sport club in the South West of England, and also one of its most progressive.
In this respect it was to Padel Tech this historic venue turned when they decided to convert a grass tennis court to three AFP Mondo Turf surfaced padel courts at the end of 2020.Now the introduction of padel to the club has created a new “one-club” feel which has bridged the traditional ‘divide’ between tennis and squash. Reflecting on all of this East Glos general manager Darren Morris was delighted to explain just why his club chose Padel Tech and he said:
“Two years back there were a couple of factors that stood out with Padel Tech. The quality and specification of the court was clear but they also had examples of that from the other courts they had already built. They also had an excellent relationship with Courtstall Services, who had done a lot of work with us and worked with them on the project. But there is no doubt Padel Tech were really ahead of the curve given where padel was in April 2021 when we launched the courts at East Glos.
“Really from meeting up with Guy Heathcote (Padel Tech director) our initial conversations were very positive and when we went to tender Padel Tech were just very impressive and since then I have had an excellent relationship with Guy who is always available.
“Basically the club could see that padel was likely to take off in the UK and East Glos wanted to be at the forefront in the South West Region.
“But we also saw it as complementing our existing offerings in terms of tennis and squash and it has definitely done that but we also have had people joining just to play padel.
“Now the fact is we are looking to add three more courts and although we will put it out to tender East Glos would have no hesitation working with Padel Tech again on that which is probably the best testimonial I can give.”
With close to 1900 members in total East Glos has quickly grown a dedicated padel playing section which has a Whats App group of over 200!
The courts are open from 0730 am to 10pm seven days a week and as Darren shared the usage stats are exceptional:
“Our court utilisation is up at 75/80% throughout the week which is pretty phenomenal!” said the East Glos GM. He continued: “But in terms of specification and standard the Padel Tech courts are of the highest quality and the paint finish with regard to the colours was also exceptional and two-and-a-half years on they look as good as new, which is the highest compliment I can pay them. Also in terms of structure and stability the quality is first class. I have played at other venues and the quality just wasn’t the same as Padel Tech and you just didn’t feel as secure when you hit the glass with there being a bit too much give"
“The playing surface, which is Mondo Turf, is also the best and the feedback on how well that plays has been hugely positive.”
Interestingly East Glos now operate a single rackets membership category covering squash, tennis and now padel. The club’s media manager Julian Wellings has no doubt the addition of our sport has created a new ‘one-club’ feel to this famous Victorian south west sporting institution which has shown an impressive enthusiasm to move with the sporting times.
As Julian shared: “When we launched padel the board brought in a single rackets membership as previously you could play tennis and if you wanted to play squash it was £70 more or vice versa so you were either a tennis or squash member with a small premium to play both.
“As such we decided from there to have just one rackets membership and padel has brought in new people and different demographics to the club which has been very positive. “It has increased member numbers but also brought our tennis and squash communities together which is great and now we have one big club feel about it.
“There are people like Adrian and Sarah who were predominantly squash players but had played padel before on holiday and loved it and they were delighted when it launched at East Glos and now it’s their main sport. They love the social side of it and are now playing more padel than squash which was their main sport"
“We also have a lot of middle-aged plus players who have taken padel as their main sport and that goes for both squash and padel and that means we have much more of that one - club feel with tennis and squash players almost meeting for the first time! “So there is much more of a social vibe at East Glos with tennis and squash players playing padel together where previously they perhaps wouldn’t have mixed.”