As Sunday’s closing ceremony completed the first ever Senior Padel World Championships, Great Britain finished up in 13th place. It was no surprise that Spain won both the men’s and ladies’ events, displaying some phenomenal Padel skill.
The men’s squad comprised 17 players of varying ages, from all over the UK and parts of Spain. Many were meeting and playing together for the first time. This, coupled with temperatures many Brits aren’t used to playing in, made for very tough conditions.
The event started on Monday with the open tournament. Ben Gudzelak teamed up with Paul Jepson in the 35+ category. They played an established Dutch pair, who have competed together on the World Padel Tour. Their experience made them far too strong for their GB counterparts, who were playing together for the first time.
The first team match was also on the Monday and GB faced the evenly matched German team. It proved a really exciting contest with just a point or two difference deciding the tie, with the final result being 3-2 to Germany. Ben managed to win his first international match playing with Paul Jepson in the 35+s category in an exciting three set match.
Tuesday saw GB come up against the strongest team of their group, Mexico, the country that invented the game. They lost 5-0, though Ben and Paul did manage to get a set point against very accomplished Mexican players, which surprised quite a few of the spectators.
Ben competed in the consolation draw of the open event on Wednesday, coming up against the same German pair they faced in the team competition the first day. Again it was a long and exciting three set match with Ben and Paul beating the Germans for the second time and making it through to the semi-finals.
There they played a Finnish pair, in a match that lasted well over two and half hours in the midday heat. GB took the opening set 7-5 after being 5-1 down, but the Finns hit back to take the second set 6-3. GB got an early break and led 3-1 in the 3rd set, however it was the Finns that took the match winning the final set 6-4.
The final day of the competition saw GB take on Norway to decide on 13th and 14th positions. GB played some excellent Padel throughout the line up to secure a 5-0 win and finish the event in 13th place. Ben and Paul won their match very easily and were playing as a solid partnership by the end.
Ben also managed to practice with Nikki Roenn, who lives in Estepona, with whom he will play in the open event of the World Padel Championships in Paraguay in a few weeks.
Altogether, Ben’s record at the event was three wins and four losses, an excellent start to his international career. Next up is the World Padel Championships, which runs from Monday 29th October to Saturday 3rd November in Asuncion, Paraguay.