Victor Mena, a University student padel athlete is soon to break into the top 100 ranks in the sport.
Zushan Hashmi: Tell me a little bit about your background, how did you start playing the sport, and why did you take it up professionally?
Victor Mena: I started playing when I was 8 years old. I have a court at my house (which is quite common in Spain). My father had been playing for several years, so I got interested in it, but just as a hobby, because I was mainly playing football at that time. It was not until I was 11 that I started competing and taking it more seriously. When I was 18, I was sponsored by Estrella Damm, who covered my training, allowing me to start playing professionally while I studied at university.
Since padel is a doubles game, there is an added dynamic that doesn’t exist in other racket sports unless you are playing doubles. This means you need to understand your partner, know what they’re thinking and work with them while competing against your opponents. Can you tell me a bit more about what makes this exciting, and at times perhaps, more difficult than playing singles tennis, badminton or squash?
Playing doubles is not something that is easy to handle. It is very difficult to play with a partner. You need to get along with and understand your partner well. When things go wrong, it is easy to blame your partner. With so many players on the tour, disagreements provoke continuous changes of partners. On the other hand, having a partner helps you when you can’t play at your best. There is someone that cheers you up, and that plays in a way that benefits you to get back to your best performance.
Who do you play with, and what’s the experience like of being a team on the court?
Right now I don’t have a fixed partner. I am trying to build a project for several tournaments, but it is not an easy task to find someone with a similar perspective and point of view who is looking for a partner at this exact point in time.
When you play for several months with the same player, having a good performance as a team and sharing experiences is much easier. Each tournament you go through, the coordination of the couple and the way you handle situations is solved faster and with less conflicts.
What’s your favourite part of the sport and why?
Probably the multiple shots there are against other sports. The walls, playing in doubles, and being able to get out of the court allows infinite situations during a match that other sports cannot even imagine.
While other sports seem to be repetitive in every game, padel is fun and new in so many ways.
Outside of Europe and South America, the game is still relatively unknown, however, this is changing. How would you describe the sport to someone here in Australia who wants to pick it up or try it out?
The main advantage over tennis, which is its main rival, is how easy it is to start playing it. You have fun from the very beginning, even without a proper technique. Also, playing doubles allows people who are not in the best physical condition to start the sport and just play it for fun. Padel has a specific social trait most sports do not have, which is why it grows so fast when a country invests in courts and advertisements.
You’re about to break the top 100 rank in the World Padel Tour, can you tell me a little bit about where you aim to be, and what this will feel like?
My main goal would be to get into the top 100. This depends on my performance and the continuity I could achieve with a partner, but it would be a nice achievement to finish the year below that position.
Tell us a little bit about some of the tournaments you have played in, and your experiences travelling and playing the game?
The last three years I have been playing the most important Spanish and WPT tournaments, as well as some FIPs. Travelling is probably the most amazing experience I get from playing padel professionally. Getting to see places, meet new people and learn new cultures. However, not everything is as nice as it sounds. At the end of the day, you travel to compete. Most of the time you end up just visiting the club where you play, the hotel and not much more, because when you lose you need to play somewhere else. It is a different experience when you play the qualys and when you play the main draw. But even with that, I have had possibilities that not many others have at my age.
What is training like (what does your regime include, who is a part of your team, ie. coaches etc)?
These last years I have trained each day for 3 hours or more from Monday to Friday. However, this year I have reduced my training due to university and to get some more time to decide my future. Right now I train with Juanma Rodriguez as my main Padel coach and Fabio Romojaro in the physical area.
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