Like Pickleball? Try Padel



It’s hard to miss the pickleball craze that has swept the country in the last few years. Nearly everywhere you look, courts have popped up in parks, schoolyards, driveways, and other open spaces. CityPickle took over Wollman Rink in New York City’s Central Park this summer with 14 courts.

But a few weeks ago I was strolling along the waterfront in Williamsburg, Brooklyn and I saw four packed padel courts in Domino Park at a place called Padel Haus. While pickleball may be the fastest growing sport in America with over 36 million participants (Association of Pickleball Professionals), padel is actually the fastest growing sport in the world with over 25 million players (International Federation of Padel).

Padel is like a hybrid of tennis and squash. The sport originated in 1969 in Acapulco, Mexico. Like pickleball, it is played with a paddle, but one that is thicker, perforated, and with a slightly different shape. Unlike pickleball, the ball is not plastic, but a tennis ball. The court is bigger, roughly half the size of a tennis court, and enclosed with glass walls. What makes the sport really fun is you can play the ball off the back wall, adding a new and challenging element to the game. Like pickleball, padel is quick and easy to learn, making it as fun and addictive of a sport to play.

While everyone knows pickleball here in the US, far fewer know about padel… yet, believes Santiago Gomez, the CEO of Padel Haus, which now has three Brooklyn locations: a 16,000 sq.ft facility as well as an outdoor pop up in Williamsburg, and their newest 24,000 sq.ft location which just opened in Dumbo. Over 7,000 people booked a court within 10 months of the first location opening, and there are now waiting lists for a court at peak times. (The Padel Paper)

Gomez himself is of Mexican and Spanish descent. He started his career in banking, and then segued into the restaurant business, opening two very popular Mexican restaurants, Atla and Cosme. When the pandemic hit, Gomez went back to Acapulco and made padel a part of his routine, playing every day. “When I eventually returned to New York, I realized that the sport was one of the things the city was missing and the idea for Padel Haus was born.” (Time Out)

Williamsburg opened in July of 2022 and the pop up this past May. The Dumbo location opened in August. Within the next three years, Gomez hopes to open more clubs in Philadelphia, Washington DC, Boston, and Chicago. Longer term, he’s targeting the west coast, south, and northwest. (The Padel Paper)

The pickleball craze has opened people’s eyes and interest in new paddle sports. For me padel is the one! Right now Padel Haus is the only place to play in NYC, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see it grow in popularity fast, here and across the country. Padel is coming to Wollman Rink too, with the A1 Padel tournament, New York Grand Master, set to take place there October 9th-15th — and in collaboration with the New York Yankees no less!