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Interview with Mike May, a pioneer in the sport of Padel in the U.S.

Interview with Mike May, a pioneer in the sport of Padel in the U.S.


Hey, everybody!
Mike May here in Houston Texas. I am president of the United States
Padel Association starting in 1998 and just recently this is my last year
as president in 2018. Passing that role on to my board so that I could focus
in a more on the infrastructure, building the sport, coaching, coaching coaches, certification for the USPA. So, anyway it’s been a great run. I started Padel here in the United States in 1993 at the
Houstonian Club which is the birthplace of Padel for the US. Now I’m here with my good friend, Eric,
at iPadel Houston, in Houston Texas, which is a club that my wife, and I, Belén Salcedo,
we opened a year and a half ago. A little bit over a year and a half ago, which is actually
the first public facility of its type in Texas so people can kind of come and play and pay by the hour
or they could even be a member if their a frequent player. So, we’re excited about having that opportunity because
we’ve added probably maybe 200 new players to the sport that didn’t know about Padel before. We’re excited about where the sport is going
because we’re starting to see more clubs open up. One just opened up in Austin Texas. Of course The Woodlands have had a club since 2012, Dallas that T Bar M opened up same time the same
week we did, a year and a half ago. It was a 3-court facility and there’s one coming up
around the corner can’t announce it yet, but in a week I’ll probably will be able to. Here in Texas. So, Texas will be the leading state as far as amount of clubs.
Then of course Vegas is another club we’re excited about. They’re opening up a facility of eight courts in Las Vegas
and even in San Diego just got another a couple courts. So, United States is starting to take hold, social media.
People are starting to travel to Spain and see the sport there. We have people like Eric coming here,
from Argentina spreading the word as well. So, anyway the United States
will be developing and developing soon and actually a question that comes up a lot
is why hasn’t it developed already? It’s one of the things people don’t realize is that mass
expansive space the United States is vs. Sweden which is a smaller country and Belgium which is
a smaller country and that concentration of people in that area. For example take me as a tennis player, I’m a high level
tennis player and all my buddies that I know that play tennis are scattered around the country versus a player in Belgium,
who you know other players were scattered around within an hour or two of his club gets them over,
they all play Padel. They go back to the club say we’ve got to have this and before you know it the country adds another
hundred clubs and in less than a year and a half. The same thing happened in Sweden, you know,
you get a Bjorkman, a famous tennis player, or the famous soccer player is getting it in the country where the concentration of population
is in one little area, then the word gets out quicker and then it gets contagious
and more clubs build overnight. Then we have Houston, where we started Padel and then Miami
comes into play and then California comes into play. But then you have you know East Coast, West Coast, you have you know Texas in the center
and there’s three to four hour flight in between. So, the concentration of Padel players is not in the small little
area, but we’re starting to see that happen in these states. For example like Texas because people may have gone
and they came here to iPadel or they played at the Grand Sports Club
in The Woodlands. They’ll be playing at the Austin Padel club
so that more people would hear about it and more clubs will open up as a result of it. So, you’ll start seeing that growth happen everybody just has
to be patient. The United States is a different market. It’s a little bit more challenging to enter into this market
also with permitting and all the regulations that we have. But once the people see that clubs like this are successful,
then you’ll start seeing more and more open in other states. We need the neighboring states.
A good example is Spain, most traveled country in the world. You have France on the border.
We have Italy on the border. Obviously these people travel to Spain obviously
it’s easy for the players from France the travel into Spain. It’s easy for the players from Italy to travel into Spain. So, the infrastructure is really booming now in Italy
and it’s also really booming now in France for that reason. So, Texas. Our goal is to get it booming here.
What’s the neighboring state? Spain is to France like Louisiana is to Texas.
Hopefully it will start catching fire in Louisiana. Hopefully it’ll start catching fire in Arkansas. Hopefully it will start catching fire in New Mexico
and spread that way and then we can kind of close the gap between the East Coast, the West Coast
and the central part of the United States. So that that will be the trend you’ll start to see happening
here in the United States. My tennis career started at 11 I was a late bloomer. But took that too you know being state ranked as a kid and, you know,
getting a college scholarship to getting ATP points in the Tour. Then getting asked to play the sport Padel. Ed Thompson who was original and Felipe Arnold,
the two original founders of the sport, they brought it from Argentina to here.
They needed a team. So, they gave me a VHS tape and it was of Alejandro Lasaigues
and Roberto Gattiker versus Mariano Lasaigues and Bebe Auguste. Felipe, being an Argentinian, was going
to school at the University of Houston and he had been away from Argentina for a while. He went back to Argentina in ‘92, and he was “like oh-my-gosh what happened?”
The sport just grew overnight. Didn’t even really know about it. He said, “Hey this would be a great opportunity
for you back to the States.” Getting Ed Thompson involved, who had been
in club management, also a tennis player, you know, a good tennis player in his day decided to partner up,
become the president and vice president. Eventually they both ended up moving out of the sport. In ‘98 that’s when I took over as president
to keep the sport going and keep the team together. The association was created in 1993 and it was called
the American Padel Association at the time. I changed it to the United States Padel Association
because American Padel Association could imply any American country and also had
the same abbreviation as Argentinian Padel Association. So, we made the USPA in 1998 and I decided in 1993
that this was a cool opportunity when I saw that VHS tape that instead of being a small fish in a big pond in tennis,
I would be the big fish in the small pond of Padel and be a part of something I thought was going to be
a great explosion one day. Actually I believe it was the finals in Mexico City
with Alejandro Lasaigues, Roberto Gattiker, who had been number one in the world for like 10 years. Against Mariano Lasaigues and Bebe Aguste,
which were number two for many years, and like many tennis players looking
at it going “I can do that that’s not a big deal.” Then I qualified, we actually had all the pros
in Houston play local qualifier to see who got the honor to go to Mexico and play
an international tournament where these players would be. We got to play Alejandro Lasaigues and Roberto Gattiker
in the first round and we got one game. My partner was Ville Jansson at the time was,
you know, hundredth in the world at tennis. So, all of a sudden we went down there we got schooled and realized it was a lot more to the sport
than just a serve and a volley. That was back in the days when you weren’t allowed
to serve and volley. You had to serve and let the ball bounce. Then the sport we changed the rules,
to match the rules of Spain, where you’re allowed to serve and volley
because it’s easier to introduce people to the game. The very first time I saw a Padel court
[this is the ancient part of my career], we got a couple wooden Padels and we’re practicing
on tennis courts hitting around in a racquetball court. In 1993 flew down to do a tri-national Cup
in Mexico with Canada. We were practicing the night before for hours
because we had never seen a court before and we’re being televised all over Mexico the next day
and we never seen a court before. So, that was my introduction to Padel on TV. So, we took that court that was used
as the exhibition court which was “cristal” a glass court like this, brought it back to the Houstonian,
which we set up on our meadow, and we did an exhibition again with Mexico. The Houstonian became interested in having this. So, we put that cork back on an old abandoned tennis court
because around the Houstonian was a neighborhood and I actually had to cut a trail myself
and make my own sign. And I sat in the lobby of the Houstonian
this is how Padel started in the United States and with a sign-up list and said, “You, mister member,
I’ve got a one o’clock available for free, if you want.” You mister member I’ve got a 2 o’clock. And you and you… and I just did free intros all day long.
30-minute intros. The courts got so busy that members started
complaining “We can never get a court time.” So, the club built two courts two lit courts and then
I did the same thing got all those people on that and that’s how Padel started in the United States. Which is sitting in the lobby of The Houstonian,
saying: You, free lesson! You, free lesson! Yeah, that’s my first World Cup and the second World Cup in existence.
and at that time I’ve been playing for six months. And, again, the only time that we had any international
competition was early on with the Mexicans and the Canadians. Going down there and playing against the Uruguayans…
We didn’t know how to hit a “contra-pared”. We didn’t even know what that was really! Then, once again, got schooled! You know,
lost some matches 6-0 6-1… 6-1 6-1. That was very mind blowing for us tennis pros,
and some of the other tennis pros that were on the team. So, I can’t even remember the last time I lost 6-0 6-0 in anything
or maybe never had lost 6-0 6-0 or 6-1 6-1. We didn’t have the concept of Padel down. But there were enough international tournaments that every time
I went off to an international tournament I learned more concept and then I got certified in ‘95 by Jorge Nicolini
and Horacio Álvarez Clementi in Argentina. And got a lot of those basics down and then over
the years just learned it organically. We didn’t have YouTube and we didn’t have all these things
there was printed manuals and what you saw at a tournament. Then those guys that we would lose to or didn’t lose
to a ‘94 and ‘96 we started beating. And they were like: “What happened?” Well we have a pretty high tennis level. We’re not totall idiots. We’ve got the concept down and that’s
what tennis players need to know they’re going to come out and you could be top hundred player in the world
you can lose to a Padel player that you can school in tennis, but you’re going to lose to them because
they’re going to have that concept down. But you give these guys you know a year or two
and soon their level is going to go to here. We do see the future of Padel
being these two tennis pros, those guys that have a ranking it’s 200
in the world or 300 in the world. They might be in their early twenties and realize
their tennis careers not going anywhere but now their country it’s picking up with France. You’re seeing countries compete well now. Losing still but
competing well against Spain, competing well against Argentina. I mean like some real points.
Versus matches going 6-0, 6-1. Maybe you’re seeing some 6-4s, you’re seeing some 6-3s,
which doesn’t sound like a big deal, but for anyone who knows Padel, those are some real points
to win four games off of the top Spaniards in the world, that’s not an easy task. So, it’s Ross, Brian, Juan Ayala, myself… gosh I can’t remember
that was Scott Flippin Read on the team in that day. You know, at that time there was two associations. There was a two Association for the US
that kind of got formed at the same time. There were two US Teams at the World Championships
it’s never happened before because the FIP hadn’t decided which association was going to be
the governing body for Padel in the US. Eventually it became the American Padel Association
which was what Ed Thompson and Felipe started. There’s a… kind of unfortunate, but the two associations
weren’t able to find a way to work together and instead of working together became a lawsuit to figure out
which association was going to be the founding association. So, the FIP you know got all the receiving documents
and it had to vote on it. And it took several months. But that wasn’t decided
before the World Championships. So, they said: well both of you come so there’s two US teams
at the World Championships. And I don’t think there’s ever been two of any team
in any World Championships ever. So, that’s kind of history-making there. Well, actually the American Padel Association, and they had the United States
Padel Association, which I like that name better. So, when they dissolved and APA went away, I formed the
United States Padel Association or just redid the documents. Because I thought that was a better name anyway, at the time. So, those players there’s still the same court, still in Tennessee and the players…
we were all friends we got along quite well, it’s just the associations
were battling it all the time. I wasn’t actually part of the association… I was actually
a player. There’s one court there. The same court. Still there, yeah.
Glass walls on a hard court with no turf. I mean it’s actually listed on PadelUSA.org
on its places of play in the United States. If anyone contacts us from Atlanta or somewhere in Tennessee,
we say: send them to our friend Susan Dever over there who’s in her late sixties early seventies now,
but got involved in Padel twenty years ago. And played for their US Team, for girls. You know what stands out the most to me is, first of all,
I had seen the top four players in the world already being in Mexico with Lasaigues and
Gattiker, and those guys. But I remember watching Juan Martín Díaz, when he was 17!
Unknown… everyone’s talking: “hey this kid’s going to be up-and-coming”. Lefty, a little wild,
hasn’t quite gotten tamed yet… I was watching the guy going this guy is going
to be badass! I mean I already knew, I mean I mean everyone probably already knew, but I thought
he was going to be the next “Lasaigues” of Padel. And, sure enough, for a decade-plus, he and Belasteguín
ruled the Padel world. And I really liked his style of play
and he lost in the semi-finals. And then eventually Lasaigues and Gattiker once again won everything
because they won everything and I don’t think had lost anything in ten years. But, you know, a funny fact actually, Alejandro Lasaigues was telling me
he was never so nervous than when he was playing myself and Ville.
a
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Ville Jansson he was a top touring pro in tennis. When we went down to Acapulco to play,
the Argentinians plane got delayed or something so they didn’t arrive when they had to play
against Ireland. So, Ireland got a default: 6-0 6-0. So, they had a win over the number one team
in the world by default. So, in order for Lasaigues and Gattiker to pass to the next round,
they had to beat us worse than 6-1 6-1! That’s hard to do. So, Villa and I come out boom-boom-boom. We won the first game! And so they said that they were
just sweating bullets, because anything could happen! And then this number one team not going to the finals!
Although, I mean, heck! Honestly I would have said even if I would’t have lost 6-1 6-1,
I would’ve said: you guys still go to the finals because that would’ve been ridiculous us showing up
at the finals. But anyway, they didn’t know that. So, they really pulled it in, and man, they worked us and they
worked us, because you know the points were good. Ville and I had some amazing hands;
we’re world-ranked doubles players. But the defense in those days was so key
because you couldn’t serve and volley. If it was serve and volley it could have been
a different story because we would have come in and knife some volleys and still made it work,
so you had to serve and let the ball bounce. So, anyway, we won the first game!!! and then he said,
“Man I was sweating bullets.” And then they beat us 6-1 6-0! It was just a different level of Padel. These guys
were geniuses. You know, especially in those days. So, anyway that was kind of an interesting scenario
just because of the default. It was very interesting it was a little bit
rougher than I was used to because we stayed in these military barracks
and things. But you know what, we didn’t care. We slept on a cot that squeaked
every time you rolled over, but I was so excited about waking up the next day and going
and watching the matches and all the sponsors were there. It’s like being at the Olympics. You didn’t care if you slept
in a damn tent. You were happy to be there. And you got to appreciate any country that puts out that money
and puts out that effort and invites all these countries. I was quite gracious to be there.
So, I didn’t care that was sleeping on a cot. I was just thrilled to be running around, watching all
the matches, taking pictures with the other countries. I must have done 11 TV interviews
I was going up to the cameras: “Hey you want an interview? It’s the US Team.”
I was just having fun. I was in my 20s just thinking this is a blast
and quite appreciative of the Argentinians putting on the Second World Championships. Well, you know what, yeah because it was still the same two teams.
It was always the same two teams in the finals. But I got to see in the open draw and in the team event
the Diazes and the other players who didn’t get to travel… And Díaz was an Argentinian in those days, to those other tournaments
because it was only an invitation of one or two teams. Which, if you weren’t in top two teams
which iy was always the same two teams, I got to know those four guys quite well
and never saw the other guys as much until we went to the World Championships in Argentina
and obviously we saw a lot more those guys. But when we went to these international
events they wanted representatives, they wanted all the flags of the different countries. So, Argentina always had the same two teams.
We always had the same two teams. Chile always had the same two teams
because we all dominated our own countries. So, we didn’t get to see who was down below so much. So, then you know we go down in Argentina and find out that
there is a guy 100 in the world that could beat us. A 100 in Argentina can beat us. So, maybe 200 you know, so we didn’t get to see
that depth until we went over there and realized everybody’s good! Right?
And that’s just the nature of the sport. It’s kind of like everybody’s good
at basketball in the United States. So, when we got to the to see the open and see, you know,
great players from the third round on up the Recas the Nerones and all these guys we
hadn’t seen before then it was quite an experience. I mean these guys were just nails.
They’re still good. Some of these guys are still playing that’s the great thing
about the sport… because it’s a it’s a game of chess versus checkers. So, the longer you play and the wiser you are, the better
chess player you become. You know the moves, you know the sequences, you don’t have to run as far,
it’s not as taxing on your body, you don’t have the volatility of a big tennis serve that tears
your body up. You’re playing on turf, we can slide a little bit. But it’s the wisdom of the higher level players that’s keeping
them playing in their 40s. You know, and me in my 50s but these guys are still playing
at a super competitive level in their 40s and you don’t see that in other sports
because this sport just requires a lot of wisdom. It does have the parameters of the walls
the walls put balls back into play. So, you can’t have some young gun just come out
and just start blasting balls around he’s got to do it like a chess player or else that 40
something year old is going to be sitting waiting on the net… drop shot,
or maybe pounding it back out out the cage. You either continue with it or you quit. For a tennis pro it is a huge ego blast to come in and lose
6-0 6-0 to someone you can just school in tennis. It’s a huge ego thing. The very first night
that I played Padel in Acapulco I struggled with it. I was like: “I don’t know if I like this sport.”
But I realized it was my ego getting in the way. So, I thought well what I’m going to do is I’m going
to go home and I’m going to focus on the moves. I’m going to learn the “taking it off the wall” shot.
I’m not going to try to take everything before the wall. So, if I went ahead and suffered that a little bit
and got the walls behind me, put my ego to the side and go ahead and miss some shots for a while
and then I know that if I get the wall on my side that’s even if a better tennis player than me comes along
I’m going to be able to defend them which is the point. You could take on of the top doubles teams
in the world and I can beat them in Padel I’m not going to be able to touch them in tennis
because I have the walls… the walls skill. Yes they’re going to catch up eventually once they learn
the walls, but until then, I got the walls as my friend. So, in tennis it takes years and years and years
of training and refinement and training and refinement cleaning volleys
and then you go out… This happened to me in Spain playing a couple guys
in an open tournament they weren’t anywhere near being on the selection for Spain. They might
have been second category for all I know. Anyway so they’re out there and they’re looking like
this, looking like this, and it’s just super ugly strokes. I worked my butt off the beat him in three sets. I just couldn’t believe that such ugly players were keeping
me in the court because in a tennis court they would be gone. Because they had the concept down better. So, here we are tennis players wanting to pound it and all
of a sudden they’re at the net doing a Gillette out the door… is super frustrating to see someone with,
you know, a better choice of words such ugly form. So, anyway the point is it helps it be a prettier form
in the long run. Because you look at the World Padel Tour they have some pretty spokes. But those 80 year olds
and those guys that know where to stand where to be, anticipating what you’re about to hit
a tennis player is super predictable. They are winding up and you know they want to pound it
because that’s what they’re trained to do is pound it. You’re already there waiting for their shot
where it’s coming off the wall and they don’t realize that because in
their instinct they’re going to do it again. And then as it’s happening you see that player running forward
you can’t believe what you’re watching and then all of a sudden they get a winner on you
so… Or you’re pounding it and then an even little bit better player
they pound it out of the cage out of your overhead. So, you really have to suck it up and you really have
to start going into concept, really train yourself patience and that everything that goes
over your head in tennis you’re pounding, no matter what! We don’t baby overheads in tennis. Everything that comes over your head here,
I mean there might be six out of ten of them you’re playing a variation overhead,
which we call “bandejas” and “víboras” to keep the ball in play until you can pound it. So, that’s where you know you can have an eighty-year-old
challenge someone that’s in their 20s. Because the guys out there, a young gun, are hitting it while the 80 year old
is playing smart, and lobbing and dinking, and you’re making errors. So, they’re beating you off of your errors.
They’re not beating you off of their winners. That’s how people lose. I think you got to be
a much better condition to play high level of tennis. Well okay it’s relative. I mean, so, if I go play tennis now I’m going
to walk off the court and I’m going to be super sore. I can play Padel for hours and I’m not going to be as sore
because you know, I’m pretty refined taking the balls off the wall. So, I don’t have to run around as much. But here’s the difference: so if you’re running around
on concrete and you’re running from side to side in tennis and you’re covering 40 feet this direction and 30 feet
the other… in Padel you’re always playing doubles you’re always on turf,
it’s not as jarring on your body. I think you can get away with being in less shape
in Padel, although it will keep you in great shape. But here’s the difference, so in Padel between points
it’s about eight seconds you’re picking up the ball and you’re serving again. Tennis has minimum twenty five seconds if you’re
in a tournament, the referees got the clock on you but in social play it might be forty fifty seconds before
someone walks up hits a serve then they miss the serve. So, there’s not as much activity in tennis. So, I would say at a professional level
I mean you got to be super in shape for both of them. So, I guess you can’t really compare that. At an amateur level you’re going to get more
exercise in tennis because a 3.5 player in Padel the rally is going to be 3, 4, 5, 6, 10. If 4 to 5, 6-ball-rally for a 3.5 in tennis
is actually a long rally. In Padel it’s a normal rally. The serve, the return, hit-hit-hit,
lob, run back, take it off the wall, hit it against the wall. So, then the points over. Then about eight seconds they pick the ball up
they’ve dropped it, they serve, they’ve gotten it in or even if they fault it,
they drop it and immediately get in. So, within 10 seconds
you have another point starting. So, you get more of a workout in a shorter period of time
and you can play two to three sets in a shorter period of time than tennis
because you’re taking out all the timeouts in between. So, your cardio is probably more in Padel. Thirteen… Thirteen. So, I played in ’94,’96, ‘98. So, ‘94 was Argentina,
‘96 was Madrid, Spain. ’98 was Mar del Plata. 2000 was… I believe Toulouse, France.
2002 I believe we were back in Mexico, it was in Mexico City. 2004 we are back in Buenos Aires.
2006 we are in Murcia, Spain. 2008 we left to Canada… Calgary.
2010 and 2012 were both in the Mayan Riveira. Everyone loved that! The all-inclusive resorts.
2014 was in Mallorca. 2016 I played in Cascais, Portugal
and then 2018 played for the US Team, but lost in the qualifier to Mexico, but went down
to watch our women play in the World Cup. So, luckily we had our women that made
the World Cup. So, basically I played for 13. What I enjoy the most when I think about
these World Championships, especially early on was we had some super good
camaraderie with the players. The Padel world was so small
that it was kind of reunion. “Hey Gattiker, what’s up!” You know, “Hey, Lasaigues, what’s going on!”,
So, we all knew each other. So every two years if we didn’t see each other
in international events in between it was like a family reunion every year. Kind of the comment was
“man you haven’t gotten any older! What are you drinking?
You know, because every two years we’d see each other minimumly. Then of course in the higher-level countries
we started seeing some of those guys drop off because they have so many players
coming from beneath to take their place. In our case we had a lot of the same players
we did have some turnover and luckily found some players that we’re living in Spain that were US passport
holders, and some from Argentina that were US passport holders. We had some instant new team members
who we didn’t have to develop from scratch. But we did develop a few from scratch
here in the US as well. Anyway so only until recently it’s not as much as a family
reunion because every year now you see new faces. But, I still see the Cristian Gutierrezes and stuff
that I’ve known since he was 18, when he won the world championships
for the first time in ’98. So, that stuff is kind of cool because you still have
some of us dinosaurs still around from the beginning of the sport until now just because
the sport still allows these guys to keep competing. So, it’s nice to see these guys
you’ve known for two decades. So, that’s kind of a cool thing
is I can walk into… and for me it’s quite normal… I see Juan I’m giving him a high five
like an old buddy I’ve known since he was seventeen. That’s like me going up and saying,
“Hey Roger Federer how’s it going?” So, it’s all relative, you know,
I don’t really think about it that way, but to other people who run up to get their autograph.
We all were… like tennis was back… You know my coach Owen Davidson said they used share
station wagon. All the top Australians And you know, Rod Laver used a station wagon
to go to tournaments. Now these guys are legends, right? So, we’re all hanging out these little tournaments in
a relatively unknown sport, and now all these guys are legends. So, it’s kind of cool to be part of that legendary part of Padel,
the founding players the founding everything. I know all the guys that started Padel in Spain.
That started Padel… I got to meet Corcuera! I got to hang out at his house, play Padel on his court,
you know, the original Padel court. Placido Domingo, got to play Padel with him,
on his court, at a fundraiser in Mexico. We played him again in Las Vegas
at an exhibition. So, I got to meet people and do things I never would
have done and actually the true thing about it was we’re down in Acapulco playing this tournament
and Placido was my partner and after we played we had lost to his son
and another player from Mexico. He said “Hey Mike! What are you doing later?”
I’m like: “Oh I don’t know.” He said “Why don’t you come over later
to the house for dinner?” So, my buddy and I, Steve Dekker, we’re going over
to Placido Domingo’s house. And we’re thinking: “We’re going to Plácido Domingo’s house!” So, we’re out there playing Padel
on his Padel court and he says: This is Plácido saying: “I can’t believe that I’m here
with the number one Padel player in the United States!” I’m like thinking: does he realize that he’s Placido Domingo? We can’t believe we’re here, with Placido Domingo,
one of the best opera singers in the world! We’re nobodies!
But it’s all relative. So, the guy enjoyed our talent we enjoyed his talent
we had a great time playing Padel at his house. So, that was kind of a neat thing. And I never would have been
able to do that in tennis. We got to meet some really neat people. Yeah, well we actually had a cocktail party on that…
I shouldn’t say “play”… But I saw the first court, got to touch it
be there… yeah it was kind of neat. And, meet the the founder! He and his wife.
He and his wife started the sport. The Corcueras. They were very nice! And actually Mrs. Corcuera
came and played some of my tournaments in Houston. That was a really big Jet Set crowd
in those days and Sandra di Portanova. The late Sandra di Portanova, unfortunately. She had one of the very first Padel courts in the world
at her house in Acapulco and they were all friends. So, that group is what kind of got Padel going in Spain
and that Jet Set group and then from there it grew. So, I got to meet those jet setters and got quite
the honor of being at this house in Mexico that has 110 rooms and the Padel court!
And sharing the sport with them. And they introduced it to Placido Domingo.
That’s how all these celebrities got involved in it because it was the super wealthy
that started playing it originally in Acapulco. So, we did the tournaments
and the Copa Corcuera. Those were a blast! Then they took us to Baby’Os,
the famous discotheques that are still around, and you know we had a Padel court set up on the beach
and a Padel court set up at a convention. And then they always had entertainment at one of these houses
that were on these superb mountain houses with the view of the bay, and like I said the hundred
and ten rooms and a bunch of humble little Padel players walking around with all these celebs
and Mexican governments. It’s quite a neat experience, but that was
the route, that was the beginning of the sport. They would fly us down there
so they can have the US flag, so they could have the Canadian flag and we were all, you know,
basically marketing and showcasing the sport. And, another cool thing was in 1995 we flew down
they paid for us to go to Argentina to the Pan-American games
that the Argentinians had in ’95. And, Padel, although it wasn’t
an official Olympic exhibition game, So they did an exhibition game while
it was going on, on the beaches of Mar del Plata. So, they had Diego Maradona come out
and so we got to play Padel with Diego Maradona, gave him one of my US shirts and stuff,
and he’s out there playing Padel with his feet, right. And the Olympic Committee came out,
reviewed it and that’s when they checked it out. That’s when they really saw it for the first time. So, it’s in the archives of the Olympic Committee.
We’re hoping now with the new president, Luigi, that he can, with his contacts, help us get the sport into
the Olympics. Because that would be the next great thing for it. And it really deserves to be in the Olympics. I mean there are a lot of sports
that deserve to be in the Olympics, but there’s only so many Summer Games,
summer sports, you can have. But that was actually really neat. To actually to go to the
Pan-American games. And they got us passes to all the events and we’re walking around in our US jackets
and kids are running up and asking for autographs. They probably had no idea what we did, but we were happy
to give it, and sit in the athletes section and get that kind of treatment, once again. That’s something I wouldn’t have been able
to do, and then go to Uruguay and do an exhibition against hundreds of people
in Uruguay and going and doing radio interviews the novelty of being “the gringo” down there in
South America and they use my voice on the radio as “Hey can you say this so we can use it
for our promotions and things?” There was kind of a lot of fun stuff that once again
I wouldn’t have done as a tennis player back in the day, because I wasn’t a famous
tennis player back in the day. But in the Padel world I was known.
Those are neat experiences. Well it’s my vehicle for my life. Every tennis player can relate to this.
You’ve got a few ATP points… it’s all well. You’re happy you got them,
but you’re not happy you don’t have enough. So, at some point you’re spending
more money on the tour than you’re making it. Then you’re trying to think: man my whole goal
was to go out and be an astronaut it wasn’t just to sit here. So, my whole goal was to be a top 100 player in the world
that’s everybody’s goal going out after that. Then you think what am I going to do after this.
What’s my life after tennis? So, I got invited to play on the US Padel team…
I’m thinking: wow this is life after tennis. So, I can transfer my dream or the love of that racquet
sport to this sport. And it was a quite a ride. Quite a nice vehicle to being able to play
four to six international tournaments a year, getting to know people all around the world,
keeping in contact with those people when email was finally developed in the mid 90s
to still knowing those people today. But anyway so Padel also got me the job at The Houstonian.
Where I’m the director of tennis now. The director of racquet sports at The Houstonian. I took over as director in ’98. I started as a Padel
in tennis pro in ‘94 and still in there today. Which is kind of neat, being the birthplace of Padel in the
United States and a lot of people don’t know that. To now where I got married with a woman
from Spain, Belén Salcedo, because of Padel! And sitting here on two courts,
here at iPadel Houston. And have our own business because of Padel. to building
most of the facilities in United States through my company USA Padel Center. And there’ll be more companies coming
and more infrastructures coming up, but that’s where I want to head now that I’m
retiring as president of the United States Padel Association this year and focusing on the
infrastructure and focusing on Padel coaching. So, I want to go… to be able to offer to facility
what I think are some of the best courts to offer, or else I wouldn’t have invested in them on my own facility,
to also I can train your pro to not only teach the sport well, but to get people introduced
to the sport in an easy fashion, cut down on the frustration level quicker
with some of my own techniques and a lot of the techniques I’ve learned
over the years from some great mentors. And to helping them even with their business plans
and how to run the business because having started the very first Padel facility
I know better than anyone how to get people into it. Because I got the very first people into it in the US
and some of the very first people in the world being that we got involved so early… luckily got involved
so early into the sport in the early ‘90s. To helping them with their business plan,
to ideas on how to grow the sport, and to get more people because a lot of people a lot of businesses
will build something because people are asking for it. This is the type of sport you build and they’ll come,
but you can’t sit there wait for the phone to ring you got to get out there and hustle like I did in the very
beginning and get people signed up for free clinics, free introductions, introduce them to other people
create a community around the sport. The only reason why it would fail
is because the lack of your own efforts. There’s no reason why a sport like this would ever
fail because it’s such a contagious sport. And I got to tell you, all these years I’ve done thousands
of introductions, more introductions than anyone. And I got to tell you: not one person said
they didn’t like it. They said, maybe I don’t have enough time for it
or I can’t afford the membership at The Houstonian. But everyone walked away liking it.
Many of them are now Padel addicts. So, Padel has brought a lot to me.
And I was able to actually share it with a lot of people too. So, now we’re seeing couples that one was
a tennis player, one wasn’t a tennis player. He’s out doing his tennis thing and she’s out
doing her thing. Now they’re both Padel players and able to share the experience in the same
court even if they are at various levels because of the fact that Padel doesn’t require as much
technique it doesn’t require as much skill as tennis. So, those two players about and play tennis
it would be more of a charity thing for the wife who’s better than the husband or the husband better than the wife.
But in this sport you get some idea of the walls, you get some idea of the ability
to keep the ball on play… all of a sudden you have couples able to do things together. So, it’s nice to see all the couples that we have. We can have a couple mix and have 12 teams sign up like that,
because the couples can do something together. And we created an environment where someone
can bring their dog and hang out here. This is almost a dog park / Padel and they
bring their kids, their kids are hanging out. We have trainers training in the gym.
So, it’s really created a unique environment. So, iPadel Houston if you look it up online:
iPadelHouston.com. We’re available for clinics, for birthday parties,
corporate events, team-building… You name it, we do it all. We have drop-in nights meaning that people
can show up on a Monday night if you’re a begginer. Tuesday night if you’re intermediate.
Wednesday night if you’re advanced. You can either pay by the hour
forty dollars an hour, ten dollars a person, or you can pay by membership where you pay
a flat rate and you can play unlimited all year round. USA Padel Center, that’s a company
that’s been around since 2007 actually and it’s built most of the infrastructure
including in Bahamas. And we’ve done some international also in Spain.
and that’s: +1-(713)-539-3110 or USAPadelCenter.com. I get quite a few calls on people who are interested
in number one finding out what the costs are associated with even starting facility, because a lot of the people that
call me are dreamers like myself that have the idea, have the dream, are in a state where maybe Padel
doesn’t exist and they want to get it started. So, I kind of get their mind wrapped around what they
need to do and for that reason I offer consultation because there’s only so much time I can have. So, my initial conversation is kind of
giving people an idea of what I do. With that your consulting fees so I can help them from day one,
how to even start a Padel project. What do you need to do? Do I need an architect?
Do I need a permanent guy? Do I need this? So, that’s being around the sport for so long
and I’ve actually opened my own facility and gone through the trials and tribulations
of what you need to do, especially getting permits. That’s where a lot of my expertise comes in to help
new entrepreneurs who want to start the sport and supplying what I feel is the best
infrastructure for our long-term investment. Because I’ve seen all types of providers from different parts
of the world and you see so many issues come up with courts that you can defer
by getting a good quality court, not having courts where you’re replacing the wire or things
are happening to it, the turf’s bad in a couple of years, or whatever, so… Having seen it all, I can help entrepreneurs cut out
mistakes that cost them a lot money in the long run. I’ve gone to different clubs and unfortunately
I’ve seen some mistakes that could have easily been avoided with some basic common sense
or some experience. We can’t have that happening in the US because we don’t
want the word to get out that Padel is not successful; it is it’s just a matter of mistakes that people make.
So, I know what mistakes not to make. Final words, and if you’re already a Padel player
bring your friends out and get them hooked on it. If you want to be a Padel player come on out,
we’ll get you hooked on it. Make it up. If you have a family… great family thing!
It’s nice to see mom and dad and the kids out hitting. You see them doing it in tennis too,
but you spend most the time picking up balls. You actually see them out here actually hitting,
actually having rallies which inspires fun. What I like about this sport
it’s the ‘new playground’. What I call the ‘new playground’ is when I was a kid (or
‘the new backyard’) my mom couldn’t get us in the house: – Mike, dinner is ready, for the fifth time! Now you’re like: – For the fifth time, you need to get
out of the house and off of those video games! This is like a magnet and it draws
those kids out to the backyard. So, this is the new backyard.
That’s my final word.

Comments (2)

  1. Subtitulos disponibles en la configuración del video.
    0:01 – Quién es Mike May (Who's Mike May)

    2:08 – Por qué no se ha expandido el Pádel aún en los EEUU (Why hasn't Padel developed yet in the US)

    4:45 – Sus inicios en el Padel (His beginnings in Padel)

    6:00 – Asociación de Pádel de los EEUU (United States Padel Association)

    6:43 – La primera vez que vio Pádel (First time he saw Padel)

    8:27 – Cómo comenzó el Pádel en los EEUU (How Padel started in the US)

    9:26 – Mundial de Mendoza 1994 (Mendoza's World Cup 1994)

    11:55 – Dos equipos distintos de EEUU en el mundial de 1994 (Two different US Teams in the 1994 World Cup)

    14:06 – Lo que más le impresionó del Mundial '94 (What stood out the most from the '94 World Cup)

    15:02 – Anécdota con Lasaigues-Gattiker (Anecdote with Lasaigues-Gattiker)

    16:47 – Su experiencia en su primer mundial (His experience in his first World Cup)

    19:20 – Por qué no hay edad para jugar al pádel (Why there's no age to play Padel)

    20:15 – ¿Es el Pádel un desafío para nuestro Ego? (Is playing Padel a challenge for our ego?)

    24:05 – ¿Se necesita mayor condición física en el Pádel o en el Tenis? (Which requires higher physical condition, Padel or Tennis?)

    26:11 – En cuántos mundiales jugó (How many World Cups he played)

    27:23 – Lo que más disfrutó de los mundiales (What he enjoyed the most from the World Cups)

    30:00 – Anécdota con Plácido Domingo (Anecdote with Plácido Domingo)

    31:31 – Los Corcueras y la Primera cancha de Pádel (The Corcueras and the first Padel Court)

    33:30 – Juegos Panamericanos en Argentina 1995 (1995 Panamerican Games in Argentina)

    35:26 – Qué significa el Pádel para Mike May (What does Padel mean to Mike May)

    37:05 – Qué sigue en la vida de Mike (What's next in line for Mike)

    39:27 – El Pádel para parejas y familias (Padel for couples and families)

    40:26 – http://ipadelhouston.com/

    40:58 – http://usapadel.com/

    43:46 – Padel, el nuevo "patio de juegos" (Padel, the new backyard)

  2. Exelente nota y como aprendió..a jugar al padel

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