The globally popular sport known as padel has officially touched down in San Francisco. Padel is a racquet sport combining familiar elements of squash and tennis, and it’s played by millions of players around the world, especially in Spain and Argentina. Lucky for San Franciscans, we can now try our hand at padel thanks to the installation of new courts on San Francisco’s Embarcadero and Treasure Island. The Treasure Island courts, which opened in September 2023, are the first padel courts in Northern California.
The minority and women-owned venture known as Park Padel began in 2023 in collaboration with SF Rec & Parks. You may have seen two courts installed at Embarcadero Plaza in front of the Ferry Building this November, right next to Vaillancourt Fountain. The pop-up is scheduled to run through mid to late 2024, but Park Padel has an ambitious plan to open 100 courts in the Bay Area over the next 5 years. They plan to open a 6-court indoor facility in South San Francisco in mid-2024.
Aspiring players can book a court and buy or rent equipment through Park Padel. They also offer group clinics and private lessons with skilled coaches including Aitana Comas, a highly adept tennis and padel player from Spain; and Julian Wortelboer, the only Padel Master Coach in the United States. The monthly membership fee with Park Padel is $100, which gets you free racket rental and guest bookings, plus reduced prices for courts and clinics.
Bay Padel opened in a historic airplane hangar on Treasure Island in September 2023, meaning they were officially the first padel courts in Northern California. The expansive facility features 4 indoor padel courts, 1 outdoor padel court, and 4 pickleball courts. It stands out for certain other creature comforts including a health-conscious cafe; state-of-the-art dressing rooms with showers; and a lounge area with warm-up equipment including yoga mats, weights, stationary bikes, and treadmills. They plan to open a second location at Pier 70 in the Dogpatch in early 2024.
At Bay Padel, players can enjoy monthly membership plans ranging between $60-85, which gets you lower prices on court bookings and open play. Newcomers to the sport can tune up their technique with private lessons from Marcel Felder, a professional tennis player and certified padel and pickleball coach from Uruguay.
So… what exactly is padel?
Padel is a fun and social racquet sport played by millions of people around the world. Park Padel describes it as “easy to pick up like pickleball, dynamic like squash, and athletic like tennis.”
The sport is played in doubles on an enclosed court about a third of the size of a tennis court, using solid rackets made from carbon fiber and a depressurized ball. Players hit the ball back and forth over a net using tennis scoring. Since the ball can be played off the walls, there’s more emphasis on placement rather than power, making it an entertaining and strategic game.
Padel first originated in 1969 in Acapulco, Mexico when a rich businessman named Enrique Corcuera tried to install tennis courts at his home but didn’t have enough space. He ended up installing a smaller walled court to play a mini version of tennis with wooden racquets, and the sport soon spread among the Mexican elite.
By 1974 the sport had arrived in Marbella, and these days it’s grown into a beloved pastime in Argentina and Spain. Padel.fyi reports that there are over 25 million padel players in 110 countries around the world, and about 40,000 padel courts globally.