Featuring teams from 24 countries, the 2008 World Paddle Tennis Championships (WPTC) began Sunday afternoon at the Calgary West Soccer Centre.
During the opening ceremonies, tournament chair and Paddle Association of Canada chair Bill Stamile thanked both the players for coming and the many sponsors, volunteers and organizers who helped make the bi-yearly event possible.
A relatively new sport in North America, paddle tennis is something of a combination of tennis and squash, being played with a tennis ball and using tennis rules but inside a glass court and always in a doubles format.
Paddle tennis is also played with a smaller composite paddle that’s perforated to reduce resistance rather than a traditional stringed tennis racket. The court features the same lines as a tennis court, but the lines are only used during the serve.
The sport is highly popular throughout several areas in Latin America and Europe.
Paddle Tennis, known as padél in South and Latin America and Platform Tennis in other areas, features an Athletes’ Oath that emphasizes values such as “aggressive without antagonism” and “always gracious, win or lose, it’s team against sport.”
Lindsay Blackett, Alberta’s Minister of Culture and Community Spirit attended the Opening Ceremonies on behalf of Albertan Premier Ed Stelmach and wished the players and cultures attending the WPCT good luck and an enjoyable stay in Calgary.
“Paddle is a relatively young sport and we’re excited about the fact that Calgary and Alberta can become part of its history,” said Blackett in his speech.
Stamile originally brought the sport to Canada after he saw it being played during a family trip to Argentina in 1991. He created the PAC in 1992 and ever since has been working hard to promote and expand the sport.
Stamile and Marco De Iaco, sport and major events director with Tourism Calgary, put in a bid to the World Paddle Association, beating out front runner Sao Paulo, Brazil.
“It was a time in our history when it was about right for us to do this,” said Stamile. “We need a big event here in Canada to help us go to the next level. So we put it together a basic event and followed it up with Tourism Calgary and their Sports Tourism Division and they loved the idea.”
The tournament, which features both men’s and women’s events, is in a single elimination format. It also includes a team’s event in which countries will be represented by three teams which will battle in a round robin format. Tournament Finals begin on Saturday.
The Epoch Times will feature ongoing coverage of the event, so stay tuned!