iPadel Houston and USA Padel Center
Introduction by Chuck Minyon
Introduction by Nate Gross
Oncourt Offcourt and Pickleball Magazine
Photo by Tomasz Kraxczyk on Unsplash
Alternative Racquet Sports
At TCB we want to embrace many racquet sports and introduce you to the games and the forces that drive them. We're here to show you how to get into the sport and how to make money with it.
In June, we're introducing you to Padel, POP, and Spec Tennis. We're also featuring the new Pickleball magazine. Let us know if you have comments.
iPadel Houston and USA Padel Center
Houston, Texas can probably called the U.S Padel capital. It's here where we caught up with a very interesting couple, Belen Salcedo, owner of iPadel Houston, and Mike May, owner of USA Padel Center.
Belen Salcedo Matarredona is originally from Spain. She is currently the number one player in the US since 2016. She moved to North America in 2013 to pursue her dream to promote her favorite sport. Since 2014 she is married to Mike May the former President of The United States Padel Association (USPA) in which she is a volunteer doing marketing and social media for the USPA. The two of them have been promoting padel together in the US and decided to further grow the sport by opening a padel facility available to the general public.
Mike May calls himself the first U.S. padel court contractor and padel racquet supplier. He is also the first certified padel pro in the United States having trained with the best mentors from Argentina back in 1993 after retiring from professional tennis in which he was world ranked. Mike also played in most of all the padel world championships.
Mike May was President of the United States Padel Association (USPA) and is currently Director of Racquet Sports at the Houstonian Club.
Questions for Belen Salcedo Matarredona
TCB: Did you play tennis or padel in your home country of Spain?
BSM: I played a little tennis while I grew up in Spain but nothing serious just as a hobby. I discovered Padel in my mid-20s. I became highly addicted and tried to play as much as I could every day of the week. Become like a good addiction in my daily life. Love it!
TCB: In Spain, you obtained a 5-year law degree and then a 3-year marketing degree. Then you moved to Canada. Are you the adventurous type?
BSM: Adventurous is my middle name. I am always looking for new opportunities to learn, grow and travel. It is a good experience when you go out of your comfort area. You learn more from others and you start knowing yourself better.
TCB: How did you connect with the Padel Association of British Columbia whose VP of Marketing you still are?
BSM: I contacted the Canadian Padel association directly to find out if there is anything going on in Vancouver. Although there were no courts, there was a group of people interested in which I helped promote the sport through Facebook and doing some meetings to raise money attempting to gain interest and possible growth of Pádel infrastructure. I am not really connected with the association anymore but still help out occasionally with their Facebook page.
TCB: Where is Mike from and how did he get into tennis?BSM: Mike is from the Houston area mainly the Woodlands Texas where he grew up playing tennis at age 10. Coincidentally his family moved in a house just behind the Woodlands Country Club and this birthed his interest in tennis.
TCB: When and how did Mike discover padel and why did he decide to get into the padel business?
BSM: Mike was recruited as the very first member of the US Padel Team in 1993 by the original US Pádel association. He also became the first certified Pádel pro in US history and promoted and taught Pádel at the very first club to have Pádel in the entire United States at the Houstonian Hotel Club where he is still the Director of Racquet Sports for 28 years.
TCB: How and where did the two of you meet?
BSM: I originally contacted Mike when I visited Houston after Canada in 2011 to find out what was the status of Padel in the United States. The first time that we met was in a meeting regarding Padel at The Houstonian Club.
TCB: Is investing in a padel center a good business opportunity?
BSM: The investment in our Pádel facility called iPadel Houston has been a welcomed surprise in how successful that it has been. We have introduced many people to the sport with and without Racquet Sports backgrounds and everyone loves it! A lot of work and dedication but continuing promoting the sport to whoever wants to try.
TCB: What’s the approximate investment needed to build a two-court padel center?
BSM: The investment obviously varies depending on your location and the state that you live in. We were able to keep our costs down significantly by developing our center in a residential part of Houston that has no zoning. The same investment would be triple the cost if we had to be in a commercial area of Houston. The residential area has also added a different charming feeling.
TCB: Why is padel so popular in Texas and practically non-existent in Southern California?
BSM: Padel is more popular in Texas because this was the birthplace of the sport of Padel in the United States mostly due to Mike’s efforts over all the years promoting Pádel. He has introduced more people to the sport over the years than everyone else added up. The same will happen in Southern California as club owners see the potential for membership retention and membership growth.
TCB: You two are heavily involved in padel and the USPA. What are you doing to expand padel across the country?
BSM: We retired our role in the USPA in 2019 to focus more on our facility and promoting the sport. Mike served as the president from 1998 to 2019. The main thing that we did to help the growth of the sport was to devise a ranking system for the US to help clubs promote the sport via a national ranking system. This inspired players to want to compete and take lessons and travel which helped the clubs make significant money in one weekend.
TCB: Can tennis professionals make prize money in padel competition?
BSM: Club owners are now starting to find sponsors to contribute some prize money in a few of the tournaments nationwide. We foresee that this will grow significantly when sponsors start seeing the unique opportunity to be involved on the ground floor of a developing sport.
TCB: If some of our readers are interested in adding padel to their facility, where do you recommend should they start?
BSM: They should definitely start by contacting my husband Mike May. He was the first Pádel Pro in the United States and understands the market better than anyone else. He is the only Padel Court contractor that also owns his own facility. He also has an extensive playing background having competed 13 times for the United States at the Pádel World Championships. I wouldn’t be doing this if he was not here. If you don’t know the market better to align efforts with someone who knows perfectly what you are doing and where you want to go. You have to consider that the Padel market is not like in Spain or Europe.
TCB: Where can people buy Mike’s book iZone Formula and what is it all about?
BSM: Mike’s book can be purchased at www.izoneformula.com. Obviously, I have some bias but I have taken many lessons in Spain from many elite Padel pros and have not ever experienced such a unique coaching style as my husband. I watch in amazement when he’s giving lessons to see the difference just in the first lesson from the beginning to end for the student. The main focus of his book is to understand the effects of fight or flight on performance in sports and in life. He has a very unique way of explaining things that opens up his student’s minds and breaks down misunderstandings by just focusing on the technical and tactical parts of the game. Many of his students are a testimony that this book is a game-changer for sports performance and in their daily life.
TCB: Thank you, Belen.
Contact Belen at 1 (713) 485-0179 and email firstname.lastname@example.org
New Hampshire based Charles M. (Chuck) Kinyon comes with long and distinguished career in three racquet sports: tennis, squash, and POP tennis.
Chuck is a USPTA certified professional since 1968 who coached tennis teams at Dartmouth College (30 years), Phillips-Exeter Academy (10 years), Penn State University (2 years). He was Director of Tennis at Dublin Lake Club (20 years) and Quechee Club (29 years). He was elected to "Dartmouth Wearers of Green" in 2014.
Chuck coached Squash at both Phillips-Exeter and Dartmouth. The former President of College National Squash Association was elected to the College Squash Hall of Fame in 1994.
Since 2018, Chuck is holding POP Tennis Intro Clinics in both Vermont and Florida. He can be reached at email@example.com.
If you're over 50 or maybe not athletically up to the challenge of tennis, there is a new opportunity to enjoy all the fun of tennis with minimum investment in time to learn the game: POP Tennis. In this video, Chuck Kinyon and Spike Gonzales explain the ins and outs of POP Tennis.
We found a very good article on POP Tennis on Racquetwire.com: POP Tennis Growth Gets Boost from Former ATP Star Magnus Norman. Great read!
Spec Tennis - The (almost) Noiseless Pickleball Alternative
By Nate Gross
Nate Gross created Spec Tennis in 2016. He has recently presented at the USPTA San Diego Convention, USPTA Eastern Webinar, USPTA Middle States Conference, Texas Tennis Coaches Association Conference, Between the White Lines Summit, and the USPTA New England Conference. Contact Nate: firstname.lastname@example.org
Today, I’m going to tell you about a tool that 1) can easily be implemented at any facility 2) will grow the game of tennis, and 3) can single-handedly transform your program into a well-oiled revenue-producing machine with the highest member satisfaction.
All I need from you is an open mind, sound good?
Spec Tennis was created in 2016 initially as a social sporting experience, but then everything changed when I decided to try using it in my tennis lessons as a training tool. I found I was able to develop players at a much faster rate than when I was using a traditional tennis-only approach. I also broke the barrier of the low player-to-coach ratios we see in the tennis industry and fixed the problem of players not practicing effectively outside of their lessons & clinics.
I taught players the same techniques and tactics that I would teach them in tennis but they were having more success! Why? Because we were using a Spec Tennis paddle and an orange dot ball on a smaller court. The sweet spot was closer to their hand, and the ball was ending up in their optimum strike zone.
In case you haven’t heard of Spec Tennis before today, it’s played on a pickleball court with an 18” foam core paddle and an orange dot low compression tennis ball, with an underhand serve, no-ad scoring, and short sets.
The best part? Since Spec Tennis is a dual-threat sport--meaning it serves two roles, one as its own social sport and another as a tool for learning tennis, there is no negative stigma attached to it as many have with the ROGY system.
No one feels like they are playing ‘kids tennis’ and so the buy-in is huge, especially when they see how quickly they have success in every skill. Success is what knocks over all the other dominos, and you start seeing 1) players playing more often 2) improving faster and 3) actually practicing skills you teach them on their own.
Spec Tennis Can Be A Great Addition to Any Club or Facility.
1)You don’t have to build new courts or modify your facility. If you have pickleball courts already, great that makes it even easier. If you don’t that’s fine too, it can be played in the service boxes on a tennis court or can be set up in 10+ minutes using portable nets. It also works really well on clay courts and platform tennis courts.
2) Attract a Larger % of the Membership to Your Courts. Maybe your club has swim members that have never used the tennis courts before. Spec Tennis has the power to attract these types of members when they witness the smaller learning curve and can envision themself being able to play it with their family.
3) Have the Ability to Run Larger Clinics & Accommodate 4x More Players. You can fit 4x more players on 1 tennis court so you can run larger clinics and accommodate more members, or you can have multiple pros teaching different lessons/clinics on the same tennis court simultaneously. (Side note: I ran a 14-player clinic on 1 tennis court for 12 weeks, and I taught the class by myself; part of the reason I was successful was because it was a Spec Tennis clinic).
4) Increase Player Retention. There are so many alternative options that players can be doing. Not only do we lose tennis players to other sports, but even to things like video games. When we ensure that our players get the full experience of actually playing the sport, we have the best chance of not losing that player; after all, tennis is a pretty great sport, we just need to allow our players to see that. The commonly used approach of doing dead ball drills in a clinic with the coach feeding balls to kids standing in a line is the fastest way to get players to quit tennis; it takes the fun out of it and the players don’t get to actually compete against their peers. You don’t have to do this in Spec Tennis, and you can quickly do rally-based games.
5) More Revenue Potential with Spec Tennis Than Pickleball. This is a bold statement, but hear me out. Pickleball is like going to the movie theater and sneaking in your own snacks, whereas Spec Tennis is like going to the theater and buying everything that they offer you at the concession stand. Movie theaters don’t make much money from the admission ticket; where they make their money is the concession stand.
Pickleball revenues come more from the social side and less from the instruction side. Things like social events, tournaments, leagues, and court fees, but less high ticket items like lessons and clinics. This is for two reasons: a) the demographic of players often isn’t looking to take a weekly lesson, and b) for those who might be, they get to a high enough level quickly to where they drop the lesson and go play socially.
Why is Spec Tennis different? Revenues from the instruction side are sustainable. Players will take recurring lessons as they would in tennis, and if they need to be challenged more they can transition to tennis.
6) Hold Very Successful Social Events. I’ve seen clubs where they had to cancel the Club Championship because not enough players signed up and a lot of it was due to egos. In Spec Tennis, you’re able to mix levels together seamlessly and players aren’t worried about losing a match to their buddy like they are in tennis.
7) No Noise. If Spec Tennis is being played on the court next to the USTA National Championships, you’re not going to get any complaints from the tennis players. Put Spec Tennis on a court surrounded by homes and you also won’t get any complaints from the homeowners.
So How Do You Get Started With Spec Tennis?
You have two options. There is a coach’s starter pack available here: spadesports.com/products/uspta. Or if you’re really fired up and would like to promote Spec Tennis in conjunction with starting it at your facility, you can apply to become an Ambassador here: https://www.usspta.com/ambassador.html
Whatever you decide to do, I’m here to support you along the way and am always open to chat about how you can make it a big success at your facility. Feel free to shoot me an email with any questions, email@example.com.
P.S. You’re Just One Rally Away…
(In our case as coaches, we’re just one rally away from changing lives).
Spec Tennis Video 1: What is Spec Tennis (Warning: It's Addictive!)
Spec Tennis Video 2: Improve Your Tennis Game (When You play Spec Tennis)
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