By Harry Cicma

MIAMI (CBSMiami) – Move over pickleball, here comes padel. The sport of padel, which is a cross between tennis and squash, was created in 1969 in Mexico and has made a huge impact on the international sports community. Now it’s making its way to Miami and South Florida.

“I started playing because of COVID, and I’ve gotten really into it, I’m addicted to it,” said Miami resident Paolo Liuzzo, who recently moved to South Florida from New York.

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Of the 40,000 courts worldwide, there are only 65 courts in the United States, and 30 of them are in Miami.

Morgan Kaisrlak has enjoyed the new extracurricular option that padel has given her and her friends in Miami.

“I really enjoy it because all levels can play; no matter if you’re 15 or 70, you can come play. It’s good because you can be social with friends and be active and Miami is always perfect for it, with the weather, so we have a blast each time we play.”

Raleigh Smith grew up in Coral Gables and played Division 1 college tennis at Northwestern University and he loves the new option of playing padel in Miami.

“It used to be really easy to get a court here but now it’s borderline impossible, it’s kind of a catch 22, because I’m glad it’s growing but now it’s very difficult to get a court here,” he explained.

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Scoring in padel is identical to conventional tennis, but there are a few key differences between these two sports.

“The rules are different than tennis, honestly the biggest difference that I have noticed is the walls. In tennis when someone hits it hard you run backwards, but in padel you run forwards, so if someone hits it hard, it bounces off the wall and flies forward, so you have to learn to run forward, but the rules are still the same regarding that it can only bounce once, you still have to use the paddle, and I guess the walls are just the biggest difference,” Kaisrlak added.

Over 250,000 people in The United States start playing padel each year, and there’s no question that Miami is helping to lead the charge. The COVID Pandemic also was a driving factor to its growth, as Smith would agree

“In the beginning it was a COVID safe activity, and it’s an outdoor activity with exercise. We have the greatest weather in the world and it’s November and it’s 75 degrees.”

“It’s just a very international mix of people so you meet people from all over the world. It’s cool, it’s a good social community, and it’s also a great sport and a lot of fun,” Liuzzo said.

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Padel, another unique sport to add on the list of Miami’s rich racquet sports tradition.