PADEL - Tia Norton helps Las Vegas Smash win inaugural Pro Padel League - The Leamington Observer

PADEL - Tia Norton helps Las Vegas Smash win inaugural Pro Padel League

Leamington Editorial 19th Jun, 2023 Updated: 21st Jun, 2023   0

TIA Norton’s American gamble paid off after the British number one’s Las Vegas Smash team won the inaugural Pro Padel League (PPL).

Norton was the only British player to take part in America’s newest professional sports league as the Leamington star created history by claiming victory at the end of the six-week tournament in Tampa, Florida.

Vegas beat Mexican side Cancun Waves 2-0 in the final after 19-year-old Norton, and partner Palila de la Pena won the opening women’s doubles match.

And Las Vegas’s men’s doubles pair of Guga Vazquez and Pablo Amora then won their tie to seal overall victory.

Norton said: “It truly turned out to be that fairytale ending to the American dream.

“Throughout the league, before every match, the thing that was said between everyone was to play with our hearts and leave everything out there on the courts.

“Of course we wanted to win, but we focussed on being the best possible versions of ourselves, and the best team we could possibly be.

“In the end we did just that, and it made that end victory feel just that little bit more special.

“After that final point was played, pure elation waved over the whole team as we all jumped onto the court and celebrated together.

“I can wholeheartedly say that this is the first time I have ever cried after winning, and that same emotion was shared through many of us.

“The victory felt so much more special purely because of how close we had all become, and thinking back to that moment still gives me goosebumps every single time.

“It’s a memory and feeling that will be with me for a long time.”

The teenager made a potentially career-defining decision to forego two months of the World Padel Tour season to play in the PPL with her victory the biggest moment in Britain’s short padel history.

Norton added: “Applying to the PPL, I knew it was a risk, as it meant missing out on five weeks of international tournaments and working towards my world ranking.

“The sport in the U.S. wasn’t huge, and this league was something that had never been attempted or seen in padel, so there were a lot of potential things that could have gone either way, but wow, what a risk it was worth taking.

“The PPL and this experience as a whole has truly taught me so much and changed me as a player and a person without a doubt.

“Of course winning the league is what everyone dreamt of, and for me that dream came true, but regardless of the result, the PPL turned out to be everything and more than I ever thought it could be.

And Norton now hopes she can break into the world’s top-100 players as she attempts to achieve another first for British padel.

She said: “This experience and becoming the first ever PPL champions is without a doubt a monumental moment in my career.

“Vegas made history and it will be a memory and highlight that will stay with me for the rest of my life.

“I feel my victory is a big moment for me personally and a big moment for British Padel, too.

“It’s an incredible and historic achievement, but I am no different to any other padel player. I will be going back to training and continuing to compete on the international circuits.

“It’s time to continue using everything I learnt during my time at the PPL to create some more history by breaking into the world’s top 100 – that has to be the driver in the short term for me.

“I was totally motivated by the idea of heading to the States to create my own small bit of history as the first and only Brit to compete in America’s newest professional sports league.

“And to be the youngest player, too, I am of course excited about the opportunities the past six weeks could present for me in the U.S. as the sport is at the very start of its journey there.

“It’s about far more than myself. It’s about all of the other members on the team who will go down in U.S. padel history books and did something remarkable as a collective.

“There’s no doubt that the PPL has created a huge pathway for padel in America, and I hope off the back of this it grows as much as I believe it can.

“Padel has all the ingredients to be a huge success in the U.S. and I’m eagerly anticipating seeing its journey unfold.”

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