First look: Inside Head Arena, a new padel tennis centre in Abu Dhabi

The 2,200-square-metre facility will open in Mussaffah on February 21

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A new padel tennis centre, licensed by Austrian sports company Head, is coming to Abu Dhabi.

The 2,200-square-metre Head Arena is set to open in Mussaffah on February 21.

The National had a first look inside the facility, which houses five professional padel courts. Those who want a bit of privacy when playing can book a sixth VIP court. The space has capacity for 60 spectators.

Head Arena also has its own branded juice bar and a retail shop that offers accessories, shoes and other sports apparel by the company.

Court rental rates start at Dh300 for 60 minutes or per game. Other services include private and group coaching for children and adults, starting at Dh350 per session. The facility also has a membership option from Dh795 per month.

Members will have unlimited access to the courts and can borrow racquets for free, and take advantage of a 90-minute clinic once a month. They will also get discounts on retail offerings.

The arena will eventually be home to its own professional padel team.

“It is our pleasure to welcome everyone in the community to visit, train and learn,” said Ravi Menghani, managing partner of Xische Ventures, the investment group that owns Head Arena. Xische and Head plan to launch 10 more facilities across the Mena region, including two this year.

A game of padel at the new Head Arena in Abu Dhabi. Photo: Khushnum Bhandari / The National

The new facility comes as padel gains traction in the UAE. As of last year, there were about 350 padel courts across the country, according to Eisa Al Marzooqi, a board member of the UAE Padel Association.

Padel is something of a cross between tennis and squash. It is typically played in doubles, on an enclosed court that is slightly smaller than a tennis court.

Scoring is the same as in tennis, but the balls are similar and padel players use solid, stringless bats. The court's walls also play a role in a match, as balls can be bounced off them, as in the game of squash.

The sport is relatively new, with its origins being traced back to Mexico in the 1960s. It is currently one of the fastest-growing sports, with more than 25 million players globally, according to the International Padel Federation.

Its rise in popularity can be attributed to the simplicity of the game, especially in comparison to tennis, which “can get technical”, said Audrey Descols of Matcha Club, a padel venue in Dubai. “The thing about padel is that you don’t need to get to a certain level to have fun.”

Updated: February 11, 2023, 5:07 PM