Over the course of a few years, the sport of padel has become an inescapable phenomenon that has amassed new players and fans all throughout the Netherlands (and the world). Combining the best elements of tennis and squash into a unique and accessible game, everyone that has ever played it seems to agree that this is the racquet sport that is bound to become the most popular of them all. While more are playing than ever, it is still a relatively new sport, with many aspects still in development and new clubs opening doors seemingly every week.
We have also found our way into the sport, partnering with two of the most exciting names active in the Netherlands. From this season on, we are teaming up with the Amsterdam-based indoor club XNRGY and collaborating with Argentinian padel legend Diego Mieres, coach of the Dutch national team ánd Sports Manager at XNRGY. After capturing Diego in softly tailored, luxurious looks on the Atelier Munro court at XNRGY, we sat down with him to learn more about the sport, the club and the man behind the racquet.
Diego, tell us a little more about yourself.
All of my life, I’ve been involved with the sport of padel. And when I say “all of my life”, I mean that quite literally, because my parents also used to play in Argentina. And as they didn’t have the resources to pay for a babysitter to take care of us, they took us along when they played, mostly every week, and sometimes even multiple times a week. So, padel became part of my brother and I’s life almost self-evidently. We fell in love with it in the most natural way, from being at the court as children, to playing ourselves and eventually becoming more and more serious in the sport and going professional. This all takes place in Argentina up until 2003.
Is that when you moved to Spain?
Yes, around that time my father passed away and my mother, brother, and I decided to start a new life in Europe. We decided to move to Spain because of the cultural similarities, the language, and also because of the opportunities to play padel that were already present in the country. It became something of a seamless transition. My mother started working in a store with padel goods and my brother and I continued to play in Spanish competitions. While my brother became one of the best players of the world, I decided to quit competitive padel and pivoted into coaching.
Why did this change take place?
I came to the realization that I enjoyed sharing my knowledge more than just being occupied in playing the game. I’m a very social person, compared to my brother for instance, and I really felt that I wanted to start interacting about the sport. Not just playing it myself. Coaching became that interaction for me. I just love teaching. Until this day, whatever the level I’m engaged in — I just love the interaction that comes with being a coach.
How does the twenty-fifth best player of the world transition into a successful padel coach that is sought out worldwide?
Despite my ranking as twenty-fifth in the world, I was always a little bit in the shadow of my brother, who was number one for quite a while, and has been in the top 10 for about fifteen years. That didn’t affect me much personally, as I’ve always been very proud of him, but that might have also played a role that I decided to leave the competition behind me to start a new path. I had given padel lessons throughout those years of active competitive playing as well, as a source of income to finance my career. So, at first, I just added more hours to what I was already doing once I decided to go full time. From that moment on, I would be on the court as a coach during the hours I was formerly training myself. Having as much fun, maybe even more.
After a while I started receiving phone calls from outside of Spain inquiring about coaching assignments. The fact that I speak English, played an important role in this as well. So, rather quickly after my transition into full time coaching, I was hired all over the globe: Asia, Europe, America, including countries like Iran and Japan. I could have never imagined that they were playing padel, let alone that I would go there because of the sport. Eventually the sport also brought me to the Netherlands at the end of 2019, which I had never visited before, and that’s when I met my wife. I was asked to give a clinic in The Hague, and she was one of the students.
How did you eventually end up staying here, in Amsterdam?
When I decided to stay in the Netherlands, I sent out my resume to different clubs and two Amsterdam-based clubs responded positively. With the sport still being relatively small, word got around that I had settled in the Netherlands, and after a while working in Amsterdam the federation contacted me. And that’s how I became the national coach. I’ve been involved in the sport for several decades, so when they contacted me, I told them to just come see me on the court. A week after they gave me the position of Bondscoach and I was good to go and started the job. That was about five months after I had first arrived in the Hague.
Is that also around the same period in which you got involved with XNRGY?
This was a little later in the year, in the autumn of 2020. Up until that point I was coaching in outdoor courts which was pretty rough on me in the Dutch climate, so I realized I needed to work somewhere indoors. XNRGY was one of the new indoor clubs, so I sent out another email, and I joined them as the Sports Manager from the moment they opened the doors to the public in March of 2021. I am responsible for everything padel-related that goes on inside and outside of the club. Nevertheless, when I joined XNRGY, I told Tyrone the owner in particular that I needed to be on the pitch. Not for the whole day, but a few hours a day I need to be there. I can’t just speak about the sport; I need to be actively participating in it.
How does XNRGY distinguish it itself from other clubs?
We really intend for XNRGY to not be just a padel club, but more-so a social club. We really are trying to create a family here. Which is very close to my heart, because that is also how I grew up in the sport, literally. We want people to not just come here for a match but stay and hang around. I feel this is quite unique compared to the, also very good, experiences I had at other clubs.
You have been here for about one and a half years now, what do you observe when it comes to the sport of padel and a club like XNRGY?
I observe that padel and its surrounding is developing, or even professionalizing, at rapid speed. I say this, looking at the national team and the federation, but also by looking at the opportunities amateurs now have. The sport is becoming more and more visible and the attraction to it is growing all around. This expanding interest in the sport pushes everything to the next level. From the moment the Royal Dutch Lawn Tennis Association (KNLTB) took in the padel federation, around the time when I joined as the national coach, the necessary structure was imposed for the sport to flourish and now the potential seems endless. Personally, I see padel becoming bigger than tennis. Here in the Netherlands, but also in many other countries worldwide.
And I really see an important role for XNRGY in this evolution of padel as a sport in the Netherlands. Even to the point that I refused to train the national team at another club, because I want that side of my life also to be here. Both looking at it from an athletic perspective, with the best players of the country inspiring all other players that come here, but also because XNRGY has become something like a family for me. It wouldn’t feel good for me to work in a different environment in my work as the national coach.
When looking at your life in the sport, starting as a toddler watching your parents play, it almost feels full circle that now you are strongly involved in an environment that aspires to create a similar attitude around the sport. Despite being based in a completely different culture.
At XNRGY, it is our purpose to introduce the sport to as many people as possible here in the Netherlands. And we are eager to create the circumstances in which this is possible in any shape or form. Even if you haven’t played ever before or you have to bring your children. We are trying to make it easier for everyone to feel at home here. Before, during and after matches. Whether you are actively participating or just enjoying the atmosphere of the sport.
After a life traveling all over the world for padel, you really seem to have found a new “home”, which can only be seen as a new milestone in your life. Speaking of milestones; with you being an inspirational force when it comes to padel, we were really proud to introduce you to our world of made-to-measure clothing.
It is interesting to think about it. Looking back at my life, I have seen a lot of the world. Also, when it comes to tailoring, but as I’m growing roots here in the Netherlands, for the first time I also feel really at home in the way Atelier Munro approaches things as a brand. And, as is the case for almost everything in my life, that relationship also started on the court, with Sales Director Jasper, having been a student of mine. I’m extremely grateful for everything the sport has given me, but in many ways, it feels that a lot of new roads are just starting. For the sport of padel in the Netherlands, for XNRGY as a pioneering club in the country, and personally in life settling with my wife in the Netherlands, after many years on the road. I really see Atelier Munro as a great partner on all levels of these developments in my life, with great things coming up already soon!
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