A DOWNEND schoolgirl is celebrating after winning a national open tournament in racket sport padel.
Ruby Mathias has been playing tennis at Cleeve Hill Tennis Club in Downend for around 18 months, and took up padel – which is a similar sport but played on a smaller, enclosed court where the ball can be bounced off the sides, as in squash – about four months ago.
Dad Stuart says she instantly became addicted to padel, which originated in Spain but is growing fast in the UK and is played at a new centre in Fishponds called Surge Padel. Rackets and balls are also different to tennis, with padel played using a carbon or fibreglass racket and softer ball, but the scoring system is the same.
Ruby, who is 11 and has just started at Downend School after attending Christ Church Junior School, took part in a tournament in September organised by the Lawn Tennis Association at the Smash Padel club in Bicester, near Oxford.
Stuart said: “The tournament was open to kids from all over the country and we were astonished as she won the competition, even after a very nervy tie-beak in the semi-finals.
“The final was amazing and she took the prize with many positive comments, including about her strong forehand.
“She actually won the final point of the tournament with a smash, but in padel this would be called a bandeja.
“Ruby has always been sporty and has previously been involved in boxing, football and one of her strong passions, dance.
“Ruby has done so well, as it was only a few years ago she had a severely broken arm.”