Good positional play is important!

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It is something padel and investing have in common. That and... our bank. To reinforce our good intentions as a proud partner of this great sport, we devised our own video series for beginners about – you guessed it – achieving the right position in the right situation. And as you can see, the shoot of the video series at YC FIVE in Vilvoorde was a success (editor's note: YC are the initials of Belgian football player Yannick Carrasco, who plays for the Belgian national team).

This was hardly a surprise, because putting four talented padel players together on a court is always going to be a treat for the audience. Even if they don't have everything explained by our two coaches, Annouck Meys and François Azzola. However, just to be sure, we did ask both of them to explain a thing or two. Where exactly on the padel court should a player stand? What are the defensive and offensive areas? What is No Man's Land? And why is that? Listen carefully to Annouck and François' tips in our video serie:

Meet the players

François Azzola
First name:
Position on court:

Padel is a booming sport, so how long have you been playing?

François: I've been playing padel for five years now and I've been a member of the Belgian national team since the 2023 European Games. I used to play tennis a lot. The tennis federation apparently saw something in me very early on, when I was five or six. After I completed my degree in physical education, I started to focus on padel more in recent years. I now follow a pretty busy schedule of on-site training sessions and physical preparation.

Annouck: For me, padel was all about learning something new after my tennis career. In tennis, I made it to a Belgian rating of B-15/4, which is the equivalent of 10+ UTR, but I have now quit competitive tennis altogether. I feel there's still room for me to grow with this new challenge. I'm very eager to learn in any case. In concrete terms, this means that I immerse myself in every course and in every video, and I try to play as much as possible. Playing together with a partner gives me a lot of satisfaction.

François: It's very simple: padel is great fun. Believe me, once you get the taste for it as a beginner, you won't want to stop [laughs].

KTB: How long have you been part of the Belgian national team?

François: I was first selected for the European Games in 2023. And soon I'll be taking part in the European Padel Championships.

Annouck: I played for the national team at the European Championships in 2021, and I'll be there again this year.

How many times a week do you train?

François: I train on the court three to four times a week, supplemented by two or three physical training sessions. I also continue to teach, so all in all I have a rather busy schedule.

Annouck: Unfortunately, I don't train as often as I would like. I have one fixed training session a week. When my doubles partner Dorien Cuypers and I are preparing for a tournament, we book some extra sessions. Dorien and I also train together often and we even teach each other. I also teach padel to our competitive players at Wingfield in Mechelen. My day job is teaching science subjects to 12-to-15-year-olds at Het Gymnasion secondary school in Antwerp.

You said earlier that you are left-side players on the court. Can you briefly explain the difference between a right-side and left-side player? Do they play the same part on the court?

François: A left-side player will hit smashes more often. They play more offensively and tend to finish the point a little more often than the right-side player. The latter tend to defend, so they play fewer smashes. However, padel is evolving and in the professional circuit we now also see many players on the right side playing very aggressively and finishing the point.

Annouck: I also play on the left side and like to be the more aggressive player, but when I play alongside Dorien Cuypers – my left-handed partner – she tends to handle the smashes. As far as I'm concerned, there's no better left hand than hers! 

What is the level of Belgian players like compared to the big names in Europe and the rest of the world?

Annouck: The women took fourth place in the World Championships. We're definitely doing our best to get to the very top. We're doing well at a global level, but it's probably going to be difficult to catch up with the top countries.

François: Our national teams did a great job at the European Games. The men reached the quarter-finals and the ladies were in the final four. We're therefore playing at high level, and every year more and more Belgian players are entering the professional circuit.

Annouck: Padel Belgium has excellent support. I really feel our federation is very committed. It all starts with knowledge, perseverance and dedication. Fortunately, Belgium has a good framework of coaches who are always taking new courses, learning and working long hours to improve us all.  

What advice would you give to young people who want to be professional players?

François: As with any sport, to perform at your best, you need to be willing to make sacrifices, such as travelling a lot to take part in international competitions. You need to practice a lot, both on the court and additional physical training. But if you love doing it and are having fun doing it, all that comes naturally.

Annouck: I totally agree.

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