Last weekend the International Padel Federation organized a qualification round for the Electrolit Seniors World Padel Championship in Dublin. While the female team is prequalified to compete in the upcoming Las Vegas hosted event, the senior male team was due to play the European qualification round. Dutch Tennis and Padel Federation KNTLB did not inscribe the male team to the qualifier event.
The decision came as a surprise to players and supporters alike. Ivo van Dijk, who represented Holland in the 2018 World Senior Championship, was one of them: “…not seeing The Netherlands in Dublin was a disappointment. We were supposed to be there.”
Jacco Eltingh, Technical Director at KNLTB, explains that there were many aspects considered in the decision. One of them was the short lead term given by the International Padel Federation -FIP-. According to Eltingh, “… FIP gave us a 7-8 weeks lead to this event. Until that point, we were not aware that we should even play a qualification.” It appears that this was not enough preparation time for KNLTB to set up a delegation and arrange logistics.
The short lead time most likely played a role in finding top players willing and able to fly to Dublin. Van Dijk confirms this: “…they had difficulty finding players for the 50+ category. Many of our top players for this age group, including me, chose not to vaccinate against COVID. This is a problem, but they could have asked other players to join.”
Another issue that appears to have played a role is an issue concerning the organization and communication of the event. Jacco Eltingh: “Even though FIP extended the inscription deadline, up to three weeks before the event we did not even know where the qualification event would take place. FIP needs to get their act together. Holland not participating is also a sort of statement in this matter.”
Scott Goossens is a top senior player who was due to participate in the 35+ category. He is critical about KNLTB’s decision. “I am disappointed that we were not consulted about this decision. We could have gone to Ireland. We -the players- were paying for all of our expenses. KNLTB only had to pay for the inscription fee… not even the uniforms, which we would need to return after the event. KNLTB did inform us about the event taking place, but then all of a sudden we received an email that we were not going. I advised KNLTB to get us involved in the decision, but that did not happen. It was a top-down process.” According to Eltingh, events developed differently: “… we followed a careful process that included consultation with some players… there was consensus that we should not go. Maybe now they changed their mind.”
One final aspect that was considered in the KNLTB decision was the location. Both Goossens, Van Dijk and Eltingh agree that organizing a World Championships Qualification Round in Ireland during the month of March on four Outdoor courts is not the best decision. Playing in the winter on a possibly humid court would not allow our players to play padel as padel should be played, as it was argued. The Netherlands would need to play some sort of “mini-tennis padel” instead. Further, the risk of rain delays would be far too high and the backup facilities were not in the vicinity. In short, for KNLTB the facilities were “…not World Championship worthy”. However, according to a source inside FIP, the event was organized according to the rules and regulations of the sport.
Processes vs Result
One important detail seems to set KNLTB and the players apart. While one focuses on the process and building a logic decision, the other one focuses on the end result. Jacco Eltingh: “The decision was taken by a group of people that included National Team Coach Pjotr van Dalftsen, myself and our board. We followed a careful process that included consultation with some players and other European Padel Federations. It was a good decision”. Van Dijk sees it different: “…it was one more missed opportunity”.
The Electrolit Seniors World Padel Championship will take place from March 28th to April 2nd in Las Vegas, USA. The Dutch senior male team will not participate. The female team is seeded as 5th.