The Joy of Padel podcast with Tia Norton
Tia Norton is Great Britain’s most recognisable professional padel player. The GB number 1 blazed a trail when, aged only 17, she became the first British woman ever to compete – and win – on the World Padel Tour, the international professional circuit. Since then she has enjoyed tournament success including the FIP London in 2022 and the inaugural Pro Padel League in June this year with the Las Vegas Smash. As the sport continues to grow in popularity in the UK, Tia is destined to become a household name, but the girl from Leamington Spa remains modest about her achievements. Now aged 20, her next goal is to break into the world top 100. Off court Tia is a passionate advocate for getting women and children into padel – a sport which, she says, has given her “so much enjoyment”.
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Joy of Padel – Summary of interview of Tia Norton via Otter.ai
- Paddle sports with professional player Tia Norton. 0:10
- Tia Norton shares her journey from 17-year-old GB paddle pro to Women’s Player of the Year.
- Paddleball career and personality traits. 1:50
- Tia Norton shares her journey from tennis to paddle, including her selection to the Mexico World Championships and sacrifices made to pursue the sport.
- Tia Norton describes herself as a “panda” on the court, calm and collected but with a fun personality.
- Tennis strategy and shot execution with pro player Tia Norton. 5:27
- Tia Norton’s favorite shot is a drop volley drop shot, which she plays multiple times during a match to catch opponents off guard.
- Tia believes that Minter Dial needs to improve his reaction time and preparation for the drop shot in paddle, as the distance between players is much shorter than in tennis.
- Tia Norton and Minter Dial discuss the challenges of playing professional padel, with Tia focusing on the FIP VIP tour and the difficulty of getting into the World Padel Tour due to points system requirements.
- Paddle tennis strategies and techniques with Tia Norton. 10:21
- Tia Norton admires Agustin Tapia’s creative shots and confidence on court.
- Tia Norton emphasizes footwork in paddle tennis, citing its importance in a smaller, more dynamic space.
- Padel tennis, life lessons, and teamwork. 14:22
- Tia Norton shares a clumsy moment on the tennis court where she stepped on the ball and sprained her ankle, and a funny moment in the Pro Padel League where her team hit their opponent multiple times.
- Team bonding and trust led to victory in a competitive event.
- Minter Dial and Tia Norton discuss the unique aspects of padel, including the importance of trust and camaraderie in the game.
- Tia Norton shares how playing padel at a young age helped her mature quickly and develop independence.
- Tia Norton’s padel career and future ambitions. 20:34
- Tia Norton hopes to be the best in the world and inspire the next generation of padel players.
Full transcript via Otter.ai
SUMMARY KEYWORDS: padel, shot, playing, court, player, tennis, moment, competing, tia, tournaments, fip, winning, years, sport, hit, spain, drop, pros, points, clumsy
SPEAKERS: Tia Norton, Minter Dial
Minter Dial 00:10
Buenos días chicas y chicos. Hello and welcome a very warm welcome to the Joy of Padel podcast, spreading and sharing the supreme delight of this wonderful and fast-growing game. I’m your host Minter Dial. And this podcast is brought to you by Padel1969, the largest manufacturer of premium padel courts, one court for life by Padel1969. The Joy of Padel is part of the Evergreen Podcast Network. For more information about the network, go and check out evergreenpodcast.com.
So, this is the inaugural season of the Joy of Padel podcast. And to start with, we’re going to do an episode once every fortnight. Episodes will drop every other Wednesday at 12 noon, London time. Please let us know what you think about the show by putting up a rating and review.
Welcome to episode number eight of the Joy of Padel podcast. Today’s guest is Tia Norton. Tia is Great Britain’s most recognizable professional padel player. The GB number one blazed a trail when aged only 17 she became the first British woman ever to compete and win on the World Padel Tour international professional circuit that is. Since then, she’s enjoyed tournaments success, including the FIP London in 2022 and the inaugural pro padel league in North America in June this year, where she won with the Las Vegas Smash. In 2023 tier was crowned women’s panel Player of the Year at the LTA London awards. Tia Norton, great to have you on my show. Tell us to hear how you got into padel.
Tia Norton 01:50
Yeah. So, thank you for having me. First of all, pleasure to be on here. Yeah, I got into padel when I was 12 years old. So, I originally come from a tennis background. And it was actually one of my former tennis coaches who invited me to a club in Birmingham. So, I tried it for the first time. I really enjoyed it. Of course, there’s frustration like anyone else who’s trying padel for the first time came from tennis with the walls, but yeah, tried it out. And a few weeks later, they had TV trials for the junior team to go to the Mexico World Championships. So, I actually got selected after a few weeks and potted off to Mexico and managed to reach the quarterfinals. And I came home, I was doing tennis and padel together. But my parents were like, right, let’s try and choose one. So, I ended up choosing to padel. And then after that, yeah, I was traveling to Spain on the weekends. So, I would fly on a Friday after school. spend Saturday Sunday in Spain and then fly home Monday morning and then go straight to school. So, So yeah, it was quite a lot of sacrifice to be able to play padel. But yeah, here we are, it was all worth it.
Minter Dial 02:59
Well, the good news is you got to go down to Spain, it’s not the worst place to go in terms of weather. You got some good players to play with, and tell us about why you chose padel there.
Tia Norton 03:12
I think I found so much more enjoyment in it. In tennis, there was a lot of cheating parents getting involved when I was at tournaments. And ultimately, I was a kid who just wanted to enjoy some sport. And I really think I mean, I come from quite competitive sporty family. And yeah, I think after going to Mexico as well, after only a few weeks of playing that definitely spike some more interest than playing tennis. So, yeah, it’s given me the opportunity to travel to meet so many incredible friends and there’s such a community in padel which I’m sure you can agree with as well.
Minter Dial 03:48
Do you think that community is because the sport is somewhat new? Or do you think it’s really inherent in the game?
Tia Norton 03:56
I think it’s quite inherent in the game. It’s coming from a Hispanic culture and they’re renowned for being quite sociable and stuff around that. And, of course, it being a new sport I think that’s added to its social side but ultimately I think it’s born into the sport which is quite nice.
Minter Dial 04:16
So Tia you’ve now been playing for how many years?
Tia Norton 04:20
It would be eight years now?
Minter Dial 04:22
I don’t know your age. So, that was the missing piece for me eight years well, how would you describe yourself as a player?
Tia Norton 04:31
So I picked up the nickname on court poker face when I was quite young because I never used to show any emotion whatsoever. Whether I was winning or losing I would just have the same face constantly. But as I’ve gotten older, I’ve definitely, I wouldn’t say learned more emotions, but showed more emotions on court. But yeah, I’m still pretty cool calm and collected we could say, so yeah.
Minter Dial 05:00
If you had to describe yourself as an animal, then what would what sort of animal is Tia Norton on the court?
Tia Norton 05:09
A good question. First thing that’s come to mind is a panda. Because they have fun.
Minter Dial 05:15
Love it, but they smile to my face.
Tia Norton 05:17
But they’re quite clumsy. I wouldn’t say I’m clumsy. I can be sometimes.
Minter Dial 05:25
But yeah, pan is quite enjoyable. So, we’ll go with that. Yeah, love it. Well, for having played with you, I know that you are not clumsy. You are very precise, and very, very strong on the court. Well, let’s see. What about your favorite shot? After having played so many converted to total padel?
Tia Norton 05:46
Yeah, it’s got to be a drop volley drop shot. I play it multiple times during a match. Whenever I’m playing with someone new, I play my backhand drop shot. And they’re like, Is that your favorite shot? And I always say that is my signature shot to a tee. So, yeah, that has to be my favorite shot.
Minter Dial 06:07
Well, so I’d love to know, because obviously, like you, I’ve played a lot of tennis, and am wondering, just to how you get to the drop shot, when do you decide that you’re gonna do the drop shot? Is that something you’ve spotted ahead of time. And that because you really need to prepare for it in a different way.
Tia Norton 06:26
Yeah, I mean, it’s quite a, it’s not an easy shot to execute, because it is quite risky. Because of course, it can either completely backfire, and you hit it straight into the net, or you try and hit it short, and then it goes a bit deeper. And then it’s just an easy shot for your opponent. So, yeah, it’s normally played when your opponent is pushed a little bit further back. And there’s a faster ball coming to you. So, you can basically completely take the pace off the shot. And, yeah, I mean, it sort of happens instinctively. For me. I have quite a creative game in padel. So, yeah, sometimes I’ve hit a shot. And I’m like, Why have I hit that? But yeah, my mind goes a million miles an hour, sometimes?
Minter Dial 07:10
Well, the difference for me with regard to the drop shot in tennis, you’ve got a lot more space between you. Whereas in padel when you say they’re deep, they’re never more than, you know, eight meters away from you, basically. So, your time to react and to prepare, cut and drop it, is less than in tennis where generally speaking, they could be miles away in the back of their court.
Tia Norton 07:35
Yeah, exactly. It’s got to be quite a disguised shot as well. Because of course, if your opponent knows that you’re gonna hit it, then. Yeah, there’s slightly saying not a huge amount of court to cover compared to tennis. But yeah, if you play in the right moment, then you can be caught off guard.
Minter Dial 07:53
Totally. And what about your shot that you feel that Tia needs to improve on?
Tia Norton 08:01
Hmm, I would say the more simple shots because I tend to overthink them a lot more. Shot I need to improve? I probably go like a backhand or something, just a simple back hand drive. Yeah, it can either be really, really good. Or I try and do far too much with it. So, when it comes off when it pays off, fantastic shot, but it can be a little bit unreliable sometimes.
Minter Dial 08:38
That makes me think of my cousin Nallé, who is a top ranked player. And he keeps on saying better to be unhappy with a simple shots you miss, than happy with the great shots you make.
Tia Norton 08:53
I can relate to that.
Minter Dial 08:54
Indeed. Keep it keep it simple sometimes. So, obviously, you’re playing on the tour. You’re typically playing in what sort of tournaments right now?
Tia Norton 09:06
So FIP is my most played tournament at the moment. World Padel Tour is a little bit difficult for me to get into. So, yeah, I’m focusing on the FIP VIP tour at the moment.
Minter Dial 09:16
And the difficulty getting into the WPT is that getting into enough of the Challenger tournaments, which are typically all in Spain.
Tia Norton 09:24
Now, so it’s a case of points, their point system and how they’ve, they’ve worked it out. So, in order to be able to play World Padel Tour, you have to have a certain amount of points, because they only allow a certain amount of pairs into the tournament. But in order to get those points you have to be playing World Padel Tour. So, it’s sort of a spiraling circle, you’re going around in a circle all the time, whereas FIP there’s a lot more opportunities for new and upcoming players to get onto the pro circuit. And yeah, it’s a really good level. Really really good level.
Minter Dial 10:00
Who’s your partner?
Tia Norton 10:02
So at the moment I’m playing with Rosalie Vanderhook, she’s a Dutch player. She’s on the Dutch national team. And she’s, as of now, just taking a little bit of break from professional tennis. So, she actually competed in Wimbledon this year. Won first round at Wimbledon, so so yeah. Amazing, amazing person to be to be on court with.
Minter Dial 10:25
And what about amongst the other pros, you filled out this questionnaire for me. Well, who are your favorite pros to play to watch?
Tia Norton 10:33
So female is Marta Ortega. I had the pleasure of meeting Dr. Ortega. Yeah. I had the pleasure of meeting her when I was about 13 or 14. And yeah, she was such a lovely person, down to earth. And yeah, really inspired me to, to continue a padel and try and see how far I could go. And yeah, she broke onto the pro circuit when she was at such a young age. And yeah, I’ve managed to follow in her footsteps a little bit, and I hope to continue to do so as well.
Minter Dial 11:08
She’s a wonderful player, too. And what about on the male side?
Tia Norton 11:11
It has to be Tapia.
Minter Dial 11:15
Tia Norton 11:16
Some of the shots he comes up with? They’re an absolute joke. Yeah, he is. Such a talent. And I would consider myself quite creative on court as well. And I’m always looking for new shots to be able to execute. And yeah, watching him, he’s definitely a huge inspiration in terms of some of the shots he plays. You’re like, how have you managed to get that back? have you executed that? And sometimes they’re in such penultimate moments, but he just has them in his locker and he knows that he’s able to do it. So. So, yeah, to be able to have the confidence, encouraged to pull off some of those shots in important moments would be would be incredible.
Minter Dial 11:56
Of course, he plays on the left side as well. Do you find that you can study his game or the pros games? The other pros? Do feel like you’re, you’re watching them? And I’m getting I’m getting the sense that you are you’re trying to figure out how he gets into those positions where he executes?
Tia Norton 12:14
Definitely whenever I’m watching the process, and excuse me, the higher rank players competing and I’m always thinking, right, have they managed to get themselves into this more aggressive position? How have they built up the point tactically, what are they doing? What shots are they playing? So? So yeah, my mind is never fully switched off when I’m playing padel. It’s always it’s always right. How can I how can I bet on my game as well.
Minter Dial 12:40
And it was, I mean, for having been a student of the game now for 50 odd years. I mean, of course, I didn’t have access to watch so many people in my youth, but it feels for me that sense of position on the court. And the little steps, the feet, footwork, it’s stuff that’s less visible, or at least you know, it’s less splashy, is just a little bit more abstract, this idea of knowing when to be on the court, go up, back, cut the ball off for the you know, after hitting the fence.
Tia Norton 13:13
Definitely footwork in padel is huge, especially coming from tennis, when it tends to be a lot bigger strides. Whereas padel is a little bit more intricate, obviously, you’re in a, you’re in a smaller space as well, more compact, and the wall can be changing direction so many times. So, taking big steps is not the way forward. It’s always about moving your feet, and especially when you’re playing outdoors, and you’ve got someone who’s lobbying quite a lot. Standing still is not an option. You’ve got to be got to be moving your feet constantly until you make contact with that ball. So, yeah, I definitely learned that over the years coming from tennis, I was not one to really move my legs very much. But in padel you’ve got you’ve got no choice you have to.
Minter Dial 13:58
You certainly are a mover. So, this is the joy of padel. here. And you can hear the enjoyment through your voice. But what would you say is the funniest moment that you’ve ever had on a padel court?
Tia Norton 14:12
Oh, funniest moment. I’ve definitely had some stupid moments that have caused me to actually injure myself.
Minter Dial 14:22
Like you trip and fall?
Tia Norton 14:24
No, I mean, I mentioned earlier that it wasn’t clumsy. But I mean, in this instance that I’m about to share was very, very clumsy. I was actually running to the net for the drop shot and didn’t get there in time. Obviously too slow and the ball actually went under me. I completely stepped on it and sprained my ankle. So, that left me out with only a week, two weeks but yeah, that was a clumsy moment. But funny, funniest moment? I would say actually one of my matches in the Pro Padel league in America. I was playing against the Miami team. And I’d made really good friends with one of the girls that I was playing against. And during the match myself and my partner, I’m not entirely sure how many times we hit this girl. But like, we hit her so many times!
Minter Dial 15:19
Every time right?
Tia Norton 15:21
Well, sometimes she was just in the way, like, just happened to be in the way, the ball where the direction where it was going. And after the match, she came up to me and she was like, You do realize how many times you’ve just hit me. So, she actually made a video after the match. A combination of how many times we’d hit her and she put it to the song “Hit Me Baby One More Time.”
Minter Dial 15:44
Well, a good sense of humour.
Tia Norton 15:45
Good memory from there. Yeah.
Minter Dial 15:49
Well, speaking of that, because this is phenomenal. The Pro Padel League, you got recruited drafted into that for the Las Vegas team. And you ended up winning tell us about that victory.
Tia Norton 16:01
Yeah, I mean, going to America, we were competing in Tampa and Florida. As you say, I got drafted for the Vegas team. But I actually signed up to play to play and get drafted, or hopefully get drafted. And I’ve succeeded in that. But it was a bit of a risk going because it was the first league that they’d ever done of its kind. First like this in padel. And yeah, there weren’t really too many expectations, or at least didn’t know what to expect, or how it was gonna run or anything. And yeah, it turned into one of the best experiences of my life. We stayed in Tampa for five weeks and was living on site. So, had particle that your second walk from me playing every single day, competing on the weekends. My team, I actually didn’t really well, in fact, I didn’t know anyone. I knew of some of the players, but I’ve never spoken to them before. And by the end of it, we all become a family. And our team owner said from the beginning, that all he wanted us to do, throughout the duration of that event, was to play with our heart. And that will get us as far as we needed to. And there we did it. We we ended up winning, so yeah, it was a really, really special moment.
Minter Dial 17:19
Also winning, there has to be more. There’s chemistry, there’s the the heart. I mean, why is it that you guys won, versus such outstanding competition?
Tia Norton 17:32
I think we bonded together as a team so much throughout the course of those five weeks. So, we were all staying there, the four of us who were playing every single weekend, so we were spending every day with each other. We learned what each other needed on and off the court. How to support each other. And at the end of it, we were one team. There was all of us playing on that court every single match, you would come off the court throughout the changeovers, and you’d have everyone around you supporting you. And at the end of it, we just had so much trust in one another. And yeah, we let the players perform and, and yeah, it led us to victory by the end of it
Minter Dial 18:16
It is one of the differences. Of course, you have doubles in tennis, but the nature of the game in padel, you got the simplicity of the shots, and then you got to go for those other shots. And you have to have the trust in in each other, and you have each other’s back so much more, I think, than in doubles, where it’s a more aggressive game in tennis, because you’ve been trying to punch the ball through, whereas in padel you’re developing and that sense of camaraderie is almost something you build up within the points.
Tia Norton 18:49
Definitely! Patience in padel is an absolute key. Like, well, one of my coaches said to me that you can make padel as simple as you want it to be. And it is entirely true. The more simple you play, the more you’re able to build a point and then you will eventually get that easier shot. Whereas if you want to be hitting those incredible shots from the beginning, you’re gonna make life hard for yourself. So, yeah, patience is definitely a virtue in padel.
Minter Dial 19:18
You said make life hard for yourself. What about life lessons? What about what about how do you feel that padel can help you within life itself?
Tia Norton 19:29
I mean, I was very lucky to be introduced the padel at such a young age from the age of 12. And from the age of 12, I was actually competing in the women’s senior team. So, that led me to traveling all over being around adults a lot of the time and learning life lessons on and off the court. Obviously from the adults that I was around. And yeah, it basically led me to mature at a really young age and I always get people asking me now: How old are you? And I always say how old you think I am? And the age I get is 24-25 every time I’m hoping not from the way I look but people say that it’s just the way that I act. So, yeah, I mean I’ve just learned how to well I matured really young basically and yeah, it’s led me to be able to travel on my own now be quite independent around padel. And yeah, here I am. I guess!
Minter Dial 20:34
Indeed. And how would you describe the future for Tia in padel?
Tia Norton 20:40
Future for Tia in padel? I hope that it will big as it can go, as far as it can go. Of course, everyone’s dream is to be the best in the world. And, and yeah, that is a dream that I hold. Of course, it’s it’s a long-term ambition. And yeah, hopefully, I’ve got many, many more years and padel many more years competing, and hopefully to inspire the next generation as well to pick up a racket because ultimately, myself and everyone else is not gonna be playing padel forever. So, there need to be kids coming through. And yeah, hopefully, I’ll be able to inspire some kids.
Minter Dial 21:19
Well, on the male side… I mean, I haven’t really thought about it. There’s Patty Laguna, who I’d say is a veteran for her age, but in the male side, there’s definitely there’s Bela, and there’s Sanyo, who is coming up on 40. So, in any event, I hope that you have many years left, you are a delight to play with. You’re a delight to watch here and I wish you lots of good luck. Thank you so much for coming on and being a guest on the show. Vamos, Tia.
Tia Norton 21:55
Thank you very much lovely to speak with you.
Minter Dial 21:58
So, I hope you’ve enjoyed this Joy of Padel episode. Please don’t forget to subscribe to be the first in queue for the next episode. And if you like what you hear, please do share it around with other padel aficionados. This is a sport that deserves to be played by absolutely everyone. And if you’ve got a story that you’d like to share, please send me an email or a better yet a voice note at NMinterDial@gmail.com With that, thanks for listening. And see you on the next episode of the Joy of Padel podcast. Vamos!
About the host: Minter Dial
Minter Dial is an international professional speaker, author & consultant on Leadership, Branding and Transformation. His involvement in sports has been a lifetime passion. Besides playing 18 years of rugby, captaining athletics teams, coaching tennis and playing squash for his university, he’s been a lifelong player of padel tennis, starting at the age of 10, from the time of its very first public courts at the Marbella Club in 1974.
Then, after a successful international career at L’Oréal, Minter Dial returned to his entrepreneurial roots and has spent the last twelve years helping senior management teams and Boards to adapt to the new exigencies of the digitally enhanced marketplace. He has worked with world-class organisations to help activate their brand strategies, and figure out how best to integrate new technologies, digital tools, devices and platforms. Above all, Minter works to catalyse a change in mindset and dial up transformation. Minter received his BA in Trilingual Literature from Yale University (1987) and gained his MBA at INSEAD, Fontainebleau (1993). He’s author of four award-winning books, including Heartificial Empathy 2nd edition (2023), You Lead (Kogan Page 2021), co-author of Futureproof (Pearson 2017); and author of The Last Ring Home (Myndset Press 2016), a book and documentary film, both of which have won awards and critical acclaim.
It’s easy to inquire about booking Minter Dial here.