The Joy of Padel podcast with Saana Saarteinen

In this episode, we delve into the world of Saana Saarteinen, Finland’s top padel talent, who has gracefully transitioned from tennis to mastering the courts of padel. At 31, Saana has not only embraced the sport but has made it a lifestyle since 2019. She recounts the initial switch from tennis, spurred by a friend’s invitation to a tournament, and the subsequent journey to becoming Finland’s number one. Saana shares the nuances of adapting tennis skills to padel, her strategic approach to the game, and the importance of letting the ball pass—a pivotal lesson for tennis converts.

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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.

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Full transcript of interview via

SUMMARY KEYWORDS: padel, tennis, court, finland, play, players, work, learn, partner, good, shot, sports, handed backhand, opponent, side, game, watch, team, ball, pros

SPEAKERS: Minter Dial, Saana Saarteinen

Minter Dial 00:11

Hola chicas y chicos. So, many thanks for joining me on 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 this network, please go check out their site,

So, this is the second season for the Joy of Padel. And, as with last season, we’ll be running an episode once every fortnight. Please let us know what you think about the show by putting up a rating and a review.

So, for this seventh episode, we delve into the world of Saana Saarteinen, Finland’s top padel talent, who is gracefully transitioned from tennis to mastering the courts of padel at 31 years young son who has not only embraced the sport, but has made it a lifestyle since 2019. She recounts the initial switch from tennis, spurred by a friend’s invitation to a tournament and the subsequent journey to becoming Finland’s number one. Santa shares the nuances of adapting tennis skills to padel has strategic approach to the game, and the importance of letting the ball pass a pivotal lesson for tennis conference. Please enjoy the listen and share and subscribe to send out more Joy of Padel to the world. Saana Saarteinen… I’m not sure how to pronounce the name perfectly. You’ll tell us how. But who is Saana Saarteinen?

Saana Saarteinen 01:57

30 Year … 31 year old. I wish I was still 30. 31-year-old from Finland who has played padel since approximately 2019. So, for a few years I play tennis before padel compete mainly in Finland. Yeah. And saw and I saw thing and is the right pronunciation.

Minter Dial 02:16

So, I knew it’d be there. A little roll here and there. And so, you play tennis and you convert it to padel. Why did you decide padel’s the game?

Saana Saarteinen 02:30

Well, padel started growing quite a bit in Finland in like 2018 2019. And my friend from tennis actually played first or like kind of just went to hit with someone and someone kind of scouted her from there and said you should join a tournament. And that’s when she then called me like oh, somebody said we should go to I should like join a tournament to her. So, she’s like, then she decided to ask me and that’s how we ended up playing a tournament the first time. I think we practiced once before the first tournament we ever went to and then from there it was just yeah, we just continued playing and now it’s like a lifestyle here.

Minter Dial 03:03

It’s a beautiful thing, but there’s the transition. How do you how do you spot Do you think? A good tennis, adaptable padel player?

Saana Saarteinen 03:17

Tennis-adaptable padel player. Do you mean like a tennis player that is now adapted padel?

Minter Dial 03:23

Yeah, so in other words, you see a tennis place I think that tennis player would be good on a padel court.

Saana Saarteinen 03:28

Um, that’s actually difficult I guess someone who has like very good kind of feel to the ball like strategic in certain ways on a tennis court. Obviously a big serve, and most likely good volleys, are a big part. Yeah, I think and someone who moves well so you can kind of see some elements of the tennis side that will definitely like kind of then transform or turn like very good tennis elements into padel elements. I think you could probably see those but then again, it depends it’s a very it’s a kind of a journey always for a tennis player because you need to learn to let the ball go past you and all these kind of little things so I guess Yeah, at the starting line everyone is pretty kind of you know, we have all the same struggles but then definitely someone who is who has very kind of stable game maybe in tennis who has a big surf good volleys, I think those kinds of things and he moves well.

Minter Dial 04:18

Are those characteristics of Saana.

Saana Saarteinen 04:20

Ah, it depends. I would say I was pretty kind of stable as a tennis player. It didn’t have the best surf definitely but um, but yeah, maybe the kind of consistency is probably one thing that I’ve taken from tennis to padel.

Minter Dial 04:34

Double-handed backhand?

Saana Saarteinen 04:35

Yes double handed backhand which I do use on the padel court to from the baseline and the net sometimes so that’s something backhand was one of my best shots so I kind of like to use them padel as well.

Minter Dial 04:44

The double you play on the right, which means that shots down the middle of your backhand. Yes. And do you use a double-handed backhand? Like on return to serve what how do you use the double handed backhand? I mean, I feel like on the left, there’s more that angle, you can if you’re right handed, that gets you that cross court, you can do the dipping shot a little bit more spin on it, but from the right shot, what is it? What’s yours types of shots do you like to use double-handed backhand a lot?

Saana Saarteinen 05:12

If it’s a return, I try not to go for the inside out so that that was a risky one because it can definitely hit the sidewall but usually the middle, so I tried to get it to go to the feet in the middle or then to the person on the side of the other. So, on the left side and the other side of the net. So, that’s a pretty safe shot like at the body or then to their backhand. So, somewhere around there, not it, you can go a little I guess. Or it’s a little easier to implement on the B side. So, the left hand side the double-handed backhand, but it does work on the side, too.

Minter Dial 05:41

Yeah. What I’m interested in is looking at how to evolve from tennis into padel, which is basically the struggle of so many people on the padel court. But I’m also interested in seeing how the game is evolving at the pro level at the highest levels. So, as far as unwinding tennis, and figuring out padel letting it go by what tips or lessons have you learned that make that happen?

Saana Saarteinen 06:09

Well, I remember the struggle in the beginning, especially in the beginning, you don’t want anything to go past you. So, you’re trying to trade like dry volleys that block every single ball, I think the first thing is to just kind of admit, okay, I’m going to be very bad at this. To begin with, I need to let the ball go past me. And as soon as I kind of accept the fact that I need to my level just has to go down for a moment, then it will start to like go up quite quickly as well, when you start to learn how to take the kind of wall aspect into play. So, that’s, that’s probably the biggest thing like, learn how to let the golf ball go past you. And from that, then start building and building on your game. So, that’s probably the first, the first and very important part as well, because it gives you a lot of time when you learn how to let the ball go past you and you get a whole new kind of like, world out of padel.

Minter Dial 06:52

It’s amazing, isn’t it. And yet, when you get in those struggles, homes like those, you know, you’re in the back and then the people in the net and they’re attacking you, it’s very easy to resort back to the thing you know best which is block or you know, volley from the back. So, let’s go back to 2019 and your arrival to padel. How did that happen? You were? Did you do a lot of coaching? What was your route into becoming the player number one in Finland?

Saana Saarteinen 07:21

Yes, we had coaches and I had a few different coaches to begin with that was very important to kind of get that basic level and understanding of what padel is because you have this kind of mentality as a tennis player that you got to kill the ball right away. When it comes to your ball, you’re killing it, you’re killing it with your smash. And usually those actually, they kind of turn against you when you don’t know how to play padel properly, even at the net. So, not only the baseline part to let the ball go past you, but at the net as well. Definitely the coaches helped a lot in the beginning because it gave me that baseline to then start to improve on and I think then practicing we practice a lot with men, so pretty good level men in Finland and I think that has helped us a lot to improve our game. We like to play it play a lot of like practice matches to get that kind of match aspect to going and practice as well that we can then take to our matches. I think just consistently working on learning what padel is in the beginning, then starting to compete competing every time that there is a tournament in Finland, especially I think that has helped then then get to where I am today. Definitely.

Minter Dial 08:22

So, I mean, I’ve been playing padel a long time and mostly in sort of Hispanic countries and there’s a certain culture to the way it’s played in a modern era or in Madrid and so on or what is Iris? What’s the culture of padel like in Finland? To what extent is it more like Finns playing padel? Or are these sort of Spanish oriented style players?

Saana Saarteinen 08:48

I think every country actually has this kind of their own cultural style for padel. I think we’re getting more into the looking more like padel players because in the beginning was very tennis like and you could always see okay, that person plays ice hockey, that person has played badminton, ping pong, all these different sports volleyball, you can always kind of spot the players. Now I think it’s more of a mesh. So, people are learning a padel a little better, you can’t maybe always identify who’s been what before you kind of or when you’re on court with them. So, I think I think the culture in the beginning was that all different kinds of sports, so racquet sports or sports that involve the ball, they kind of all came to padel and then there was kind of a mix of them and you could always identify and identify the kind of style, so, I think that’s definitely something that’s now evolving. We have more juniors coming and players who play kind of international more as well try to go overseas we have people coming from overseas here sometimes as well. So, I think that kind of also keeps teaching us how to become more Spanish I guess or the places that play padel the best because they there is definitely a different style there. And in Sweden even they play a little differently. I think they’re a little head with padel compared to Finland It was bigger there first and then it came to Finland so that you can just you can kind of like distinguish the difference because I would say,

Minter Dial 10:01

and the challenge of course, when I when I speak to a lot of pros out there, dominant by dominated by the Spaniards, the Argentinians and resilience and, and the challenge is having enough competition at home, when you’re not in a padel first kind of country to up your score. And it’s really interesting, you talk about playing with men, because they will bring a bit more speed, a little more power. And that forces you to adapt and learn how to defend differently and, and get better labs and stuff like that. So, I think that’s an interesting way. So, tell us about you because you have a full time job. And so, how do you manage to play padel and be number one with a full time job?

Saana Saarteinen 10:45

Well, it’s a balancing act, I would say, I think the best part about it, even though of course, you work the full day, and then you go to padel. So, your time is limited in that sense. But I think they work well together. Because the whole day, if you’re using your brain, and you’re kind of working, it’s very nice to go and do some sports. I think it’s healthy, it’s good for everyone. So, in that sense, it’s good to kind of a mix, of course, then it depends on my work weeks if I have to go to Helsinki a lot, for instance, if I travel between them, but in Helsinki that affects practice, but it is doable. And I think college tennis because I play college tennis in the past that was studying and tennis, I’ve always liked the combination of both a little more intense with work, of course, because work takes the full day as I mentioned. So. So, in that sense, it does work but you got to put in the work, you got to you got to kind of make sure that you practice enough and do the right things. Always give it your all on court if you can’t make that many practices during that week. So, I think those little things that you do, they do kind of then you need to make sure you have done them properly. And that then kind of brings the results.

Minter Dial 11:46

So, in the world of Saana when she’s out with friends and they say what do you do and you have a work and they pay this thing called padel? How often are people saying what?

Saana Saarteinen 11:57

A lot of people actually no padel? So, the padel is pretty kind of known in Finland, I would say these days. But of course then people do always kind of want to know how much do you practice and all these things when if they follow like my padel and stuff. They’re very interested in what I do and who do I practice with? Where and how the whole thing works? Because yeah, I think it’s a interesting kind of situation to work full time and then still play padel like at the kind of top of the top level in the country.

Minter Dial 12:23

Do you do you follow the professional padel tour?

Saana Saarteinen 12:26

I do follow it sometimes not that often. But I do know the top players, we’ve actually played a few times against them. There was the WPT tournament here last year in August. So, so we got to play against the players and sometimes I see those players in the European Championships for instance. So, I do run into them from time to time and follow on and they play it’s very nice to watch them because there’s always these kind of new things you can learn from them and from what they do and how they play.

Minter Dial 12:53

So, whom do you like to watch? I mean, do you like time is limited so you can’t watch eternally? Or do you just watch the clips?

Saana Saarteinen 13:02

I watched clips and I actually really liked to watch padel live. I think that’s I love watching it live because once I think it was there was an exhibition match here a couple years ago and I sat for five hours with my friends we were watching padel and I was like am I really not getting bored because from TV it’s not I guess you don’t get the kind of full on experience. But live I definitely love watching especially last year, I went one of the evenings that I had already lost in the tournament and I was watching and I think I watched for like three four or five hours in a row. And I really wanted to see Galan and Lebron that time and never had seen live so that was a match that I watched his wall and tried to go every day because it was at that much fun to watch it live. So, I prefer the kind of live elements aspects of sports rather than watching it from TV.

Minter Dial 13:46

Hmm. So, who do you see you play on the right, as I understand it, who are the pros that you look at and you really want to analyze the most or at least or you just love watching the most?

Saana Saarteinen 14:02

I think Delfi is a very interesting player from like, yeah, Delfi Brea. I think she’s just an all-around very solid player like she just gets the job done. See she doesn’t make a lot of mistakes. She plays very strategically, I’d say and, and is just like an all around very, very good player. So, she’s definitely one interesting one than there are lots of B players that I like to follow as well or like look at what they do. Depends. Well, Brea of course plays with Bea.

Minter Dial 14:31

Bea Gonzalez. Yeah, yes.

Saana Saarteinen 14:34

Bea Gonzalez. And then. So, what Ben does as well, because there are very different players again, she goes through it more like the bigger shots and does all these guys have more fancy things on court. So, it’s super interesting to watch. They’re kind of how they work together. And I do like watching Well, now Galan and Lebron don’t play together anymore. But when they did, I think that was very interesting because especially in the men’s side, there’s so many like crazy things that happen on the court, like really cool points and stuff like that. So, I like to follow that and just see how they do because they move all over the court, it’s like they’re all over the place.

Minter Dial 15:02

It’s a dance. It’s literally a dance.

Saana Saarteinen 15:05

It’s a dance. So, I think that’s the, that’s the like fun aspect of it. Because a lot of the time, especially in Finland, you, we don’t have that kind of like moving around the court as much like to the other side and being all over the place. A lot of the times they teach you that you move, like together with your partner, which is especially important in the beginning. And of course, depends what lever you play at what’s like smart and wise to do. But then when you go out and you watch the pros, it’s like, well, they’re all over the place. They’re like grinding the glass and the fence and everything. So, so that’s I think that’s, that’s kind of I don’t have any specific player who I like want to kind of like tried to follow but just the whole, like the event of padel when pros play, it’s, it’s really cool to watch.

Minter Dial 15:41

It is another level. I mean, it’s dangerous to think that we might get anything close to any of that sort of the fantasy shots that they have. It’s actually remarkable. So, one of the things I’d like to ask about is this notion of choosing your partner, you obviously have your partner and that sort of set, it feels almost awkward if you have had a long term partner, the idea of breaking up. But how do you choose a partner? What sort of advice do you give to people who are saying how do you which partner to choose? Which side do you play on?

Saana Saarteinen 16:18

Hmm, I think the sides do play do play that kind of ask role in it. If you’re an A player, then you should go look for the player. But of course, I also do believe that it would be good that everybody knew how to play both sides. So, you have more of an option to choose your partner, you’re going to have both sides, or no, like the basics of both sides, you can always develop the game on either side. So, I think that’s important to stay kind of versatile with your own skills. But um, there are good and bad sides of having the same partner for long. I think when you play with someone for a very long time, you learn what they do you know exactly what they’re doing. And every like step they take and these kinds of things. So, it’s a very big benefit in that sense. But then again, if you start changing partners, you have to learn how to adapt. And that’s something that doesn’t take place all the time when you play with the same partner. So, there are like positive aspects of both. I think the most important thing when choosing a partner, obviously depends on the country, sometimes you don’t have a lot of choices. So, that’s when you pick who doesn’t have a partner at that point in time if somebody for instance, is sick or injured and can’t make it. But I would say the mental aspect is very, very important. If you have someone who has mentally kind of a similar, similar kind of vibe or game kind of mindset, I think that’s super important. So, it’s not always about like how talented someone might be or how good they might be like playing wise. Because if for instance, they’re completely different mentally and you guys cannot connect on court, I think that’s a huge risk. So, it’s something that that should always be taken into play, not to always maybe choose the best player but who’s mentally fit for you. Because that can actually you guys can do a lot of a better job together than someone who’s like completely on a different wavelength. Or, again, another aspect to it, learn how to then kind of meet them meet each other halfway. It’s important to know not always think like what the other person can bring. But what are you actually bringing on court? How do you adapt to that partner? So, I think it’s a lot about Yes, picking someone who’s right for you, but how are you going to transform yourself to actually adapt to this new partner that you have? There’s like a whole there’s so many aspects to it’s very difficult to like, pinpoint exactly what but you need to be ready to also learn new things learn new ways of like talking to your partner what works for them, you can always take the same thing and like drag and drop it to the next place in the next place because everybody needs something different on court. But to have that similar kind of mental drive or mental like if you’re very kind of aggressive or very like okay, we need to win this like come on come on. And then you have someone who’s like very the opposite that might it might be difficult but again, everything can you can make everything work if you really try so well.

Minter Dial 18:42

I love the way that you say that Saana that you should also think about yourself and bring it What can you change? How can you change? It’s not just about the other person all the time? And what about in communication itself? So, let’s say you have the same mindset. How do you determine the right calling structure? What kind of calls do you have? And the one that usually gets me and that’s my challenge is figuring out what ones up ones back?

Saana Saarteinen 19:13

I’m do you mean with a new partner or in general with.

Minter Dial 19:16

Well, in general, what works for you? And then how do you make it work because maybe the other partner has a completely different approach.

Saana Saarteinen 19:25

That’s something that needs to be discussed. I think in the beginning, if you take for instance, a practice setup. I’ve noticed when I’ve played with different players, some people don’t like it when you actually tell them where the players stand. Some people might not listen, even if you tell them. Some people need to be told where like where players are standing because they actually make a strategic choice on where they hit from what they hear from the other player. I think it’s also something that you need to discuss openly. I don’t think you can just like kind of just do whatever on court and then be like, Okay, well that person is not talking and we will I’m not saying anything, I don’t know you need to discuss it openly. I think that’s the main thing and everything when it comes to padel On team sports anyways, like understanding the other person and understanding yourself also on court, and then making it work because I really like when people like my partner tells me where the players are standing because I actually make a choice according to that. And I know majority of the people also do like it when they’re told where players stand. So, I think then, if you’re used to not saying anything, you need to kind of adapt to say something, if your partner really needs that information, and you learn, it’s kind of it takes time to learn things. But if you set your mind to it, I think anyone can learn to communicate well, on court.

Minter Dial 20:30

It’s important when you do have those ability, the ability and the desire to adjust your shot according to what the call is, is to have a call it early enough. Yeah, and B, to be clear, right? Because I mean, the challenge of one upon back is, you know, do you call it do you say a when B, you name the player? Yours mine? What call structure do you guys you to use together?

Saana Saarteinen 20:59

Sometimes it’s actually funny, because some days, I might mix up A and B, and then I’m like, apologies, like actually.

Minter Dial 21:05

So, happening quickly, and I….

Saana Saarteinen 21:09

And then you notice, like when you’ve said it, it’s like, no, it’s the other way around. But then you also don’t want to say too much to convey. So, then you kind of like, let’s see what happens. But um, yeah, that’s, that’s, uh, I’m trying to think actually what we say, I think we say the side yeah, like A or B, if we really know the opponent’s names, like, then we might say name, but it’s usually it’s pretty clear like that both back or if we say like, at front and finish, like, then we know both are there. If we say then kind of like B came up, then we might know that A is in the back. So, we do try to communicate very, like, concisely and clearly, but there are moments on court like I mix up a and b side sometimes and I’m like what am I even like why? It’s simple it’s A and B, and then you’re just like no no.

Minter Dial 21:53

Maybe some sort of residue dyslexia, right, you know comes out. So, in terms of your games on how would you describe your game now you’ve been playing now for over five years now? And what kind of what kind of animal I like to ask, what kind of animal are you on the padel court?

Saana Saarteinen 22:09

Oh, that’s a tricky question. I haven’t thought of what kind of an animal I would be but probably an animal that is pretty patient to some extent. I like to try to build the points to kind of get the easier shots so to get that place where you can actually hit then or my partner it can hit like a winner but I don’t know what animal I would actually be I think I think for me someone that an animal that is pretty like quick strategic can make points yeah, what would that kind of animal be? I don’t know why keep just thinking of a fish but I wouldn’t say a fish is any kind of animal that should be on a padel court.

Minter Dial 22:48

Or out of water, but you know, how the mind works, right? Yeah. What’s your favorite shot?

Saana Saarteinen 22:54

My favorite shot I would say is probably I like to hit chiquitas I think is my favorite shot not saying I’m good at them but I do like them because I feel like they kind of bring the possibility of going forward if you they can even go past the player on the other side. So, if you if you haven’t good Chiquita, I think it’s a nice like shot when you make the Chiquita. It feels good. I would say that, that we’re not saying I’m good at it. But it’s my favorite shot.

Minter Dial 23:18

Right, so do you paid off the forehand and the backhand or just one side? Mostly?

Saana Saarteinen 23:23

Mainly the forehand and kind of like across more angle? Yeah. That’s probably like one of the shots that when it works, it’s always like a nice feeling.

Minter Dial 23:32

What about the shot you’re trying to improve on?

Saana Saarteinen 23:35

I would say the main one I would want to now improve is my return. I think the return is something that is super important because it kind of sets the whole point of the beginning of the point. And if your return is bad, then if you give an easy ball to the opponent’s, they might already start like making points pretty easy. So, I think the return is one thing I would want to work on and make it and make it better. So, whether it be a lob or Chiquita, whatever I’m returning to get more quality on my return. That’s definitely something.

Minter Dial 24:00

So, I personally just talk about the second because I tend to, I tend to have a first default shop, which is a lob, if I can down the line depends on which side I’m playing and who I’m playing against, of course, but that’s my sort of, I would like to be able to go for that. And I kind of decide on what I want to do ahead of time, especially as the game goes along. How about how do you approach the return? I mean, obviously, you have different style servers, but what’s your approach? And how are you going to look at improving your returns?

Saana Saarteinen 24:34

I think a lot of it depends also not only on what kind of shot I would like to hit and who the opponent is. So, if I know my opponent has a big smash or they have very good volleys or they move very close to the net, I adjust accordingly. But definitely, I would like to have more like height on the lob. So, something that I would, I would want to implement if I love either hide it so the opponent can’t see it’s coming or then have enough height that you have the time to kind of set yourselves up with your partner on cord before the next shot comes, definitely that and I do have some like, if nothing’s working, then it’s like, okay, just hit to the middle. That’s one thing that if nothing works, if your return is just absolutely out of place, on that day hit to the middle or lob to the middle, just make sure you kind of bring in those. What do you call those kind of margins? Yeah, so not making mistakes if your return is just not working. So, that’s probably something I default to otherwise I adjust according to the opponent.

Minter Dial 25:29

I like that. One of the issues with padel it for me anyway, and I’m sharing is when I’m not feeling great, you know, my touch isn’t there? What am I doing? How, what’s the mental game that I worked through? And so, I got to do my three basics. Watch the ball. Yes, split step. And then try basic shots. So, basically, you know, like, essentially lower risk type shots go down the middle. Let’s just get back to basics. Yes, and so but the eyes and your eye on the ball, watch it onto your racket, split steps, get the feet going. And then hopefully things will come back, is there a little routine that you use, sort of when you’re in that bad space?

Saana Saarteinen 26:15

Yes. Usually, if game is just not working on any given day, I do go back to very basic things. So, try not to try not to fancy shots like not going for that angle Chiquita the whole time or, or these kinds of things, trying to, I think margins is the biggest one for me try to make sure that I bring in the margins, but also focus on the quality of my shot. Watching the ball is one thing I was thinking about that that’s something that if you just think about watching the ball, it already shifts your focus from maybe thinking about like what’s going wrong to just watching the ball. So, that’s already a thing, playing to the middle, but that’s all about the margins again, so trying to think and then just trying to be more consistent, making sure my legs are moving. A lot of the times if your game is not going well, it could be because of your legs, you’re standing straight, you’re not moving, you’re not doing your split step, you’re not going forward, you kind of just become a statue. So, that’s one thing also to pay attention that I do pay attention to his my legs. And a lot of the times with my doubles partner were like, Okay, let’s like bend our knees now. Because if we’re like making return mistakes, usually it’s because we’re not bending our knees. So, we do this kind of stuff together a lot, especially if we’re not having a good day, we try to try to find the kind of tools to turn the game around. It’s not always possible, but we at least try to analyze together and see what can be done. And watching the ball is another thing we say to each other.

Minter Dial 27:33

Well, it’s good that I mean, this whole notion of communication. And if you have that open channel, you have some similar mindset, and you’re prepared because you know, you want to win. I mean, that’s the idea. If you’re part of screws up, she didn’t mean to screw up and how you manage the screw ups, roll your eyes, shrug your shoulders, you know, all these little micro things, like almost micro aggressions, to use a more modern term can be very debilitating for that relationship. So, this is the Joy of Padel and hopefully it brings you joy Santa to play. What tell me what kind of if you have in your mind, the funniest thing that’s ever happened to you on a padel court, or around or around padel?

Saana Saarteinen 28:17

Funniest thing… is being well, um I have to actually think I’m not sure if there’s any been anything like very, very funny. Funny that comes to mind I think a lot of the fun and joy is just in the very regular things like having a good practice, having a good match, playing out in the sun in Finland … we play indoors for so much of the time so I think it’s a little things there isn’t one thing that that kind of comes to mind that has been very funny or just like kind of one thing that stands out I think it’s the whole the kind of the little things that that are fun for me and make it fun the whole process.

Minter Dial 28:52

It’s the little thing and the whole thing somehow. Yeah, I went to one of my on my own I pretended these are like some hard and fast rules, but they’re not. I always say there’s rule number five and rule number five is after a good game in general, you’ve got to go off and have a beer with your other partners… that I mean of course if you drive and then other legality issues, but in general I feel like it’s a very social game. Yes. And we should maintain that afterwards. And is that something that’s part of the Finnish way of playing padel?

Saana Saarteinen 29:23

Yes, depends it depends of course. I would say a lot of the times you see people like stay after padel if there’s like a beer fountain or something where you can get drinks food so those kind of padel centers they definitely draw people to like just hang around there as well like discuss with your opponents after the games and stuff like that practice. We do sometimes as well and it’s I think that’s one of the biggest like tennis is also social but it’s not as social as pedal a lot of people really liked pedal because of the social element and aspect of it. I think it is a lot fun, a fun to kind of like, I guess because there are four players on the court. So, always like a kind of like a party once you’re done so you can get those friends from court and go do something or just hang around after next to the court. You don’t even need that to be your fountain or a nice restaurant. Just hang around and sit and watch other people play that’s what happens a lot. I’ve noticed you might stay in watch the next door court play or talk to some other people try to flat find new opponents and stuff like that. So, the social aspect is really like a cool thing. And the nice thing about padel.

Minter Dial 30:24

On of my observations about padel as opposed to tennis? Is the proximity with your opponents on the court? It makes it possible to talk you know, you’re sometimes all four at the net or much more frequently or for the net, then you will be in Lawn Tennis, backwards and forwards. And you’re it feels that that must help somehow as well as being Spanish.

Saana Saarteinen 30:50

I was just going to say that’s definitely and I noticed I didn’t play tennis for a while and I went on a tennis court I was like whoa, like had to shout to like the person on the other side. I’m like, you’re so far away. Like I have to really shout and it’s like you don’t you don’t kind of you know that interaction. Isn’t that that often on the tennis court like that you get on padel court because everyone’s up the net are very close in proximity. So, so there is a difference there. Definitely.

Minter Dial 31:11

No doubt. Right. So, for someone who’s played so much tennis and now padel. Clearly, I think in sports, there’s life. And the things that happen off the court can impact you on the court and the things that happen on the court can also bring you elements off the court. What kind of lessons life lessons do you think padel has brought to you? And maybe if it’s possible, specifically different from Lawn Tennis, but in any event, what is padel brought to you in the five years you’ve been playing Saana?

Saana Saarteinen 31:45

Hmm, well, they’re from both I think it’s easy. This is also kind of apparent for tennis, but I think from the losses you learn to kind of take those hits in life I think and vice versa. From the wins you kind of learn how to celebrate like achievements, I guess from padel maybe it’s the kind of social aspect of sports the team element of it and tennis you’re very alone and padel you’re kind of with your teammates, and your opponents is a team your opponents are a team so I think that more of the kind of playing as a team is definitely some lessons that I’ve learned from padel and from work because you work in a team usually barely work alone all the time. So, I think that that kind of team aspect is something that’s come very strongly out of padel in tennis you do play doubles as well. But it’s more kind of a singles than doubles, the more like kind of emphasis I think, is put on the single side usually. So, and doubles is fully kind of padel is fully a double sport. So, definitely the team element outside.

Minter Dial 32:43

And I don’t suppose you represented Finland playing tennis? Or did you?

Saana Saarteinen 32:49

What do you mean?

Minter Dial 32:50

Did you represent Finland playing tennis and the Fed Cup or something like that?

Saana Saarteinen 32:54

I was in the Fed Cup once. That was quite a long time ago, though.

Minter Dial 32:58

So, tell us about your experience of paying for Finland at the European world championships.

Saana Saarteinen 33:05

In padel? I loved college tennis for the fact that it was a team sport, okay, and now I’m again mixing my words. What I meant like previously was that when you’re on court, you’re usually alone in tennis and padel you’re together. So, that’s the moment. But in college tennis, it was a team sport. In that sense, you’re alone, but you’re in a team like everybody’s wins add up to that team win. So, it’s similar when you go to like a European championships or World Championships, in padel you’re playing with that partner on court. But you’re kind of team you have usually like three doubles, parents who go on court, you all have to kind of win cheer each other to get that win. So, it’s not enough that you went to court, you actually have to ensure that your teammates also win. So, it’s a lot of fun. I think the whole team mascot aspect of, of sports in general brings kind of a bigger excitement to the whole the whole kind of journey of the sport. So, I definitely prefer playing as as like this team where you’re playing on court, but then you also have the teammates who need to succeed. It’s more fun.

Minter Dial 34:03

Last question for you. Santa is when do you think we’re going to have a finish? Or you know, what we’re basically you know, I’d love it for finished but having a top finished player when I say top, you know, Top 20 Top 10 How far away are we from having that? We you know, get rid of or get bumped off the Spanish-Argentinian-Brazilian hegemony. Oh, there’s the of course there’s the Portuguese ad as well. Sofia [Araujo] who plays?

Saana Saarteinen 34:36

Well, let’s say from the finish players were very far away from the top. I think there’s a huge jump even, like top 50 or top 40 versus Top 10 Top 20. There is a difference in level I would say. So, I think we’re very far in that sense because I know when I play for instance, I played against a few top 10 players a few top 20 and top 30 And it has been very difficult it might not look that weigh from the outside. But when you’re on court, they do so many different things that make you kind of completely off balance. You don’t see it on the outside. But when you are on court, you feel it. So, I think that is something that is still missing a lot from Finland’s padel. Because the kind of element of or kind of skill of making someone feel so unbalanced on court is what the pros do, they choose their shots. So, specifically, they’re able to be in a bad position themselves and still make a shot that makes their opponent be in a completely horrible position. And I think that’s something that is definitely still missing from padel in Finland. So, learning how to kind of really strategically make your opponent completely off balance. And it will take it will take years, I guess, still, hopefully, sooner than later that somebody comes and knocks the Spanish players out the way because in Finland, there aren’t any players that have played from like childhood. And that’s the difference, because I guess the Spanish players, some of them have moved from tennis to padel, but a lot of them have kind of grown with the score, fewer padel, pure padel. And that’s what makes a lot of the differences, I think and why some of the countries are so ahead. Plus, of course, they probably practice with each other. So, they learn even if you move from tennis to padel, you still practicing with those people, you learn those things faster than if you’re kind of in your own culture, your own country culture. So, it is possible that someone who hasn’t played for that long could probably make it I don’t know when no idea. But I think the more kind of likely scenario is that some of the juniors who are now playing will probably then be the ones who are knocking these Top 20 Top 10 players out of the way. Someday, but yeah, we’ll take some time.

Minter Dial 36:33

Hey, Saana, then you will be a Will you be going to Qatar for the World Championships.

Saana Saarteinen 36:39

I think the next one that’s coming up, if I get chosen to the team, of course is Italy, for the European Championships in in July. Qatar, I’m not sure I think the Finish team needs to qualify. And I think Qatar is like the main event for World Championships. And I’m not sure entirely sure if these European Championships in Italy have kind of a linkage to that I’m not sure we’ll find out. It’s not always clear to me because there’s like the FIP, the FEPA and all these different kinds of organizations. So, so I’m not like completely aware of how it all works. But let’s see.

Minter Dial 37:14

Saana, hey, it’s been a great to have you on the Joy of Padel. Do you have a last word for people who are out there listening to you to get inspired for or enjoy more padel?

Saana Saarteinen 37:26

I think find a good partner find someone who is fun to play with to play, play with different kinds of players. So, you kind of learn different playing styles and just have fun I think always like giving it your all on court is just fun. Like give it your all and enjoy padel. That’s all I have to say.

Minter Dial 37:47

Excellent Saana. It’s been a tremendous pleasure. I hope one day our paths will cross if not on a padel court just in in a hotel or IV or at an airport. Let us have fun and keep on enjoying your padel. Saana, thank you so much.

Saana Saarteinen 38:02

Thank you. Thank you very much. This was fun.

Minter Dial 38:06

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 With that, thanks for listening. And see you on the next episode of the Joy of Padel podcast. ¡ Vamos !

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