The Joy of Padel podcast with Enrique Buenaventura

Are you a sports enthusiast looking for your next adrenaline rush? Or perhaps you’re a business-minded individual curious about the intersection of passion and industry? Our latest podcast episode featuring Enrique Buenaventura has it all – and it’s a game-changer for padel sports fans.

Enrique Buenaventura isn’t just a name; it’s a brand synonymous with the evolution of padel sports. In this episode, Enrique takes us on a journey through his life, sharing his deep-rooted love for sports, his transition from a tennis player to a padel aficionado, and his ambitious venture into the business side of this rapidly growing sport.

padel, a racquet sport that has captured the hearts of many, is more than just a game for Enrique. It’s a lifestyle. With over 30 years of experience, he has witnessed the sport’s transformation from a fun pastime to a professional arena. Enrique discusses the nuances of maintaining the joy of padel while navigating the challenges of making it a business.

The highlight of the episode is the Hexagon Cup, an innovative international padel competition cofounded by Enrique. Drawing parallels with the early days of the internet, he explains how the Hexagon Cup is pioneering a new era for the sport. With teams owned by celebrities like Eva Longoria and sports legends like Andy Murray and Robert Lewandowski, the Hexagon Cup is a testament to the sport’s burgeoning appeal.

You will be captivated by the behind-the-scenes look at organizing such an event, the strategic decisions about the game’s pace, and the importance of fan engagement. Enrique’s insights into the future of padel, including potential expansion plans and the focus on creating a fan-centric experience, are particularly intriguing.

This episode isn’t just for the sports-minded. It’s a masterclass in turning passion into a successful business venture, the power of innovation, and the importance of community engagement. Enrique’s story is a powerful reminder that with dedication and vision, you can leave a lasting impact on an industry.

Don’t miss this opportunity to learn from a trailblazer in the world of sports. Tune in to our latest episode and discover why padel is more than just a game – it’s the future of sports entertainment.

00:00:00 – Enrique Buenaventura has adventured into the world of padel
00:07:45 – Enrique prefers the old-fashioned padel because it’s more tactical
00:09:02 – He founded Hexagon Cup to promote padel internationally
00:15:08 – Rafa Nadal Academy launches padel tour with seven events in Spain
00:19:09 – The Hexagon tournament features six teams with six players per team
00:23:40 – There was a lot of mixed feelings about the debut
00:29:33 – Already announced 2025 Hexagon Cup
00:32:55 – Hexagon focuses on fan experience, engagement with fans, having celebrities involved
00:35:58 – Enrique discusses his favorite shot and ways to improve in padel tennis
00:41:02 – What sort of animal are you on the court, Enrique?

To find out more about Enrique and the Hexagon Cup:

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Meanwhile, you can find Minter’s other Evergreen podcasts, entitled The Minter Dialogue Show (in English and French) in this podcast tab, on Megaphone or via Apple Podcasts.

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.

View all posts on padel tennis by Minter Dial

Full transcript of interview via Otter.ai

SUMMARY KEYWORDS: padel, players, madrid, playing, years, team, sport, compete, celebrities, spain, enrique, love, game, Hexagon, event, tennis, fantastic, uk, worked, professional

SPEAKERS: Enrique Buenaventura, Minter Dial

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, Evergreenpodcasts.com.

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 episode nine, it’s with Enrique Buenaventura. Join us as we explore the enthralling padel journey of Enrique a sports aficionado, turn padel entrepreneur, and Enrique shares insights from his multifaceted experience in the sport and business of padel, including his transition from tennis to padel at the age of 12. With padel’s burgeoning popularity, Enrique discusses the challenges and thrills of keeping the joy in the game, while navigating its commercial landscape. He also delves into the inception of the Hexagon Cup, an innovative international team event designed to stoke the competitive spirit, and broaden padel’s appeal across the globe. This episode is a deep dive into the strategic evolution of padel the significance of inclusivity in the sport, and the delicate balance between preserving the essence of the game and embracing its dynamic future. Please enjoy the listen and share and subscribe to send out more Joy of Padel to the world. Enrique Buenaventura. What a great name that is you are on the adventure of life and you have adventures into the world of padel and making business out of it. In your own words, Enrique, who are you?

Enrique Buenaventura  02:26

Hello, good morning. In my own words, who I am, well, I’m passionate of sport, a big passionate of sport and I’ve been working in sport for many, many years. And lately in padel now, working are obviously enjoying also sports for many, many years, all kinds of sports, football, tennis, skiing all kinds of sports and motorsport, which is one of my passions and the thing I’ve been working for the last 15 years, I would say.

Minter Dial  03:00

One of the things that I’ve been observing and as I’ve gotten deeper into these conversations with people who are involved in padel, there’s a joy of padel, there’s a joy to the game, but when it becomes your business when you’re a professional, there’s a lot more hard work involved and I’m wondering to what extent you’ve managed to keep the joy in your padel?

Enrique Buenaventura  03:21

Yeah, so absolutely right. Now, so, I’ve been playing padel since I was 12 so in Spain as you as you know, it’s been big for more than 30 years so which is when I started now I was a tennis player and I moved to padel and I would not say at any point a professional but I was a good amateur now so especially. Until I was 20 I was competing I was competing you know the 18 16, 14 categories, top 10 always more or less what I was doing many other sports so I’ve been playing then I moved to the UK many years ago a many years ago padel was nothing in the UK, so I moved back to my younger habits and I moved back to tennis it I would say five six years ago that you start having a few padel courts here. I moved back to padel again was fantastic with some old Spanish friends who are living also here in London and when I saw that battle was growing all over the world, is when I started thinking I need to do something I need to do something, to some business in padel. So far I’m enjoying both the playing and being involved in the in the business also.

Minter Dial  04:43

Yeah there is something like being a pioneer These days even though padel has been around since 1969. The feeling is in terms of the buzz the promotion, that money that’s being put into it, it we’re still in the pioneering phase.

Enrique Buenaventura  05:01

Absolutely. So, I remember in in Spain it’s been, although it’s been huge for many years, the big money on the professional side of it, it hasn’t. It’s been only, I would say the last 10 years big, and suddenly, when it become more international is when everyone is great here to see how they get into the business pie, which it’s good in certain ways, but also I presume it’s tough, or I can see the nervous around the ones that have been around for many, many, many years now how to see how everyone is without most of them without no clue or palette, willing to jump in and take some stake of it now. So. So, as you said, earlier stages, early stages and a lot of interest, which it’s very exciting, but also challenging, I presume.

Minter Dial  05:59

I want to make a parallel with companies who sort of jumped in on the internet early. And then 20 years later find themselves being disrupted. It’s not because you’ve been around since the beginning that you actually know how to do padel in the new world. We’ve got so many new habits, the consumers are very fickle. Where do we want to do it and the game itself is changing? Where did you start then? Where are you playing as a 12-year-old?

Enrique Buenaventura  06:26

So, I lived in my I was living in Madrid, I was born in Madrid and lived in Madrid my whole life until I moved here to London like 11-12 years ago, I was playing in my tennis club, in Geronda, Club International, the tennis, it was a big club in padel also. So, I remember those days we had the best players in Spain. So, Alberto Piñon, on Semprún, and Almazan and all these players, the first Spanish champions, and the first ones to compete against the Argentinians and they were coming from that Club. So, by me seeing this, I immediately switched to padel and started playing all of the tournaments and things so I started playing there the national tournaments, regional tournaments but it was more fun now because at that time padel was not you could not see like professional path or anything similar. So, it was more for fun. And with my tennis colleagues now, that most of them were also moving or where we’re living in both sides now between tennis and padel. So, very similar to what we are seeing in the UK tennis players moving to padel, but obviously now they can see that there’s an opportunity there in the professional area while 30-35 years ago you didn’t see that now it was more to compete, but in in a marina in a fun way. So, that’s how I started and I continue, no, until for forever when you start padel, you cannot leave.

Minter Dial  08:10

It’s an addictive sport. Obviously, we now have more competitions in the UK, but the level really still hasn’t gotten up. For you, Enrique, over the 30 years you’ve been playing, how do you describe the change in the game itself?

Enrique Buenaventura  08:26

So, it’s very different now I remember when we started playing “el pico,” when the wall faces the netting. Yeah, so the netting. It was very typical. And also when you were training you were training how to smash to the to the corner now because now that has disappeared. It was a lot more tactical. You couldn’t smash “by three.” So, that doesn’t exist because then it was hard to hire.

Minter Dial  08:58

Plus, you were playing with rackets looked like this, right? You know?

Enrique Buenaventura  09:03

Exactly. Actually, I have my I still have my first rackets were wooden, but they still were not….

Minter Dial  09:12

When I’m thinking of the Zorba.

Enrique Buenaventura  09:16

I start, I played with the Sola the Gattiker. So, I still have that beautiful. So, I started playing with that one and I feel a few years later you started with the with the with the new modern ones, no, so it was more tactics, more passing the ball putting it into the correct place, and it was not as much as today’s; which is strength. Now it’s a strength. So, the one who can really smash it from everywhere, has a huge advantage now. Sure. So, that has changed a lot. In that sense. It creates a lot of spectacle: going out of the court and things like that. It’s nice to see, but I still prefer or the, I still prefer the old version, me personally. Especially playing because I’m not a big, big guy. So, I am more tactical than them. Hard, smarter, but even watching it, I like long points and more tactical, you can still see that no in those courts that are not very fast, you can still see that kind of game.

Minter Dial  10:29

And I might say that’s what I observed about the Hexagon Cup. I want to get into that. And I think that just to finish on that part is that, the wonderful thing of padel that, you know, for most of us, we are not pros playing the men’s professional game. So, I mean, and even the women’s, they have power, but they still are popping it out all the time. So, most of us are going to be able to enjoy the more old-fashioned padel, where you have to be tactical, be smart construct points, because most of us aren’t popping the ball out. You know, if you’re 25, and you’re a tennis player, maybe! Good for you. But for the rest of us, you’re more mortal, and enjoying another game. So, I want to talk about Hexagon Cup, because it was a phenomenal success. From my vantage point. Let’s start with why did you decide to found the Hexagon Cup? What was the initial impetus for all that?

Enrique Buenaventura  11:23

Yeah, so as I said before, I’ve been working in motorsport for the last 15 years now I wasn’t in Formula One for a couple of years. And then we found it. formula-E, that has been a success. We’ve been organizing events for the last 10 years around the world. Padel still is my passion as a player, no so when I saw that padel was growing outside Spain, and there was a lot of international appetite. And there were a lot of tournaments already happening. Very good ones like WPT, Premier, just popping up and so on. I thought there’s something missing there, which is an international teams event. So, obviously, you have the World Cup, which is great. But at the end, it’s always Spain against Argentina in the finals. And it’s going to be like that for a few years. But so, you could see a lot of appetite to play. So, the masses playing all around the world. But the following, so the media part, was missing. Why? Because it’s very difficult to follow. So, in the UK is everyone starting to play, but who are you going to follow in the World Padel Tour and now in Premier, it’s only in Spanish and Argentina. And so, it’s very difficult to get that national connection. The same the World Cup, they won’t watch it because again, it’s all about the final between Spain and Argentina. So, I felt we need to do something International where UK team can compete to win against US team or Middle East team, to win! To win, like an international event. How can we do that? And then it was very easy to link, no, because it’s what we do in Formula E, or it’s what happens in Formula One. So, it’s a team’s competition when for Ferrari, which is an Italian team, you have currently a French and Spanish driver. So, that way, so if we do our team’s competition, we’re in the UK as it happened this year, you can have the best players in the world you can have DiNenno you can have Delfi, and they played in that team and they win, then the UK will say they will want to watch that and they will start following those players. They will start following DiNenno, they will start following Delfi and then they will start watching Premier to follow those players in the UK team. So, it was a way to facilitate and to improve by the law around in the media side. Now it was something I always ask me but are you really going to compete against Premier? Not at all. Actually, I think we are going to help them we are going to benefit them to grow the fan base outside Spain, outside those countries which is which is already big. So, we started with that idea. And then it was whether we do it by clubs, but then we saw that there’s a lot of celebrities that they love padel; a lot of them and we know a few of them from UAE and so on. And by talking to a few of them which I would love to have a team. Why not? Because it’s happening a lot. It’s happening in the in sports that celebrities or even other sports people owning teams in the pickleball, it happens in women’s football in the US. It’s happening Formula One and it’s happening all around now of celebrities owning team so that was a perfect match, no? So, let’s put celebrities representing different regions in the world owning teams with a number of players, the best players … they need to be the best players in the world and let’s put them all together into a huge event, of five days in the capital of padel, which is currently Madrid. Now so that was the idea around it. It came like a couple of years ago, a year and a half ago, a couple of years ago, couple of years ago and obviously I still work at Formula E so I put a good team in Madrid especially in Madrid, a few others here in the London together people linked to padel for many years.

Minter Dial  15:43

Including our mutual friend Rafa Vega.

Enrique Buenaventura  15:45

Yeah Rafa, Rafa is a good friend who worked with us also during the during the event. So, we put a very, very nice team together. People that love padel, so they were not there for the business, they were there for the for the sport, and to make something leave some legacy there and also returned to padel what padel has given most of us now and that team in the Hexagon team knows we’ve been enjoying the sport for many, many years. And it was a good opportunity to give something back no and all of us to enjoy from it and make others enjoy so that’s how it was it was born.

Minter Dial  16:28

Right, so the you sort of went from what I was thinking was a Liverpool, Rome or Real Madrid-type teams. Right? Where in a Liverpool or Real Madrid, you’ll have the best players from the world. But the people from the city appreciated it, to celebrities who are sort of symptomatic or emblematic of a country, like Lewandowski.

Enrique Buenaventura  16:53

Exactly. Exactly. That was a little bit the idea no? And it could be celebrities, to be a businessman. It can be any anyone that can really have a passion for the sport and can help promoting padel in that country using the team and using Hexagon as the excuse no, as the core of that national. So, we managed to get six teams in the first year very good one, so we have the Rafa Nadal Academy obviously representing a bit is Spain with Rafa Nadal. But Rafa is not showing involved in it, but it’s Maribel Nadal who is the one is the marketing and commercial manager of the Rafa Nadal Academy. And she loves it, she loves obviously tennis but also padel, and they are doing a lot, promoting padel a lot. But it is becoming big in the Academy, and they thought it was a fantastic opportunity to promote padel in within the academy and actually they announced last week, that I went to Madrid, that they are going to do a tour an amateur padel tour in Spain. So, the Rafa Nadal Academy padel tour with seven events in Spain, so this was something that suddenly it brought many ideas from them and it proves that it helps nine in promoting pilot in the amateur world with the name of Rafa. So, a fantastic team. Then we have the one here in the UK advantage which was so a few business guys that I know them well, fantastic people they love each other and they were very close to Andy Murray. So, they put a team together so the Advantage team with Andy Murray is one of the investors in the team. I spoke to Andy before that obviously he has already some investments in around padel he loves the sport. And it’s great now. They won the first event. We are going to do now in Hurlingham Club. We are going to do a little event with promoting so we are going to join them we are going to play some exhibition games and showing the first trophy to bring it to the to the UK crowns. Then we have Robert Levandowski as you said so he loves the sport. Obviously now he’s competing still in football, and he actually said okay, I cannot play. They don’t allow me to play. But in the moment I retire, excited exactly the moment I retire I want to be so think how can we how can I join the team to put another category, a celebrity category and amateur category, but I want to play because he loves it and he wants to promote it in in Poland, but also in Germany, in Spain. He wants to do things around padel. Then in Puerto Rico, we have one team it’s Carlos Lopez-Lay, he’s a businessman. And he loves padel. He’s between Spain the US and Puerto Rico, he wants to develop padel in Puerto Rico, and he put a lot of celebrities around that team they came to Madrid to the event. And they were, yeah, there were a lot of them with their Puerto Rican flags. And it was amazing. What else we have? Well, we have Eva Longoria with the 1111 team, from the US and the same. So, it is Eva Longoria with her husband, Pepe stone, and Daniel Metis. And Denial is an old friend, we were competing against each other when we were under 18. He’s from Barcelona. But we saw we’ve seen each other in the national padel tournaments 30 years ago. And he’s the one of the owners of the team together with Eva and Pepe. They came to Madrid Eva was in Madrid promoting and imagine so that was huge. Now for the big on Instagram, big on Instagram, she has more than 10 million followers, she did an interview in the CNN, during the event. Explain what was padel, what was the Hexagon Cup, what was the team. So again, that kind of things are fantastic now because…

Minter Dial  21:08

I definitely wanted her on my podcast as well, but didn’t manage to raise her attention. So, the format was interesting as well. Because the selection, you have the franchise player, then you have the up and coming player. So, you have this interesting mix that and women and men. So, tell us about how you landed on these different categories. I mean, obviously there’s a new one for Robert, in due time.

Enrique Buenaventura  21:36

Exactly. So, obviously, we wanted the best players and we wanted not just the best players, but the best future players. So, we came with this idea of having six players per team. That’s why we call it the Hexagon. Now the six players very same. So, it’s the best male players, female players, and next year, next generation of players, which are players that are above 50, in the ranking, and less than 20 years old. So, So yeah, the future champions no.

Minter Dial  22:12

And male.

Enrique Buenaventura  22:14

So, we are going to switch. So the first year was male, this year will be a female. So, in 2025, will be female, the following year will be male. So, we will we will be switching. So, we want obviously we want inclusivity as much as possible. So, we have the male female in the team with the same points the same prize money and then we have the next gen that we will be alternating every year, the male and female and the way we did it is instead of letting the teams okay, you hire the player, you pay. No, no, no, let’s control it centrally. So, let’s make it in a way that everyone is able to win. So, let’s make it very fair. So, what we did is, every team selected two captains to the franchise players that we call it one male and one female. And that was done naturally. So, each of them, they spoke to their players, some of them they knew already, some of the players, we did some recommendations, and all the teams came with two franchise players. And then we did a draft, like the ones they do in the NBA or other sports, especially in the US sports. We did a draft one day. So, each team, the ranking of the two franchise players, depending on the ranking there were selecting the other players. So, the best rank, the better. They select the last. So, the lower ranking they select the first, so that way, they were selecting all the different players. And that’s how you become with the six players. So, first they selected the male and the female and then the two next year now on depending on the ranking of the of the different players, you were you were selecting first or last in the in the next round. So, that’s how all the teams were selected. All the players were different. So, most of them. So, I think there’s only one or two exceptions at that time, which was Alejandra with Tamara. Now they’re playing together. At that time they were not. Now they end up playing together. And I think the other one was Bela with Capra, although Bela was injured and then go to play. So, again, it was a different one. So, so very, very different person. Very, very, very cool. Which was fantastic to see. And we saw that in during the tournament. So, we had a super tight instead of third set. Most of the games were deciding the super tight, and even the final so they were all of them go into the super tie-break, which was amazing. No, it makes the tournament very, very equal since day one. And the beauty of that also is since day, you could see Artur Coello play against Tapia. Yeah. So, so you could see big, big big games like from day one. So, every single day, they were huge, huge games.

Minter Dial  25:04

And from a spectator standpoint, someone who’s deeply involved in loves watching, it was really great to see different pairs, because at some level for those of us who are starved for professional play, you ended up when you did the world panel tour. Now, if you get to the semifinals, it’s generally always the same couples battling off against one another. And of course, it’s interesting, because we’re in the weeds, we’re checking out how Tapia is adjusting to play against DiNenno, etc. But it was really refreshing to have these new pairings and then these new names that we’re not hearing about, because typically were absorbed in World Padel Tour or you know, as it was anyway. So, that was really fun. And the other thing I was really interested in was the selection of the mats, of the flooring. So, it’s dark. But what about how much of a discussion was there on, let’s not make it too fast?

Enrique Buenaventura  26:01

A lot, a lot, and a lot of mixed feelings. Because you can imagine some people were saying, let’s do our biggest spectacle, fast, everyone going out of the court. At the end, we just say look, it has to be as equal as possible. And if you put a slower turf, it will level everyone. And the points, at the end, will be longer and people will enjoy and people will enjoy it. And also, I think that team’s competition is very different. It’s very different. And, and people become very passionate about it. And we saw that no. So, we saw a female watching the male game and giving advice and then the other way round. So, you create a lot of team and passion. And if you put a court where the points of longer, everyone gets more excited with it and gets more into the game. And it worked really well. It worked really, really well. Because both the male and female games were amazing. Were really, really amazing.

Minter Dial  27:12

By the way, and the next gen.

Enrique Buenaventura  27:14

Oh, absolutely. Absolutely. And people were not leaving the court. So, we had a we put a fantastic hospitality there. And you in the game, which was one of my fears is we put up very big hospitality people may stay there, as you see, in many occasions, but no, people were not leaving their seats. And everyone was telling me, this was amazing. So, it was my first time watching padel live. And it was so, so engaging. So, we were people were saying that they loved it. So, it worked really well. It worked well. And also the super tie-break. It worked well. Obviously, it was preseason, we know the fear we had also is that it was too much of an exhibition. So, and we wanted people to compete. So, to compete, obviously bearing in mind that they were going to play Premier a few weeks after, so we didn’t want them to destroy them. So, that’s why we they only played one game a day and with the super tie, so it was maximum a game of one hour and a half. So, maximum. So, we were thinking always on the players actually, we think of it with them. So, we took them on board since the beginning we asked them how should we do it? How many games are in the length? So it’s something that we build together with them.

Minter Dial  28:40

Just how did you do that? Because I mean obviously you have the players president you have the union when you’re talking to FIP but you have all these different pros I mean, were they represented by one or did you have to sort of do case by case, and build up the consensual approach?

Enrique Buenaventura  28:58

Yeah, so they we know most of the players between myself and a few other partners, at Hexagon. We’ve been with some of my partners they been competing in parallel, and we know a lot of the players so we’ve been we were talking with them as friends so guys we are going to build these we have the idea of building these. What do you think? When should we do it? Also we’ve been talking to FIP, we’ve been talking to Premier Padel especially when they jumped in and they were controlling everything is always the guys here, we are here we don’t want to compete against you. I think this is going to be fantastic when we do it outside your calendar, so we it doesn’t clash, so it’s been always very very collaborative and thinking on the on the good for padel or not yes okay, let’s do something that we are going to take some stake from someone and to do what? That’s our intention always. So, Oh, All the other players now. So, we are very close with Paquito. And we are very close with Alejandra. So, we forgot before the six team, it’s owned by the league. And it’s the fans, the one who selected the players. So, there was. So, the two captains were Paquito and Alejandra, but all the other players instead of being themselves, the ones choosing, we did in social media, we asked people who should be the partners, and there was a voting, and based on that voting, that was amazing Juan Martin came up, and it was a fantastic pair there, Juan Martin and Paquito. So, based on the voting for from the funds, we did the 16th. So, also to involve somehow the, the funds on the on the game. So, with Paquito Alejandra, we had a lot of conversations how to build it. And they were very, super supportive since day one, but a lot of players, especially in a difficult moment, because there was a lot of uncertainty, what was going to happen between WPT and Premier… exclusivities on players, could they play these? Could make it? And all of them will say look, we love the project, we love the idea. We will be we will support you. And please do it outside the season. So, there is no conflict with what we are going

Minter Dial  31:22

In the calendar.

Enrique Buenaventura  31:23

Exactly.

Minter Dial  31:25

I’m sure that that level of involvement in getting their creative juices involved and allowing them to have a voice in it, and then the interactions with the fans. It’s it sounds like a really smart idea. I absolutely adore that. So, we’ve had the successful 2024. It worked. You got six teams. You’ve announced already 2025. What does the future look like? Is it something where you’re going to? Do you feel like you’re more likely to stick to the Hexagon Cup one tournament in this format? Or is there going to be room for, let’s do one in Miami, or something else?

Enrique Buenaventura  32:03

So, for the moment, we always explain this has been like a Laver Cup of tennis or the Ryder Cup of golf. So, it’s a big one of events a year. The thing is that obviously we have those six teams very, very strong teams. And it’s a shame to be silent there for the rest for the rest of the year. So, we are planning and this year we may do a few of them already. We are planning to do minor events. Like Hurlingham? But more our event. So, the Hurlingham we are joining something else. But we are planning to do more like Hexagon padel shows like, for example you do one thing is that it’s tricky to come with the pros. So, because they have a very tough calendar, and actually this is the conversations we’re having with Premier, okay, let’s leave when they have to rest, let’s leave them to rest, let’s not put with a carrot of  another one, because they will be injured at the end of the year. So, one with a with a process where they really compete. And then we will do other so for example, imagine in the UK. So, we are planning to do one, we will plan to do one this year, probably we will move it to next year. And we will do an Advantage team, the Andy Murray team, against the Rafa Nadal Academy. And we do our competition with both of them. Where they select it select locals. So, they select local players. And maybe they select celebrities. So, you have a mix of celebrities as locals competing between themselves. And maybe you can add one or two of the of the pro players, just to make it more exciting. No but and then you can do the same with the six teams. And we are planning to do one event in Puerto Rico in October-November where the six teams will compete. But again, using more local players, not the professional players to promote padel in that region. And growing that, so maybe you’re in Madrid, you have an arena where you can put 10,000 people. Puerto Rico, that will never happen or even the UK today will never happen. But you can put 1000, you can put 2000. So, you can start building the fan base by bringing in those celebrities, bringing those teams in the Hexagon teams. And the plan is to do that in many different regions, especially where we have the teams but also in other locations where promoters are coming. I want to do one Hexagon event. And by the way, I was the promoter of World Padel Tour and I don’t want to spend 3-4 million! This is perfect. Okay, let’s spend a lot less. Let’s start building it from the from the beginning together. Maybe we use what we do with 1000 people and then in two year’s time it grows and grows and who knows. In four or five, six year’s time it is better. The fan base is big enough. We move them out the Madrid event to some words. So, we move it to the UK, and when we go to France When we’re moving to wherever it’s ready.

Minter Dial  35:03

What strikes me in the way you’re approaching this, Enrique, is that you’re bringing on not just a business angle, but an entertainment angle. You’re really focused on the fan experience, the engagement with the fans, making it accessible. Having the celebrities involved, it feels like a much more sort of juicy, fancier proposition than maybe the professional tour.

Enrique Buenaventura  35:31

It’s something that adds to the professional tour. So, obviously, the professional tour and Premier is doing an amazing job. So, it’s something that we still need to develop are in many countries now. So, it will take time to have. But the sport now, so it’s very difficult to have the correct fan base now. So, it will take some time. But, but for that, that’s the tour, no. And they have the muscle the strength to do that now the Pro Padel League USA, they have the strength to do that. Our vision is to help to grow that fan base now, to do something different to do something more, as you were saying more exciting moment mediatic with those celebrities that team competition, and where you have different players playing. And that will help to grow the fan base and hopefully that will help grow the fan base in those regions where Premier is playing. So, any padel wins, everyone wins now so that’s a little bit the plan now to make it different. But professional now so obviously, our goal here so the when we did in Madrid, we try to do the best event ever, hospitality, the best, the court the best, the so we will try to go to the excellence because it’s the way of doing things. So, if you want to do one event, let’s try to put to do a very, very good event. And that will continue to be the idea. You cannot do 10 of those because you cannot and actually Premier, they have fantastic so they’re the one they did in Rome. It’s amazing they want to do and Roland Garros amazing obviously the ones that do in in Spain, Madrid, Barcelona, they are amazing. No, it’s tougher to do them in other countries where their fan base is still not there, but it will come, it will come with time and Madrid obviously is a place where you can have two three or four events I hear so that’s why also we selected Madrid not to not to jeopardize the efforts of Premier or other competitions a and now obviously we put them very separate one or the other. Again, just to just to make things easier for everyone.

Minter Dial  38:02

Well, I’m very much looking forward to continuing on that want to finish our little chat to talk about you and again your padel tennis because one of the things that I really always want to have is to have some sort of improvements and help people who are playing get better at playing and enjoying the sport. So, in your game, you’re now over 40 years old, you play in over 40 tournament you’ve got obviously a big background in the game, what’s your favorite shot?

Enrique Buenaventura  38:28

Well if my favorite shot I love la bandeja, the smash the easy one. For me, it’s my favorite one because it’s the one that keeps me in the game all the time and I love to the net. Exactly, I love to be in the net, I like to be in the net. So, again, I’m not a very tall guy, so the bandeja is the one that facilitates me to be on the net every time because if you put that one in a complicated position, but you are not risking, you always you always try to be there. I started playing the left because I have a good smash, like a tennis second serve tennis but obviously now that the people in the left is smash it everywhere. So now I move to the right now in the right hand put the ball in and the bandeja is very useful.

Minter Dial  39:25

Very consistent. I’m sure you still have the opportunities every once awhile put out a remate. Flopping it back. And what about a shot you’re working on that you need to improve the I mean you’ve seen so much involvement and change in the game. I would imagine you’re also thinking about how to stay up with it.

Enrique Buenaventura  39:44

Yeah, exactly. So, the vibora, the quick smash which is a bit more faster than just the bandeja is the one to improve. They want to improve because it’s the one that if you if you excel in that one, especially if you take out a lot of people, a lot of the tennis players coming to padel, they are struggling still with the walls. That’s the that’s the piece I need to take advantage, no? So, I still play here with a lot of young tennis players, 20-25. Very good in volleying, but you need to put them back. And then when they are back, try to use the walls is the only way I can use a little bit the advantage of being been having been playing padel for many years.

Minter Dial  40:25

And you know, let’s just talk in the weeds a second because I pay often on the raid as well. Given my age and everything, when I want to hit the vibora, one of the challenges I face is getting back enough, to then move in to give it that weight and let the wrist go through it. So, you’re going to get some spin and some velocity on it. So, that movement back there, and then forward again, it takes a lot more legwork and energy and effort for me in my age. So, what’s the key for you? How do you see getting your vibora to work?

Enrique Buenaventura  41:01

As you were saying this legs, no? Legs, legs, legs. And for example, I have bad knees. So, my knees are terrible. So, I’ve been doing so much sport. And now they are they are destroyed now. So, so if you don’t have the legs, you need to have the position to create a lot the game to know when they are going to throw the love and then you are already back. So, as you were saying to move forward now and to and to hit it in the correct place. But yeah, when you are playing against tough opponents and they do things properly. It’s more difficult, no, to be in the position. So, you then you need to leave it and then return it after a while. So, legs on position. So people focus a lot on hitting the ball. But at the end, most importantly, once you have the shots, it’s been in the correct position and having the legs to move back and forward.

Minter Dial  41:53

When I watch Mike Yanguas play, I’ve had him on the show, his footwork is exceptional. When you start just zeroing in on the footwork and forget the other elements of it. The amount of split-steps and the jumping in, the ready at the net. But I mean, a lot of the players are.

Enrique Buenaventura  42:11

Yeah, absolutely. But then you see people like Juan Martin. Well, when Juan Martin he played in Hexagon and he played amazingly. So, the games he played was amazing. For me, he’s been my favorite player. And I loved to see him play in Hexagon and actually to play one of his last or probably his last professional match together with Paquito and then with Momo, it was beautiful. It was beautiful and the way he moves, even though he has also bad knees now, and we are more or less the same age, Juan Martin and myself. And to see that he cannot jump as he could before, but he still has the correct positions, and he can still compete against the best players in the world.

Minter Dial  42:57

Well, I mean, and you know, a hat tip to Bela for sticking around his age top 10. And he doesn’t have that big hit and all that, but boy, does he know how to manage the ball. Right? What sort of animal are you on the court?

Enrique Buenaventura  43:12

I don’t know. I don’t know. I was quick. I was quite quick and I jumped a lot, so but that was at a different age. So, I at that age I probably more like a leopard or something like that. And now nothing similar. So, I would say more like a like a like a dog on the run, now. So, trust. So, the one in the left needs to trust me that I’m going to put the ball in…

Minter Dial  43:36

A Labrador. I love it. And what about one last thing? This is the Joy of Padel. What funny moment comes to mind the funniest moment that you have on the court or at least related to padel. 

Enrique Buenaventura  43:49

I don’t know. I don’t know I had. So, inside the court. I don’t know if I had many funny moments. There’s one funny anecdote. It was not with me, but I was present, so it was more my father. So, my father in the club, in the Club International. and he’s un the one in Madrid I was mentioning before, this was back in the 90s he was with a friend so my father at that time he was probably like 50s or something like that. And then he saw two guys coming, like two guys, not looking very sporty. And my father. I told you, we want to play a game. Why don’t we ask these two guys? Hey, guys, do you know how to play padel? And the two guys say, well we have some ideas of playing padel. Do you want to play? Okay, let’s play. So, it was Christian Gutierrez and Christian Jensen. The two the two guys who just landed in Madrid from Argentina that time and obviously after three shots, we say okay, okay… And we crossed. I was present at that time and then with Christian Jensen, especially, we become really good friends. He was my coach for many years. And it was lovely to have him in, with his two sons. So, his daughter and his son playing at Hexagon, nice to have. So, with Claudia winning actually, so the next gen was fantastic. And he was there 30 years after, so but that was a funny anecdote. And it’s amazing to see them still around and still being friends.

Minter Dial  45:36

Yeah, so I guess the moral of the story is don’t judge a book by the cover. Okay, listen, Enrique, it’s been an absolute pleasure. Loved hearing about the weeds and the things going on a Hexagon. Congratulations so far. Looking forward to staying up and where can people follow you, get involved, understand the Hexagon? What links should people run to please. 

Enrique Buenaventura  46:00

Yeah, and I think people will love Hexagon, because it’s a really nice atmosphere. Actually, if you have the opportunity to go to Madrid, the atmosphere in Madrid was amazing in the central court, but also in the fan zone, we put another court there. But the next thing we’re playing with concerts in the evenings. So, it was a fantastic atmosphere very different to what you see in the in the tour. So, I will encourage people if they if they if they can’t call, go to Madrid and not to watch on TV, because they will be very good matches, very different matches. And I always say the teams’ competition is it’s very, very, very nice to watch. People engage.

Minter Dial  46:50

Mi hermano vive en Madrid. So, for 2025, what are the dates?

Enrique Buenaventura  46:54

It’s the first weekend of February so it’s from the 26th to the 2nd of February. So, Sunday is the second.

Minter Dial  47:03

26th of January to the 2nd of February. Beautiful. Hey listen, Enrique, muchas gracias. Vamos Padel!

Enrique Buenaventura  47:12

Thank you very much.

Minter Dial  47:15

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 !

 

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