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The young emerging talent with a vision to build American Padel on and off the court

The young emerging talent with a vision to build American Padel on and off the court

Meet Guillermo Jimenez Cagigas, and you immediately realize that here is a man, a young man, on a padel mission.

This young Spaniard who now competes for Team USA Padel, is at just 24 years old, the youngest player in the United States Padel Association (USPA) Men’s Top 10, and currently harbours the fifth spot in the rankings, with the impressive pairings of Luis Estrada/Nico Agritelley and Peter Alonso/Jaco Blanco ahead of him. “Guille”, as he is known, is quietly but steadily making his presence known, and alongside his playing partner, the eight-year-long American No. 1 Fernando Alarcon, he has eyes on getting to the very top.

It’s a familiar padel story in that Cagigas, since 2005, has been playing tennis. Thirteen years on from first picking up a racket, he then, aged 17, moved to America on a tennis scholarship, securing a place at Longwood University, Virginia. During his college tennis career, Cagigas returned home to Spain for summer and winter breaks, and it was during this time that he found padel - or rather, padel found him - as he first stepped onto court in 2020. Since then, the Madrileno has never looked back.

On trips back to Spain, Cagigas began competing in tournaments, and won his first Federación Madrileña de Pádel (FMP) title in 2021, before swiftly claiming his second title and participating as one of the top 20 pairings in the Spain National Under 23 Championships in the oft-cited spiritual home of padel, Malaga.

Above: Guillermo “Guille” Jimenez Cagigas. Photo courtesy of Ben Nichols, Founder CEO of Padel 22.

Fast forward to 2023 and he became a Division 1 Champion at the USPA 500 tournaments in Tampa, Key Biscayne and Orlando. That same year, he also secured Division 1 Runner-up spots at the USPA 1000 tournaments in Houston and New York. For anyone doubting his talent at this early stage of his padel career, Cagigas had sent a clear message; a message which has been further strengthened this year as he claimed the Division 1 USPA 500 title in his hometown of Miami.

While impressive on the court, it is perhaps off the court that he is gaining attention as, in Cagigas, here is a man on a mission to make an impact as the sport’s popularity surges Stateside; a mission best emphasized by his decision to move to “America’s padel capital”, Miami in 2023 with the view to not only become one of the best players in the country on-court, but also to make a profound difference off it, too.

“I moved to Miami more than a year ago partly for the obvious reason that this is where padel is played most [in the United States], but also because I thought Miami was somewhere where I could make a difference. When I wake up in the morning, I am driven by the huge opportunity there is in America to raise awareness of padel. This is a country that loves racket sports, and until more Americans have heard and get to play padel, I don’t think I’ll be satisfied. This is a sport for all, that America needs to see because once it does, I know the country will fall in love with the sport,” he added.

Since moving to Miami, the 24-year-old has been coaching and competing at the Ultra Padel Club, which made headlines recently when it announced that it would become one of the world’s largest clubs with no fewer than 29 courts, when construction is complete this summer. However, the ambitious Cagigas recently began a new role as General Manager of the soon-to-open Platinum Padel club in North Miami. The new position will also provide him an opportunity to compete at the highest level, while overseeing the operations of one of Miami’s most eagerly-anticipated padel venues. 

In the charismatic Cagigas, American padel has a valuable ambassador on its hands at a time when the first padel facilities are being built, seemingly resembling a chain reaction state after state. “Padel is a sport for all, and it makes me so happy to see history play out before our eyes with the first clubs arriving state by state. Up until now, the main states pushing for padel had been Florida, Texas, California and New York, but now we’re seeing the first club arrive in New Jersey, the first in Virginia, the first in Colorado. If people keep investing in the sport [in this country], the United States can become a true global hub for padel, not least because of the education system which is renowned all over the world.

“My ambition for the future is to become one of the leading figures in the American padel industry. While my focus remains on being the best version of myself on the court, I have a lot to add to the growth of the game off the court, too. I see the opportunities, the chances to promote the sport, and I want to see young Americans become world-beaters over the next ten to twenty years. With the right investment and people involved [in the industry], I see no reason why this cannot happen. My new role at Platinum Padel provides me the platform to try and change the industry”.

With padel on the horizon as a potential Olympic sport, perhaps even in Australia for Brisbane 2032, you wouldn’t bet against Cagigas playing a pivotal role both on the court and off it in the essential years ahead.

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Written by (and photos courtesy of) Ben Nichols, Founder CEO of Padel 22.

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