A Perthshire company is benefitting from the rise in popularity of padel tennis, the unusual game football star Lionel Messi plays in his garden.
The Barcelona and Argentina football star has a padel tennis court – about a third the size of a conventional tennis court – at his home.
JB Corrie, based in Blairgowrie, are working with sports stars in the UK to install their courts, which cost between £22,000 and £25,000.
JB Corrie has provided tennis courts for a number of years.
The firm is now the UK’s first padel tennis court system manufacturer.
‘A natural extension’
Gordon McKinnell, who joined the business as sales and operations manager in March, said: “JB Corrie has been involved in sports courts – with 5-a-side football and tennis – so it was quite a natural extension.”
The sport is one of the fastest-growing worldwide and is usually played in doubles.
The court is about one third of the size of a conventional tennis court.
Players can use the walls of the enclosed court during play, while the rest of the rules are similar to tennis.
Mr McKinnell said: “Padel tennis is one of the world’s fastest growing sports.
“It is played predominantly outside on a court that is a cross between a tennis and squash court.
“They are about one third of the size of a traditional tennis court and you are allowed to use the back wall.
“It is more inclusive for younger people, and for older people.”
The sales and operations manager also hopes that the sport’s rise in popularity will continue as people look to get fit after the Covid-19 pandemic.
The 43-year-old said: “It’s quite a social sport.
“As people are starting to get back out from lockdown, they can feel more comfortable with other people.
“It’s suitable for all ages and it’s less running – you’re always playing on astro turf so you’ve got a good stable base beneath you as well.”
There has been “soaring demand” recently, Mr McKinnell said.
That includes interest from a number of unnamed sports stars across the UK who are following in the footsteps of Barcelona legend Messi.
He added: “I’m not able to give names but there are a few going up around the UK for sportspeople.”
The sales and operations manager hopes 2021 will be their breakout year.
“Hopefully that’s just the start of the market growing.
“There is quite a big interest at the minute.”
The business has just under 100 staff across two sites in the UK.
It also installs high-security fencing at theme parks, airports and zoos across the country.
It also specialises in motorway acoustic barriers, car park barriers and security solutions, sports lighting and gates.
That is also thriving. “We’ve got several large installation contracts ongoing. We’ve had an exceptional year,” Mr McKinnel said.