Despite the winter chill, the Ayrshire Padel Tennis rankings has been heating up in recent weeks thanks to some Spanish flair, with a new number one in the form of Mercedes Perez.
Mercedes showed the men how it is done by hitting the top of the APT seedings in a sensational opening few weeks with a sizzling six wins in a row.
And the 25 year old, who hails from Jerez in south Spain, and works as a vet in East Kilbride, travels to padel at Stevenston Industrial Estate on a weekly basis.
Mercedes explained that she was a passionate padel player in her homeland, but since coming to Scotland had been unable to play her favourite sport until the opening of the only indoor padel tennis facility in Scotland now gives her the opportunity.
"And it is good to see it growing in the west coast of Scotland," said Mercedes, "I am very impressed with the set-up, and the games are very competitive."
There is a growing Spanish contingent at the Ayrshire Padel Tennis club too with Marcos Marin of Zaragoza, who works with a gardening company and lives in Dalry, and coach Alex Rodriguez who hails from Murcia and is a big Real Madrid fan.
Marcos said: "When I was in Spain, I only actually managed to play around once a week, but I am now a regular player at the Ayrshire Padel."
And Mercedes doesn't mind the weekly long drive from East Kilbride to Stevenston - a 90 minute round trip - and said: "I am not bothered about the distance, it is my time to enjoy. I like to push myself and take my mind off things. I can fully concentrate on padel and try and keep my high position in the rankings."
Padel is similar to tennis but is played in the confines of four perspex walls, with underarm serve, and the ball is allowed to bounce off the back glass, ensuring long rallies, utilising the same scoring system as tennis, although using shorter padel racquets.
The club has many players from the Largs, Fairlie and West Kilbride areas including owner David and June McCulloch, John Byrne, Claudio Nardini, Andrew Boyle, Brian Corrigan, Fiona Houston,.Alistair Green, Mark Henry, James Armstrong, Stephen Clarke, Calum Corral, Brian Stewart, Stephen Dowdalls, Paul Miller, Crawford Boyd, Colin Thompson, Malcolm McAulay, and Lewis McAulay.
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