Exclusive interview

How to live as a padel player outside the top 20: ”The first years were difficult”

Denis Perino about • How it is to live padel being outside the top 20. • His role within the PPA. • The expectations of the new circuit.

The Argentine player Denis Perino reached number 45 in the ranking, in an exclusive interview for Padel Alto he tells how it is to live as a padel player being outside the top 20, how he met Agustin Tapia when the wonder kid was 13, and the expectations of the new circuit created by FIP for players from the lower part of the ranking.

Denis Perino (26) comes from a padel family. His father and mother were players, so did his brother, who trained him from the age of 13. At the age of 16, Perino already played in the third division in Argentina and realized that he wanted to dedicate himself to padel professionally. 

At that moment, he made the difficult decision to move away from his family and move to Buenos Aires, where he did his pre-season at Nito Brea's club. 

”There´s a little boy from Catamarca. His name is Agustin Tapia”

— I was playing in the fourth division, and when I finished the pre-season with Nito, I signed up for a first division tournament. The problem was that I didn't have a teammate. They told me: There's a little boy from Catamarca who can play with you, but he's 13 years old...his name is Agustín Tapia. I talked to him, and we signed up together... our objective was to pass the pre-qualifications, and we came out champions, he laughs.

At 19, Denis Perino moved to Europe to continue his professional career. He lived in Italy at first, and after the first year, he moved to Spain.

— I moved to Italy to work as a padel professor, I didn't even speak Italian, but my goal was to get to Spain to play professionally. 

Padel Alto: What was it like to make a living from padel in the first years of your career?

— The first years were difficult. The sponsors didn't pay much, and it wasn't enough to live on. I was teaching padel in the morning and training in the afternoon. It was a double shift. I had to travel to Italy to give lessons, which paid better, and I used to train the rest of the time. That year I reached the 80th position in the ranking, but it was impossible to make a living from being a professional player. Luckily padel is changing, it's growing, and the contracts are getting better. Nowadays, any player below 50 or 60 in the ranking has to give lessons to make a decent living. 

And he continues

— For a professional player to make a living from padel today, he has to win the qualifiers and have a contract with good sponsors. Anyway, it's not much money. There are many expenses to consider: coach, travel, and physiotherapists. The truth is that the current circuits do not pay well to the players of the lower part of the ranking. There is a lot of difference between the players at the top and the bottom of the ranking. 

 "Last year, we didn't even have a bike to warm up on.”

According to Perino, there are two different realities in the current circuit, one for the top players and another for the players in the Previa. He also believes that the players were not listened to for a long time by the WPT. 

This situation makes it very difficult to make a living as a professional player if you are not at the top of the ranking.

— In times of pandemic, the current circuit told us that there was no money to pay us, they asked us to understand the situation, and we did. But the players' claims were never listened to. Only now, with the announcement of a new circuit, the claims are starting to be solved magically. This should have happened before. For example, we need the most for the Previa players to show ourselves to get more sponsors and better contracts, and only now the WPT is broadcasting some prelims matches by streaming. To top it all off, we train hard and work hard every day, and they end up giving wild cards to organizers who have never played padel in their lives.

"We are fighting to improve players' situation, to be free to choose”

For players who are not part of the top of the ranking, the decision to play in one circuit or another depends on several factors and believes that the economic difference will weigh in making the decision.

— The decision to play one circuit or another for a player like me depends on where the best players play. Of course, the economic part influences a lot; the difference in prize money for players outside the top 20 between the different circuits is significant. The most important thing about Premier Padel is that it is backed by the FIP. It is not just a private entity. I am part of the players' association, and we are fighting for both the players at the top and the bottom of the ranking to improve their situation, to be free to choose. I think that everything that is happening is going to be an improvement for padel, and from the PPA, we will always defend the interests of the players. 

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