Ari Sánchez with Padel Alto: "Last year brought many lessons"
In a conversation with Padel Alto, Sánchez talked about the conclusion of the previous season, her debut in Premier Padel, the future of women's padel, and the pressure of being the top-ranked player.
- When you're at the top, everyone wants to beat you, but the pressure of being number one drives us to work even harder," she said.
Ari Sánchez is undoubtedly one of the greatest players in the history of the global padel scene. Based on talent, dedication, and hard work, the 26-year-old Catalan has paved her way in this sport, rising to become the shining star she is today.
The world's number one player engaged in an exclusive conversation with Padel Alto, where she assessed the beginning of a season that has positioned them as clear dominators of the women's circuit.
"It was a very tough moment"
After a 2022 season finale that left them just shy of their goal— they lost the number one ranking to Gemma Triay and Ale Salazar in the last match—the objective of finishing the year atop the world ranking seems to be more within reach this season.
Last year, you narrowly missed closing the season as number ones. How did you experience that moment?
- The events of last year brought many lessons, as it was a very tough moment. We had a spectacular year, but we couldn't seal it as we wanted. However, I believe that experience helped us appreciate the excellent year we are having now.
Do you think that this season the path is somewhat smoother towards your objective?
- In the end, we know we are number one, but we can lose that position at any moment. So this year, we are more relaxed and don't focus too much on the ranking. We go out to enjoy and win each match, focusing on the day-to-day. We understand that today we are here, but tomorrow we might not be. When you're at the top, everyone wants to defeat you. The pressure of being number one drives us to work even harder.
"Many pairs can achieve titles"
The accumulation of tournaments in the first half of the year led many players to arrive exhausted at the events. For Sánchez, the relentless weeks of competition make it difficult to maintain the peak performance of the pair. This has opened the door for new partnerships like Triay/Ortega or Brea/González to snatch titles from a seemingly unbeatable Sánchez and Josemaría.
- It's a challenging year with numerous tournaments, and it's tough to stay at the top every week. In a tournament where you're not at your best, several pairs can beat you. Currently, Gemma/Martita and Delfi/Bea are the other pairs winning titles, and they are performing incredibly well. With so many tournaments, not just one pair can win them all, as it's incredibly demanding to stay mentally focused and physically fit each week. There are many pairs capable of winning titles, which is also very positive for women's padel.
Adding to this already packed schedule are the Premier Padel circuit events. The ladies made their debut at the Italian Major, followed by the P1 event in Madrid. On both occasions, Ari and Paula reached the finals but couldn't clinch the title.
What has this initial experience on the Premier Padel circuit been like?
- Truth be told, I was quite disappointed after Rome, as I was really excited about winning the first Premier Padel tournament. Nonetheless, we are extremely happy to be a part of the Premier circuit. Both Rome and Madrid have been fantastic tournaments, and all the players have been treated exceptionally well.
The rising stars in the women's circuit
As the foremost figure in women's padel today, Ari Sánchez views the emergence of young talents like Ustero and Alonso in a positive light, having faced them several times on the court.
- It's fantastic and incredibly important for women's padel to have young players like the girls (Ustero and Alonso) coming up from below, well-prepared and performing at a high level. It's crucial to have young talents rising, as it also shows younger girls that with effort and training, they can fulfill their dreams. Andrea and Alejandra are clear examples of this. It also pushes us, the more experienced players, to continue training, because if we don't, these young girls rise and start beating all of us (laughs).
What advice would you give to young girls who are taking their first steps into professional padel?
- I believe it's important for them not to rush into things, to keep training, and not to feel pressured to achieve immediate results. They should continue their development and their future is assured. But they shouldn't burden themselves with the expectation of immediate success. They are very young and have many years ahead.
"Ángel has brought joy to me"
Towards the end of the previous season, Ari Sánchez announced Ángel González as her new coach. The Madrid native joined the team, bringing new ideas and a breath of fresh air that Ariana needed, quickly adapting to the demands of working alongside a number one player.
- Ángel has brought joy and a fresh perspective, which I think was something lacking. Hearing new things and trying out new approaches in my game. He's an incredible person and a great coach. Alongside Claudio (Gilardoni) and Paula, we're forming a strong team in such a challenging year, which is crucial during these weeks away from home. I believe we have the best team possible.