Meet the Paraguayan talents who have reached the semi-finals in the World Cup
Paraguay is through to the semi-finals of the Youth World Cup. This article was published at the beginning of the year on Padel Alto.
In an interview with Padel Alto, the young Paraguayan talents of the NOX Future Academy tell us about their beginnings, the development of Paraguayan padel, the feeling of living away from home at such a young age, and what it was like to meet their idol, Agustin Tapia.
Facu Dehnike (15), Samu Rodriguez (17), and his twin brother Sebastian Rodriguez (17) are three of the young talents recruited by the recently inaugurated NOX Future Academy.
The three players started playing padel in Paraguay after having started, like many, playing tennis. When padel was not very well known in their country, the curiosity for this "new sport" led them to know the 20x10.
Samu: We used to play tennis, and next to the tennis court, there was a padel court. We were always curious to know what that was because it was a new sport for us. Then my dad and brother started to play, and we got to know padel.
As in many parts of the world, padel is growing exponentially in Paraguay, although it is still a young sport.
Sebastian: After the pandemic, padel has grown greatly in Paraguay in the last three years. There are a lot of teachers and young players. In Asuncion, you see a court on every corner. People know more about padel.
“Many kids consider us as idols.”
Despite his young age - at fourteen, he is the youngest in the academy - Facundo is already observing this significant change in the people slowly following padel.
Facu: Because we play big tournaments, many kids already consider us as idols, which is a great pride. I feel the responsibility to help them get this opportunity to make the padel in Paraguay great.
“We always wanted to be part of the brand”
In a clear commitment to the development of junior padel, the NOX brand, with its director Jesus Ballve at the head, was in charge of selecting the young South American talents to participate in NFA, its latest project.
Samu: The NOX representative in Paraguay always helped us, gave us rackets, and we always knew we wanted to be part of the brand. Shortly before we knew about the project, NOX was already sponsoring us.
Facu: Jesus came to see me at a tournament, and I didn't know he would be there. I was playing, and I looked back and saw him. When he came over to talk to me, I got excited.
“When I met him, I was frozen.”
NOX has Agustin Tapia as their flagship player. The Argentinean is called to be one of the best in history. For the kids of the NFA to see their idol up close is incredible.
Facu: When I met him I was frozen and when he said he knew us I couldn't believe it. Agus is my idol because he became a world champion at a young age, and I think he will be number one soon.
Being away from home can be a heavy burden for such a young player. The three teen talents already knew each other before, but they say the distance brought them closer together.
Sebastian: We were friends before, but now we are like brothers. Before we were two. Now, we are three. At the academy, they already call us triplets, haha.
Facu: Paula, Pablo, Jesús, and María are great people, as are all the kids in the house. I believe that we are in excellent hands with them looking after us and helping us every day.