The Lawn Tennis Association has become the national governing body for padel ©Getty Images

The Lawn Tennis Association (LTA) expects the number of padel courts in Britain to increase five-fold by 2023 after agreeing to become the national governing body for the sport.

Padel is now officially recognised as a discipline of tennis in Britain after receiving approval by Sport England, Sport Scotland and Sport Wales.

The LTA integrated padel in May 2019 with the organisation saying it formed part of its five-year strategy to open up tennis to more people and widen the sport’s appeal.

Originating in Mexico in 1969, padel is mainly played in a doubles format on an enclosed court about a third of the size of a tennis court.

The rules are broadly the same as tennis, although you can serve underarm and the walls are used as part of the game.

The LTA said padel was one of the fastest growing sports in Europe with more than six million people playing in Spain.

A total of 82 padel courts are based in Britain and the LTA estimates 400 will be in place by 2023 after publishing a development plan, which outlined its ambition to grow the sport.

"Recognition of padel as an official discipline of tennis and confirmation that the LTA will be the national governing body is an important step forward in the development of the sport," said Scott Lloyd, chief executive of the LTA.

"One of the LTA’s key strategies is to find new ways to grow participation and padel is an innovative format of tennis that’s fun, flexible and easy to play.

"By integrating padel, we have provided an immediate platform to facilitate the organic growth of the sport, with tennis venues throughout Britain already exploring the potential opportunities it can bring to a facility.

"There is an exciting future for padel and we will look to grow it as a complementary form of tennis that benefits our sport as a whole."

Padel is seen as one of the fastest growing sports in Europe ©Getty Images
Padel is seen as one of the fastest growing sports in Europe ©Getty Images

Britain’s seven-time Grand Slam doubles champion Jamie Murray is a big advocate for padel.

"I’ve played a lot of padel over the last few years and I think it’s a great sport," said Murray.

"It’s a very social sport that can be played with friends and family of all ages and abilities.

"I think it’s a great addition for clubs as a way to engage current members and attract new members into their respective clubs."

The LTA’s drive to grow padel follows the likes of tennis federations in France, Italy, Belgium and The Netherlands who have already integrated the sport into their competition structures.

Sports Minister Nigel Huddleston said he "really enjoyed" playing padel when he tried it out during a visit to the LTA’s National Tennis Centre in September.

"The LTA’s recognition as the national governing body will provide a platform to further grow padel, and I welcome the initiatives that they have planned to further develop the sport, particularly focused on developing more courts for people to play," said Huddleston.

"Sports like tennis provide significant physical and mental health benefits, and I encourage everyone to try this fun, social and dynamic format of the game, which can cater to people of all ages and abilities."

The LTA said clubs and local organisations looking to develop padel would be able to apply for funding programmes put in place by Sport England, Sport Scotland and Sport Wales.