World Padel Tour 101: History of the WPT women's Circuit

We look back at the first nine seasons of women's WPT history and all of its stars as the Circuit gears up for its tenth season in 2022.

World Padel Tour 101: History of the WPT women's Circuit

This is World Padel Tour 101, our series explaining the history and basics surrounding the competition, to get fans up to speed ahead of the tenth WPT season.

In this lesson, after looking at the men's Circuit previously, we will summarise the first nine years of women's World Padel Tour. Both stylistically and in terms of personnel, the women's Circuit has seen a lot of change.

Also read: World Padel Tour 101: Improve your padel vocabulary!

Early WPT history and the padel revolution

The first year of World Padel Tour in 2013 had two pairings at the top of the women's rankings. In one corner, Spaniards Eli Amatriaín and Patricia Llaguno, with Carolina Navarro and Argentina's Cecilia Reiter in the other.

Of the seven tournaments that year, Reiter and Navarro took three compared to Amatriaín and Llaguno's two. However, the latter just edged it in terms of points by the slimmest margin to date - just 19 points!

Elisabet Amatriaín (left) and Patricia Llaguno (right) were the first number ones in the World Padel Tour era.

Below them, up-and-comers Mapi and Majo Sánchez Alayeto were already knocking on the door, the twin sisters finishing third in the rankings and winning in Barcelona. Another notable break-out player was Alejandra Salazar, who unexpectedly won the Master Final with Íciar Montes.

2014 would prove a revolutionary year for women's padel. Again, two pairings battled at the top. This time, however, it was between the Sánchez Alayeto twins and Salazar/Montes. Both duos played on the front foot and at a very high tempo, with an aggression that was unusual in women's padel at the time.

Winning seven of the nine Opens and Masters between them, other more traditional pairings struggled to combat the hard-hitting Spaniards at the top. Dubbed Gemelas Atomicas or Atomic Twins, Mapi and Majo finished the year on top, ushering in a new era.

Notably, later number ones Lucia Sainz and 17-year-old Marta Ortega made two finals together but could not convert on either of them. Argentinian Cata Tenorio won in Valencia alongside Marta Marrero, which would prove to be the final tournament won by an Argentinian woman until 2021.

María Pilar 'Mapi' and María Jose 'Majo' Sánchez Alayeto are the most successful partnership in female WPT history with 32 tournament wins.

The twins would dominate 2015 with seven event wins from ten. The newly-formed partnership of Salazar and Marrero would take the other three but could not pose a serious threat to the reigning number ones.

Battle of the titans

Marrero and Salazar would click in a big way in 2016. Beating the twins in the final twice in the first three tournaments, they showed they were up to the task of taking down the back-to-back number ones. The combination of Salazar's thunderous forehand and Marrero's famous double-handed backhand was devastating.

Mapi and Majo then won three tournaments on the spin, beating their title rivals in two of those finals. However, they could not reach any of the next three finals and Marrero and Salazar were unstoppable. Five straight tournaments went to them, and while the sisters did win the Master Final, they lost their crown to their fellow countrywomen.

As if Salazar and Marrero had awoken the beast in Mapi and Majo, they came back in 2017 with the most dominant season in female WPT history. While Salazar missed most of the season through injury, the twins lost just three games in the entire year.

The Sánchez Alayeto sisters at one point won 30 straight matches, a record that still stands to this day. While the promising young pairing of Ariana Sánchez and Marta Ortega won the opening tournament and Gemma Triay and Sainz won two Opens, nobody could get in the same stratosphere as the Atomic Twins.

Salazar returned in fine fashion in 2018 with Marrero as the female Circuit kept gaining prominence, growing in size and popularity by the day. In what proved to be the former number ones' final season together, they won six events, one more than the twins.

Crucially, however, they only made eight finals compared to the sisters' 13, of which they won five. This gave Mapi and Majo the edge and they were crowned the queens of padel for the fourth and - spoiler alert - final time.

New legends are made

2019 was another year of change. In terms of rules, the gold point was successfully introduced to speed the game up.

Marta Marrero (left) and Marta Ortega (right) were the new number ones in 2019.

Some high-profile changes were also made, triggering the typical game of chairs. Salazar and Marrero split, the former choosing Ariana Sánchez and the latter picking Sánchez's partner Marta Ortega.

Mapi Sánchez Alayeto then suffered a major shoulder injury, ruling her out for eight months. Majo opted to play with youngster Delfina Brea, making one final as a make-shift partnership.

Naturally, this left the door open for Salazar/Sánchez and Marrero/Ortega, with Sainz/Triay also picking up steam every year. Splitting the first six tournaments with three wins each, Marrero and Ortega would then pull away from Sánchez and Salazar. The Martas won seven events from ten finals and made Marta Ortega the youngest number one in World Padel Tour history at 22 years of age, a record that still stands. After the season, the Martas would split up.

The current era

The 2020 season was ground to a halt by the COVID-19 pandemic but still featured 11 events. Triay and Sainz, working in the shadows for the previous years, rose to the forefront. Salazar and Sánchez won three of the first seven tournaments and were first in the standings, until an injury ruled out Alejandra.

Winning five of the final six tournaments, including the Estrella Damm Master Final, Triay and Salazar were crowned the new number ones - and like Marrero and Ortega the year prior, the two Spaniards split after. Triay would link with Salazar in 2021, a devastating partnership. From start to finish, the reigning number one and former number one dominated the Circuit while the twins had faded to the background.

Sánchez and Paula Josemaría were the second-best pair but never really came close with Triay and Salazar going on a 20-game winning streak to confirm their place at the top before the Estrella Damm Master Final had even taken place.

Meanwhile, further down, late bloomer Virginia Riera became the first Argentinian since Cata Tenorio in 2014 to win an Open. Then, two weeks later, fellow countrywoman Delfi Brea won her first tournament alongside Tamara Icardo. Like London buses.

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