The founder of Tennis Magazine and father of Antoine and Louis Couvercelle who are at the head of Big Padel Merignac, Jean Couvercelle, spoke to Padel Magazine during the Greenweez Paris Premier Padel Major to answer our questions.
“I never imagined that it would end with a tournament at Roland-Garros”
Padel Magazine: You got into padel, both in the field and as an investor. How did this adventure come about?
Jean Couvercelle “It’s on two counts. Because first in Tennis Magazine I immediately gave a small place to padel and in particular thanks to you (Franck Binisti). I was immediately seduced by this sport which I had the chance to discover in Spain with the family. And besides, it was there that the idea was born of creating a club one day which became the Big Padel de Merignac.
I would even say that we were precursors in this case since we hosted a special notebook which was also called “Padel Magazine” within Tennis Magazine, in the center of the newspaper. There were 16 pages I think, and there was really plenty to read. It was an appointment that we fixed for the readers and an appointment for the future.
It was a real innovation because I believed a lot in the future of this sport, even if at the time it was not very well known. Moreover, within the newspaper itself, not everyone was very convinced of the usefulness of developing this sport.
Every month there was a section reserved for padel, and I didn’t imagine to tell you at the time that it would end with a tournament here at Roland-Garros with this international dimension.
Everyone who has followed Tennis Magazine with loyalty knows that we opened up to padel very early. It was a form of audacity, but which today is being rewarded. Even if it’s a posteriori, I’m very happy.
As we have an additional padel club, we are particularly proud to have created these 2 things at the same time. »
“Padel is part of the big family of tennis”
Padel Magazine: Today you are no longer linked to Tennis Magazine, but don’t you sometimes say to yourself that it’s a shame that they haven’t renewed this “confidence” in padel?
Jeans : “Yes, it’s a shame because today padel is part of the big tennis family. It is integrated into the French Tennis Federation, so in all respects it’s a shame.
In many tennis clubs today, padel courts are installed and I think this will be done more and more. So therefore, apart from the private clubs which are doing very well, I would say that today it is part of this family. The padel has its place (in this family) and will have it more and more I believe. »
The origins of the launch of “Tennis Magazine” (1976)
Padel Magazine: Tell us a bit about the beginnings of Tennis Magazine. How did you get started in this magazine that is in the hearts of many?
Jeans : “It was also daring at the time, because we were starting from a blank page. Creating a newspaper means having to imagine all the content, all the sections to try to meet the expectations of those who were interested in tennis at the time. There were a lot of people and it was a growing sport, a bit like padel today.
I took risks at the time, I was relatively young and I said to myself “I’m going for it”. At the time, I worked for France Soir, which was a major daily, the largest in France. I left this newspaper to create Tennis Magazine because I wanted to do it in its own right and not do it in addition to something else.
It was a lot of anxiety to know if it was going to meet the expectations of those who shared a taste for tennis like me. And fortunately I believe that we aimed just enough so that those who liked it could meet and find all the answers they could expect. »
“Each month we gained readers, each year we gained market share”
Padel Magazine: How in a few words can you describe this adventure? There were ups and downs I guess?
Jeans : “No, there was only growth, but that said, it was very difficult because we were in a market already occupied by another magazine: Tennis de France, a magazine that belonged to the president of the federation, so it was very complicated compared to that.
We played our card, and those who helped us were the readers because they immediately joined the magazine. Consequently, it allowed us to grow: each month we gained readers, each year we gained market share.
There really wasn’t a dip. There were spikes depending on the results, with the Davis Cup for example. And that until tennis declined a little bit. From the moment tennis declined, obviously the newspaper also lost some readers. In addition, this is part of a time when the written press is not necessarily at its best, even if there is always a place for the paper press. I am sure of it.
We have evolved throughout these 40 years in the content, in the presentation of subjects, that’s normal. But above all there were immense moments of pleasure and passion shared with those who accompanied us: the readers, the partners and the players, the tennis players of course. »
Watch the full video interview right here:
Passionate about football, I discovered padel in 2019. Since then, it’s been crazy love with this sport to the point of abandoning my favorite sport.