Ever since he started playing padel at age eight, Juan Lebrón has never stopped working on his game. And now at 27, he is on top of the world.
For the third year running, Lebrón and his partner Alejandro Galán are proving to be almost unstoppable in the World Padel Tour, conquering three rounds to date in Alicante, Brussels and Marbella, as well as a round of the Premier Padel League in Rome.
While a more uneven 2021 season still saw the duo win seven rounds out of a possible 21 in the WPT, thanks to their hugely promising start to 2022 Lebrón and Galán continue to be ranked jointly as number one padel players in the world.
But padel isn’t the only thing in Juan Lebrón’s blood: there’s also music. And without one, there wouldn’t be the other.
“Whether I’m travelling or at home, music helps me relax, it helps me concentrate, it helps me clear my head, it motivates me and it helps me dream beautiful dreams. It means the world to me,” he says.
“I’ve always liked it, ever since I was a kid, I’ve found music and sport have a lot in common. It’s not just that you have to work really hard to be good in both. As activities, they complement each other.”
Flamenco in the family
Juan has found that music greatly helps his padel. His sport psychologist told him that “before each competition I should listen to music and simultaneously visualise the best strokes I’ve played in previous games, to get myself 100 per cent focused on producing another top performance. Without music, I couldn’t do that.”
Electronic music heads his current playlist of preferred styles – or maybe that should be ‘lists’. “I have a lot of favourite singers, so many I wouldn’t be able to name one in particular, although right now I’m listening a lot to Tales of Us and Solomun.”
Music is a fundamental part of Juan Lebrón’s family life back home in the coastal town of Puerto de Santa María in Andalusia, where Spain's most traditional genre, flamenco, has deep cultural and social roots. “My family are all fans, they take me to flamenco clubs, my sister Isabel Pilar is the best flamenco dancer I’ve seen - I wish some of her dancing talent would rub off on me,” he says with a grin.
“We own a bit of land in the country, and sometimes we invite friends who are really good flamenco singers, real artists, to come with us and we’ll have a proper flamenco fiesta.”
Working with Babolat ‘crucial’
Juan’s family didn’t just give him the music bug: they were also instrumental in getting him started on padel. As part of Puerto de Santa María’s thriving padel scene, “my father played with his friends and I used to watch,” he recalls, “although to be honest as a young kid I played more football than padel. My parents insisted that I study hard, too. It wasn’t until I was 16 or so, that I realised playing padel professionally was the way I wanted to go.”
He believes getting sponsored by Babolat was crucial in his development. “We first got in touch at the World Championships in Cascais in 2016, and working with them has really helped me grow and improve massively as a player. Every time I’ve met Eric Babolat he’s treated me very well and he always sends me messages of support. I’m very lucky to be in the Babolat family, and want to be in it for a very long time.”
Yet while he has lived in Madrid since he began his professional career, Puerto de Santa María remains “the one special place in my life, it’s got so much going for it,” he says. “Beaches, bars, wonderful food – the pescaito frito [freshly fried fish] is exceptional. But best of all are the people, who are very kind-hearted. I think my future will be in Madrid, but I’ll always try to split my time between the two places.”
And wherever Juan Lebrón goes, though, there’s sure to be music playing in the background.