French tennis body wants to bring its stars to hold clinics in India

Indo Asian News Service

Kolkata, March 23 (IANS) With Roland Garros organising their junior tennis meet, the 2017 French Open junior wild cards competition for the third straight year in India, there is a possibility of French stars like Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and Kristina Mladenovic coming over for clinics in the future, an official of the French tennis federation, FFT said.

"Tsonga and Kristina Mladenovic are 'godfather' and godmother' of our new tennis school. We launched a programme in tennis clubs about how to play the game with different racquets. Maybe we could have other agreements with him and other players to bring them here to make clinics with the kids and beginners just to improve the knowledge and more coverage of tennis," FFT deputy technical director Bernard Pestre told IANS.

Played across three cities, the Under-18 category meet is currently underway at the Dakshin Kalikata Sansad (DKS) here. The winners from here, one boy and a girl from the two categories, will join the winners of the Pune leg (starting from March 27-April 1) to play a masters event in New Delhi (April 18, 19).

The winners will be taken to Paris where they will be joined by top rookies from Japan, Korea, China, Brazil and possibly the US for a place in the main draw of the junior French Open which will be played from the second Sunday.

The French Open will be played from May 22 to June 11.

"They play a tournament in Paris in the first week of French Open. The winner is able to play from the second Sunday in the main draw of the junior tournament," he said.

Pestre underlined the importance of starting one's career on clay courts which are slow and allow a tennis player to play his full repertoire of shots.

"Clay is a very important surface. They help you develop solid ground strokes and also helps develop tactics and strategies as rallies are very long. It increases physical and mental abilities. Accurate footwork is also enhanced as Spanish players show," Pestre said.

"If you learn to play on clay you have learnt to play on any surface and the opposite is not true," he added.

This wild card event will help budding tennis players from these six countries skip the rankings hurdle in qualifying for the junior French Open.

"This is an opportunity for these kids who do not have the right ranking to be able to play qualifying through wild card," Pestre said.