After the historic zero point of French tennis at Roland Garros, RMC Sport tried to identify the dysfunctions of a federation which was nevertheless financially powerful.
No French in the 3rd round of Roland-Garros … French tennis in great difficulty, lacking results … Everyone knew it but nobody did much about it. For many, some executives of the French Tennis Federation have relied on the excellent results of the generation of “Musketeers”. The Gasquet, Monfils, Tsonga and Simon formed the immense tree which hid the forest. Some federal coaches have entered some comfort, according to Gianni Mina. This young French player had offered a good resistance to Rafael Nadal in 2010. He spent eight years in the federal fold before, broken, to put an end to a career that has never taken off.
“There may be a less good generation but that does not explain everything, believes Gianni Mina. We were in a period of over-confidence in France. We had to prepare for the rest and there was no discount. in question. There was a certain comfort on both sides, whether it was the players or the coaches. If the coaches do not have the scam as well, it is complicated to take the players to the top level. guys who had the potential and unfortunately got lost. “
A generation partly missing
Today, the void is marked by the generation born between 1996 and 1999. Namely: Ugo Humbert, Corentin Moutet, Benjamin Bonzi, Alexandre Müller, Quentin Halys, Goeffrey Blancaneaux, Maxime Janvier, Johan Tatlot, Corentin Denolly, Laurent Lokoli. .. Apart from Ugo Humbert and Corentin Moutet, who settled in the Top 100, none has made a lasting impact. However, many of them performed well in juniors. Quentin Halys climbed to the final of the US Open 2014 after being crowned European champion against Corentin Denolly and winning the Petits As. Double French champion 17/18 years old, Johan Tatlot had reached the last four in Wimbledon (2014).
Worse, they are not in the timing of their generation (Zverev, Shapovalov, Rublev, Berrettini…). And when we look at the archives of the champions of France Jeunes of this generation, we find missing persons like Clément Larrière or Mandresy Rakotomalala (champion of France 15/16 years 2013).
Vice-president of the FFT in the early 2010s, before being president from 2017 to 2021, Bernard Giudicelli admits a lack of talent in the segment of players aged 22 to 26 today: “If I take the age 14 in 2010, 2012, apart from Quentin Halys and Geoffrey Blancaneaux, we have no one! The generational hollow was already there. At the time, at the steering committee, we were told about the back of Jo (Tsonga) or of the ankle of Richard (Gasquet) but not of generation “.
Fixed ideas on training
In this generation, the National Technical Director was Patrice Hagelauer (2010-2013). Arnaud Di Pasquale took over in 2014. According to Hagelauer, “the hope poles were not structured enough at the time, everything had to be rebuilt, there were poles that were not equipped with clay. J tried to recreate a collective of players, but that was subsequently broken “. At the time, the DTN had in particular relied heavily on Laurent Lokoli (420th ATP today).
But the real problem for Gianni Mina was the lack of accountability of the players, and also the too radical technical positions of the supervisors: “We had too strong a thought for some players. Technically, it was not good enough so we do not did not really believe in him on his qualities and his strengths “. Worse, the discomfort seemed deep at that time for the young players who arrived at the National Training Center in Paris. “They didn’t necessarily stay long, but they all said to me ‘I really feel judged, it’s complicated, I can’t feel good here.’ We’re not going to hide it, there is still a little microcosm, a little self-esteem at the Federation, “says Mina. At that time, Bernard Giudicelli claims to receive a letter from the DTN one day explaining that there was “a problem with a player because of her racket grip”.
The sword of Damocles from the famous split times was also heavy to carry for these young players in training. During his experience in the United States, Gianni Mina clearly saw the difference in the approach of the players: “There, I did not feel judged by my technique or other, I was just there to try to really progress and reach a level thanks to mental, tennis, physical work without being rehashed in my head. “
Wild cards too generously awarded
These French Open again raised the problem of the distribution of wild cards. It’s a vicious cycle for girls. The players who have the qualifying level – between 105 and 250 in the WTA ranking – are invited to the large table. Where they fall most logically in the world. But the disappointment is quickly erased by the amount of the check (60,000 euros).
By ricochet effect, the French women benefiting from a sesame in qualifying take the broth because they simply do not have the level. It’s been fifteen years since a Blue has crossed the barrier of the Porte d’Auteuil qualifiers! A terribly embarrassing statistic …
A few years ago, Wimbledon took a brutal decision requiring a decent level to take part in the “Championships”. If the tank is not of good quality, the organizers of the All England Club return their invitations and the places available benefit the first non-entering players. So foreigners.
The FFT should be inspired by it to avoid being mocked. A few years ago, the DTN of the Swimming Federation had instituted quite frightening time quotas to be retained for the Olympics. The decision had been strongly criticized but it encouraged the athletes to perform, not to wait for the offering. Another suggestion: the establishment of a play-off leading to an invitation card. The Australian Federation is organizing this competition before the start of the season. Match to the best of the five sets: it is the ideal solution to cut short the controversies and suspicions of cronyism, still in force, we must not hide our face.
The juniors to find the smile?
Cannot determine how long the hangover will last. But Nicolas Escudé will closely follow the junior tournament, which begins this Sunday. “That interests me,” said the acting DTN, Nicolas Escudé. The wine promises to be tasty for the Blues who have four players in the Top 20. But we must not put too much pressure on them. Because a title among young people does nothing. Look at the trajectory of Geoffrey Blancaneaux, last French winner in 2016 against Felix Auger-Aliassime…
We should not put pressure on these apprentice champions. N ° 1 in the world juniors in 2018 and 2019, Clara Burel and Diane Parry are in full transition to the professional world. And the trajectory of the Bretonne is not a long quiet river. Accompanied at Roland-Garros by Alexia Dechaume, Clara Burel would have a hard time having been “cut” from Thierry Champion, who had trained her in Brittany during the first confinement. Problem: The former high-level manager has been sidelined by the new management team. No wonder this political choice, but it is always wasted time. And time, French tennis is sorely lacking.