FFT, AITA deepen talent development partnership

NEW DELHI: The French Tennis Federation (FFT), organizers of the world’s premier clay court event – Roland-Garros (aka The French Open), in association with All India Tennis Association (AITA) Wednesday announced the third Indian edition of Rendez-Vous à Roland-Garros in partnership with Longines. 

Returning for the third consecutive year, the tournament is aimed at promoting young talents and clay-court tennis in India.

With a promise of growing their commitment to nurture talent in India, this edition will have a lot more depth and reach in terms of geographies as well as being well integrated into the AITA calendar.

Prior to the Masters taking place in New Delhi in April; the tournament will now witness a qualifier round in March to be played in Pune and Kolkata. These qualifiers are integrated into the AITA calendar and will count towards the participants AITA ranking points basis performance. Apart from this, the qualifiers will also witness the presence of French coaches from Roland Garros to train participants as well as hold clinics for the local budding talent and tennis enthusiasts.

The main draw will consist 64 boys and 48 girls. Based on the results, the top sixteen boys and girls will qualify for the Masters event in New Delhi to be held on 18th and 19th April, 2017. The winners of the Indian leg will go on to face the winners from Brazil, South Korea, China, Japan & the United States in the playoffs in Paris and the eventual champions will get a wild card entry to the French Open Junior.

“We have made a long term and solemn commitment to nurture and encourage talent from India. Last year we worked closely with AITA and created new clay courts. This year we have added another dimension with the inclusion of the qualifiers in Kolkata and Pune allowing for more players to vie for this golden opportunity.”  said Sam Primaut, FFT, director of Development.

Welcoming this years’ edition of the Rendez-Vous à Roland-Garros, AITA president Praveen Mahajan said, “AITA is committed to it’s partnership with the FFT and we are extremely happy to see the progress of this initiative growing each year since the past three years. The opportunity that the Rendez-Vous à Roland-Garros provides is excellent and we want to encourage more talent to participate, hence the decision to add a qualifiers leg and integrate it into our calendar and ranking points. We want to use this measure to increase the talent pool and scout for the best to represent us at the finals in Paris.” 

Asian Tennis Federation president (and till recently long serving AITA chief) Anil Khanna said: “It is heartening to see the association between AITA & FFT for junior development programs over the years in India and I look forward to spread the Rendez-Vous à Roland-Garros in partnership with Longines event in other Asian nations as well.”

A much anticipated aspect of the Rendez-Vous à Roland-Garros is the global legends they bring to India. Last year it was Marion Bartoli and this year it will be three time Roland Garros winner Arantxa Sanchez Vicario, who will be visiting India for the finals in April. 

Speaking on her upcoming visit, Arantxa said, “I have always felt that learning tennis on clay builds a very strong foundation for young talent. Having global partners like Longines really helps such tournaments to grow and nurture grass roots level talent.”

Further speaking on the occasion, Juan-Carlos Capelli, Longines vice president and head of International Marketing said, “We believe in the vision that the Rendez-Vous à Roland-Garros in partnership with Longines has for India. There is a lot of talent that if recognized and given the right platform can do wonders. At Longines we have a rich history of partnering with international sports federations such as the French Tennis Federation and honouring high performance. We look forward to the success of the third edition of Rendez-Vous à Roland-Garros in partnership with Longines in India.”