Through Maxime Berthelot
Published on 23 June 21 at 19:01
Orange polo shirt on the shoulders, branded with the famous green crocodile. Neat navy blue shorts and shoes. The outfit fits him like a glove! It must be said that the function required flawlessness, or almost.
At 16, the young Abel, licensed from Tennis club Provins 1934, has just experienced three unforgettable weeks. From May 24 to June 13, he was part of the 280 ball collectors of the tournament Roland Garros. Aged 12 to 16, they were responsible for supplying players with small yellow balls during their matches:
“It was a great experience, I was as close as possible to the great players!” Says the Provinois. We see the match in another way, we notice what goes on under, the relaxation rooms, the preparation rooms, the corridors … It’s large! “
Coming to Roland-Garros as a spectator in 2018 and 2019, Abel was able to discover the courts of the Porte d’Auteuil from another angle. With a nice surprise from the first round of the tournament: “choose up” on the central court Philippe-Chatrier on the occasion of the first match of his idol and future finalist of the tournament: the Greek Stefanos Tsitsipás ! “It was incredible, in addition against the French Jeremy Chardy, with the public, it was beautiful! “
“Fast, discreet, efficient”
Because these privileged moments are deserved. Before making his place at the fringe of the courts, the teenager needed to cross a number of rounds of choice. It was first registered online on the official tournament ball collectors website, earlier than collaborating, in March, in a primary qualifying spherical organized at the National Training Center of the French Tennis Federation (CNE).
“The first exams lasted half-hour, together with 10 minutes of cardio and 20 minutes the place we had been examined on the high quality of our rolls and our ball throws, says the younger tennis participant, who was capable of stand out. In April, I was then chosen in the second choice spherical. For about 2 hours, we had been put in a match scenario. We needed to do every thing as in Roland. “
“To do every thing as in Roland”, it is to have the three qualities hammered out by the trainers: “to be quick, discreet and environment friendly”.
“When you throw the balls at the players, the gesture must be simple and clean, with a rebound. The roll is done between the ball collectors and requires having the legs flexed, with a good rotation of the arm to gain speed and avoid rebounds. The balls must get to the players as quickly as possible, they must not complain, and we must also do our best not to disturb the public. “
A well-oiled mechanism, supplemented by an internship (digital, Covid-19 requires) a number of weeks earlier than the begin of the match: “The trainers broadcast us videos of matches, in order to review the different techniques and all the details that matter. “
A competition within the competition
During the tournament, which begins for them in the qualifying phase, i.e. one week before the start of the 1ers rounds, the ball collectors cover 14 courts, with four to five matches per day. Simple men, women, girls, boys; men’s, women’s, mixed doubles; and even wheelchair tennis, there are six per match, briefed and debriefed on a daily basis. Very quickly, they find themselves in competition:
“During the first two weeks, namely qualifying and the first rounds, we are allocated the matches randomly, except for the Philippe-Chatrier central court, where the organization already places the best,” says Abel. On the different hand, from the closing desk, specifically the final week, we’re categorised by degree, and only some go to the finish of the competitors. “
The Provinois is not going to have the likelihood to be chosen for the closing, which is able to see Novak Djokovic win towards Stéfanos Tsitsipás. On the different hand, he will make it to the semi-finals, the place he will officiate in the Junior and males’s doubles classes.
During these internationals of France 2021, Abel can have even developed thrice on the Philippe-Chatrier court, together with at evening, and assisted the largest stars: Rafael Nadal, 13 occasions winner of Roland-Garros (towards Richard Gasquet to 2e flip and Jannick sinner in 8e closing), or the world n ° 1 Novak Djokovic (towards Lorenzo Musetti in 8e closing).
“I also made the double Benoît Paire-Romain Arneodo, and the Essonnian Arthur Fils, in the junior quarterfinals, who is only one year older than me! “
While he will cross in second basic subsequent yr, the younger Provinois doesn’t intend to surrender his ardour for tennis. Classified 30/3, he wish to turn into a supervisor, and has a challenge to work in the commerce devoted to sport. “This expertise in a Grand Slam was a primary nice expertise! », He rejoices.
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