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Why is French wheelchair tennis the most competitive in the world?

Why is French wheelchair tennis the most competitive in the world?

French men’s armchair tennis is doing well. If we refer to the world ranking; it is even the mostjournaltimepetitive in the world. France has two representatives in the top 5 and seven players in the top 50; that is; the best national contingent. In doubles; the French success is even more significant: there are four in the top 10 and eight in the top 50. The proof? Among the four French registered in Rio; Stéphane Houdet; 45; current world No. 1 in singles and doubles and Nicolas Peifer (No. 4 in singles and No. 3 in doubles) are aiming for a gold medal in doubles.

Even the Japan of Shingo Kunieda; the Roger Federer of wheelchair tennis (20 Grand Slam titles in singles and 19 in doubles); a great star in his country; cannot say the same (six Japanese in the top 50 in singles and seven doubles). ). In five years; the Blues have won the team world cup four times; the equivalent of the Davis Cup. France is the world champion of wheelchair tennis.

Financial supervision

How to explain this French success? The popularity of tennis; the second most popular sport in France; and the quality of French training contribute to the density of disabled sports champions. -Valid French tennis is in great shape; not to be forgotten. There are many French in the top 100 “; says Christian Dupuy; coach of French flag bearer Michaël Jeremiasz (world No. 4 in doubles; No. 16 in singles) at SS 12 Bercy.

Between maintenance and purchase of equipment; travel expenses; expenses during tournaments; he estimates that the cost of a season ranges between € 80;000 and € 100;000. An amount that is not available to all players.

However; Spain; which places eleven players in the top 100 of valid tennis; that is; as many representatives as France; does not have the same success in wheelchair tennis (3 players in the top 50 in singles; 2 in double).

“Other countries may have very good players; but it is a budget to make them emerge”says Hervé Bouchard; Nicolas Peifer’s agent who ajournaltimepanies him at all tournaments. Between maintenance and purchase of equipment; travel expenses; expenses during tournaments; he estimates that the cost of a season ranges between € 80;000 and € 100;000. An amount that is not available to all players.

Like his elders Stéphane Houdet and Michaël Jeremiasz; Nicolas Peifer is fortunate to be an employee of the Ministry of Defense. Furthermore; the best French champions can count on the help of their managing federation; the French Handisport Federation (FFH) and that of the French Tennis Federation (FFT).

The two organizations signed a collaboration agreement in 2011 in order to “Making French tennis shine at the London 2012 Paralympic Games”. Three players; Stéphane Houdet; Mickaël Jeremiasz and Nicolas Peifer benefit from the financial help of the FFT to prepare in the best conditions.

” Miguel [Jeremiasz] benefits from the wealth of the FFT; French tennis –; says Christian Dupuy.

“Occupy space”

Before leaving for the Paralympic Games; Michaël Jeremiasz was still training a few weeks ago at the FFT’s National Training Center (CNE); where the best prospects of valid tennis are trained. He benefited from all the supervision of high-level French professionals. “They are very well cared for from a physical point of view”adds Christian Dupuy. Xavier Moreau; the physical trainer of the French Davis Cup team; and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga looked after their protégé.

More generally; the successful establishment of FFT throughout the country naturally contributes to the development of wheelchair tennis; according to Stéphane Goudou; sports director for disabled tennis: -Any tennis teacher can teach wheelchair tennis and the FFT has built courts throughout France that allow for daily training. “

Despite the few technical variations with valid tennis; in particular the greater importance of spin and first serve on the rally; the coaches of the best French started out as federal coaches. “It’s exactly the same; tactically you have to occupy the space”; justifies Christian Dupuy. For a year and a half; Hervé Karcher has supervised Nicolas Peifer every morning during three hours of morning training at TC Sarreguemines. He was contacted by his player about his tennis skills: -I had a new eye since I came from valid. “ Although traveling in a wheelchair requires specific training; coaches do not stop at this question. -A coach needs to explain the movements to the beginners but not to Nicolás. He is not teaching you anything about it. It’s more about consistency; aggressiveness; strategy and consistency “explains your agent.

“Extraordinary players”

French wheelchair tennis would also draw its strength from the number ofjournaltimepetitions organized in France. -We have about fifteen tournaments in France. It makes it easy to cope without going abroad. “; analysis by Stéphane Goudou. The only thing that tricolor wheelchair tennis lacked was a media showcase worthy of the name. In just a few years; the discipline won the ears of journalists; in particular thanks to the organization of a tournament at Roland Garros; the last of the four Grand Slams to convert to wheelchair tennis. It is also in Paris that athletes are best treated. The table takes place at the same time as the matches of the prestigious tournament and players are entitled to the same treatment as Rafael Nadal and others. The only difference is the winnings and the number of spectators in the stands.

A big difference. -What a disabled player will receive after winning a Grand Slam is still minimal; from € 9;000 to € 35;000. And the Grand Slams are reserved for the eight best in the world “says Hervé Bouchard; Nicolas Peifer’s agent. To get back to normal; you already have to be in the French elite. Among the lucky ones; your player is doing well. Nicolas Peifer started playing wheelchair tennis at the age of 11 and quickly reached the highest level with a # 1 spot among juniors.

Now 25; he is supported by his region; his city; his club; as well as his sponsors. But the places to occupy are few and the incredible achievements of French tennis are carried mainly by two players: Stéphane Houdet and Michaël Jeremiasz.

Stéphane Houdet and Nicolas Peifer pose with their medals after their defeat in the Wimbledon final in July 2016.

“They are players who were very well before their accident”explains Christian Dupuy. Stéphane Houdet was junior champion of the Pays de la Loire region and played tennis valid for 7 to 24 years before his motorcycle accident. Michaël Jeremiasz was also at an excellent level before his 18-year-old ski crash.

“We may have had a little luck; responds Stéphane Goudou; sports director of tennis for the disabled. The level they had before allows them to be at that level today. ” Hervé Karcher; coach of Nicolas Peifer; the next generation of wheelchair tennis; approves: -They are still individualities; extraordinary guys with a force of character. You need qualities as in any sport to be at the highest level. “

Michaël Jeremiasz will not forget these Paralympic Games. Despite his elimination in the round of 16 in singles and doubles on Monday 12 September; the Frenchman lived his last Games in the shoes of an ambassador of wheelchair tennis. Standard bearer of the French delegation; he toured the television programs and the media before leaving for Rio. The nice bearded Parisian as his record gave the public a beautiful image of his sport. Perhaps it will awaken new vocations to continue the good performance of tricolor wheelchair tennis.


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