New Delhi: With the second edition of French Open tennis talent hunt programme set to hit the country in February next year, Director of Development at Roland Garros Sam Primaut on Thursday said the junior event will help India produce more clay court champions.
Indian girls made their presence felt in the opening edition of the tournament (Rendez-vous a Roland-Garros) in April after rubbing shoulders with young talent from China and Brazil.
The tournament will see the best U-18 Indian players (boys and girls) compete for a chance to enter the Roland Garros Junior draw in Paris in May 2016. The winners of the Indian leg will go on to face competitors from Brazil, South Korea and China in the play-offs.
Primaut said that the tournament not only takes Roland Garros, the brand, forward but also promotes talent in countries like India.
"The plan is to expand Roland Garros, the brand, and the practice of tennis on clay all over the world and especially the countries that we have identified because of growth opportunity and potential of the country. India has been mapped as one of the first few one in terms of potential.
"So that's why last year we initiated the relationship and we have have had good relationship with your local tennis federation. Last year we organised the first rendezvous at Roland Garros," Primaut told PTI.
"At the moment we have mapped New Delhi and Mumbai in India, considering their economic power and the potential of sport. In the long run when we acquire more knowledge of the country we would certainly get in more cities," he added.
With tennis stars like Leander Paes and Sania Mirza
already there as role models for many tennis aspirants in the country, Primaut believes the time is not far when India will have their own French Open winner.
"We have identified India because of the sport being popular in the land and the country is the second-largest potential nation in the land in terms of tennis' being followed after US. Look if we continuously work with India's tennis federation and hit the right notes then maybe in 10 or 15 years an Indian guy or girl win win the French Open at Roland Garros," he said.
The tournament has the backing of All India Tennis Federation and Primaut talks about his relationship with AITA President Anil Khanna.
"We have Mr. Anil Khanna several times and they are really enthusiastic and really helpful with us. We can feel there is strong interest to develop tennis, especially in clay. We have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with them to officialise our work," he said.
Primaut also revealed plans of two new clay courts being built at Delhi Lawn Tennis Association before Christmas to help the young boys and girls enjoy the tournament on them.
The tournament in India will be held between February 8-12 with the final being played in Paris on May 21.
The trophies will also be unveiled in February for the male and female events.
"We will bring them to India on a tour and showcase them in iconic places. Like last year it was Taj Mahal in Agra and this year it will be Jaipur apart from Delhi," Primaut said.