Another tennis star likely for China: FFT official
Updated: 2014-03-27 15:23
By Sun Xiaochen (chinadaily.com.cn)
China won't have to wait long before another tennis star such as Li Na emerges to win at Roland Garros as the launch of a junior wild card event has provided possibilities, a French Tennis Association official said.
Li's epic victory at Roland Garros in 2011 inspired tennis fever in China and the momentum is expected to continue after the first French Open Junior Wild Card Tournament was introduced to China.
"Li won at Roland Garros so we are very confident more Chinese will be able to play in Paris and win in the future, and we want to develop tennis on clay courts in China," said Jeremy Botton, deputy manager of the FFT, at the launch of the wild card event on Wednesday.
The junior wild card playoff is being held at the National Tennis Center from Thursday to Sunday. There are 12 places for boys' and girls' singles to compete for wild-card berths into the French Open Junior Tournament in Paris this year.
"We believe the initiative will inspire more children to pick up racquets. The chance of being able to play on the same court where Li claimed the Grand Slam will encourage more juniors to dream of repeating the feat," said Li Lingwei, vice-president of the Chinese Tennis Association.
Botton said there is a growing connection between the FFT and the Chinese market following Li's victory, and the Chinese world No 2 could win again this year.
"I cross my fingers for a great tournament for her this year. I think she has a very good chance as she won the Australian Open and plays really well," Botton said.
During the wild card tournament, the French Open's men's and women's champion trophies, the Musketeers Cup and the Suzanne Lenglen Cup, will be on public display at the Great Wall, the National Stadium, the Forbidden City and courtside at the final.
It's the first time in history for the trophies to leave Paris and Chinese fans will be able to see Li's name etched on the pedestal of the Suzanne Lenglen Cup.
The FFT will also expand the partnership it established with the CTA in 2010 to more areas, including coach and referee training, ball kid exchanges and clay court building.
"On clay courts, you have to play more shots and it demands more physically and mentally. So maybe Roland Garros is the most difficulty Grand Slam and that's why Li plays comfortably on any surface after winning the French Open," Botton said.