France, China plan big boost for tennis
Updated: 2014-05-12 22:00
By Sun Xiaochen (chinadaily.com.cn)
Thanks to Chinese star Li Na's groundbreaking victory at Roland Garros in 2011, the French Open has been the most recognized Grand Slam event in China, and it will gain more exposure with the launch of a promotional event, "Roland Garros in China", for the third consecutive year.
The six-day event in Beijing and Shanghai from June 3 to 8 features various tennis-themed activities for fans at outdoor venues, including one full-size and two mini clay courts featuring the same clay surface as Roland Garros.
All activities will be open to the public from 10 am to 10 pm at Beijing's Olympic Park and Shanghai's Central Square on East Nanjing Road.
Fans will be able to test their serving power with the authentic electronic speedometer used at Roland Garros, and finetune their shot accuracy on a small trampoline court. French Open matches will be broadcast live on huge screens at the venues starting at 5 pm daily.
The event extends the 50-year-old Sino-France relationship to the field of sports and is expected to further boost the younger generation's enthusiasm for tennis, especially on clay courts, said Qing Shanglin, deputy director of CTA.
"The clay court is an ideal surface for young players to practice on and improve their consistency and mental toughness because it slows down the speed of the ball and requires more rallies in matches," Qing said at the launch of the event on Monday.
"We expect our cooperation will bring more of these kinds of grassroots promotions and trigger bigger interest in clay-court tennis in China."
CTA signed the partnership with the French Tennis Federation in 2010. Various exchanges, including coaching, ball-retrieval training for children and clay court construction, have been made since then.
The French Open championships also brought its inaugural juniors' wildcard playoff competition and the champions' trophy tour to Beijing in March.
Teenage players Zheng Weiqiang and Zheng Wushuang claimed the boys' and girls' titles of the wildcard event, earning direct berths in the juniors' main draw tournament at the 2014 Roland Garros.
"We hope the cooperation with CTA will produce more elite tennis players who can win at Roland Garros, as Li did, in the future," said Dominique Malcotti, treasurer general of French federation.