It was during a press briefing held this Thursday at the National Training Center (CNE) that Gilles Moretton, President of the French Tennis Federation, Nicolas Escudé, National Technical Director (DTN) and Jean-Philippe Fleurian launched the French wheelchair tennis division accompanied by the four athletes, permanent members.
“This project is first and foremost that of the president”, said Jean Philippe-Fleurian, head of the division. Integrated since 2017 into the Federation, the paratennis still needed to be developed and this initiative comes to meet these expectations. This project, unique in the world since it is the first of its kind, is part of the FFT’s desire to move the lines by developing and modernizing this sport. It is with the support of its president and the DNT that Jean-Philippe Fleurian embarked on the design of this project, in close collaboration with Patrick Labazuy, deputy manager.
Reduce the gap with other countries
France thus hopes to catch up with other countries such as Japan, England and the Netherlands, which are much further ahead in the professionalization of wheelchair tennis. The objective is clear: to structure, professionalize, support and optimize the performance of athletes.
If waiting for sports results is one thing, Jean Philippe-Fleurian does not make it the priority in the immediate future: “The goal is of course the Paris 2024 Games, the Los Angeles 2028 Games, medals and titles, but it’s more than that. It is a long-term project where training comes first. »
This project was made possible thanks to the National Training Center (CNE), which hosts the cluster and which President Gilles Moretton described as “Rolls-Royce” because of its extensive infrastructure, its experienced human staff and the knowledge that he transmits. The conditions for performing there are optimal while being in contact with the best French players.
“I find it really good to remove this barrier between tennis and paratennis”
Zoé Maras, 31st in the wheelchair tennis world
An opportunity praised by Zoé Maras, 21, wheelchair tennis player ranked 31st in the world and permanent member of the cluster: “It’s a great chance to train in the Temple of Tennis and next to top athletes. It motivates even more to play well. I find it really good to remove this barrier between tennis and paratennis. »
To carry out this project, the FFT provided the means, in particular by bringing the athletes to Paris and taking charge of their accommodation. Between the five hours of daily training and the invisible preparation, both mental and physical, the accompaniment of the athletes is total and must allow a progression ” three to four times faster than normal” according to his manager.
The pole also focuses on improving the equipment in order to have faster chairs with better rotation. A whole investment and a requirement that Gilles Moretton presents as the “conditions of ambition”.