French Tennis Federation & AITA announce second edition of Rendez-Vous à Roland-Garros in India
New Delhi, 6th January 2016: The French Tennis Federation (FFT), organizers of the world’s premier clay court event – Roland-Garros (aka The French Open), in association with All India Tennis Association (AITA) today announced the second Indian edition of Rendez-Vous à Roland-Garros in partnership with Longines. Returning for the second consecutive year, the tournament is aimed at promoting young talents and grass-roots clay-court tennis in India.
The competition will be held at newly laid clay-courts at the Delhi Lawn Tennis Association from February 8th until 12th 2016. 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 playoffs in Paris and the eventual champions will get a wild card entry to the French Open Junior.
“India has an impressive talent pool at the junior level. The spirit and the passion of the contenders in the previous edition was very encouraging. We believe that India has what it takes to become a tennis powerhouse and that is the very reason why we are offering this unique experience to Indian players,” said Mr. Sam Primaut, FFT, Director of Development.
“Better infrastructure is particularly important for development of the sport. Keeping that in mind FFT and AITA have joined hands via a Cooperation agreement signed in April 2015. As a part of this commitment, AITA will build clay courts at the Delhi Lawn Tennis Association. It will give the closest experience of playing on the iconic clay surfaces of Paris and at the same time give a major boost to the Indian players aspiring to play at the French Open or any other clay court tournaments around the world,” Mr. Primaut added.
The clay court set up at DLTA is the first of its kind. The 2016 edition of Rendez-Vous à Roland-Garros will be the first competition to be played on it in the month of February. This will be a big advantage for the participating players, as it would condition them better for the Paris finale.
Welcoming the initiative, AITA president Mr. A.K. Khanna said he hopes that such endeavours will usher in a new era for Indian tennis. “AITA extends its heartfelt gratitude towards FFT for giving us this opportunity to host Rendez-Vous à Roland-Garros for the second year in a row. To complement their efforts, we are committed to make clay courts accessible at the grass-roots level. With their technical assistance, AITA is laying new clay courts at the DLTA,” said Mr. Khanna.
“It is in our core philosophy that a quality junior programme lays the foundation for success at the top level and endeavours like Rendez-Vous à Roland-Garros best reflect our thoughts in action.”
Talking about the player’s participating in the tournament, Mr. Khanna added, “Our players got really close to getting the wild card last time which shows that they are capable of competing with the best in the business. I am confident that the upcoming winners will put up a good show, considering this year they will compete on clay courts and hopefully secure a wildcard entry to the French Open Junior next year.”
The tournament will see a tough playing field with top junior players from the country lining up to earn a ticket to Paris. In the boys’ category, Vasisht Vinod Cheruku, Aryan Goveas, BR Nikshep and last year’s runner up Alex Solanki will be the top contenders.
The Boys’ champion from last edition, Basil L. Khuma has fond memories of the tournament. “There is no better pathway to get a chance to play on best clay courts in the world. It was an experience of a lifetime in Paris and it definitely has made me a better player today,” said Khuma.
The Girls' competition will be evenly poised with Zeel Desai, defending champion Sathwika Sama along with last year’s finalist Jennifer Luikham headlining the event.
Talking about her experience in playing at the Rendez-Vous à Roland-Garros, Sathwika said, “The tournament is a great platform for junior players to earn a wildcard entry to the world’s most famous clay court tournament. I represented India the last time in Paris but missed out by a narrow margin to make the cut. But I am coming back this year with a renewed will to succeed and hopefully get into the main draw.”