two bounces and full of promise

Ten thousand steps and more. They practice some of the most spectacular tennis, and are finally gaining recognition. For the first time in the history of Roland-Garros, wheelchair tennis players played their match on the Philippe-Chatrier court. It was in this mythical arena that the ladies’ final was played, on Saturday April 4 at the end of the morning, between the seeds number 1 and 2, the Dutch Diede de Groot and the Japanese Yui Kamiji. Diede de Groot won (6-4, 6-1), pocketing, at 25, his third title on Parisian clay. The two players also face each other in the final of the women’s wheelchair tennis doubles.

Among the men, the Japanese Shingo Kunieda (38), legend of wheelchair tennis, already holder of seven titles at Roland-Garros in singles in his category, overcame the Argentinian Gustavo Fernandez, ten years his junior. , in three sets (6-2, 5-7, 7-5), after more than two and a half hours of play.

The day before, the two men had already shown their talent to the public (too sparse) of Chatrier, by winning the semi-final of the men’s doubles together, against the French pair Stéphane Houdet – Nicolas Peifer, with a score of 7-6, 6-1. In the final, the Argentinian and the Japanese are opposed to a British duo, Alfie Hewett and Gordon Reid.

Exchanges, good humor and frank laughter

Beyond this better spotlighting of competitors in wheelchairs (which was also reflected during the 2022 edition of Roland-Garros by a greater number of participants in the ladies’ and men’s singles events: 12 against 8 up to here), the tournament was, as in recent years, an opportunity to make the discipline more widely known, with a discovery day “All in a wheelchair”.

This Friday, June 3, a stone’s throw from Suzanne-Lenglen, on the clay court of court number 9, transformed into four mini-courts, many came to try their hand at wheelchair tennis: children and adults of all ages, able-bodied or have a disability.

The opportunity for exchanges in every sense of the term, in a good mood and sometimes even a good laugh. Some master the gestures of tennis, but struggle to manage the wheelchair at the same time to get to the ball, while others twirl around with their everyday “vehicle”, but are a little borrowed with a tennis racket.

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“Racket in hand”, reminds one of the teachers present to a young person, who had the reflex to put it on his knees while he pushed his chair with both hands to move towards the ball. We quickly understand the interest of a possible second rebound, the main particularity of wheelchair tennis in terms of rules.

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