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Roland-Garros ball-kids off to China

By Guillaume Willecoq   on   Friday 30 September 2016
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Four of the ball-kids who put in the best performances while working at Roland-Garros have headed off to China to work at the tournaments in Wuhan (WTA) and Beijing (ATP/WTA) during the Asian swing. As part of the agreement, eight Chinese youngsters are invited over to Roland-Garros to be part of the French ball-kids’ team.

The French Open ball-kids are on the move. They are widely considered to be the best in the world, and they are being put to work again at the end of September, on the other side of the planet, with four of them heading off to China to take part in the Wuhan (WTA) and Beijing (ATP/WTA) tournaments. "This is the fourth year that this exchange is taking place," explained Arthur Bongrand, head of ball-kids for the French Tennis Federation. "We send ball-kids to China, and in return, we host Chinese youngsters who come over her to work as ball-kids during Roland-Garros fortnight."

This exchange was originally only for Beijing, but was extended to cover the Wuhan WTA tournament when it was launched in 2014. Eight Chinese teenagers – four from Beijing and four from Wuhan – got to work at the Paris Grand Slam this year. Meanwhile, six of the French ball-kids were selected from among the team which worked on the Roland-Garros finals, "based on our evaluations of their work during the tournament", says Bongrand. "The top two get to go to the Australian Open next January, while the next four will go off to the tournaments in China for two weeks."

"An incredible experience for these teenagers"

The French youngsters will be fully integrated into the team of local ball-kids, with the only special treatment they get being an extra day off, in order to add some extra educational value to the trip. "It’s an incredible experience for these teenagers," Bongrand adds. "It will be a voyage of cultural discovery, seeing a new way of life, and customs which are bound to surprise them … The person looking after them is going to make sure that they make the most of every moment that isn’t taken up with sport."

The organisers of the two tournaments will also be helping out in this respect, as visitors to the Beijing event are always taken to see the Great Wall of China! This year, the four lucky French kids go by the names of Pierre Chiron, Julia Degennaro, Alexis Dubourg and Laurie Mussillon, and they are certainly looking forward to working in the Chinese capital, as well as the city where former Roland-Garros winner Li Na was born:

Gallery : ball-kids under starter’s orders

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