The "Rendez-vous à Roland-Garros" is back!
Roland-Garros can already be glimpsed on the horizon and for a host of juniors who dream of walking out on the clay at the Porte d'Auteuil, that prospect is now within a racquet's reach. As part of the fourth edition of the "Rendez-vous à Roland-Garros, in partnership with Longines" programme, dozens of budding aces aged under 18 will be battling it out in all four corners of the planet for the opportunity to come to Roland-Garros. Those who make it to Paris will then compete for two wild cards that will be up for grabs in the final phase, to be held on Court No.6 on the Saturday before the tournament proper commences, coinciding with the traditional Kids' Day.
After China, where this global operation got up and running in 2014, India and Brazil, which joined the adventure in 2015, and South Korea and Japan, which came on board last year, the United States – namely Miami – will be the new destination in this, the fourth edition of the "Rendez-vous à Roland-Garros, in partnership with Longines".
- This year, the action will get underway in Yokohama, Japan, where the first contenders will launch their bid to follow in the footsteps of the Brazilian Rafael Lima Wagner and Ayano Shimizu, herself hailing from the Land of the Rising Sun, by booking their ticket to the final phase in the French capital. The Japanese leg of the programme will take place from 27 February to 3 March at the Yokohama Country & Athletic Club. Franco-Japanese model and TV presenter Christel Takigawa will be present as an ambassador. Read the story.
- The next stop on the "Rendez-vous à Roland-Garros" roadshow will be Florianopolis, Brazil, the hometown of three-time Roland-Garros winner (1997, 2000 and 2001) Gustavo Kuerten, from 9 to 12 March. Beforehand, in a first in the history of the programme, some 20 qualifying tournaments – spread across five regional circuits – will have been played all over the country, enabling promising Brazilian youngsters nationwide to try their luck. With players having accrued points and been ranked according to their results in these events, the highest-placed participants in each region will secure a wild card for the national final. A further 11 spots are reserved for players who qualify automatically through their performances in ITF tournaments. Read the story.
- Brazil isn't the only country holding qualifiers. There will be two preliminary competitions in China, in the cities of Dongguan and Nanchang. The finalists from these two events will earn the right to take part in the national final, which will take place from 14 to 17 March at the China Tennis Academy in Nanjing. As an added attraction, the Roland-Garros trophies will be on display for the occasion. Read the story.
- A qualifying process will also be staged in India. A pair of tournaments will be held in Kolkata and Pune (under the umbrella of the National Series, the highest level of junior tennis in India), with the top 16 going through to a Masters event. There will be no direct entrants into the draw at this national final – which will be contested on the courts of the Delhi Lawn Tennis Association from 19 to 21 April in the presence of ambassador Arantxa Sanchez Vicario, another triple Roland-Garros champion (1989, 1994 and 1998) – and so all of the participants will have come through the qualifiers.
- Around the same time (from 19 to 22 April, to be precise), the Boca West Country Club in Miami will host the first American leg of the programme, as well as welcoming the Roland-Garros trophies.
- The 2017 tour will conclude in Seoul, South Korea, where former tennis player Jeon Mi-ra and her husband, the K-pop star Yoon Jong Shin, will be the ambassadors. The proceedings will unfold at the Ansung Sports Town Tennis Courts from 27 April to 1 May and, just like in China and the USA, the Roland-Garros trophies will be on hand for those in attendance to admire. This will be the last of the tournaments before the final phase, which will see the cream of the crop descend on Paris from 26 to 27 May.
Relive the Rendez-vous à Roland-Garros 2016 finals in Paris