For juniors, a trophy – and a million Euros

The French Tennis Federation is handing out one million Euros ($1.17 million US) attached to the junior “Trophée International Philippe-Chatrier.”

The FFT will distribute the funds to the countries proportionatee to their results in the junior events.

Spain won the boys’ race in 2017, followed by Hungary. Canada was 24th out of 27.

Russia topped the girls’ charts with 7.680 points. Canada was second.

The well-funded “Slam nations” – U.S., U.K. and Australia – are ineligible. 

This rather homogeneous group of federation representatives (sans kids) was at Roland Garros Monday to receive the 2017 trophies – and the checks.

French Open adopts quick-tennis rules

As the other Grand Slams have done, beginning with last year’s US Open, this year’s French Open will quicken up the warmup period.

There will be one minute allowed between the arrival on court and the coin toss, a strict five-minute warmup, and one minute before the first serve must be struck.

The between-points time will be extended to the WTA/ATP standard 25 seconds, up from the unrealistic 20 seconds in previous Slam years.

And yes, there will be shot clocks.

They will play no-let in the qualifying, as well as the junior events. 

Davis Cup documentary full of emotion

The French Tennis Federation has produced a half-hour documentary of the Davis Cup squad’s journey to the big trophy.

It had been more than 15 years since the French – despite producing quality players generation after generation – had been able to lift the “saladier d’argent“.

And the pressure was amped up to 11.

In the end, under the second-year captaincy of Yannick Noah, the team led by Jo-Wilfried Tsonga got the job done.

The relief was palpable. The emotions ran the gamut.

Even if you don’t understand what they’re saying, you can still feel it.

Behind the scenes with Team France

As the French Tennis Federation went behind the scenes in the 24 hours before the country’s last, best hope to win the Davis Cup once more, there were some interesting tidbits.

For one thing, Gilles Simon is there (eating some off-season pie), in support of his teammates although not even on the six-man preliminary list that was cut down to four final selections.

We could go back and forth on Jo-Wilfried Tsonga’s latest ‘do. Early returns are: thumbs down. 

The outfit is taken under advisement.

Job posting: Davis Cup finals mascot

If you are “at ease relating to the public”, and want to get into the Davis Cup finals between France and Belgium (a tough ticket), have we got a job for you!

The French Tennis Federation is seeking a mascot for the three-day event Nov. 24-26.

Commitment and an exemplary manner also are required qualities. Previous mascot experience is a plus.

Apply here. There are no salary specifications. Tennis ability also seemingly is not required.

While we’re not 100 per cent sure what the mascot looks like, a Google search turned up this “FFT Chicken”.

FFT donates to Irma relief – now, Maria

Last Friday, the French Tennis Federation announced the creation of a solidarity fund to benefit the victims of Hurricane Irma.

Irma basted the French islands of Saint-Martin and Saint-Barthélemy. The federation kicked in 500,000 euros, looking to increase it with the help of its leagues, committees and clubs.

Tennis authorities in Guadeloupe, which hosted the France v Canada Davis Cup tie last year, were charged with allocating it restore damaged tennis facilities.

Now, with Hurricane Maria blasting Guadeloupe itself, the money will be needed even more. And more will be needed. 

How to be a tennis nation, by France

It takes generations for a country to build a great tennis culture. But it helps if you have top players for them to emulate.

It’s even better if you invite a 4,000 kids to watch them practice, as the French Federation did with Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and Lucas Pouille in Lille ahead of its semi-final Davis Cup tie with Serbia.

They’re playing the tie on (indoor) clay, even if that’s a surface most haven’t played on since the French Open. No Djokovic, Troicki or Tipsarevic for Serbia.

Golden anniversary trophy presenters

The French Open announced Friday night that Frenchwoman Françoise Durr and Aussie Roy Emerson will be presenting the trophies to the women’s and men’s singles champions this year.

It’s no coincidence. These two champions won the French Open 50 years ago. 

Emerson won it twice, in 1963 and 1967.

Durr, now 74, will present the Coupe Suzanne-Lenglen to the women’s champion along with French federation president Bernard Giudicelli.

Emerson, very spry at 80, apparently is a big-enough boy that he can handle the presentation on his own.