A few weeks ago, Pierrick contacted me about contributing his insights while attending Les Petits As in Tarbes, France and I eagerly agreed. Pierrick, who is familiar to some of you as a commenter, is French, but his English is impressive. I thank him for his time and efforts, which include videos. (I will post the other clips in a separate post below this one). I hope he's started a trend of junior tennis enthusiasts throughout the world offering their talents to zootennis! His account from Thursday's action:
Hi everyone,For complete draws, click here. Reo Asami
I’m French and today (like every year) I got the opportunity of going to Les Petits As in Tarbes. So I thought some of you might want to read about what the tournament looks like. Concerning the site itself, Les Petits As is divided in 3 parts. The first one is the main hall that welcomes all the players and visitors. There are a lot of stands where you can play video games, buy food (especially chocolate waffles) and tennis items, play games in connection with tennis, or simply check the draws. The second part is the big hall where the 3 main courts are located. All the important matches are played on these (notably the exhibition between Santoro and Gicquel on Friday night). And the third part is another hall that contains 4 more courts. For those of you who are wondering about the surface, each court is actually a gigantic carpet (with a synthetic texture) that they set over a concrete ground. The speed of the ball is neither too fast nor too slow, and the spin is regular too, so that it suits any types of game. Each match is umpired by two umpires and there’s no ballboys until the semis.
Now, concerning the matches, I have to say that this year’s level was generally not as good as last year’s (at least, to my point of view), which applies for boys and girls, although I got to watch very exciting matches. The most enjoyable was probably Grace Min (USA) versus Jessica Ren (UK) where the American player missed three match points in the second set, and finally lost 2/6 7/6 7/6. Not only were the rallies epic (alternating between flat shots, and long and high topspin shots, with great regularity), but the two players were very pleasant to watch, which was not the case of the match next door with An Sophie Mestach (BEL) and Yulia Putintseva (RUS). The two players were ultra-competitive, which resulted in a lot of racket-throwing, shouting, fist-showing, and even lack of fair-play on two umpire’s calls. However, the Belgium winner proved to be extremely solid and she will surely give her English opponent a tough match. The other girl that I found impressive was Daria Gavrilova (RUS) (I’m pretty sure she’s Seed #1). Besides shouting like Sharapova, she has the same type of game: hitting all the balls flat wherever she is on the court. I really imagine the winner to be among the three players that I quoted before: Jessica Ren (UK), An Sophie Mestach (BEL), Daria Gavrilova (RUS).
Regarding the boys, I must confess that nobody (once more, this is just my point of view) really stood out, as it was the case with Carlos Boluda and Christian Harrison last year. Still, if I had to bet on player, it would be Maxim Lunkin (RUS) who beat Julien Tan 6/1 6/3. On top of having an all-round game, Maxim has a very fast and precise footwork, and a good vision of the game. Reo Asami (USA) also looked like he had the capacities to make it to the finale. He proved to defend very well (with a lot of topspin) and attack lucidly, which resulted in a fairly easy match against Pedja Krstin (SRB). Edward Nguyen (CAN) could have been a dangerous player, especially thanks to his power forehand, but he kind of twisted his ankle (I didn’t see exactly what happened) after the first set. He got his foot strapped straightaway, and limped his way to victory against Miki Jankovic (SCG) in three sets (6/1 3/6 7/5). I hope he’ll get better and be able to play his best tennis for the quarterfinals. The other matches had ups and downs (one beautiful winner isolated in many unforced errors) and as I said, I can’t think of any names that really stood out. This being said, I missed 2 boys’ matches: Alexios Halebian (USA) versus Martins Podzus (LAT), and Liam Broady (GBR) versus Johan Skattum (NOR). I only saw a couple of games of this last match, and it was already quite intense. Likewise, I missed three girls’ matches, so perhaps my predictions are wrong!
Anyways, Les Petits As remains a very well-organized, animated and exciting tournament and I’m really glad to get the chance to watch beautiful international tennis near my home. Good luck to the remaining players and ‘Que le meilleur gagne !’