Square to Musketeer Apprentices

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A week after the tenth victory of the French team in the Davis Cup, tennis is still relevant in the Lille metropolis. Until Sunday, the Master’U BNP Paribas, the world event of University Tennis, takes up residence in the League of Hauts-de-France. With eight teams competing, it could well be the scene of revenge between France and Belgium. Among others.

No ¬†Pierre Mauroy stadium. Neither Yannick Noah, Jo-Wilfired Tsonga or David Goffin. The program presented on Thursday at the opening ceremony of the twelfth edition of the Master’U BNP Paribas, is much less buzzy than the race to the silver salad bowl. No less exciting. 8 nations. 48 players. 84 matches. 3 days of competition. An event “made for students, by students” as the organization team likes to emphasize. A mix between Fed Cup and Davis Cup. With some juniors tennis specimen from all over the globe. At this little game, the United States is a long-time favorite. Tenants of the title, they remain on six consecutive victories. Led by their iconic coach, Greg Patton, the Stars and Stripes have been the undisputed reigns of the competition since 2011. They include a certain Brandon Holt, ranked 915th at ATP and son of … Tracy Ann Austin Wife Holt , world number one for twenty two weeks in 1980 and winner of the US Open in 1979 and 1981. Among the other participating countries, we find France of course, organizing country, but also China, Russia, Great Britain, Britain, Germany, Ireland and … Belgium. And if the remake of the Davis Cup final was the poster of this twelfth edition.


Towards a double Davis-Master’U Cup?


France wants to end seven years of scarcity. Belgium would like to put its name on the list for the first time. Victorious of the first two editions in 2006 and 2007, then in 2010, France wants to give up the places of honor and regain its throne at home. Sixth in 2016, the Belgians themselves have never reached the final or better than fourth place. But like their models Goffin and Darcis, doubles finalists of the Davis Cup these last three years, they would be well played spoilers and annoy the plans blue-white-red. Emily Casteleyn, Lise Brulmans, Mathilde Devits, Louis Cant, Michael Geerts and Jonas Merckx. Their names probably do not tell you anything except maybe Jonah’s. No kinship with cycling legend Eddy Merckx but with a 520th place at ATP, he is the highest ranked player on his team. He will be assisted by Cant, 26th Belgian player and Geerts, 982nd at ATP. In the French camp, we have to look to the girls for leaders. Cl√©mence Fayol and Mallaurie Noel, respectively 598th and 688th in the WTA standings, are the flagship of the French delegation which also counts Alice Bacquie, number 1135. They will be supported by Robin Cocouvi, 96th French player, Julien Eon ranked -15, and only by one of the youngest players in the competition, Louis Dussin, 18, of Bordeaux.


Who to dethrone the Yankees?


The duel seems enticing but nothing assures that it will take place. Indeed, this tournament could book many more surprises. Like Germany, which includes in its team the experienced Julia Thiem, namesake of the world No. 5 Austrian and incidentally 48th in the female ranking in Germany. Finalists last year, the Russians will probably want to take their revenge, despite a selection complicated by injuries. The British had completed the podium in 2016, they will certainly come with the goal of winning one or two places. It will also be wary of China, seventh since 2014 and who arrived among the first nations to prepare for the best. As for Ireland, it will rely on the passion of two young players, Jenny Timotin and Simon Carr, both born in 1999, to leave the place of last year she has held for three years. The suitors are not lacking. Last night’s draw revealed the quarterfinal posters. We know that there will be revenge in the air between French and Belgians


Gregory MONNOT