An update and pics from Roland Garros Kids Day on Saturday 25 May 2013.
Today I went along to the Roland Garros Kids Day. I have only been to one grand slam kids day before which was at the USO12 where they hold a fabulous Arthur Ashe event every year. These days tend to be about fundraising and getting your people engaged with tennis. It’s a chance to throw open the grounds and the courts to the public before the serious business of the main draw matches begins.
Australia also has a kids day so it is only Wimbledon now which doesn’t take part in this practice. There are usually organised activities and players take the opportunity to get some practice in around this site before their competitive matches. So there are plenty of players walking around – you can get autographs and watch them practising for free once you have purchased your 20 euro ticket (which must be bought in advance).
For me, compared to the USO, the French kids day was a little disorganised.
Firstly there was very little information about what was scheduled – no programme was issued and the programme and scheduling changed throughout the day.
Secondly whilst the USO actually issues seats on Arthur Ashe for the main events, no such ticketing occurred for Chatrier so it was basically a bun fight and therefore I, and many others, didn’t get inside to the main event due to overcrowding, which was a little disappointing.
Thirdly there seemed to be no events organised for kids to get involved with, like hitting with players, so on the engagement front I think they missed a trick.
However there was still lots of fun to be had and most of the action from the main stadia – including Novak, being his usual delightful entertaining self doing strange things with his shorts - was shown on the big screens for those of us that couldn’t get inside. Plus there were players warming up at every corner and lots and lots of practise sessions to be seen so all in all I had a good day.
One of my favourite moments came late in the day when a team of uniquely French people on stilts / acrobats and a band of brass players entertained us just in front of Court 1.
David Beiber Goffin
One of the features of the French Open kids day was a series of scheduled one set matches between mostly French players and other opposition.
At 5pm David Goffin from Belgium was scheduled to play against Sergiy Stakhovsky on Suzanne Lenglen (the no 2 show court). I caught the end of this match and it was very soon clear that David is a HUGE crowd favourite. He was leading 5-0 when I arrived and eventually won the set 6-1.
The crowd loved him and were chanting his name Daveed Daveed Daveed with great affection. He also played magnificently and looked ready to take on all comers on the clay. I expect some of the affection comes from him being from a neighbouring country plus many people, like me, will remember his fabulous run to the R16 last year where he was finally halted by Roger Federer, his idol, who he took to four sets in one the best matches of RG12 and certainly one of my favourites.
At the end of the match there were scenes approaching boyband hysteria and more high pitched chanting as he slowly inched his way towards the exit signing many many autographs. He signed for a good 15 minutes after his match and still left many wanting more. He is one of the rising stars of the game and a year has transformed him from looking like a floppy haired slightly unwashed teenager with no clothing sponsor to a very smart Lacoste dressed young man with a new haircut and a quiff. I love this guy, even though he dealt TeamGB the final blow in our defeat by Belgium in Davis Cup in April 2012, and I hope he has a really good run here.
It’s great watching players practise but one of the challenges is working out exactly who you are watching. Obviously the big name players are easy to identify: Roger (he will have a huge crowd around the court), Rafa, Novak, Andy, Vika, Serena etc but what about the others? There are after all 132 people in each of the men’s and the women’s draws plus the doubles players so how do you go about working out who it is if you are unsure?
Firstly I look at their kit – who are they sponsored by?
Then you can listen in to their chat with their coach. What language or accent is it?
Then you can ask someone – this may or may not work!
Finally I suggest that you look at their accreditation badge which if they have left it face up will give you the answer. Bingo!
Otherwise you can see if their bag has any clues. Sometimes they are customised and this very helpful. Other things to look out for are their height. If it’s Jerzy Janowicz who is 6’8” this is fairly obvious but today seeing a small long blonde haired woman hitting I began to wonder if it was Dominika Cibulkova just because I know she is 5’ 4” . Further investigation of her kit bag revealed that my guess was correct.
I enjoy this game and if all else fails you can take a photo and post it on twitter and see if they can help or try to match it up to the photos on the WTA/ATP website if you have the patience.
Finally from around site, I need to show you that there is one, just one (which again puts RG in the bottom of the four grand slams) and it is well hidden, water fountain. This can save you a lot of euros plus it’s more environmentally friendly. Personally I can never see the point in buying water out of a bottle when perfectly good water comes out of a tap and once it warms up (crossed fingers) it will be very important to stay hydrated. The fountain at RG is located close to the museum in between court 1 and Chatrier. This year it is right in the middle of the café and next to a Longines serve speed thing. I also spotted another phone recharging pole close by which will be much welcomed.
Until next time
Grand Slam Gal