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Tennis: Wuhan ballkids serve Djokovic, Nadal at Roland Garros

Four ballkids from Wuhan are working at Roland Garros as part of an exchange between the French Open and Wuhan Open. Photo:  WTA.

Four ballkids from Wuhan are benefiting from an exchange between the French Open and Wuhan Open. Photo: WTA.

May 31, 2015: It wasn’t a hot bowl of soup but a French baguette for breakfast on a cool spring morning. For the ball kids from Wuhan it was just part of the experience on being in Paris, of being at Roland Garros, wtatennis.com reported.

 

Four ballkids from the Chinese city, which hosted the inaugural Wuhan Open WTA tournament last September, are at the clay court Slam. Christy Yuan, Shirley Xiang, Jackson Wang and Jacky Guo were chosen for the French Open after a rigorous selection process, which started with 1,500 ball kids turning up at the initial camp in Wuhan.

 

“It is very exciting for us to be in Paris,” said Jacky on Saturday before the daily 9:30am briefing for the kids. “We went around the city yesterday, saw the Louvre. That was fantastic. We are really lucky to be here. Also here, we train with the French kids and have to work hard to get a duty on one of the bigger courts.”

 

They have already shared court with the likes of Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal, Andy Murray, Petra Kvitova and Serena Williams.

 

Jack Yang Lichao, the coordinator for the Wuhan Open ballkids, said: “This is one of the oldest stadiums in the world. You can really feel the history here.”

 

The ballkids have been able to make the journey to Paris due to an exchange program between the French Open and Wuhan Open. Four ballkids from France had travelled to China during the WTA tournament in Wuhan last September.

 

Roland Garros has a deeper connection with Wuhan, though. This is where China’s Li Na, Wuhan’s most famous resident, won her first Grand Slam, making her the first Asian ever to win a singles major. Though Li has now retired into a happy family life, she opened doors for many in her country.

 

The ballkids from Wuhan arrived in Paris on May 14 to get into Grand Slam shape and will stay on until June 18.

 

“It is about 34°C in Wuhan now,” said Jack. “It’s a little bit cold here, they needed about a week to get used to it, but I think they are okay now.”

 

Having worked with the French kids for more than 10 days now, they have also broken down the language barriers slowly.

 

“We have learned a few French words and phrases,” says Christy, before counting from one to 10 in French.

 

The French Open this year has gone for a new fashionable look for the kids, fitting them with smart black and white uniforms, including striped long sock for the girls. Just another Parisian way of life the visitors from Wuhan have come to enjoy.

 

Source: Deepti Patwardhan / WTA (www.wtatennis.com); Editing by SportAsia

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