For Nicolas Escudé, if we want French tennis to progress, “we have to shake the coconut tree”

It is a tradition, once the last French player in Roland-Garros has been eliminated, the National Technical Director comes to make a first assessment. Nicolas Escudé did not cut it and first wanted to be optimistic. “It simply came to our notice then. We saw beautiful things, especially among girls, and a rebirth, that of Gilles Simon. »

However, it’s hard to be satisfied with starting a new week without a tricolor representative at both tables. Escudé did not slip through the bushes, as expected. “It’s complicated right now. One generation is turning the page and the next generation is marking time, even better than that.” And the DTN to evoke Lucas Pouille or Ugo Humbert, “They’re on the hard side, you have to say what it is.”

Of course, he expects a flurry of reproaches from all walks of life. But remember that DTN can only be judged “Compared to the material in his hands. Today we don’t have Alcaraz, with his progression, or Rune, who released Gaston. » Is the French reservoir empty of all this? Escudé doesn’t believe it. “We have good players, but maybe we should give them a little more time. But it is also up to us to do it faster. »

“Everyone has to ask the right questions”

Yes, but how. The speeches have been the same for years, with the promise of great potential waiting to blossom. Last year, four Frenchmen went to the semi-finals of the junior edition, yes. But what have they been doing for a year? Escudé is obliged to acknowledge that “ They didn’t blow anything … “ Will linking roundtables change anything? Escudé wants to believe it. In any case, he wants a strong take on confidence. “Everyone, from the DTN to the club’s teacher, we have to understand why we are where we are today. And everyone (he insists) has to ask the right questions, at all levels. »

“We can no longer be satisfied with people working for a long time, no. The high level is full time. »

And most of all, get back to work. Because if the generational factor of the equation cannot be ignored, it is clear that at some point, the Federation failed. And Escudé does not escape when we approach the subject. “We probably rested on our laurels. Through certain sports policies, we may have been wrong. But it is difficult to build a sports policy in four years, especially if it is a matter of undoing everything behind it. You need continuity and stability. But that is what has been missing in the last 10, 15 years. ”

Like many others, has the French Tennis Federation been gentrified, more interested in set design and communication than in background work? The “Scud” doesn’t go that far, but warns that things will have to change. “We have to shake the coconut tree. Remobilize, revitalize, cleanse, that’s for sure. Everyone will have to take stock. We can no longer settle for time people, no. The high level is full time. »

The speech is delivered in a firm voice, straight to the eyes and with his fist hitting the table. We really feel in the DTN the desire to get out of a vicious circle where effort is no longer the primary value. “Some have settled in a kind of comfort. In France it’s easy, just look at the wildcards we’ve awarded and the prizes of the first round. It’s simple, life in France, you can live tennis there without having oversized goals, knowing that the Federation is there and that we will have wild cards.But this is not our goal.The high level is constantly pushing your limits and not just waiting a month and a half before Roland-Garros and giving “It’s a year-round job.”

Young people without real ambition

And this work cannot be done without a real ambition, without a project emanating from the player. But this is often where the problem lies. “It’s too easy to hit the frame, Escudé defends himself. Players have their share of responsibility. They need to know where they want to go and how they will be structured to get there. Because if we put a Toni Nadal or a Vajda on a player who doesn’t know very well what he wants, what do you think he will give? Everyone should be aware of this. We are not here to socialize. The Federation is not to help, it is not to accompany, to give some money, if not to be efficient. Today, you need performance (it still touches the table). »

For too many young French people, tennis is still an option among others, even though they are trained by the Federation. Sure, the 19-year-old Alcaraz and Rune may look like aliens, but at least they have a stated ambition that leads them even in times of doubt. Before we talk about the technique of tennis, it is absolutely necessary to find this sacred fire in our little ones.

Reinvest in the field and enhance detection

Nicolas Escudé knows this perfectly well. That’s why he also wants a return to the field, as close as possible to future nuggets. “Recently, the Regional Technical Teams (ETR) have not been on the ground as they should have been. They were no longer doing what they had signed up for when their main function was detection. And they have that ability. When I arrived, in some leagues, more than three generations, there were no girls in detection. Zero! How is that possible? And then we ask ourselves the question of succession … But if we fall behind at first, it is impossible. We have to stop chasing the train when it was one of our strengths. »

“Too many people think wildcards are a fact and just ask. It’s a little trickier than that.”

Hence the reopening of national poles, especially in Poitiers, when they had been closed by the previous presidency which had preferred to let clubs manage the monitoring of their players. “We have to put our best players together to train together.” And a different policy for wildcards. “We re-launched the Race system because too many people think that wildcards are essential and that you just have to ask for them. It’s a little trickier than that. Players now have a chance to win the wild card (this was the case with Léolia Jeanjean this year). »

It is true that the results are not the brightest after this Roland-Garros, a mandatory stage in the state of French troops. Escudé sums up the situation in one last sentence. “There is still work to be done. »

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