Philippe-Chatrier Court, Wednesday 1 June. Seated behind the referee of the chair, black box in hand, Nicolas Dalmasso presses buttons to the rhythm of the exchanges of Daria Kasatkina and Veronika Kudermetova. Right, back, ace … the moment the shot comes out of the racket, his fingers waltz. On her left, pencil in her right hand, electronic tablet placed in front, Kimberly Chaba touches the screen to validate in less than two seconds the name of the winner of the point and the type of final blow. Dressed in the colors of Roland-Garros, the duo is one of 52 goal scorers mobilized for the Grand Slam tournament.
“As a scorer, we have the best job at Roland Garros. They pay us to watch the matches, sitting in the stands.” With nine to fifteen days already in the rearview mirror, his teammate Nicolas Berger is measuring his luck. During the quarterfinals between Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic, the latter was part of the team of scorers chosen to officiate on the court Philippe-Chatrier.
Of the shadow papers of the French Open, the one of the markers is without a doubt one of the least known. However, every day, the public, both viewers and viewers of television, benefits from their work. Speed of service, display of score, number of aces, percentage of winning hits after the first service … All this data, and much more, would not exist without them. They are present on the courts of the women’s singles, men’s, women’s doubles, men’s and mixed doubles tournaments, the legendary trophy, as well as the semifinals and finals of the wheelchair, quad and junior tennis tournaments.
Assigned to the “radar” or “console”, the markers are involved in collecting multiple pieces of information. From the box, Nicolas Dalmasso – a live air controller – activates the radar to measure the speed of the service. It is up to him to identify where the ball has landed to indicate it and thus allow the algorithm to be adjusted. The sequence of your clicks will allow, for example, to show the number of exchanges of a rally.
On the console, Kimberly Chaba must specify the type of winning shot as accurately as possible: backhand, foul or direct foul, lob, drop shot on the net … At each shot, a range of proposals to fine-tune the statistics . The tennis teacher has itmy 23-year-old performs the task without difficulty. Beyond the knowledge of tennis, the function requires concentration, speed and resistance to stress.
In the event of a computer problem, everything is planned. France Développement Electronique (FDE), the company that manages all bookmark statistics, offers technical support. In his blue backpack, the marker will find a walkie-talkie (useful in case of breakdown or incident), but above all a notebook with a pen and score sheets. The figures and information collected are sent to the court screens, but also to an external service provider who makes them available to TV channels as well as sports betting sites.. Important Instruction: The scorer must wait for the referee’s oral announcement before starting to display the scoreboard and statistics.
“At first I didn’t know the impact of this role, the global and instantaneous repercussions.”Alexandre Crognier
a franceinfo: esport
This 25-year-old Staps professor at the University of Rodez is one of the eight beginners in the 2022 edition. If the places open every year, they are still expensive, most return from one year to the next. Of the 52 markers, aged 19 to 56, including 17 women, many discovered the word-of-mouth position. Coming from all over France, they are all tennis enthusiasts, often still players.
All profiles are discussed: students, tennis teachers, teachers, engineers … Over the years, bonds are forged, roommates are organized during the fortnight. If you do not take care of the accommodation -unlike the meals made on site- your working day is paid between 110 and 130 euros gross (for a service of 10 to 22 hours, with two hours of rest for lunch and dinner, excluding overtime in the event of a match). drag). Recruited by the French Tennis Federation (FFT), they work on temporary contracts.
For the past five years, the FFT has regained control of this service, previously managed by an external provider, and has deeply professionalized it. “From now on, the newcomers will benefit from two days of training in March at Roland-Garros. They learn to use the table from old games. Then we talk about the attribution of the blows, to see if of acts of a direct or provoked lack, for example, observing players on the ground “. explains Quentin Sureau, deputy director of the FFT track life service (ball pickers and markers). A new day of updating, for everyone, takes place on the eve of the launch of the qualifications.
The professionalism of the scorers is concomitant with the appearance of sports betting in 2016. From the era of showing the score with wooden pallets, to the mechanical and then electronic boxes, the world of the brand is constantly evolving. But the outbreak of gambling is like a revolution. “It redefined our business because the needs of sports betting sites are very different from those of television. We’ve added additional steps.” reports Maria Salvetti, who is, with more than 25 Roland-Garros in the time trial, one of the three supervisors in charge of evaluating and advising the markers.
Among the news: the starting point. The scorer must press a button when the player throws his ball before serving. The process then immediately indicates the end of the bets on the next exchange. Early late can provide bettors with additional information. Activating too early, for example, if the player picks it up several times actually limits the opening period of the bets.
In retrospect, Nicolas Berger believes the bets “changed everything” : “We used to be very focused on statistics. There, we have to score (indicate the winner of the point) make no mistake and as soon as possible. ” A Mercedes engineer in Germany, he says he feels pressure from these companies to keep showing up if he’s wrong. “Fear of bookmarks has a name: undoing it. It means they’ve realized they’ve made a mistake and they have to correct it again.” specifies Quentin Sureau, alerted on his phone to each “undo”. However, a correction is worth a cancellation of all bets played on the point in question. A change with dizzying financial consequences.
These issues justify meticulous tracking of markers. The control is performed both on the track and at a distance. “In one room, we have all the information live on a computer. We can follow the game and see what the goal scorer does. “ says Quentin Sureau. The fewer mistakes a scorer makes, the faster and more accurate he is, the more chances he has of playing on the big courts. “They are usually assigned from the second year onwards. But this week, two of our newcomers have already scored on Suzanne-Lenglen and Simonne-Mathieu because they have been very good.”
Surveillance, therefore, but also protection. Due to the scourge of match-fixing, the scorers are trained in ethics – they are prohibited from betting – and are warned of the possible presence of spectators who seek to manipulate the outcome of a match. “It’s a real scourge. Because people can get behind our bookmarks, they have to let us know when we ask them questionable questions.” asks Quentin Sureau. “When the situation arises, we alert the security and make a report. In addition, the police become civilians. But in order to intervene, they must witness a flagrant crime.” adds Frédéric Derniaux, marker supervisor.
To save concentration, markers alternate for an hour in front of the console or radar, followed by a one-hour break. Faced with the bet, the pressure of the public and the last hour of the Nadal-Djokovic match, the rotations were reduced and they were done every forty-five minutes. “In a game like this, you don’t have to let the atmosphere get in the way and focus on the referee and the line judges.” advises Nicolas Berger, who, like his colleagues, returned a copy without errors. In the Central, the binomial is also added a third marker that comes from support.
On the day after this epic match, when asked if he could stand behind the referee’s chair to examine the statistics, he was able to admire the level of play, Nicolas Berger answered without hesitation: “Over time, he becomes a mechanic. Today I enjoy being a spectator. ”