Dominated in the first round of Roland Garros by the Brazilian sensation Thiago Seyboth (172nd in the world), the Russian Daniil Medvedev, number 2 seed of the tournament, has alienated part of the Parisian public by reporting his bad mood on the ball collectors. At Léon-Delagrange College in Neuville-aux-Bois (Loiret), 28 students learn to face the whims, hats and peculiarities of players on the professional circuit in the only "open" class in France, offering a "ball collectors" option.
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Open to classes of 4e and 3e, this option is deployed over two years, at the rate of two hours of weekly lessons. The first year, they learn the basics and the technique – very choreographed – of this function, while refining their knowledge of the rules of tennis to officiate, in 3rd, on the courts of the Open d'Orléans and the Open Paratennis du Loiret, one of the few disabled sports tournaments that offers a ball collection service.
Selection favours pupils' attitudes
Some of them were even retained during the fortnight of Roland Garros, at the end of the very advanced selections, accessible to tennis licensees aged 11 to 16.
This option, the only one of its kind in the country, was founded in 2005 by Odile Cailleaud, a former PE teacher at the college "who had developed links with Didier Gérard, the director of the Orleans tennis open," says Juliette Venard, the school's principal. Since then, an agreement has been held between the organizers of the Orleans tournament, which covers almost all the costs at the time of the open, and the college, which undertakes to provide students, supervisors and training.
Selection focuses more on general attitude and the ability to behave well in a group than on the students' academic level: "Some have difficulties. This option puts them back in a rigorous framework and sometimes hangs them up at school. That's the goal! ", she says, proud of this establishment project. "Even the cushions, on which the net collectors rest their knees, were made by students, schooled in SEGPA class (Adapted General and Vocational Education Sections)."