From the little yellow ball to the beach volleyball, there is only one bounce, and a lot of sand. The Philippe-Chatrier court at Roland-Garros, the sacrosanct temple of French clay courts which has seen tennis legends compete in legendary duels, is hosting until Monday… the Paris Beach Pro Tour, a tournament of the World Beach Volleyball Tour. A first. For the occasion, three giant sandboxes have been installed on courts 6 and 7 (for a match pitch and a training pitch), but also on the famous central court.
800 tons of sand
On the latter, a formwork 40 centimeters high was placed on two protective layers, in order to preserve the beaten earth. Because “she is there, she is below”, indicates to the microphone of Europe 1 David Donnelly, the organizer of the event. “We left him, we didn’t touch him, it was clay that was there in May-June for the tournament [de Roland-Garros]. We came to put protection there and a large sandbox which holds around 250 tonnes of sand”. Including the three sites, no less than 800 tonnes of sand were brought to the Porte d’Auteuil.
A “big logistical challenge” that does not prevent thinking about the environment. Since this cold sand on which the tenors of the discipline will compete, “comes from the Paris region”. Thus, at the end of the tournament on Monday, he will return to the sports facilities in the region from which he was taken. “We are in short circuit”, specifies David Donnelly.
15,000 spectators expected
On the spectator side, no less than 15,000 people are expected who will be able to come and encourage in particular one of the six French pairs: Rémi Bassereau and Julien Lyneel. For the latter, he has already gone down in history. “Forever we will be the first to have played beach volleyball at Roland-Garros, I am honored. I can say that I played at Roland-Garros” And to add with a broad smile: “Afterwards I am not don’t have to say in which sport.”
The organization of the tournament has in any case set up night sessions and attractive prizes, from 7 euros, so that this little historic moment is shared by as many people as possible. Especially since this tournament also allows you to take the pulse of the public, while in two years, for the Paris 2024 Olympic Games, the sand courts will be installed in another mythical place in the capital: the Champ de Mars, at the feet of the Eiffel Tower.