French tennis announced a cautious step out of the coronavirus lockdown on Saturday with the announcement of the return of professional tournaments in July including a mini-tour on the Riviera.
The idea of a small tour in the south has been pushed for a while by former French professional Thierry Ascione and it will be “created and organised” by the French Tennis Federation as the “Challenge Elite FFT”.
It will be made up of three tournaments with events in Nice (July 6-11), Cannes (July 13-18), and Villeneuve-Loubet (July 20-25).
The events will be open to 24 men and 12 women. Most of the places will be reserved for players whose rankings would, at the least, allow them to enter the qualifying rounds of Grand Slam events. The semi-finals and final will be broadcast on the FFT’s web channel.
The surface, hard or clay, “will be determined according to whether or not the American tour is organised,” said the FFT.
World tennis governing bodies are due to announce soon whether or not the North American part of the season will be played. The US Open is still scheduled to run from August 24 to September 13 but several leading players have expressed reservations.
The lower level professional events in the French CNGT circuit will also resume in July at about 30 clubs. The calendar “is currently being drawn up,” the FFT said.
“These two tours will allow players to play matches, get back in shape for a resumption of the international season and receive prize money,” said the FFT, adding “officials and professional coaches will also have the opportunity to return to the court.”