Following on from Yokohama in Japan and Florianópolis in Brazil, "Rendez-vous à Roland-Garros, in partnership with Longines" paid a visit to Nanjing in China from 14th to 17th March. After the two regional finals and the national phase of the tournament, which were contested by a total of 103 young players, Wei Sijia (in the girls') and Tang Sheng (in the boys') booked their ticket to Paris for the final phase of the tournament.
Rendez-vous à Roland-Garros: Wei Sijia, a tender young talent
The saying goes: "If you're good enough, you're old enough", and this was proven by Wei Sijia during the Chinese stage of "Rendez-vous à Roland-Garros, in partnership with Longines". Aged just 13, this young girl from Nanning was unsurprisingly the youngest entrant in the tournament. But this did not put off the budding talent, who has not yet entered the world junior rankings but had already caused quite a stir by winning the qualifying rounds in Dongguan, despite never having played on clay before this tournament.
In Nanjing, Wei Sijia − who is now coached exclusively by her mother after having trained for a while at Shenzen Gemdale Tennis Club − continued her winning streak to defeat the tournament's No.1 seed He Jiaying (world No.174 in the Junior category) in the semi-finals (7/5 6/0), and He Yunqi, world No.469 and No.2 seed, in the final (6/0 4/6 6/4), thus earning herself a ticket to Paris…where she dreams of crossing paths with a certain Rafael Nadal! "He's my idol, the king of clay, and I really hope I get to see him at Roland-Garros!"
The Chinese star Jin Dong was the ambassador of this Chinese leg
A tie-break thriller in the final set of the final boys' match
In the boys' tournament, the favourites certainly lived up to expectations with the No.1 and No.2 seeds taking to the court in the final. Despite his top seeding, Junior world No.414 Tang Sheng did not see himself as the favourite, having already lost on several occasions to the day's opponent, his training partner at the China Tennis Academy (where the competition was held), Chen Zhiyu (No.411).
The start of the match did nothing to bolster his confidence, as he lost the first set 6-3, but Tang Sheng did not throw in the towel. "I carried on fighting for the whole match, telling myself that I could do it." This mindset paid off, as he came out on top at the end of this epic battle, which he clinched eight points to six in the tie-break in the final set (3/6 7/5 7/6). This hard-fought victory earned him a place in the final stage of the tournament, which will be held in Paris in May.
Next events of "Rendez-vous à Roland-Garros, in partnership with Longines"
USA: 19-22 April in Miami
India: 20-22 April in Delhi
South Korea: 27 April-1 May in Seoul