Back to the interview with Lionel Ollinger, President of the Grand-Est tennis league on Friday 8 May in the “Face-to-Face” Live on Instagram.

  • On containment

It's a new time for everyone, I'm in telecommuting of course, my family is fine. Unfortunately in the league many collaborators are partially unemployed, with some of them a little bit of telework. Lots of people affected in the Haut-Rhin, but it's ok overall.

We worked in collaboration with the FFT. A major recovery plan has been put in place by the Federation. We went to see more precisely what we needed in particular in the Grand-Est, a very affected region. A videoconference tomorrow with all the Chairs of the Departmental Committees tomorrow (Saturday May 9) to decide on the orientations of the aid. Audiences such as teachers, players (up to the 500th place ATP and WTA), but also clubs, will obviously benefit from the recovery plan, whether it is support or 0-rate credit. The aid will be implemented fairly quickly.

  • Regarding his journey

My father was president of a handball club, my mother was a tennis club. And I got into tennis a bit as a second sport. I taught a little tennis, I played a lot of handball, pivot. And today at padel. I have been immersed in the world of sport since a very young age. I went to business school, I didn't work in sport, by choice, for 20-25 years. I was a volunteer, president of a tennis club for 4-5 years, then a principal in Lorraine tennis league, a mandate of president, and now the Grand-Est.

  • Regarding the de-confinement of tennis and padel

I trust the scientific committee that set up at the FFT, which dealt with both tennis and padel. There are doctors, infectious disease specialists, psychologists, sociologists. And it was decided that only singles tennis could resume on May 11. In padel, you are much closer to your partner, but also to your opponents, a lot of volley. In tennis we did not recommend going to practice volley-volley. It may seem excessive but it is obviously temporary. We also have the Plexiglas padel surface which can be a transmission vector.

In France, our policy has been the choice to save lives. In the countries of the North, the cursor was placed more on the economic aspect.

I think the padel will quickly be opened. We will see more clearly in France from June 2.

  • Concerning tennis clubs which cannot open due to constraints linked to standards

It's true, the communication that was made is quite complex. It is up to each club to adapt these measures so that they are respected without necessarily going for the Covid referent at 100%. I believe that the discussion should especially be made with the mayors because they are the ones who give their opinions and who can act of a reopening. Most of them were in favor of reopening the outdoor courts only with the conditions mentioned.

The simplest thing would be to remove everything that carries the virus. We need to go back to sport, to go play padel.

  • About the FFT PADEL TOUR

The FFT Padel Tour is organized by an external agency that specializes in this type of event. It is not the FFT which internally organizes these events, but it subcontracts and coordinates them.

The cancellation of the stages is a huge disappointment for us. We wanted to organize this beautiful second stage, in the heart of Metz, Place de la République. We will be candidates again next year without a doubt.

If we can make a different version before the end of the year, to come back to the initial version next year, we are interested in the East, to co-organize this with the FFT and the appropriate agency.

It is always important not to rush when making a decision. I don't understand why we cancel an entire season. When one is able to want to defend Roland Garros, one should not either on the other disciplines, to take such radical decisions. I do not know why it was taken, but in any case, when we are authorized to resume the padel as well as the competitions, it would be regrettable if there were no more tournaments.

  • The armchair padel

We are lucky in the East to have great champions in wheelchair tennis, we have a real culture. So we have to set up the armchair padel. The FFT is working on a padel monitor, it is essential that there is a part on the padel armchair it is essential. On the next Olympiad, we will look through the tennis commission and armchair padel, on a discovery first, then on an armchair padel competition.

  • Padel at the Olympics?

It is very complicated to bring a discipline into the Olympic Games because to bring in one, generally, you have to bring out one. Paris 2024 seems very complicated. It would be such a sport to discover. I know that the President of the FFT is listened to by the NOC, and we will continue to fight for our discipline to be admitted to the Olympic Games.

  • The female padel

It is complicated to retain women in individual disciplines, in a world where they have a professional and personal life to assume. They will rather consume tennis or padel on demand rather than joining a club to have a regular activity.

I believe that padel is one step ahead of gender, compared to tennis. I really believe in this diversity, at the opening of competitions including the players.

I also believe that it is necessary to set up the discovery of padel in schools. We would need even more equipment. This is easy to understand compared to tennis. This is an obvious lead for me. We need to take the children as soon as possible to bring them to padel clubs and I think that the qualified structures with which we work will be completely open to this type of approach.

  • Private structures

It is a subject that I know well and that I defend tooth and nail. There must be a coordinated approach between these so-called empowered structures and the structures approved in the associative padel. If we did not have private padel, we would have great difficulty developing the activity. I think we have to work together, a geography approach. It is especially important not to help clubs wanting a padel court when there is a private structure next door. Let's work together. At the level of the Grand Est league, we will help private structures by taking charge of part of the license. We will give 8 to 10 € per license to the authorized padel clubs.

We need a territorial plan. The leaders of public clubs believe that they are in competition with the private structures: they are mistaken. It takes equipment, leaders, and trained teachers: a triptych to be able to continue to develop padel.

  • Concerning sports associations of private clubs

From the moment we consider that there is too much difference between an approved and a qualified, we will find all the good reasons not to help him. We can't help everyone. But it is necessary that the private padel enters the big family and is eligible for aid, that they are intellectual or financial.

The private padel should not be seen as a competitor but as a complement. In tennis, tournaments, which are private companies, benefit from aid from the FFT. It is an absurdity that the National Tennis Cup and the National Padel Cup are not helped by the Federation.

  • On the FFT elections

Even if I am generally quite in agreement with what is being done, I completely oppose the form of this Federation, I find that we are not turned enough towards the clubs, and that we are completely self- center. My choice is of course to turn to Gilles Moretton. I have no personal ambition to be too busy professionally, personally, with the Grand-Est league. I said that I was redoing a mandate, I will focus on the Grand-Est league, but I give my full support to Gilles Moretton and his great team.

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Xan is a padel fan. But also rugby! And his posts are just as punchy. Physical trainer of several padel players, he finds atypical posts or deals with current topics. It also gives you some tips to develop your physique for padel. Clearly, he imposes his offensive style as on the padel field!