At the beginning of March 2016, the Davis Cup takes place for the first time in the Antilles, in Guadeloupe. The Vélodrome de Gourde-Liane, also nicknamed Amédée-Detraux, in Baie-Mahault, has become a world center tennis court. The French team easily won the round of 16 against Canada.
On November 14, 2015, Christian Forbin, president of the Guadeloupe tennis league, officially applied to host the Davis Cup. Three weeks later, Jean Gachassin, president of the French Tennis Federation announced “a great historic first”, the town of Baie-Mahault was chosen to host the Davis Cup.
Yannick Noah was the first to mention the idea of delivering this competition to the West Indies. For the captain of the French team, this choice is strategic and human. The objective is to put the Canadians in difficulty by playing outside on clay, under the heat and with the disturbances of the wind which could slow down the canons services of Milos Raonic.
The choice of Guadeloupe triggers a controversy
Noah wishes to honor the Overseas where such an event has never taken place and allow the development of tennis. But the choice of Guadeloupe launches a controversy. Voices are raised to denounce the remoteness and the exorbitant financial cost of this operation. Gaël Monfils, of Guadeloupean and Martinican parents, also criticizes this choice. He reveals that the players of the French team will participate reluctantly.
“With a lot of honesty and hindsight, we are not necessarily all happy to go to Guadeloupe”, he declared, even specifying that “80% of the players” disapprove of this decision. The case takes a political turn when Thierry Braillard, Secretary of State for Sports declares: “Monfils disrespecting Noah”. But the captain doesn’t care about the “states of mind of each other”.
Despite this climate of mistrust, the choice of Guadeloupe is maintained. A month before the first match, the Velodrome of Amédée-Detraux is transformed into a tennis court. 420 tonnes of beaten earth from Dunkirk are transported. A central court and two training courts are built. 4.5 million euros are allocated to the organization of the competition.
A big victory in front of a conquered public
On Friday, March 4, 2016, place at the small yellow ball in the Vélodrome de Baie-Mahault.
On the first day of the France-Canada meeting, the four Neo-Musketeers Gaël Monfils, Gilles Simon, Richard Gasquet, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and the emblematic captain Yannick Noah, presented themselves with a smile on the center court of Gourde-Liane in front of 6 000 supporters. The Canadian Milos Raonic, third in the world, is forfeited.
The child of the country, the Guadeloupean Gaël Monfils begins this round of 16 to the delight of the public. His speech is now very approving. He confides that he came for “bring happiness to people, make tennis known, try to motivate young people and give dreams”. Part of his family is present in the gallery. The 17th in the world defeats Frank Dancevic, 245th in the world, in three sets 6-3, 6-1, 6-3.
Gilles Simon, 19th in the world, goes on and wins against Vasek Pospisil, 45th in the world, with a score of 7-5, 6-3, 6-3.
The second day, Saturday March 5, 2016, is devoted to doubles with Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, 9th in the world, and Richard Gasquet, 10th, against the pair Vasek Pospisil, and Philip Bester. Richard Gasquet and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga qualify France from the second day.
On the third day, Sunday March 6, 2016, Richard Gasquet beat Philip Bester 6-1, 7-6 and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga won against Frank Dancevic by retirement, due to a shoulder injury.
At the end of the 1st round of the 2016 Davis Cup, France beat Canada 5-0.
The victory is celebrated on the central court by a frenzied dance of the players which only Yannick Noah has the secret to trigger.
Subsequently, the French team in the absence of Richard Gasquet and Gaël Monfils, both injured, will beat the Czech Republic in the quarter-finals. The Blues will lose in the semi-final against Croatia.
The Guadeloupe tennis league will benefit from the momentum of the Davis Cup and will boost the discipline in the archipelago. It was Christian Forbin, president of the Guadeloupe tennis league, who applied to host the Davis Cup. An event that put Guadeloupe, he says, in the spotlight:
MEMOSPORT / CHRISTIAN FORBIN, President of the Guadeloupe Tennis League