FRENCH NATIONALS – Pi, Leverdez and new names

Logic prevailed in the French National Championships, where, as expected, Pi Hongyan and Brice Leverdez kept their crowns, but new names were added to the medal roll of honor, amongst […]
Logic prevailed in the French , where, as expected, Pi Hongyan and kept their crowns, but new names were added to the medal roll of honor, amongst which a probable future star : 18 year old Alexandre Françoise

Raphael Sachetat, live from Bourgoin Jallieu. Photos (live) :

Of course, Pi Hongyan and Brice Leverdez kept their titles. Without even dropping a single game all through out the week-end. But the novelty lied somewhere else. during these French Championships held in Bourgoin Jallieu, near the French Alps. Maybe in the 18 year old Alexandre Françoise (photo, left), who stunned the 1000 strong crowd by reaching the final of the men’s singles event – the youngest ever to do so. Tall, but mostly relying on soft touch, the lanky playersfrom Mantes La Jolie (near Paris) beat some experienced players along the way, thanks to a set of deceptive shots that only few would dare trying in such a competition. He’s got the guts and the maturity, and obviously the talent to make it to the top 4 in Europe, said his former coach , Mr Zhou. He had proven it in the past in youth competitions, clinching few titles amongst which the Danish Cup, one of the best tournament in Europe.  He was a bit short of solutions, however, in the final, against THE man in form, Brice Leverdez (photo, right). The  French player, who is known to look like Tom Cruise, is playing some of his best badminton, just a few days after his appearance in the final of the Swedish Internationals.

Both benefited from the late withdrawal of Matthieu Lo Ying Ping – also in good for but slightly injured in Stockholm while former national Champion Simon Maunoury is out for the rest of the season after he got injured while skiing. Never the less, Leverdez’s victory 21/15 – 21/9 in the final was no luck. “This year was a bit easier to win the title as some of my direct rivals were injured, but it still feels very good to win in front of a full stadium and prove everyone that I deserve the status of France’s number one,” said Leverdez.

Pi Hongyan, on her end, had a little more trouble in the final against the tall Issy Les Moulineaux girl Perrine Lebuhanic, but the Chinese born shuttler was very much on top of her game towards the end of each game, in spite of a very short night after noisy neighbours woke her up few times. She even gave back a point which was announced in her favour at 20/15 in the second game – a rare fact at this level – to finally scoop the title the very next point.

Some emotions occurred when top seeds Baptiste Careme and Laura Choinet (photo, below) scooped – at last – their first ever title in the mixed doubles, after failing in the final for few years in a row. The pretty Choinet – a mixed of Mongolian and French origin  -was crying right after match point. The final was intense where she and the brilliant Careme had to overcome a 16/19 position in the rubber game before finally winning 21/17 – 11/21 – 21/19 over Grosjean and Eymard, the local heroes.

A first title in the ladies’ doubles event, also, for Julie Delaune who now plays for Grenoble, a city nearby Bourgouin Jallieu, where the competition was held.  The public was clearly in her favour with Eymard who was going for her 5th back to back title in ladies’ doubles and 11th Gold medal all together in these championships. After beating Pi and Rahmawati in the semis – one of the main upsets of this week end, the local girls went on to beat top seeds Choinet and Matias in straight but tight games.

The men’s doubles was a thriller as well, when former partners Stoyanov and Popov – both retired – faced each other. The victory went to Stoyanov and his “one tournament stand “partner Sebastien Vincent after saving 4 match points and scoring on their 8th.

Earlier in the afternoon, David Toupe, the best French Ibad player, gave a demonstration of his skills on his wheel chair in front of a stunned public to beat compatriot Pascal Barillon. The event had been a success with a local TV broadcasting live and a set of joyful volunteers having done a perfect job all through out the week end and mostly for the long months of preparation to welcome France’s best. Next edition, in 2010, will be in Caen, Normandy.

Final results :

WS:  Pi Hongyan bt Perinne Lebuhanic : 21/13 – 21/16.
MS:  Brice Leverdez bt Alexandre Françoise : 21/15 – 21/9
WD:  Eymard/Delaune bt Matias/Choinet : 21/14 – 22/20
MD:  Stoyanov/Vincent bt Lefort/Popov : 21/19 – 20/22 – 23/21
Mx:  Careme/Choinet bt Grosjean/Eymard : 21/17 – 11/21 – 21/19
Ibad:  David Toupé bt Pascal Barillon : 21/10 – 21/15

Raphaël Sachetat

About Raphaël Sachetat

Raphael is the Chief Editor of Badzine International. He is the founder of the website together with Jean François Chauveau. After many years writing for the BWF and many publications around the world about badminton, he now leads a team of young and dynamic writers for Badzine.