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Santoro Sur La Mer 09/29/2009 - 5:14 PM


by Special TW Contributor, Guillaume Willecoq (assist to Mariej)

Open a map of France - Google maps will do just fine. Now, look to the north along the coast between Belgium and Paris. Welcome to the Baie de Somme!  Somme is, unfortunately, famous for being the site of some of the bloodiest battles of all military history: from July to November 1916, during the First World War, 1.2 million soldiers died or were wounded here. Today, military graveyards, where the soldiers of both camps rest in eternal peace, remain a common feature of the local villages.

Now look for these two little towns on or near the coast: Rue, and Le Crotoy. The latter is on the seaside waterfront, or more precisely, in the mud of the bay of Somme.  For the past six years, the villages have combined efforts to host and build a tournament in late September, the Open of the Bay of Somme. Neither is an ATP/WTA event; rather, each one is part of the French national circuit, which gives relative unknowns and journeymen ranked outside the top hundred a chance to compete for prize money. The events also draw some top players who want to keep their competitive genes firing.

As a journalist, and webmaster of our own French-language web site, 15-lovetennis, I was eager to cover the tournament. Many of you know my girlfriend, Marie Jo (Mariej, in TW patois), who accompanied me. We arrived on the grounds of the Tennis Club Rue-Le Crotoy (an indoor facility) on Friday. It’s a modest place, beside a large parking lot and a soccer field. The  club has a bare-bones, metal shed-like structure, with two enclosed courts. There's also a private lounge for players, and a dining hall and cafeteria nearby. The players wander around freely in this casual, friendly setting.

That’s how we came to meet Richard Gasquet, who was with his father, Francis. “Richie” was accommodating; he granted us an interview immediately.  “I did not train a lot during the last three months,” Gasquet told us. “ I have come here to find some match play. I want to play, play good tennis without pressure. If everything goes fine I’ll get my ranking back.”

It seems that Gasquet’s last-minute decision to enter had suddenly lifted the tournament to another level. Laurent Chaumont, the creator and tournament director of the event, spent most of his time running around, cell-phone glued to his ear. He found time to tell us: “We managed everything on our own the first time we ran the event. We set up tents right next to the club where our wives cooked pasta for the players.”

That was back in  2004, and for that first Open of the Bay of Somme  the organizers raised 160,000 euros ($235,000) to run the event. The budget has since increased to 270,000 euros ($400,000) - prize money included. Orginally, the tournament was lucky to attract a handful of Top 200 players – below-the-radar names like those of Jean François Bachelot, or Rodolphe Cadart. But Sandrine Testud also decided to play; she was in the autumn of her career, and it was  - well, it was a chance to play.

The OBS quickly built a modest name for itself, and a surprising number of marquee players signed up. Those included Nathalie Tauziat (2005), Fabrice Santoro (2006), Arnaud Clément (2006), Jo Wilfried Tsonga (2007), Nathalie Dechy (2008), Paul Henri Mathieu (2008), and the first “guest” (or non-native player), Christophe Rochus (2006).

Why would such high-value names play such a minor event? Well, there are a number of reasons, starting with timing. “We act like a warm up event for the Open de Moselle”, Chaumont said. “The players are coming from the US Open and a long, hard court season, and the must try to get ready to start the indoor season. We make that transition easier.” The best players entered in Rue will end up in the draws in Metz, Lyon, then Bercy; the others will play the Challenger circuit in places like  Orleans, Rennes or Mons, in Belgium.

The OBS has a good reputation among the French players. The club may not be much, but the players have good accommodations at a seaside resort just a few kilometers from the club. “The players always leave delighted”, said Emmanuel Mas, the FFT (French Federation) appointed tournament referee.  “It's the venue, the ambiance, the background of the region – also, the players talk to each other, word spreads. For example, Arnaud Clément encouraged Sébastien Grosjean to play, and he’s here this year.”

The 2009 draw was the best to date – and an unprecedented, if modest, sellout (1400 spectators over the finals weekend).  Fabrice Santoro  was on his farewell tour, Sébastien Grosjean coming back from a long injury; Josselin Ouanna was hoping for build further on  his 3rd round finish at the US Open, and Richard Gasquet, was just looking to hit tennis balls under quality competitive conditions. On the women's side, the drawing cards were Alizé Cornet, Elena Bovina, and local heroine Julie Coin.

Julien Obry, a promising junior who last played in the US Open boy’s event, beat a 40-year-old French veteran in his first round on Thursday, and lost in the second round to Jean Christophe Faurel on Friday. Both Faurel and Obry use a one handed backhand. I felt privileged watching them hitting that shot with wonderful accuracy - most of the time. Unfortunately, Obry wasn’t as steady as his Faurel, and he grew frustrated. He berated himself, threw his racquet, and displayed a foul mood. Although he lost, Obry has loads of talent; he's currently  ranked 6th in the (junior) world. Keep an eye on him. . .

Sebastien Grosjean, who’s shoulder is still aching from surgery he underwent at the end of 2008, has had a frustrating time trying to recapture his form. Here, he met Charles Roche (ranked no. 560) in his first match; a tough assignment, given that Roche has been knocking around at just below the tour level for some time now. “Seb” hasn’t changed much from his days as a Big Name -  same white polo, same cap backwards, same three-day beard. . . and same game too.

Seb’s forehand has lost some bite, but he still moves extremely well; he still has great touch at the net, but he needs more time to get full power back on his serve.  Grosjean’s game may have fallen far from his glory days, but Roche felt he had to be at 120 percent – that’s what  reputation, and experience at the highest level, can do for you. And that advantage ultimately helped Grosjean get through.

Seb has no illusions about how much work he needs to do in order to recapture his status as a day-in, day-out ATP Tour staple. He sounds almost defiant when he says:  “I come back to play -  and to win too. I want to get back to a good level, play big tournaments and feel the adrenaline of big matches again. I don’t come back to play the tourist, otherwise I can give the racquets to my kids and play with them in the backyard garden.”

The big news in the later stages was the upset of Ouanna, at the hands of crusty French veteran Jerome Haehnel – who has an interesting story of his own. Haehnel had the potential to be a solid pro, but a phobia about air travel kept him from playing international events. Haehnel beat Andre Agassi (do you recognize the name?) in the first round at Roland Garros in 2004, and he won his lone ATP-grade title later that year at Metz. Enroute to that win, he beat Richard Gasquet – whom he would meet again in the semis if the OBS. What a tale of contrasting fortunes those two men have written.

It was a hard fought re-match, but in time Gasquet found his range and won. Meanwhile, on the other side of the draw, Santoro rolled through Grosjean, who was consoled by the fact that he was able to play free of pain. So the tournament got the final the organizers had dreamed about: Gasquet vs. Santoro. And nobody could complain about the quality of the women’s event, either, as Elena Bovina and Julie Coin battled through.

Julie and Elena

Enroute to the final, Coin’s greatest stumbling block was Cornet. But even in a minor event like this one, Cornet was all nerves, and so anxious about and frustrated by her serve that she won just one game on her own serve – and that barely. Bovina, who was ranked as high as no.14 at age 22 (2002), is coming off two lost years (shoulder problems). But, like Grosjean, she's determined to claw her way back to the top. The final was a two-and-a-half hour battle, with Bovina taking a big step in her comeback by winning, 7-6 in the third.

The men’s final was played in a totally relaxed, almost festive mood. Santoro couldn’t stop smiling – he was like a kid with a new Christmas toy. He bantered with ballboys and threw in dazzling drop shots and lobs – seemingly, just for the joy of it.  He could easily have been mistaken for the younger and more carefree of the two players. Gasquet was no grim-faced warrior, either. He looked relaxed, and may have smiled more during that match than he has through this entire, trying year.

Gasquet won, and fairly easily, 6-3 6-2.  But even that did not diminish Santoro's joy; the game - the sheer joy of it - is in his blood. He told us that he’s tried to play these minor events at least once a year for a decade-and-a-half now, simply because they represented a refreshing change, and reminded him of the years he spent developing his game before he made the ATP grade.

In fact, Santoro, a former champion here, had booked his return seven months ago. He said, “Twenty-one years on the road is quite a lot, but I can’t complain. I was lucky, I met a lot of people, I travelled across the world, I discovered other cultures, other religions. It was very instructive.”

Santoro may be prepared to hang his racquet up for good, at least on the world tour level, but his eyes still sparkle and dance as he talks about the sport he loves. We’re going to miss him, that’s for sure.

The most striking thing, for us, was the human scale of the tournament in every aspect. For three days, we wandered around, casually, mingling with fans and players – most of whom were enjoying themselves, feeling comfortable. Here was Gasquet, smiling, and Grosjean, hanging on his cell phone. Kids ran around, seeking autographs. Nobody minded. The adults in attendance looked happy, and stress-free.

And it all happened because Laurent Chaumont, on vacation in Arcachon one summer, had stumbled upon a similar small event, run at a local club. He remembered:  “I was curious to see the local tennis club, and they were running that kind of tournament. I thought it was a cool idea--why not us?”

Six years later, the Open of the Bay of Somme has a significant reputation, and Chaumont, when he isn’t savoring the success of his tournament, can only scratch his head and wonder, “What am I going to do for 2010?”

Let us suggest bring in Amelie Mauresmo. . .

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Posted by marieJ rafa come back ! 09/29/2009 at 05:27 PM

ahhhh pete, it's not fair at all to remove you from the possibilities to improvre this little open ! how dare you ! lol

Posted by Master Ace 09/29/2009 at 05:28 PM

Marie J and Guillaume,
Very good write up on a French tournament that many people(like me) has not heard of until today. Sorry to see Santoro retire as his unorthodox style gave top players problems and occasionally, he would pull off the upset but I do believe that tournament gave Gasquet the confidence(and match play) he needed as he lost to Monfils in Metz.

Posted by Syd 09/29/2009 at 05:31 PM

Wonderful blog post, merci!

Posted by GVGirl 09/29/2009 at 05:32 PM

Merci Marie J and Guillaume!

Posted by marieJ rafa come back ! 09/29/2009 at 05:32 PM

hi MA, to tell the truth, pete dusted off our english version a bit, and maedal helped a lot too, i'd like to thank them both for adding that extra for an easy reading !

Posted by aussiemarg [Madame President in Comma Rehab for 2009] 09/29/2009 at 05:33 PM

Marie J and Guillaume,


Thanks for your insightful comments on this tournament.

I personally hope that the French Tennis Federation might offer Santoro say a part time position even though I know he is retiring at the end of this year.He is always on hand in torunaments either watching and supporting the younger French players.He truly loves his sport.

Good to see Gasquet doing well.A great boost for his confidence after what has been a hell of a year for him.I love his b/hand hey who doesent.

Thanks again.

Posted by marieJ rafa come back ! 09/29/2009 at 05:38 PM

if you have any questions about... whatever ! please ask !

i'm not sure fabrice knows allready what he's going to do appart enjoying his little family, but i doubt he keeps quiet for too long, that guy is so full of life and energy...
speaking to the players was one of the best parts of this little open...

Posted by Mr. X 09/29/2009 at 05:38 PM

C'est tres bon, ça!
After that display of French (yeah, right), i must say that this reminds me of a small tournament played on a beach near my hometown that several Spanish players often play and they seem to enjoy a lot. It's for sure that they must feel more relaxed in such a small venue.
Santoro will be missed. In every match i have seen of him, he has done a couple of things that just looked "Hey, i'm doing this just for the fun of it!". A one of a kind talent.
Gasquet is getting some matches under his belt with these French tournaments. He shouldnt be asked to do much more until next year, probably.
I feel it with the guy with phobia to air travel. Planes are no fun, if you ask me.

Posted by Corrie 09/29/2009 at 05:43 PM

I must go to this tournament when I next go to France. I'd never realised all this was happening up there! I've always enjoyed watching Grosjean, what an opportunity to see these players.

Posted by marieJ rafa come back ! 09/29/2009 at 05:51 PM

there was barely no journalists to cover the tournament before the semifinals... and the local tv was there for santoro, nobody asked julie coin or even gasquet any question before they reached the final ! the hardest thing for the event is to get some coverage outside the region... l'équip newspaper just relied on the local journalists to get some insight of the event, just enough to make a couple of tiny lines in their sunday edition...

the director of the event is going to be delighted to see that his little open got a review here ! strangest things have hapen to him, he's used ;)

Posted by beth 09/29/2009 at 06:35 PM

Marie J
so delighted to read this little article
I actually heard about this event because - well you know who keeps current on all things Richard
and when he won - well , let's just say there was some happiness for once concerning him and his tennis year
Nice to hear that he was really enjoying himself
and , of course, always fun to see the Magician

now - maybe you can address this rumor that I ran across in some french news sources about these two
Any truth that Santoro may actually consider coaching Gasquet after his retirement?
I have read he says no , and then said , maybe
Last I heard - Gasquet is working with Deblicker for now - but that is probably temporary - and a full time coach - even a non french coach ( who can speak french , ummm Courier anyone? ) is being sought out
Any news ?

Posted by greenhopper 09/29/2009 at 06:42 PM

Beautiful post, Guillame and Marie.
I'm going to regret not having ever watched Fabrice play live. :/

Posted by Sher 09/29/2009 at 06:46 PM

Lovely post, thank you.

Posted by djerk 09/29/2009 at 06:55 PM

The Undisputed
Greatest of


Posted by Lynne (Rafalite) 09/29/2009 at 07:13 PM

Thank you for this charming and interesting post. As for Fabrice - ah, I'm going to miss him so much.

Posted by Ross 09/29/2009 at 07:22 PM

I believe that I read that Fabrice intends to start some kind of tennis museum.

Posted by Markic 09/29/2009 at 07:47 PM

Wonderful post. Merci bien! :)

Posted by sblily (Wheeeeeeeeee!) 09/29/2009 at 07:54 PM

Guillaume & Marie - Thanks for this. Beautiful. I doubt I'll ever get to see coverage of this event, but the thought that tournaments like this one still exist makes me smile. Hope to read more from y'all in the future!

Posted by darthhelmethead 09/29/2009 at 08:47 PM

Great post, I'm not going to even attempt a greeting in my terrible french. I really liked hearing about an event like this where commraderie and fun are the priority while still in a competitive tournament. I feel like sometimes the players lose sight of the fact that they are around to service the fans as entertainers. I always love hearing about the French players, who seem to have a relationship that is closer than the much touted American Brotherhood. Also, I get excited whenever I read something with Gasquet and Santoro in the same article.

Posted by skip1515 09/29/2009 at 09:00 PM

Thank you for a wonderful post, Guillaume, and for your assist, MarieJ.

Together with Pete's consideration of the Fall tour, this reminds me of nothing else so much as the halcyon days of the tour in the 70's and earlier. Small tournaments like OBS existed all over the globe, each fighting for a few names pros for next year's competition in order to insure a gate and at least a bit of press coverage. At that time a top shelf hotel was a real attraction, perhaps even enough to lure a tired upper level player; after all, they weren't earning high 6 or 7 figure incomes. A lovely room, good food (and drink) and relaxed competition could be pretty tantalizing.

The value of these tournaments was that they brought high quality tennis to places that wouldn't otherwise see it. These events gave starving tennis fans who lived too far from the venues of major tournaments a chance to watch a hero or two they'd never see otherwise.

All of which is still true today, and as good an argument as you'll find for not condensing the tennis world to the Big Four plus a handful of top tier events. I'm all for a shortened season, but not at the expense of tournaments like the OBS.

Posted by maedal (Vamos Rafa and the Armada!) 09/29/2009 at 09:34 PM

skip -- nice reflection on the value of events such as this one.

Posted by feedforward 09/29/2009 at 09:50 PM

Got to love a guy who drops words like halcyon. And well. Good on you, Skip.

Posted by TennisFan2 09/29/2009 at 10:17 PM

Guillaume and Mariej, Very nice article. I had the pleasure of watching Fabrice play several times at the US Open and most recently at the Pilot Pen. He was a wonderful competitor for the tour and his presence will be missed by many fans.

Many thanks for providing us with some information about the OBS, an event I've never heard of, it sounds like a wonderful tournament.


Posted by linex 09/29/2009 at 11:39 PM

Great Post Marie J and Guillaume. I am sure that the attending that tournament must be a wonderful experience. The French do not disappoint when it comes to good taste, so even if small, I am sure there is quality and charm in the club and in that small town.

Posted by VC 09/30/2009 at 12:43 AM

Great article.

Santoro will be missed, he should write a book and take up a position in the French Tennis Federation. France produce so much top-level tennis talent, they really should have one or two players posing a regular threat in the big tournaments. I guess that's the next level they need to aim for, like Spain or Argentina.

Posted by marieJ 09/30/2009 at 02:11 AM

to beth : as we aproached richard i could not resist the idea to pass him a nice hello from missie the girl in california ;) he did not expect that one, i tell you ;) i'll send you a picture later in the day, he looks like a student at school, really nice :)

VC : fabrice is going to edit a book in the next months, maybe we'll make a little revue, if it's worth the read.

skip, thank to remind us, that the old days of open and non open tennis looked like that too ;)

if it wasn't for guillaume, i wouldn't have hear of the OBS too, to be honest. i've been spending all the summer week ends in the baie de somme, as he was working by the seaside in another old fashion seaside station called Mers-les-bains.
and we had a really nice summer enjoying the beaches around.
unfortunately, we don't have any picture gallery like rosangel does, but we are planning to add one to our website.

Posted by jewell - Make tea, not war. 09/30/2009 at 02:46 AM

Fabulous post, Guillaume and mariej. :) Really gives the sense of the tournament - I wish I had been there.

Posted by lira vega 09/30/2009 at 05:05 AM

Lovely write-up, Marie and Guillaume!
Especially thankful here for the info on Grosjean, I loved watching him play back in the day and, following his results after surgery, wasn't much of an optimist. While I don't think I'm gonna be holding my breath for him to start rocking like it's 2001, it's good to see he's making at least some progress and I really hope he gets rewarded with some of that adrenaline he mentions for making an effort to come back after such a difficult surgery at his age. Speaks volumes about his own "love of the game".

Also interesting to hear about Bovina. She definitely had potential to be a solid top tenner before disappearing off the face of the earth. Made me think about some other girls with a similar faith who I haven't heard of in a while...Tulyaganova, Danillidou, Mandula? And could lil' Alize be heading that way?
Oooh, and whatever happened to Myriam Casanova? She wasn't ranked that high, but Eurosport was touting her as the next big thing and she looked to be living up to it for a while.
Anyway, that was fun read, thanks!

Posted by Guillaume 09/30/2009 at 06:25 AM

Well... Thanks you all.

For Seb', I don't know. If his shoulder is OK, why not a Top 50 ATP ranking, to look like Tommy Haas or Lleyton Hewitt ? But he has lost a lot at serve and forehand...

We spoke a moment with him (if you read French, the interview is on our website) and he said that Davis Cup was his last dream. He explained playing in Davis Cup with mates (Arnaud Clément, Nicolas Escude, Fabrice Santoro) was stronger than his victory at Bercy TMS or semifinals at Roland-Garros or Wimbledon. As far as I am concerned, I think he would be a good Davis Cup captain, at the end of his career...

PS : I'm sorry for the faults, but my english is a bit rusty :) Good occasion for me to work !

Posted by lira vega 09/30/2009 at 09:07 AM

Guillaume, thanks for the heads up, I wasn't sure I'd be able to make out much of that interview considering my level of French, but it worked out surprisingly well. So basically he tried to come back much sooner from what was original recommendation from doctors...then maybe it's no surprise that his shoulder couldn't take it.

Also interesting that you think his FH's lost some of the bite as well, while he says in the interview (if I'm not misreading it) that it's only serving he has a problem with and that he's not holding back on the groundies. I'd love to see him hitting those trademark FHs of old...

We'll see how he fares at Rennes and Orleans, since he was able to beat Mahut at Metz maybe that's a level at which he'd be able to compete even before he does more work on rehabbing/strengthening the shoulder. Just as an appetizer before he starts taking names on the big stage in 2010, of course ;) Sigh, now I'm all hopeful again, I'm gonna be holding you guys personally responsible if it backfires on me ;)

Posted by maplesugar at work 09/30/2009 at 12:51 PM

Excellent post! You really drew me in...very enjoyable.
Thank you very much!

Posted by Arun 09/30/2009 at 01:05 PM

Lovely write-up. Thanks for this Guillaume and Mariej.

I haven't watched Richie playing since his comeback. Good to hear that he is smiling and enjoying himself out there though.

Posted by creig bryan 09/30/2009 at 01:31 PM

> "...the players have good accommodations at a seaside resort just a few kilometers from the club. “The players always leave delighted”, said Emmanuel Mas, the FFT (French Federation) appointed tournament referee. “It's the venue, the ambiance, the background of the region – also, the players talk to each other, word spreads...."

This is what it used to feel like at Amelia Island, in Florida, at the now-defunct Bausch and Lomb Tourney. It's truly a pity that legal issues forced that tourney away from such a wonderful venue.
And now, after having visited Flushing Meadow, the contrast is even more stark.

Guillaume and MarieJ: Thanks for this article. It made me want to traverse the Atlantic next year, just to enjoy the atmosphere (and ambiance) of an actual tennis tournament, as opposed to a tennis hullabaloo. The majors have their purpose, but the smaller idyllic venues are much more of a match for the sport of Tennis. See you next year.

Keep Smiling

Posted by marieJ rafa come back ! 09/30/2009 at 01:47 PM

creig, don't doubt to come...
but you may find that the alleys of RG are hullabaloing too ;) want to watch a abelgian player, make sure you come 2 matches ahead of his schedule, it's easier to bump into andrei chesnokov at one of the ice cream corners than to get the sight of arnaud clément vs christophe rochus !
keep smiling too ;)
the tournament i'm dreaming to go again is monte carlo :)
and i have a good memory of davidenko winning bercy seating along with ptennisnet ! is he around theses days ?

Posted by Tennis This 09/30/2009 at 03:14 PM

Ah....Santoro, boy will that guy be missed dearly. He was and still is the magician! It's always nice to see a tournament that is lighthearted rather than immense pressure from all the big tourneys.

Posted by beth 09/30/2009 at 06:09 PM

Marie - I bet that one did through him for a loop there ! I am sure he has met many a lovely young lady around the world - but then , I think Missie is quite special - so maybe he does too .
looking forward to the photo
and yes , he does look like a college student - he is quite young looking
although in the few photos I have seen of him since his return , he does look older - stress will do that to you

so his dad is still traveling with him - for some reason that guy really is quite intimidating to me - not sure how to explain exactly - except he is really stern looking most of the time - when I have seen him
BTW - I have been checking in at your website - and am trying to practice my french
I do get the idea most of the time - but I do have to resort to google translate more often than I would like

Posted by adicecream 09/30/2009 at 07:05 PM

Thanks so much for the article and also for the link to your site so I too can practice my high school and college French from oh so many years ago.

I too will miss Santoro. I had the opportunity to crowd into an outside court at the US Open with many others who wanted to see what turned out to be his last GS singles match. He is still the magician, still appeared to be having fun, and still got ooohs and aaahs from the crowd at his remarkable shots.

Posted by marieJ rafa come back ! 10/01/2009 at 05:20 AM

@t beth, well his father looks like a man who is curiously not keen on being in the public eye, it's strange being the father of one of the most popular french guys since richard is 9 !
when we stepped in to talk to richard he steped back from the table, and let us talked to richard quite freely.
later when richard made it to the final, he was in a rush to get out of the crowd who gathered outside the players lounge to get some autographs. plus i suspect his english isn't very good, so when he travels abroad, he shuts down people with a severe attitude probably to avoid the inconvenience to be trapped in an english conversation.
i think tio toni outs that kind of english too since he's clueless with english, i read a litttle journalist report somewhere during indian wells or miami, where the journalist met tio toni in the elevator of the hotel and could barely catch anything from tio toni with his 3 words knoledge of english !

to all, thanks for leaving your comments, and there is nothing comparable to get motivation to learning a language when you read about your favorite sport ! i learned a lot down here :)

Posted by South_Paw 10/01/2009 at 08:38 AM

Wouldn't it be great if most (why not all) top pros showed-up at their hometown (or nearest facility) 1/year - just to show what grassroot backgrounds they've had - and to create a little excitement, not to mention make themselves available to those far from the big cities that may never get a chance to see them live (or from really close up).

I was lucky that my family took me to several of tournaments/exhibitions : from the former Players' Int'l in Montreal (where I saw McEnroe, Jarryd, Lendl, ...) and the Molson Challenge (same city) where I saw : Borg, Connors, Lendl (yeah - him again ... it seems he hit every single tournament in Canada/Quebec , ... even bumped into him on the Metro. What he was doing there with all his gear - we'll never know.

As a youngster that certainly made a impact - and probably contributed to my wanting to keep on going out there and hit some balls. You can be certain I will bring my own kids to see Rogers_Cup in the near future when they can fully appreciate it.



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Posted by beth 10/01/2009 at 12:52 PM

thanks, Marie - makes sense that Papa Gasquet's english is not that strong . Maybe that is why he comes across as so unapproachable . Glad you had the chance to talk to Richard - and thanks for sending me that photo
I will pass it along to Missie .

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