Philippe Signoret will take a number of the world’s leading female French players on a tour of the country to help breath life back into domestic squash in France.
The Tournée Nationale Française (National French Tour) will start in Antibes, on August 22 with the Restaurant Wildcard and Riviera Squash Open des Ombrelles Féminin and span four cities across France including Biarritz on August 29-30 and Paris Montmartre on September 12-13, before concluding at Art Sport Café with the Open National Normand Féminin et Masculin in Le Havre on September 26-27.
While a prize money fund has still to be agreed, the tour will take a novel format in that it will feature the elite French women’s national squad that includes the likes of World No.3 Camille Serme, World No.35 Melissa Alves and French starlets Enora Villard and Elise Romba.
But when his elite women’s squad hit the road, they will be facing male opposition in what is a revolutionary slant provided by one of the game’s radical thinkers.
“Since the confinement caused by the suspension of the PSA World Tour through the COVID-19 pandemic, the players have worked very hard but without targets and it was important that we addressed that to give them a competitive focus,” said Signoret.
“I saw that some French clubs had organised some tournaments called ‘national’. It’s for the elite players, women or men, but the top women can play in the men’s draw.
“So, I thought that while waiting for the PSA World Tour to resume it would be good to play in a national tour that co-ordinated all these tournaments and produced a home circuit for our girls in France.
“These tournaments also give some prize money which is vital for players who haven’t made any money in months and I think, hope and believe that both the players and the clubs will really appreciate it and it will help give life back to squash in France.
“The venues selected have been chosen with respect to the ongoing health situation we have and a lot of clubs called me or sent me messages to arrange a tournament at their venues and really the response and the enthusiasm to get involved was, as we say in France, magnifique.
Meanwhile, Camille Serme is getting behind the initiative which will see French men and women competing in a series of events across the country.
Not surprisingly, Camille can’t wait to wage war in a battle of the sexes and ‘La Panthere’ is savouring the prospect of being uncaged.
“I think this is a great way to breathe life back into squash in France, but at the same time us girls know that the club guys will be very competitive, very determined to beat us and so we know we will have to be at our best,” said Serme.
“But at the same time we hope to have some of the top 10 French men playing, including, I hope, my brother Lucas [World No.40] and in that case there will be some matches it will be impossible to win.
“But you know the tour will also be about having some fun as well, meeting new people and just be a great way of creating a buzz around squash clubs in France.
“Philippe and I spoke about the idea of a mini tour and involving the clubs and I think this way the positives for both players in getting competitive match action and visiting clubs they maybe have not played at is massive.
“So while I have enjoyed being at home and not missed the travelling of the tour, I have certainly missed playing at the tournaments, missed meeting up with the other players and just missed playing matches and I know that I am not alone in this.
“So, it has been a great idea by Philippe and one that will definitely help fill the hole that has been caused by the PSA World Tour’s suspension.”