26 Sep 2013

France’s young gun fires on all cylinders

News Article

By Max Woodward

Photo: Susan MullaneCorentin Moutet (FRA)

Corentin Moutet is France’s No. 3 player at this week’s Junior Davis Cup by BNP Paribas Finals. However, he is not like most teams’ third in line. At 14 years old, he is the youngest player at these Finals, but this is not his first big event. In August this year, Moutet was France’s No. 1 player at the World Junior Tennis Finals in Prostejov, Czech Republic. Those Finals are the equivalent of the ones taking place this week but for players aged 14-and-under. He is currently the No. 1-ranked player in Europe at the 14-and-under level.

Moutet led France to the semifinals of World Junior Tennis Finals where they lost to eventual champions Russia. Until Thursday, his role in the Finals had been limited to doubles – he played the first two days, winning one match, and losing the other in two tiebreak sets.

On Thursday, Moutet got his chance to play singles. France’s captain Gilles Bonheme put him in as the No.2 player to face Guillermo Cabrera of Peru. He did not get off to the best of starts and found himself 4-2 down in the first set. He recovered quickly, however, to win the next nine games in the match to lead 62 5-0.   Cabrera recovered one break of serve, but was powerless to stop Moutet claiming victory in his first singles rubber of the week.

“It’s my first match in under-16s and I played good for a first match, and I win so it’s good,” Moutet said. “In the beginning, I was nervous so I didn’t play very well and, after, I played good and I win the match.”

On having played doubles so far in the tournament. Moutet saidy, “Before I play two doubles and today I don’t know if I’ll play – I hope so.”

It’s clear to see that this young Frenchman just wants to play as much tennis as he can. And he’s definitely not content with being a No. 3 player or even a No. 2 player – he wants to be No. 1. “I’m happy because I played two categories. But I am not No. 1 here so I don’t play No. 1s. In Prostejov, it was better because I played No. 1. But I am 14, it’s normal.”

After his win, France’s captain was full of praise for the talented youngster, saying, “He’s a little genius. He is a left hand player, a lot of variation in his game and a little bit crazy too, because sometimes he makes unbelievable shots, you cannot imagine he can make these.”

Comparisons are often made with up-and-coming players, and this was no exception. Bonheme knew exactly who he reminded him of, “Some kind of (cross) between Leconte and Gasquet. Strange, but a very interesting guy.” High praise indeed. Richard Gasquet is one of the top players in the world and well-known for his shot-making ability. Henri Leconte was also well-known for his flair around the court and now entertains fans world-wide on the senior tour.

Several of the players at the Finals in Mexico this week have parents or siblings who play or played the sport professionally, Moutet does not. Both of his parents played, but only recreationally. “I started with my father and after I started, I liked it so I played.” His father owns a restaurant in Paris, where Moutet lives and trains with his coach Nicolas Coutelot, a former player who reached a career-high ranking of No. 87.

However, Bonheme was quick to point out that Moutet needs to improve his physical prowess, saying “He’s got to develop his body because at the moment he is a bit like a bird. He’s got good legs, muscles are ok, but upper body, at this moment he’s too young.” Being only 14 years of age, Moutet has plenty of time to develop that side of him.

Can Corentin Moutet become one of the best players in the world of tennis? We’ll leave you with the thoughts of his captain for this week, “wait and see”.