26 Apr 2014

Vive la France: French win Suzanne Lenglen Cup

News Article

By Sandra Harwitt

Photo: Fred MullaneFrance, Suzanne Lenglen Cup winners 2014

When it comes to celebrating, leave it to the French. They are never at a loss for taking a moment of success and living it to the fullest.

So it came as no surprise when the second-seeded French contingent — Laurence Combes, Segolene Berger and captain Nathalie Bourdeau — competing in the 2014 World Team Championships in the Suzanne Lenglen Cup for Women’s 35 commenced celebrating the minute the last ball was hit on Friday afternoon.

After a week of playing the French carved out an insurmountable 2-0 victory in the final over fourth-seeded Spain to take home the trophy.

And that’s when the French merrymaking began. The ladies started cheering and whooping it up. And they were already planning how the party will continue once they headed back to the hotel.

When asked if they were going to play the meaningless double match, Bourdeau shook her head no: “We’re going to dance. We’re going to celebrate in the restaurant. We’re going to dance.” Combes suggested an added pre-celebratory outing: “We’re going to swim.” Then Bourdeau mentioned the finer force of French jubilation: “We are going to drink champagne.”

During the award ceremony — Spain came in second and Germany came in third place with a 2-0 win over top-seeded Great Britain — all the women were smiling and joking around. Finally atop the podium — a three-tier stage reminiscent of the Olympic award podiums — the French wore their medals and hoisted their trophy proudly.

Alas, that wasn’t quite good enough. The French wanted the full deal, which normally comes with a rousing rendition of the “La Marseillaise” - the French national anthem. No recording available - not to worry — the three teammates belted out with song themselves — Combes even remembered to start marching when they got to the “Marchons! Marchons” refrain.

Both matches were played on the brand new stadium court at the beautiful Boca West Country Club and throughout much of the day the two rows of permanent seating, as well as the porch deck, were filled with spectators who reside in the community.

There even was a former National Hockey League legend in the crowd. Bobby Nystrom, a former right winger who scored the winning overtime goal for the New York Islanders when they won 1980 Stanley Cup trophy, is a part-time Boca West resident and was out watching with his wife.

And before the French rejoiced there was work to be done.

Combes won the first match of the day 64 64 over Spain’s Rosa Maria Andres. After winning the first set, Combes trailed 42 in the second, but rebounded with a winning strategy to take the match in two sets.

“I decided to go to the net to find the win at the net with my volley,” Combes said. “I only think about that. I don’t think about my forehand. I just think of my chip with the backhand and go to the net - it was the only target for me.”

Berger trailed Mariam Ramon 4-1 in the first set but pushed her opponent until she eventually prevailed 75. In the second set, Berger led 41, eventually closing the set out at 64.

Berger’s teammates helped her out with the translating. Bourdeau relayed that she didn’t start very well but after awhile she settled down. Combes filled in that Berger’s “strong.”

And now that the competition is over where do they go after the evening of revelry ahead?

Back to real life.

Bourdeau is a teacher at a college in Tarbes, France and the mother of two young children. Berger, who had a WTA career high ranking of No. 284, teaches tennis in Paris. And Combes, who had a WTA career high ranking of No. 481, teaches yoga and is a masseuse in Lyon.

Two other finals were also played today in Florida, and both featured wins for the home team. The US team won the Margaret Court Cup for women’s 45 with a 2-1 victory over France, and the Americans also claimed victory in the Maureen Connolly Cup for women’s 55, beating Great Britain 2-1 to win the Cup for the eighth successive year.