Photo: Susan MullaneSandrine Testud (FRA)
The message from the competitors at the 2014 ITF Senior World Championships these past two weeks is quite uniform. One factor why they all come to play is the camaraderie and friendships they form over the years with the other participants.
For three of the French women players this week —Sandrine Testud, Karine Quentrec and Sybille Niox Chateau —taking part in the Individual Championships is a playing reunion from their days as pros on the WTA Tour.
“I think our generation of players were very close and we all stay very close,”Quentrec said. “Sandrine was my bridesmaid.”
Unfortunately, Quentrec’s marriage to former player Charlton Eagle didn’t last —they are still friends and dedicated to their 13-year-old son —but her friendship with Testud is solid.
The 44-year-old Quentrec, who lives in Delray Beach, and Niox Chateau, who lives in Boca Raton, were lured to play because it was happening so close to home.
“We wanted to play for France (in last week’s team competition) but they required you to qualify and we couldn’t because we live in the States,”said Quentrec, who reached a career high ranking of No. 45 in 1991. “So we said why not play the individual competition. It’s just fun to play and I love it at any level.”
On Thursday at PGA National, Quentrec, with her two legs donning bandage supports below the knees to combat cramps, posted a 62 62 win over unseeded Lettica Venter of South Africa to reach the women’s 45 quarterfinals.
The 42-year-old Testud is the most famous of the threesome having reached a career high ranking of No. 8 in the world in 2000. In fact, she became the fourth Frenchwoman to ever be ranked in the top 10, following in the footsteps of Francoise Durr, Mary Pierce, and Nathalie Tauziat.
In her playing days, Testud won three singles titles and four doubles titles. In singles at the Grand Slams, she reached the quarterfinals at the Australian Open and U.S. Open in the late 90s. In Grand Slam doubles, Testud was a U.S. Open finalist in 1999, and reached the semifinals at the U.S. Open in 2001 and Roland Garros in 2004.
Playing in the women’s 40 age group, Testud is seeded third and reached the semifinals on Thursday with a 63 60 win over seventh-seeded Astrid Obermeier of Germany at BallenIsles Country Club.
Testud, who married her coach, Vittorio Magnelli of Italy, lives in Rome with her husband and their two children, Isabella 11 and Sophie 8.
During her playing days the 44-year-old Niox Chateau was a top 100 player, topping out at No. 94 in 2002.
Later in the afternoon, Quentrec and Niox Chateau were scheduled to play in the women’s 45 doubles.
“It’s very different because for me there’s no more pressure and just happiness to be around old friends from all over the place,”Niox Chateau said. “I play sometimes with my children but Karine pushed me to train once or twice a week to practice our doubles strategy. But, you know, when you stop playing being pro you just play for fun and pleasure.”
Niox Chateau and her husband, former tour player Jean-Philippe Fleurian, who has also worked with the ITF, have more than just playing responsibilities this week. She’s also playing hostess to Testud, who is staying in Boca with the Fleurians.
“She’s my houseguest,”Niox Chateau said. “In fact, she is cooking good for us —the pasta and wine. As a houseguest she is behaving good.”