Happy is the one who has traveled a long way like Liolia Jinjan. Qualifying for the second round of the Roland-Garros, the former short tennis prodigy of French tennis has finally lived up to the dream he promised as a child. The 26-year-old French woman, who challenged Czech Pliskova (seed n ° 8) this Thursday, is playing her first Grand Slam tournament with the stars in her eyes but not taking herself too seriously.
“I don’t usually work very hard, be it in life or anything else. I try to take advantage of this moment,” the player said after his win in the first round against Spaniard Diaz on Monday.
Everyone who knows her well will convince you that Liolia Jinjin is a normal girl who loves to enjoy life. “She is OK. She is smiling and talking nonsense. This is not a robot like many gamers. She knows how to live. If you have to drink beer, he’ll have a beer, “said Guillaume Harbach with a smile.
A talented tennis player is considered a star at the age of 12
The tennis coach, who lives in La Grande near his parents’ home, knows the player well. Twelve years ago, she was the sparring partner of a man whom everyone had already seen breaking everything in the women’s circuit. Mozart’s nickname for tennis, a kind of feminine Richard Gasket, Jinjin has won almost everything among young people.
The 12-year-old’s coach, Nicholas Pietroski, remembers. “To me it was only for a year but it was like being in a washing machine. That year was amazing. Pressure, pressure, expectations … you are already signing deals with Nike and Babolat. As soon as you went to a place, it was a fair ground event. There were really incredible expectations around him, “said Stade Frances, the sports director of the tennis division who is now.
Injury, departure to the United States before return
But beautiful stories will stop in adolescence. Patel’s three displacements will take Jinjin away from the path of glory. To avoid the tragedy of his fate, the teenager moved to the United States to play tennis but also to study. In five years, he has won three diplomas with “nothing to do” player smiles. “I have a bachelor’s degree in sociology, a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice and a master’s degree in asset investment finance. So there is nothing to do, but like my life: it goes everywhere little by little, “Jinjin smiled.
And it is true that you have to hang on to follow in the footsteps of a player who is proficient in the D system. For some time at the RSA, Jinjin often fought to reach the finals, playing tournaments across Europe. But that’s how he met his new coach. “Three months ago, he was in Porto. We had an Airbnb with my player [Dartron]We had a place left, he was alone so we told him to come. We’ve had a few training sessions and since then we’ve been in touch, “said Thomas Delgado, co-founder of Smash-It Academy, who is training him in his first Roland-Garros.
Covid marks a turning point
The wealthy, “Leo”, as his nickname, was also able to rely on the kindness of those around him. When he was smashing everything on the American circuit, he was stopped altogether after the arrival of Kovid in 2020. That’s when he called his former sparring partner Guillaume Harbach, who became a coach. Help him for free in La Grande-totally and ready.
“On May 11, 2020, the first day of the decapitation, he got on the train and we went to my parents’ house in Lore, a small village in Gard. Unlike Montpellier where the game was not yet possible, we had access to pitches. We were able to retrain and then we were back at La Grande altogether. The stated purpose was to compete in a Grand Slam. Believe it or not, he wanted to give himself two years to give himself a full chance, “said the coach.
“He’s not organized like a professional at all.”
Ranked 1002nd in the WTA, Jinjin will be settling in Toulouse in September 2020 with Kevin Blair, the physical instructor of the Stade Toulouse tennis division. The one who trained Hugo Gaston fixes it physically. Even he has so far failed to persuade the 227th player in the world to choose Quinoa more often than McDonald.
“She is not organized like a professional at all. He is not prepared for the sacrifices that will have to be made in managing his career. He has to accept sacrifices in terms of nutrition, sleep, recovery, organization or even relationships with coaches. He lives right and left and lives on his power which is extremely high but he still lacks much to go much higher. Even if what he’s doing is already great, “said Kevin Blair.
“If it reached the top 50, I wouldn’t be surprised.”
However, he, like all those who rub shoulders with Liolia, agrees: his talent is immeasurable. And at 26, the best could just start. “It’s Cinderella. I’ve heard a lot of people say that the circle is complete, but no, it’s just the beginning. He must continue. If it hits the top 50, I wouldn’t be surprised. With this kind of girl, with this kind of profile, anything is possible, “said Nicholas Pietroski.
To continue the climb, be careful not to change Leo’s personality too much. “It simply came to our notice then. Get her in that direction, okay, but you have to keep her humane side and not format her, “Guillaume assures Harbach. The only way to make up for lost time in tennis without losing what the champion has learned in real life.