Bordeaux Challenger Bound In History at Villa Primrose
For 120 years, sport has been a staple component of life in Bordeaux, France, at the Villa Primrose Club. Several disciplines from fencing, handball, to golf and hockey have kept this community vibrant and active.
However, it is tennis that is the true sporting passion at the historic institution, which hosts the BNP Paribas Primrose, a prestigious clay-court event on the ATP Challenger Tour. “The club was created in 1897 by families linked to the wine trade, harbour business and the banking world,” said tournament director Jean-Baptiste Perlant. “The founders, avid tennis fans, engrained an entrepreneurial spirit, we can say competition is in the club’s genetic make up."
A decade after its opening, the first Primrosiens Cup in 1907 enabled players from other clubs to participate, as the finest French competitors soon knew where to fine tune their game.
“Home grown players such as Jean Samazeuilh (1921) and Francois Blanchy (1923) progressed to the elite level to become French Open champions,” added Perlant. “During the 1920s the club consolidated itself as a regional leader and one of the top French clubs.”
The trio of Jauffret brothers; Jean-Paul, Pierre and Francois, kept the Villa Primrose prominent after the Second World War, before the club built up a strong connection with the ATP Grand Prix (today known as the ATP World Tour), hosting a tournament from 1979-1989. A host of renowned players such as Yannick Noah (1979), Ivan Lendl (1989) and Guy Forget (1990,1991) etched their names onto the champions' board, while names such as Mats Wilander , Sergi Bruguera and Goran Ivanisevic have all slid into action on the Primrose red dirt.
An ATP Challenger Tour event was introduced at the club in 2008, with fans catching a glimpse of national favourites Richard Gasquet (2010), Gael Monfils (2013) and Julien Benneteau (2014) gracing the courts as champions. Celebrating its 10th edition this week, the €106,000 event has become a favourite among players and fans and is highly regarded as one of the elite events on the ATP Challenger Tour. It most recently witnessed #NextGenATP star Thanasi Kokkinakis' maiden Challenger crown in 2015.
"The tournament is always really appreciated by the players due to the fact that it takes place just before the French Open and is played in near identical conditions, with the same red clay, the same match ball,” said Perlant. "The prize money has increased to $125,000 and the gamble has paid off, with many faces coming from abroad, bright new hopes and future stars are all present.”
The members of Villa Primrose are extremely proud of their historic club, and rightly so, with the Challenger event enabling the legacy to keep on growing in the flowing landscape of the famed wine-growing region. “The tournament continues to evolve and is embedded in the Bordeaux landscape,” stated Perlant. “Modernity, with respect for tradition, Primrose remains Primrose!”