How good was Roland Garros? We were lucky enough to spend 5 days in Paris, soaking up the sun, eating nice food and relaxing, all as we sat back and watched the Tennis from the gladiatorial stands at the French Open. We particularly spent a lot of our time on outside courts as its here where you can get so close to the action, with the front row seat within touching distance of the red clay. But it wasn't just the Tennis that provided the entertainment. ASICS gave us the opportunity to take part in their new campaign which goes back to their roots. Sound mind, sound body is a campaign that ASICS have begun to help athletes and all people understand the benefit of how looking after your body and mind can help you feel positive in sport and in your life. Take a look at our trip below!
Once we arrived in Paris we were driven to the hotel which was about 30 minutes from the train station. Upon arrival we were greeted by the ASICS team and were given some amazing kit to wear throughout the trip. This included two running t shirts, a black jacket, new shorts and a brand new pair of white Gel resolution tennis shoes. In the evening we were invited to dinner on a boat that travelled down the river Seine. The dinner was with the other media participants that included journalists, tennis coaches and influencers from all around the World.
Our second day with ASICS was where the Tennis really got going! After breakfast we took the taxis down to Roland Garros and spent the morning watching the qualifying event. We had never been to the qualifying event before so this was a great experience and something that we would recommend doing. Ticket prices are cheap and it isn't as busy as main draw, meaning that it's much easier to move around, queue for food and get onto the courts that you want to watch with no waiting around. Even through qualifying, there was plenty of matches that could have been good enough for main draw. We saw players such as Feliciano Lopez, Coco Vandeweghe, Zizou Bergs, Jack Sock and the upcoming Czech junior Linda Fruhvirtova. The tennis at the qualifying event is really high, with matches being extremely competitive and physical.
One of the things that stood out for us at the qualifying event was the serve. Typically its deemed that bigger servers are nullified on the clay as it slows the ball down, however this didn't seem the case. The ball striking on both the serve and the groundstrokes had just as fast tempo as it does on a hard court. In particular, the wide kick serve on the AD side was not only a common serve players were hitting, but also one of the most effective. The ability the players have to kick the ball wide (almost into the stands) and also kick it up so high, meant that the returner was hitting above their head and started the rally in defence more often than not.
After the morning at Roland Garros, we travelled over to Bois de Boulogne Tennis club which has a staggering 45 tennis court with a mixture of different surfaces. Here was where ASICS held the first part of the sound mind, sound body campaign. All participants were asked to step on court and hit tennis balls at different targets, with each target shown as a 'stressor'. The idea was that we were releasing stress when we were exercising by hitting the balls at as many targets as we could. Iga Swiatek made a guest appearance and took part in the targets too! Iga has a great personality and was smiling from start to finish and took the time to meet all of the participants.
After the exercise, we all joined Iga and the ASICS team in the press reporting room as they held a press conference for Iga with Eurosport. Iga was joined by her psychologist Daria Abramowicz, the head of ASICS and also Brendon Stubbs, an exercise researcher from the UK. During the interview we noted some of the things that Iga said.
'Stress is not about avoiding it, it's about managing it.'
'Stress brings up my adrenaline and makes me play better.'
'My skills when I'm stressed are:'
Focus on what’s easiest to do
More stable on court
Do not over analyse and focus on the small stuff
Iga finished the interview by saying that the pressure of being world no1 doesn't effect her because she likes to use that status against her opponent. We thought that was an amazing mindset to have and is one of the reasons why she is currently separated from the rest and is the best player in the World.
Our final day with ASICS was at the 'ASICS House'. The house is a small apartment building where ASICS do their player and coach PR. The players pick up their kit for the tournament and do some photo shoots. However ASICS put on a special event with the designer of the ASICS shoe, Rene Zandbergen. Rene is in charge of footwear and innovation at ASICS and he not only designed the ASICS shoes, but also co-designed the Court FF2 with Novak Djokovic himself. Rene met with Novak and each time offered Novak samples to play tennis in. After each session Novak was often asking for even more flexibility! After some time, the FF2 was born, which is built for an all court player that requires a lot of comfort and flexibility. What is amazing about the new ASICS designs is each shoe is now built for a player depending on their game style. ASICS are the only brand we know that are doing this. Each shoe is designed and built differently depending on the gamestyle. Check out the images below to see how each shoe is different. For example, the baseline shoe (Gel Resolution) has more stability and padding on the outsides of the shoe to protect and support the player that runs a lot side to side on the baseline. This is amazing innovation from ASICS and we cant recommend it enough. Please click on the link to find out more about Rene Zandbergen.
Thankyou so much to ASICS for inviting us to their sound mind, sound body campaign at Roland Garros this year. We saw some amazing tennis at the qualifying event and saw some matches that easily could have contended for main draw! We met Iga and learnt about how she manages her stresses, and we also got a special insight into how ASICS innovate and design their shoes for the different style of player.
ASICS have set the bar when it comes to their footwear, and from our knowledge we don't know any players that have changed to another shoe once they are wearing ASICS. We hope you enjoyed reading this post, and learnt something from our experience. As players and coaches ourself, we are wearing tennis shoes everyday, and the new ASICS designs are an absolute must for us.