Birth of a tennis by Jean-Claude Marchon
Jean-Claude Marchon produced the documentary ‘Birth of a tennis’ for the ITF, a classic feature on how tennis can be played anywhere in the world.
Regarded as the father of mini-tennis, the Frenchman dedicated his life to making the game accessible and enjoyable for beginners, particularly young children, and ranked among the world’s most brilliant and passionate tennis educators.
Marchon served as regional technical counsellor of the Ligue de Paris from 1978-1993, before joining the French Tennis Federation (FFT) as their first national coordinator of mini-tennis in 1994. Throughout the 1980s and 1990s, he collaborated with the ITF’s Development programme to spread the concept of mini-tennis in Africa. His approach revolutionised coaching the sport by placing the development of motor skills at the heart of the learning process for children from the age of five.
Working in collaboration with Christian Rieu, Marchon authored several books on the subject of tennis coaching, most notably ‘Tennis: corriger ses défauts’ (Tennis: correct your faults) and ‘Mini-tennis, Tennis, Maxi-tennis’, both co-authored with Rieu, and ‘L'enfant d'abord, l'eleve ensuite: du mini-tennis á l'ecole de tennis’ (First the child, then the student: from mini tennis to the tennis academy).
In 2001, the ITF Coaches Commission introduced the first ITF Awards for Services to the Game in Coaching. Marchon was the first mini-tennis expert to receive this distinction. In 2002, the FFT and the International Lawn Tennis Clubs awarded him a diploma for his contribution to the development of mini-tennis, both in France and around the world.
"How many vocations has he triggered?" the FFT wrote in tribute. "How many enthusiasts fondly remember the workshops at [the regional training centre in] Montry? How many groups of tennis-teaching friends has he helped to cement? How many teachers has he convinced to introduce tennis at their school? Jean-Claude knew how to communicate his passion, he ploughed a fertile furrow which irrigated our clubs, tennis academies and schools."
Marchon was a true pedagogue and a visionary, whose charisma, dynamism and humanity was appreciated by both the children he trained and the coaches he inspired. His love for tennis, coaching and education can be witnessed daily by those who follow his example when introducing beginners to tennis.
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