Georges Fortunier, Élodie Lhomer and Thierry Pommier have been involved in key organisational roles at the Rolex Monte-Carlo Masters for several years, and all contribute in their own way to the smooth running of the tournament.
Georges Fortunier, in charge of the ‘Italie’ tribune
See that tall figure by the ‘Italie’ tribune, with sunglasses and a walkie-talkie stuck to his ear? There’s no mistaking Georges Fortunier, the person in charge of the biggest tribune on the Rainier III court. For the fourteenth consecutive year, this Stephanois born and bred – and obvious supporter of AS Saint-Etienne – is in the wings at the Rolex Monte-Carlo Masters, watching over his designated patch.
We need to make sure that the spectators are well looked after.Georges Fortunier
“We need to make sure that the spectators are well looked after,” says the manager of a team of nearly twenty-five people, from ticket inspectors to hospitality hostesses in the boxes. “Once the stand has been checked in the morning, we need to make sure everything is all right with the ticket inspectors. Handling the influx of people when the players change sides is never easy.”
Georges Fortunier settled in Menton when he moved to the Riviera, and since then he has seen an impressive number of famous people on his beat. Although he is now retired, he is not about to quit this job. “The tournament made a tennis fan out of me!”
Élodie Lhomer, one of the shop’s staff
At the end of each match on centre court, children and their parents flock to the official Rolex Monte-Carlo Masters souvenir shop. But not to worry. Élogie Lhomer is there to take care of them.
Our best seller? Caps!Elodie Lhomer
“Our best seller? Caps!” she says with a smile. “But also T-shirts and big yellow balls.” The young fans use these football-sized tennis balls to go autograph hunting when a player comes out after their warmup.
This is Élodie Lhomer’s first year in the shop. In previous years, she was a ticket inspector, working under a certain… Georges Fortunier. “It’s a different atmosphere,” says the woman who is originally from Lille, but has lived in Menton for six years, and is also a hostess at Roca Team matches. “I miss being courtside a little, but the people in the shop are cool.”
Thierry Pommier, ball kids manager
He can’t remember. “Twenty-six years, if I’m not mistaken,” he counts out loud. “Yes, that’s it. My first edition was in 1996.” A tennis teacher at the Tennis Club Nice Giordan, Thierry Pommier has been supervising the ball kids at the Monegasque tournament for over a quarter of a century now. An opportunity that came his way more or less by chance, and that he was happy to grab.
This year, there are seventy-eight of them. We have a good group, like at every editionThierry Pommier
“I was in a lift with Eric Seigle (now director of the Monte-Carlo Country Club) and he asked me if I wanted to be part of the ball kids team. I told him I would think about it. He said I had until the ground floor. I said yes.” 1996 was the start of the adventure. Since then, Thierry Pommier has never missed a single edition of the tournament.
Promoted to manager in 2008, this Roger Federer fan has trained and supervised hundreds of young ball collectors. Boys and girls from 12 to 16 years old, from all walks of life. “This year, there are seventy-eight of them. We have a good group, like at every edition.” Young tennis enthusiasts who, in some cases, will carry on in May at the French Open at Roland-Garros.