Ballkids buildup to 2016 ASB Classic
The ASB Classic is almost upon us again, and Auckland is gearing up to welcome some of the world’s best tennis players. Ballkids play an integral role in ensuring that all tennis tournaments including the ASB Classic run smoothly. Each ballkid is a crucial part of every match and they take their roles very seriously. These tennis mad youngsters will be sweating it out courtside as part of Auckland’s favourite summer event.
The ballkids have been honing their skills over a number of after school training sessions in the lead up to the tournament. There is immense pride in being selected as a member of the team as around 100 ball kids applied for the positions back in September. The kids are being put through their paces and began the training sessions in October. The practice sessions hone on their ball pick up skills and they learn tennis etiquette and how to interact with players.
Tournament Director Karl Budge said the ballkids are a hugely important piece of the ASB Classic puzzle. “The ballkids take their job very seriously, the three training sessions we hold help ensure that by the time they head out on centre court for the ASB Classic the job is second nature to them.”
The ballkids can’t wait to put their training into practice. Returning ballkid James McCormack, 16 from Campbell Park Tennis Club says “Being a ball kid is fun, it’s enjoyable and it’s a great way to meet new people in the tennis family.”
McCormack will be volunteering for his fifth ASB Classic tournament and the piece of advice he gives new ball kids is “Pay attention and listen to advice from others. Moving the ball and ball changes are crucial to understand.”
15 year old Beatrice Smit who comes from the Glendowie Tennis Club loves being a part of the ASB Classic and has had some very unique experiences at the tournament “We get the best seats in the house for world class tennis. My most memorable moment at the tennis is being hit in the shoulder by John Isner’s 231km an hour serve.”
Smit’s piece of advice for other ball kids was “a good ball kid goes unnoticed by players and spectators, you also need to pay attention to the play while not getting in the way.”
Ballkids range in age from 11 to 16 with many of the older returning ones acting as mentors to their younger counterparts. Tennis Auckland recruits nearly ballkids who are affiliated with Tennis Auckland and Tennis Northern to help with the ASB Classic each year.
The ballkids can look forward to retrieving balls for Venus Williams and Jo-Wilifried Tsonga who have been named to the 2016 ASB Classic lineup.