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Tennis ballEver wonder how those kids running for balls on the tennis court during a tourney got such a great gig? If you have a good throwing arm, are quick on your feet and  have a thorough understanding of the game of tennis, you can do it, too. Most of the tournaments hold tryouts for young tennis players who want to be “ball kids” a few weeks before the action.

No other professional sport allows for this sort of involvement from the public, and for kids who know how to hustle, it can be the opportunity of a lifetime.  Contact the tournament director or coordinator for specific tryout info. Discipline, patience, speed, focus, following directions and knowing the game are some of the keys to success. There are usually minimum age requirements – around 12 or 13.

Ball Kids are the unsung heroes of a tennis tournament. They keep the match moving and the players rely on them to hustle to keep the pace going. The basic responsibility of a Ball Kid is to retrieve balls that land outside of the court or in the net and send them back to the Ball Kids who are tossing balls to the player who is serving. This is the most important part of being a Ball Kid. Ball Kids must complete every task as fast as they can and develop a sense of “urgency” about all the tasks that they do. It also is important to have “quiet feet” which is accomplished by running on the balls of the feet, not on the heels.

If you want to be a Ball Kid but don’t make the cut, there are still opportunities for face time with the players. The best place to get autographs is just outside the player’s entrance where all the participants come and go on their way to practice.  Look for daily scheduled autograph sessions,too. Buy, or bring, a giant tennis ball to collect signatures.

Tickets to stadium or center court sold out? Explore the outer courts of the facility – that’s where you might find some of the world’s top players practicing with their coach or hitting partner.

Summer means tennis, the French Open, Wimbledon, and US Open. If you live in SoCal, there are some great smaller tourneys including The East West Bank Classic which features the top players from the women’s tour. So be sure to get out there and catch some of the action.

Ball Kid Tryout Info: Pacific Life Open (760) 200-8400, East West Bank Classic (310) 546-5656 x 383, Countrywide Classic – ballkids@countrywideclassic.com. Also, take a look at the Training Manual from the Pacific Life Open. Lots of great info.

Pretty Tough Tip
After the seventh game of a match and every nine games thereafter, the umpire will call for “new balls, please.” The two Nets (Ball Kids positioned by the net) move to the center line near the net and all Backs (Ball Kids positioned at the back of the court) run the balls to the Nets. The two Nets will show the balls to the c h a i r umpire and drop them into the used ball  container. One of the line judges will then distribute new balls.

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