They have the best view in the house, rubbing shoulders with their idols as they watch the best players in the world at one of the biggest events on the tennis calendar - they are the Australian Open ballkids.By David Penrose | Friday, 24 January, 2014
They have the best view in the house - rubbing shoulders with their idols as they watch the best players in the world at one of the biggest events on the tennis calendar.
Who are they? They are the ballkids, and they play an integral part in ensuring each Australian Open runs smoothly.
While it may look like an easy job, plenty of hard work goes into being a ballkid.
But for the boys and girls that get the chance, it is the experience of a lifetime.
“I love being part of a great big Grand Slam, and being part of an international tournament,” said first-year ball kid Lauren.
“It’s great getting to be on the court with some of the best players in the world,” said Matthew, who has been on court alongside Serena Williams and Novak Djokovic.
For the kids, many who play tennis themselves, it is also a great chance to watch their favourite players go through their routine.
“You get to get up close to players and see how they do things on court,” said Tina.
It’s also important for ballkids to make sure the players have their drinks, balls, and towels when they require them.
“We have to make sure the players are well taken care of and anything they need us to do we will do for them,” said Zak, in his second year of being a ballkid at the Australian Open.
However, there is more to it than just rolling a ball.
“We need to roll the balls, but also communicate with the other ball kids so there is an even number of balls on each side for the player,” said Tina.
The five key components of being a ballkid are concentration, communication, rolling, servicing, and court movement.
Ballkid Squad Manager Darren Sturgess advises the ballkids to enjoy themselves and relax, rather than take it too seriously.
The applications are open now for next year’s Australian Open, with the selection process running throughout the year.
“We go through the applications and the kids go through a first round of trials at a local based tennis club or facility,” said Sturgess.
“From there they are selected into a level two round trial in May from which we select a train-on squad to start training from mid-late August.”
With over 2,000 applicants for this year’s tournament, it can be very competitive, but applicants have more than one chance.
“Most of the kids, if they don’t get through in the first year they have got at least another chance or two in future years,” added Sturgess.
Applicants must be between the age of 12-15 during the tournament.
Applications for 2015 Australian Open ball kids close on March 2.