Being a Ball Kid
by James Handal
This past year when I was in 6th
grade, I thought about what I could do during my summer vacation. During the
school year, I like working at the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells, so I
wondered if I could volunteer as a ball kid at other tennis tournaments in
Southern California. Because I don’t like the summer heat in the Desert, I
wanted to volunteer to work as a ball kid at two tennis tournaments in Los
Angeles. In July, I worked at the LA Tennis Open which was held at UCLA.
Formerly called the Countrywide Classic, this tournament is a U.S. Open Series
tournament which allows professional mens players to earn points
on the tour before the
U.S. Open. Past champions include Pete
Sampras and Andre Agassi.
second tournament I worked at this summer in the Los Angeles area was called
the LA Women’s Tennis
Championships. This tournament, formerly
called the East West Bank Classic, was held in Carson in August at the Home
Depot Center which is where the LA Galaxy Soccer team plays. Past champions include Steffi Graf and Dinara
As a ball kid, my job is to work on
the count during tennis matches, collecting tennis balls and tossing them to
the player who is serving. To qualify to be a ball kid, you must have knowledge
of how to keep score in tennis, run fast, roll the ball accurately and be
responsible for holding an umbrella
for the player while he or she is
sitting down. In general, the age requirement is usually 12-13 years old.
I think there are a lot of benefits
to being a ball kid. I love to work as a ball kid for the world’s top players
so I can see their emotions during the match. Sometimes they are really happy
and enthusiastic and other times, they get really angry and mad. Also, when I am walking around at the
tournaments, I get to see some of the players and ask for autographs. I have the autographs of Roger Federer, Rafael
Nadal, Andy Roddick, Juan Martin del Potro, Tommy Haas, the Bryan Brothers, Mardy
Fish and John McEnroe. Another benefit
is that your meal is provided during the day or session that you work. Usually, you get lunch tickets to purchase
lunch or a voucher for a meal. My favorite place to eat at the LA Tennis Open
is California Pizza Kitchen. Another benefit of being a ball kid is that you are given an official outfit to wear on
the court. These clothes include shorts, shirt, shoes and a hat. I like to
receive Adidas and Fila shoes and apparel.
When you work as a ball kid, you get
a credential which identifies you as
someone who works at the tournament. By showing your credential, you get to go
into the tournament any day for free and you get complimentary tickets for your
friends and family. At the tournaments, there are booths which sponsor things,
so you can pick up samples like sunscreen and mineral-fortified water. At the
LA Tennis Open at UCLA, there was a booth sponsored by Electronic Arts
featuring Wii Games. All of the ball kids got to play electronic tennis during the
tournament when we got a break. Another benefit of
being a ball kid is that
there are sometimes exhibition matches between former world ranked players such
as Pete Sampras and Jim Courier.
This summer at the LA Tennis Open I
worked as a ballkid for
Tommy Haas, Mardy Fish, the Bryan Brothers, Sam Querrey, Marat Safin, and Pete
Sampras . At the LA Women’s Tennis Open I worked as a ball kid for Dinara
Safina, Maria Sharapova, Vera Zvonereva, Daniela Hantuchova, Caroline Wozniacki,
Ana Ivanovic, Agnieszka Radwanska, and Shahar Peer. At the BNP Paribas Open,
where I have worked as a volunteer for three years, some of the players I have
worked as a ball kid for were Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal, Andy Murray, Novak
Djokovic, Juan Martin del Potro, Andy Roddick, Lleyton Hewitt, and James Blake.
The women players I have been a ball kid for are Dinara Safina, Maria
Sharapova, Vera Zvonareva, Daniela Hantuchova, Caroline Wozniacki, Agnieszka
Radwanska, Ana Ivanovic, Flavia Pennetta, Jelena Jankovic, and Svetlana
Kuznetsova. Most of the players practice on the practice courts so everybody
can take pictures and try to get autographs.
a ball kid is
very fun. I would recommend it for many reasons. You are helping your community.
You get to be around world-class tennis players. You are part of a tennis
tournament which is organized and a nice place to work. At the tournaments,
most of the players practice on the practice courts so everybody can take
pictures and try to get autographs.