Without the tennis ball kids, tennis would be a bit slower paced; however, the tennis ball kids have turned into a modern day tennis servant. As Wimbledon gets underway, I have seen some atrocious behaviors from the tennis players towards the tennis ball kids. They’re, now, so much more than ball kids.
Tennis Ball Kids: What is their job?
Interestingly enough, their job is quite basic; retrieve tennis balls and hold on to them to give them to the players for their service games. Additionally, they are to send the tennis balls down to each end of the tennis court as needed. That’s the basic principle of their duty.
Though, in recent times, their responsibilities have increased tenfold. The tennis ball kids duties have increased significantly, to the point of being a personal servant to the players. Duties now include:
– Fetching tennis balls
– Fetching a players’ towel then handling a sweaty (and sometimes snotty) towel
– Providing water (or other drinks)
– Provide shade via umbrella
– Pick up and dispose of a tennis players trash
– Run tennis racquets for restringing if needed
Tennis Ball Kids: Wimbledon Training
It’s no walk in the park for the participants, there is some serious training that is involved with being a tennis ball kid:
– A final total of approximately 250 Ball Boys and Girls (BBGs) from around 700 applicants work at The Championships, Wimbledon.
– Approximately 160 are selected from about 540 year 9 & 10 applicants and around 90 are chosen from about 160 ballboys/girls from previous years.
– Average age is 15 years. Many BBGs spend two years as a BBG.
– Four teams of six selected to be responsible for Centre and No.1 Courts.
– Six teams of six rotate around the other show courts.
– Remainder in teams of six rotate around the rest of the courts.
– Usual routine is one hour on, one hour off.
– Training begins in February at AELTC. Each prospective ball boy/girl will train once a fortnight and also attend four brief court training sessions at the Covered Courts before Easter.
– After the Easter break all training takes place at Wimbledon (mainly on the Covered Courts) and lasts until mid June apart from school holidays.
– Weekly training sessions last 2-2.5 hours with 50-60 children per session with four sessions per week.
And all of this is done for absolute free. The kids don’t get paid (I believe they get food), but all of this is a volunteering position.
Tennis Ball Kids: Acceptable Abuse?
To me personally, I believe that tennis ball kids should be treated with a little more dignity and respect from the players. These kids, who again are volunteering their time, hardly get a thank you from the players. And, when a player is losing or having a bad day, can get the brunt of a players reaction (I’m looking at you Novak Djokovic in Miami):
These kids aren’t servants, they’re there to ensure the tennis players have sufficient tennis balls available for serving! Not be out there in the sweltering heat to run around fetching water bottles, towels, and picking up trash. That isn’t their job, their JOB is tennis balls, that’s it.
Even in the 1970’s, tennis players had to get their own water and get their own towels during a changeover, and they didn’t have chairs! Somehow, the tennis players in those years were able to compete at the highest levels without having somebody to essentially hold their hands.
Tennis Ball Kids: Modern Players Need to Toughen Up!
Todays’ tennis players need to toughen up a little bit, get your own towel and get your own bottles of water and throw away your own stuff.
Look, I get it, these tennis players are out there to compete and play their best tennis, but they shouldn’t have to do it with a personal servant, right?
Let me know what you think in the comments below!