What it Takes to Become a Ball Boy at the U.S. Open

This year’s U.S. Open was a thrill to watch with so many talented Pro Tennis Players.  We love it every year, of course.  But with so many young tennis players coming through our programs, we get asked a lot about how they choose the ball boys at the U.S. Open and other tennis tournaments.  It’s a big honor to be there certainly and can do wonderful things for a career in tennis. Many things go into becoming a ball boy at the U.S. Open. It’s a coveted spot with not much recognition but it is a chance to be visible on a world stage with some of the world’s greatest tennis players. Find out what it takes to get the position of ball boy at the U.S. Open.

 

Try-Outs

As many as 500 people per year try out for any of the available 80 ballperson positions. Drills test the ability to run, toss and throw a ball across the full length of the court. The skill is unique to the U.S. Open as all other major ballpersons roll instead of throw. Tryouts are quite complicated as noted by the following:

  • Candidates compete for a spot as a back, net or swing ballperson
  • Each person specializes in a particular skill
  • Backs are strong throwers
  • Nets are quick and agile
  • Swings must be able to do it all

 

What to Expect

Each candidate who tries out can go for just one of the two available ballperson positions at the back of the court or at the net. The United States Tennis Association (USTA) typically grades on the following aspects:

  • Enthusiasm
  • Athleticism
  • Have good hands to catch and throw
  • Speed and agility

Candidates will experience real game scenarios to see how fast the person can clear the ball from the court to keep game play going. Distance, speed and accuracy of the throw are also judged accordingly. Some of the factors the judges look for are how the person performs with wind, sun, and other people around. The pressure can become too much for some people when in an environment which causes stress.

 

Pro Tips

Some of the best tips come from the pros regarding how to survive the ballperson tryouts. It can be helpful to consider the following:

  • Have knowledge of tennis scoring
  • Be outgoing when dealing with the team
  • Be a good communicator
  • Be focused on doing the job accurately and with a good attitude

 

The doors can open wide for people who become ballpersons at the U.S. Open. Not for the faint of heart, some previous ballpersons have gone on to work at Google, become lawyers or doctors. It is hard work and takes diligence, which shows up well later on a job resume. Candidates for the job are likely to have many opportunities to pursue goals in life that might not otherwise be available had the individual not had the opportunity and fortune of becoming a ballperson at the U.S. Open.

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