At the four Grand Slam events, fans often forget the preparations that make for a successful tournament. One of these significant provisions is to find ballpersons who are fit to be on the court and make each tennis match run efficiently.
In late June, the 2015 U.S. Open Ballperson Tryouts were held at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center, and were open to prospective ballpersons 14 years of age and older. To begin the afternoon, optimistic ballpersons patiently stood on line to register and try out for one of the 80 open ballperson positions. As registration concluded, candidates rushed through the U.S. Open gates and continued onward to the outer courts to receive further instruction. After all ballpersons arrived, U.S. open staff told them which courts they will be trying out on.
Candidates on multiple outside courts were judged on their throwing strength and accuracy, catching skills and overall hand-eye coordination, running abilities, and listening skills.
Before the tryouts were underway, ballperson hopefuls were smiling and chatting away. Talking with high school student Matthew Hirschfeld from The Ramaz School in the Upper East Side of Manhattan, his excitement for the opportunity to make the “ballperson team” was clear.
“I think it will be a remarkable experience, I’d talk about it for the rest of my life to be so close to some of the sport’s biggest stars, but to also be able to help out at the U.S. Open would be special,” said Matthew Hirschfeld.
Similar to that of his younger brother, older brother Ben Hirschfeld, a recent graduate of The Ramaz School, also looked forward to the chance to be a 2015 U.S. Open ballperson.
“I like to consider myself to be an athletic guy, so anything involving running, throwing and catching would be fun for me,” said Ben Hirschfeld. “I am also a huge tennis fan and I always watch the U.S. Open, so now to be actually be part of it would be really exciting to me.”
The Hirschfeld brothers have experience as ballboys at the semi-professional level and used their experience at the tryouts to their advantage.
Great Neck middle school students Jonathan Robani, Matthew Yezan and Noah Hanover made their aspirations known. Robani and Yezan mentioned the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to be up close and personal with the best players in the world.
With hundreds competing, there will be some disappointment. One thing is for sure … those who try out will gain a memorable experience and the U.S. Open Committee will find their ideal ballpersons for the start of the final Grand Slam of 2015 as the pros take grip of the New York area at the U.S. Open.
Credit all photos to Jacob Mishkin