Saturday marked semifinal singles play for the USTA pro tennis tournament held at the Jaime Kaplan Tennis Center on Stratford Academy’s campus; it also marked the presence of on-court ball boy/girl/kids. Ball kids help retrieve stray balls after each point. They also give them to the players. Ball kids, first introduced in Wimbledon 1920, became a success. It wasn’t until 1977 when girls were allowed to help retrieve balls the grassy courts of Wimby. Today, all Slam events provide a squad of ball retrievers who are trained to move quickly and efficiently around the court.
Daria Brown a 14 year old tennis player from Macon, GA. had the honor of helping out today as a ball kid. “This is crazy!” Brown said (about the level of skill the players exhibited, “It’s good to watch it and learn from it.”
Brown had to go to a 30-minute training session to prepare for today’s on-court duties. “They went over the basics,” said Brown, who missed the pro/am event held Monday evening “I didn’t (make it out), unfortunately.”
Nerves caught Brown off-guard during her first ball retrieval. “It’s pretty scary when you got two girls hitting the ball so hard.
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“Zoom, zoom, zoom,” said Brown, fish-tailing her hand back and forth to demonstrate the verocity and ferocity the players strokes. “On my first run, I said, ‘okay, don’t mess up, ‘of course [insert dramatic eye roll] I fell.” She lifted up her skinned knee as proof.
The stumble won’t keep Brown from getting back out on court. She’s a tennis player, she knows what it’s like to fall flat on your knee and get back up to ‘win the match’.