Local children take key role at Wimbledon tennis
Ball boys and girls are selected from local schools
As the eyes of the tennis world turn to Wimbledon, around 250 local school children will be at the heart of the action as they take up their roles as ball boys and girls.
They have been carefully selected from around 700 applicants and are trained by Anne Rundle, a former Merton teacher now adminstration and training officer at Wimbledon.
Anyone aged 13-17 can put their names down but they will only be chosen from those recommended by selected schools in the Wimbledon area or from the All England Club’s junior programme and the Wimbledon Junior Tennis Initiative (WJTI).
The schools involved are:
To qualify for full training, which started in February, applicants must pass a series of tests, including a written test on the rules of tennis and a test of hand/eye co-ordination.
The training involves such basics as proper stances, hand-eye co-ordination, marching practice and accurate long-distance ball rolling. Bouncing a ball might seem a simple task, but in order to present it at the precise height for a player to receive is an important part of training.
The ceremony of the ball change, when the new balls are decanted from their tins, placed in a row and then despatched to the corners of the court, has been picked up by television and become a traditional part of coverage.
Another custom, having ball boys chosen exclusively from Dr. Barnardo's orphans, was discontinued in 1966, and ball girls made their first appearance in 1977. The first team of mixed ball boys and girls appeared in 1980, and ball girls made their Centre Court debut in 1985.
June 21, 2010