It’s time to dust off the racquet, do some squats and stretches, don a new headband, and plonk yourself down in a deckchair, drink in hand, as the Australian Open Tennis Championships kick off at Melbourne Park.
To get in the mood we caught up with two young ball people, Jamison Shea and Zoe Theodorakopoulos, as they prepare for the 2014 campaign.
Who is your favourite player?
JS: Bernard Tomic is my favourite player at the moment because I like his smooth style. He is also a very nice player, who always says thank you and please when he requests something. Of course, I also like him because he’s Australian.
ZT: Rafael Nadal because of his style of play and attitude on court. He also inspires me as he never gives up.
What is the hardest thing about being a ball person?
JS: The hardest thing is staying 100 per cent focused at all times. Out on court during a 38C day can be tough, but you have to remain focused at all times.
ZT: I really enjoy the experience of being a ball kid but I find it challenging not to show my excitement when the best tennis players in the world are competing on court right in front of me.
Can you describe what it’s like being on court?
JS: Being next to some of the world’s greatest players is amazing! Standing only centimetres away from the likes of Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal is something most people only dream of.
ZT: The atmosphere of being a ball kid is unforgettable and very exciting, whether you’re on an outside court, a show court or most of all, Rod Laver Arena. Being in front of a big crowd and some of the world’s best tennis players is a once-in-a-lifetime experience.
What is the most embarrassing thing that has happened on court?
JS: Cleaning bird poo off Rod Laver Arena while the game was stopped and with everybody watching me was pretty embarrassing.
ZT: I was on court at the net for the Bryan brothers when one of the balls was hit to me. The whole crowd was clapping and cheering while I attempted to take the catch. Here I was, the centre of attention, all eyes on me, and then my nerves got the better of me and I dropped the catch. The crowd sighed and stopped clapping – I felt so embarrassed.
The championship runs from 16-26 January at Melbourne Park. A ground pass gets you right into the thick of it and there’s heaps to do – live music, tennis warm-ups, games food and an amazing atmosphere – not to mention the chance to see the world’s greatest past and present getting warmed up.
Win Australian Open Tickets
We have 2 men’s finals and 2 women’s finals tickets up for grabs. For your chance to win, answer the following question:
In what year did Lleyton Hewitt win the men’s singles title at Wimbledon?
Send your answer to firstname.lastname@example.org
Competition closes at noon on Friday 17 Jan. Winners will be notified on Monday 20 January, and must be able to pick tickets up from the Melbourne Town Hall.
Find out information on tickets and activities at the Australian Open.