Fetching tennis balls may seem an innocuous job for most people — but for the hundreds trying out to become US Open ‘ballpersons’, it's a dream worth chasing.
Most will not make the cut, however. Out of the hundreds who turned up for this year's US Open ballperson tryouts at the US Tennis Association (USTA) Billie Jean King National Tennis Centre in the Queens borough of New York, only a few dozen will be chosen to join veteran ballpersons from previous years. But they come anyway, young and old, braving the rainy skies on June 19 to test their luck.
The job description is rather straightforward, as is clear to anyone who's ever seen a Grand Slam match on TV — ballpersons are expected to fetch tennis balls from around the court during the game so the pro players don't have to.
It’s not an easy job by any measure and prospects are limited. But then again, you don’t really need paper qualifications. Altogether, about 275 ballpersons work day and night sessions at the Open, for three weeks starting on Aug 25, with pay that starts at minimum wage.