Sport

Emma and Kieran’s AO ballkid hopes

Ballkid hopefuls, Emma Best and Kieran Webb, with assessors Anthony Zafiris and Hunter Pearce.

Two local teenagers are under consideration to be ballkids at next year’s Australian Open after trials were held in Sale last weekend.

Emma Best and Kieran Webb were assessed for their skills in rolling, servicing and court movement and are now hoping to make the cut for the next level of trials.

Sale Tennis Club hosted its 5th annual Ballkid Trial on Sunday as part of the selection process for Australian Open Ballkids for the AO in 2022. Sale was the only Gippsland town to host trials, with others still to come in Melbourne, the Mornington Peninsula and Bendigo.

The trials are normally conducted in March each year but the scheduling was impacted by the AO being held later than normal this year and COVID restrictions.

Ballkid hopefuls Emma and Kieran were put through their paces by Sale Club Professional Coach, Anthony Zafiris and 4 times AO ballkid and Sale Tennis Club player, Hunter Pearce. This combination of coaching and recent ballkid experience made for a very successful trial.

The Level 1 Trial for the AO Ballkids Program is designed to identify children with skills in the areas of rolling, servicing and court movement, all of which are critical to the overall function of the ballkid on court, so these skills were the focus of the trials.

Ballkids play an integral role in ensuring that tennis tournaments run smoothly. The Australian Open Ballkids Program focuses on the development of core skills and overall tennis knowledge, while encouraging team work, communication and leadership amongst participants.

Applicants who rank within the top 400 performers Australia wide at the Level 1 Trials will be invited to attend Level 2 trials where they will again be assessed for the opportunity to join the AO Ballkids Training Program. A total of 310 ballkids will be chosen for AO 2022.

Tennis Australia is extremely proud of our Australian Open Ballkids, who are consistently recognised as the highest quality ballkids of the four Grand Slam events. This reputation is attributed to the rigorous selection process and intensive training program that leads into each January.

Sale Tennis Club said it hopes to host many more ballkids in its next annual trials assuming that we are without the disruption of COVID restrictions in 2022.

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