On June 21, the 2012 U.S. Open Ballperson Tryouts were held at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center. More than 400 people were on hand to show off their skills in running, throwing and catching for a shot at one of the 80 available spots. The extreme heat did not stop competitors ranging in age from 14 on up from impressing the U.S. Open officials for their shot at the big stage in late August.
“I feel like it went well. It was nerve wracking at first since you’re around a bunch of people you’ve never met before,” said 15-year-old Gabrielle Williams. “You just have to move quickly and remember what you’re doing it for."
Those who are chosen to become a ballperson work during both the qualifying and main draw of the U.S. Open.
“I think this tryout is pretty hard. It shows how much effort needs to be put in. The heat was also really tough,” said Lawrence Chih, 17.
With the temperature in the 90s and the sun blaring down on the courts, potential ballpersons had to not only flex their skills but battle the elements thrown their way by Mother Nature, but as the officials continually stressed to the competitors, “This is U.S. Open weather.”
Richard DeGregoris, a current ballboy, helped at this year’s tryout.
“I’ve been a ballboy for four years now," said DeGregoris. "I really like it not just because it’s great money, but it is the experience of a lifetime being on court with the pros. You also meet a lot of new friends.”
With the applicant pool being so large, the selection for spots is extremely competitive. Those selected will have the have the unique opportunity to be on-court at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center with some of the sport's biggest stars at the Open when action begins in late August.