For those of you who don’t know, becoming a ballperson for the U.S. Open is a tedious process that takes months. Prior to today, I went to an initial tryout and waited weeks to be invited to a call back. After the callback, there were weeks of waiting again before I was notified that I was hired. Even that isn’t the end of it, just as players need to qualify for the main draw of the tournament so do rookie ballpeople.
Given a fraction of the full uniform, the days of the qualifying rounds are used to gauge one’s commitment to the job and his or her competency on the court. On Friday, I reported at 10:00 a.m. and worked one full shift on court. A full women’s match and the first set and half of a men’s match. After a usual break between shifts when everyone else was being assigned a new court to go to, my name and the names of about six other people, were not called.
Confused, we headed towards our supervisors who proceeded to tell us. “We know you guys have all worked really hard, and made a commitment to this tournament ... and that is why you made it!”
I was finally able to breathe a deep sigh of relief. I feel as though since late June I have been pledging a sort of tennis fraternity, and today, I crossed. I have the weekend off and am more exited now for the main draw of this tournament than I have been for any other tournament in my entire life, and as a lifelong tennis fan, that is really saying something.
Also helping to build the excitement were some practice matches between a veritable who’s who of men’s tennis. I saw Andy Roddick playing a friendly match against countryman Robby Ginepri. The great Roger Federer playing some sets against Gael Monfils. Ernests Gulbis taking on Tomas Berdych, and finally, American Sam Querry getting a session in with Feliciano Lopez. I also spotted world number 12 on the women’s side, Svetlana Kuznetsova, practicing on the grandstand and look forward to seeing more of the top seeds in action during the main draw that begins Monday, Aug. 30.
<p>Daniel Kresh is a USPTA-certified tennis professional who recently accepted the positions of director of junior tennis and assistant tennis professional at the Three Village Tennis Club in Setauket, N.Y. He is also the assistant professional at The Port Jefferson Country Club at Harbor Hills. He may be reached by e-mail at <a href="mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org">email@example.com</a>.</p>