Sunday, August 31, 2008

More fun at the US Open

I don't know where to begin considering everything that's gone on here at the US Open. It's been an incredible experience with many fun matches, great plays, and bloopers. For the most part we all just do our job as expected, but sometimes the unexpected happens and we have to improv as possible. Like the other day when I was working a doubles match. Now, most ballkids agree that the net positions have it easy in doubles matches because the front player normally hits us the ball after it's hit the net. But every once and awhile I'd rather race out and pick up a dead ball than go chasing after a bouncing ball that seems to go in every direction. Yesterdat during a match the player hit me the ball and my hands were out ready to scoop it up so I could race back to my spot next to the chair umpire. But the ball had other plans as it sliced between my hands and wedged itself between my legs. Awkward? Yes, but I thought to myself "hey, maybe nobody saw that." No such luck. As we ran off the court after the match, the other ballkids agreed that the best catch of theday was the one between my legs! great! I guess everyone saw.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

More on the US Open

First of all, how did we ever manage before internet? The hotel I've been in for 1.5 weeks (and will be in for that amount of time still) charges $9.99 for 24 hours of internet access. Really, it's T-mobile that's ripping us off, but regardless the matter-of-the fact is we are struggling to keep current with the news, email, and of course, for me, this blog. Thank goodness for the technology of new phones these days. Not ideal, but the best I've got! I have a great blog drafted on my computer that I will post soon. Oooh and more pictures. I watched Donald Young playing mixed doubles yesterday. If you don't know (and I certainly didnt) Young is one of the youngest pro-tennis players although he's still not highl ranked. Fun to watch nonetheless. Alright I will end this blog before I trip. Blogging while walking down a wood-pannelled bridge (bridges the subway terminal with the Tennis Center) has proved hazardous. More soon.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Qualifying Rounds of the US Open

There unfortunately hasn't been much time to post since I have spent most of my days on the US Open courts, pulling 9 to 12 hour shifts so that all of the matches are covered. This past week has been demanding since too many ballpersons were hired this year and we are all fighting for a limited number of spots available for the main draw. But on Friday I received word that I had made it and I was thrilled.

So, what exactly will I be doing for the next 2 weeks while tennis pros battle for the US Open title? Basically, we are called out to a court in teams of 6 for 2 hour shifts at a time. I was hired for the net position, which means I stand at one end of the net until a player slams a ball into it and then I run after and retrieve it. 90% standing there watching the net, 10% sprinting after a ball to clear it so that the player can set up for his next serve. I do other things too, like throw the ball to the backs (who stand either of the court) who then feed the balls to the players. And during change overs I am supposed to politely ask the player on my side of the net if he/she needs any water or Gatorade. Most of the time the players are very focused so I tend to stand back and let them just ask me if they need anything.

Another great perk of my job is that I have access to the back hallways of the stadiums and free seats at what we call The Perch between the Grand Stand and Louis Armstrong stadiums. The second day I rolled in to find what court I was assigned to I had the pleasure of sitting back and watching Jelena Yankovic and Andy Roddick practicing, one on each of the 2 courts I could see. The following day the courts were bustling even more with famous tennis players and their coaches. Roger Federer warmed up with a couple serves and volleys while practicing in the Grand Stand (pictures to come once I can upload them to my computer). The Williams sisters were on a court nearby doing much the same thing. The best run in so far though was on my way back to the ballpersons lounge after a 2.5 hour shift on morning. High pitched squeals and giggling could be heard coming from down the hall far before we could identify the source. Then security guys were blocking our path and asked us to move up against the wall. Rafael Nadal then appeared, flashing us an amused smile as he walked past followed by an entourage of 12 year old girls asking for his autograph. Even in the presence of such a phenomenal athlete, I couldn't help but laugh.

These experiences so far have gotten me even more excited about what is to come. To be in the presence and on the courts with such talent and athletic ability is a real thrill. I have a real appreciation for these guys' competitive spirit and drive to win. I look forward to the continued interaction with these men and women and will hopefully be motivated even more to continue the pursuit of my own goals.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

The start of the US Open

The beginning of 3 weeks as a ballgirl at the US Open. The reality of living out of a hotel for 3 weeks set in when I walked into the very nice, but very small room on the 24th floor. My roommate, Scout, arrived later in the evening and moved in as well. Every drawer, shelf, and hangar is in use and still some of my clothes are still in my suitcase. And I even tried to pack light.

Today at 2 pm I will head out to the Tennis Center to really begin. I will write more about that when I return.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Back to the long stuff...

I had a chance to take about a week off after New York. I wonder if I should've taken off more time, but I was also getting antsy about beginning my training for Ironman. So Week 1 of my training began with a long 12 hour week, which felt like a lot on top of work and completing medical school applications. I am now going into my 3rd week of Ironman workouts and the volume continues to increase. And as the volume increases my free time decreases. You'll notice that my blogs are made less frequently these days. I'm looking forward to taper week!

Friday, August 1, 2008

Reminiscing on Swimming

It's easy to tell people my story. I've said it so many times that I have it rehearsed to the T. I lost my leg when I was six months to a congenital defect...etc. (If you want the rest of the story check out my biography at the bottom of this page. I really don't want to tell it again.) But one detail rarely shared is that when I moved back to the States from Germany I wanted to join the swim team. I was a good swimmer, even as a seven year old. I loved the water and the water seemed to love me. I could float like a buoy in the middle of a lake. I was doing back flips off the diving board with one leg when I was six. I can't do them anymore, but I could then. But the coach...well, I won't give you my real feelings about the coach, but basically he was a real piece of work. "Kelly will never be a good swimmer," he told my mom. That's what you get when someone doesn't want to take on a challenge or is afraid of the unknown. I was full of potential and everyone knew it.

But you know what? All I can say is thank you now. I set out to prove him wrong. Rather than kill my taste for swimming he fueled my drive to succeed. My goal is never to meet expectations, but rather to exceed expectations and then some.