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.


Catherine said...

Kelly! I'm so excited to hear about everything. I have to admit that every time I see Rafa, I swoon. He's not overly hot, but so talented and humble (plus the Spainish thing). Good luck-I know you'll do great.

Jada said...

Hey Kelly! I just wanted to let you know that I will be on my way soon - surprise - you thought I was not coming. So what is your room number again? LOL! Enjoy the experience.

Lilbruno said...

Hey guys,

Great to hear from you both. Jada - I'll be sure to check for packages every day! Cat - I have so good pictures that I'll post soon. None of Nadal yet. How about Federer? I got a couple of him during practice. It's definitely been an experience. Hopefully you guys are carrying on without me okay. I know it must be tough. LOL. :)