Covering the Goulburn and Murray valleys

Ball boys primed for action

Two Kyabram boys have been selected as ball boys for next week's Australian Open Tennis Championships.

January 10, 2013 4:10am

Ballboys Samuel McConnell, 12, and Winton Findlay, 14, anticipate a few nerves but can't wait to step on court at next week's Australian Open.

Two Kyabram boys have the hottest tickets in town — ringside seats to next week’s Australian Open.

Samuel McConnell, 12, and Winton Findlay, 14, will duck, weave and dart around the courts at Melbourne Park as ball boys at the first Grand Slam of the year.

Chosen from more than 2500 applicants from around Australia and the Asia-Pacific, the Kyabram Lawn Tennis Club members will join more than 380 ballkids next Monday.

Their first day on the job is actually today for the pre-Open qualifying tournament, one of several they will have participated in a big build up to the tournament.

They have put in months of heavy training, honing their hand-eye co-ordination and working on their ability to maintain concentration during matches and anticipating the needs of the player.

Now they can’t wait to rub shoulders with the best players in the world.

Both name former world No.1 Roger Federer their main man, but say realistically — this being their first year — they won’t likely make it onto the premier court where Federer plays.

While they’re itching to get started, they believe there’ll be more than a few nerves when they step onto the court for the first time.

‘‘I think the first game I’ll be pretty nervous,’’ Winton said. ‘‘Not about doing it, but there’s stands of people which’ll take a bit to get used of.’’

The boys can expect long days and long nights working an hour on court before being rested for about half-an-hour in an air-conditioned bunker.

The reward is they are allowed to watch any game on any court when off duty, meaning almost open access to their favourite players.

Some of the world’s best players, including Roger Federer and Pat Rafter, were ballkids before they joined the professional ranks and it is an opportunity for today’s ballkids to work alongside some of the biggest names in the game who they will remember forever.

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