Fans watching the US Open may have been baffled to see older men and women used as ‘ball boys’.
Tennis lovers are used to seeing teenagers retrieving the balls for the likes of Novak Dojokovic, Roger Federer, Ash Barty and Serena Williams at tournaments across the world.
But the US Open is the only major competition without an upper age limit for ‘ball persons’, and is also the only Grand Slam to pay them.
So it’s no wonder there’s plenty of demand from adults to work the tournament with one even having returned to Flushing Meadows for a 33rd consecutive year.
“Ball persons are an essential part of the tournament,” the official US Open website reads.
“They play a vital role on the court is to allow for smooth, uninterrupted game play and ensure that the needs of the players are addressed throughout the match.”
Since 2018, US Open ball persons have been told to roll the tennis balls to each other rather than exchanging them in the air.
US Open director of ball people Tina Taps said in 2018: “By rolling between positions, we are putting less emphasis on a single skill-set, in this case throwing, and instead looking at the importance of slotting more well-rounded athletes at the positions.
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