It’s summer which means members of the Kendall Tennis Club are mixing with the world’s top tennis players in Sydney.
At the Sydney International eight of Kendall’s junior members, selected in the 120-strong NSW ball squad, will serve players during the tournament.
Rhyan Hudson, Niamh Cargill, Jackson Russell, Luke Wheate, Jackson Wheate, Connor Wilkie, Connor McHugh and Riley Dietrich all had the opportunity to mix it with players such as Sam Stosur and Dominika Cibulkova.
The Hot Shots, players aged 6-8 years, were on Centre Court (Ken Roswell Arena) on January 9 prior to the professionals playing, demonstrating their skills.
The club was recently selected as one of Tennis NSW’s Top 20 tennis clubs and as a result was treated to a Club Day at Sydney International.
A group of club members and their families got the opportunity to watch the tennis from a box seat and enjoy a behind scenes tour including walking the players tunnel to centre court.
Club president Wendy Hudson said this year the junior members had the added bonus of having a former ballkid take them to and from their courts.
19-year-old Blake Hudson has recently moved to Sydney and after having a year off in 2016, was back providing feedback at the completion of the matches.
“Blake returned as a ball squad supervisor after having a year off so the kids enjoyed seeing a familiar face after they came off the court,” Hudson said.
“He’d critique them, give them a run down and tell them things like maybe they needed to have their hands up ready (to serve the ball to the players) and he’d take them to and from the court.”
Eight of the Kendall juniors were dropped in to eight different ball squads across the entire Sydney International precinct.
“It is good for them because it allows them to meet other kids as well and because they’ve been spread out so much there are at least one or two of them on centre court each day.”
Hudson said younger son Rhyan had the privilege of serving Slovakian Dominika Cibulkova’s match.
“Rhyan had Cibulkova’s match on Monday on court one and he really enjoyed it so he was going to go out to court one again on Tuesday because that’s where she will be playing,” she said.
“It’s a predominantly female competition, but it’s good for the kids to get that exposure.”
Tennis Australia’s AOBlitz competition has, in the past, seen the local club excel, beating bigger city clubs to earn top Australian Open players “represent” their town.
Previously Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray have represented Kendall during the Australian Open in Melbourne.
This year Kendall earned former world number 1 Caroline Wozniacki.
Hudson said TennisNSW will arrange for the local ball kids to meet Wozniacki when she plays in Sydney.