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Ana today met the balls kids who will work during next week's Australian Open.
The following is a reproduction of a report written by Matt Trollope for australianopen.com:
Serbian star Ana Ivanovic this morning met with the ball kids who could very well be patrolling her match courts when Australian Open 2012 commences next week.
The world No.22 joined the 370-strong squad of Australian Open Ballkids on the steps of Victorian Parliament House in Melbourne for a photo shoot and welcome by Australian Open Tournament Director Craig Tiley and State Minister for Major Projects Dr Denis Napthine.
Ivanovic’s arrival in a Kia courtesy car at Parliament house drew rapturous applause from the ballkids, all aged between 12 and 15 years and including 20 from Korea, nine from New South Wales and Western Australia, five from South Australia and two from Tasmania.
Dr Napthine said that because of her family connections in Melbourne and her relationship with Australian golfer Adam Scott, the crowds at Melbourne Park would be firmly behind her.
“We hope you do really well in the Australian Open ... not only because you’re a wonderful tennis player but of course you’re ‘Aussie Ana’ with your friendship with Adam,” he said.
“We certainly welcome you as one of ours and we’ll be barracking very hard for you.”
Ivanovic said it was wonderful to be back and competing at one of her favourite events.
“It’s so nice to be back here (in Melbourne). I love competing here. I feel like playing at home, so it’s good to be back,” she said.
Although she’s never been a ballkid herself, it turns out Ivanovic was once a lineswoman at an exhibition event. When Tiley asked for her thoughts on the standard of the Australian Open Ballkids, the former world No.1 had nothing but praise for the squad.
“I think it’s amazing and they always do a really good job and they’re always on the ball. It’s nice and it’s very helpful for us and they make our lives very easy,” she said.
“I know they work hard and actually they have some serious training to get on board (and) it’s always good to have them.”
The process to be selected as an Australian Open Ballkid is rigorous. Ballkids from Victoria attend trials at local clubs across the state before progressing to final trials. Those from other states – through the official Interstate Visitor Program – are selected on the basis of their performance at their local Australian Open Series event, while many also travel to Victoria to participate trials just to be a part of the Australian Open.
International ballkids undergo a written test and a selection trial with various drills to demonstrate their suitability for the role.
The final squad then attend six on-court training sessions as well as an official Australian Open induction and orientation day, and participate in the Australian Open Wildcard Play-off and December Showdown to hone their skills in the lead up to the Australian Open.
The two best performers, one boy and one girl, will receive the Ballkid Award. This includes a cheque for $1,000 and a trophy which will be presented to the recipients on Rod Laver Arena.