Remember that Seinfeld episode when Kramer wanted to be a ball man for the U.S. Open? He spent an awful lot of time racing from place to place, stopping on a dime, and then racing back. I’m almost certain he never really made it to the big time, but it was Kramer so it was just funny that he even thought he could. That’s one thing about Kramer: he always gave his all to whatever passed his fancy.
But I’m sitting here watching Wimbledon, and I see these kids sprinting back and forth from one side of the court to the other, chasing balls before the stars who are playing the actual match get ready to serve again. I can do that.
What we need in today’s modern tennis game is a really good ball man. We need someone who can make quick decisions, who won’t get too caught up in the game, who can focus on wherever the balls are, and who can retrieve them and get them back into play as soon as possible. Ball women would be nice too.
Think about it. So many of the tournaments throughout the year are played during school time. Why take these kids out of school so they can do a job an older person can accomplish just as well? There are many adults out of work. This would take care of a few jobs for them. It’s a win-win. Kids can still come out on the weekends and have part-time work that way, but during the week we can rely on really good ball men.
There would be a training academy where tennis pros and former ball boys and girls lead workshops on the best decisions to make in certain situations. They could be taught on court, and simulations done to test reflexes. There could even be a reality show on it; they’d call it “Get Those Balls, Man,” and there would be a separate “Get Those Balls, Ladies,” for the women.
Ball men would handle the ladies’ tournaments, and ball women would handle the mens’. This way we can hopefully keep focus intact, because everyone knows women are more interested in watching other women play, and men are more wont to pay attention to other men on court. By mixing it up we create better focus and, let’s be honest, more eye candy for the spectators. Being able to watch fit ball men and women get after those balls would only add to spectator interest. Another win-win.
We need a really good ball man because we need an infusion of something new in the ages old game. First there were changes in court surfaces, then better racquet technologies, and now the revolution should continue. Get those kids back in school, eliminate some of that rampant unemployment, and add to spectator interest.
Now, to pitch it to the world tennis tours…