The uniforms are painted on them. White beanie, gray shirt, blue jacket to the tone, very sporty. They move from here to there under very strict rules, according to predetermined routes, but without forgetting that they are just entering adolescence, with all that that implies. Ole he is with them (and with the wink of his parents) in, perhaps, the first great experience of their young lives …
Around 20 boys and girls, between 12 and 17 years old, are present at the Buenos Aires Lawn Tennis this week to fulfill the function of ball catchers in the Argentina Open feminine. But their experience goes far beyond a simple mechanical task since they are committed to growing in the world of tennis, in contact – as far as possible – with the protagonists themselves.
“What I like most about being a ball-boy is that you experience tennis and games from a different perspective, from the inside”, says Ernesto Demanrtincao (14), as he rests in the stands of the central court and takes the opportunity to watch part of the first match of the day. Of course, he knows that soon he will have to rotate with his teammates and enter the field. “The best thing is to be able to see the players and be close”, adds Mateo Federico (12), who accompanies him there.
Los ball-kids del Argentina Open
They are all passionate about tennis. Some aspire to be professional players and others, only, to continue practicing the discipline for simple entertainment and fun. After all, they are all brought together for the same cause: the love of art. Reason enough to part with your daily tasks (such as school, which They got a certificate so that they do not count the fault) and attend the event where, in addition to the clothes they are given, they take a backpack loaded with hundreds of experiences.
“I would do anything to be able to come and enjoy something like that“, said Ernesto, who lives in Wilde and thanks to various combinations of public transport, manages to be daily at the prestigious club in the Capital.”He gets up at 6 am to come here every day “ said Laura, the mother of Martiniano Waitzel (14), who usually accompanies him: “We have a two hour car ride (because it’s rush hour), but, for him, it is a pleasure “.
“To be a ball shooter you need attention, speed and a desire to learn”, explains Kiara Serrano (14), who takes into account the rules of the manual that facilitates the WTA. “There are times when the ball stings so hard that it reaches you, but you don’t have to catch it but wait for it to sting again because afterwards a player may end up complaining,” he adds. “We are not allowed to disturb the players, either approaching, greeting them or asking for autographs so that they do not lose focus. and to be able to maintain our professional margin. “And in that sense, sometimes young people are complicated by the fact of having people in front of them they admire and not being able to portray the moment.
Mateo (12), Ernesto (14) and Martiniano (14), three of the ballkids from the Argentina Open
“He doesn’t watch a whole soccer game, but the tennis ones do …”, continues Martiniano’s mother, who returns home these days with a smile on her face. “He has followed Schwartzman for a long time, he is his idol. He set the theme of constancy for him: that with work, you get there”, tells about his son, the native of Ciudad Evita, also the birthplace of Juan Ignacio Chela.
With Nadia Podoroska and the Small as the most chosen referents (although some also dared to name Juan Martin del Potro and Guillermo Vilas), the boys and girls assure that this experience will serve them for the rest of their tennis life, that in addition to the technical and tactical aspects, it allows them to observe and absorb the mental capacity of the players to precede -or not, of course- to the adversities of the party, and in the way they do it.
They don’t care if it’s men’s or women’s tennis. There is no gender distinction, it’s tennis, period. And they have it naturalized and they look forward to each new day to learn and share a moment with each other, which ultimately also works as an excellent space for socialization, through a sport that, for the most part, is usually very lonely.
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Argentina Open: the ball gamers who idolize Schwartzman and Podoroska