Ball kids cannot conceal their excitement after finally being inducted for the WTA Finals where they will meet the world's top eight female singles players. Photo: Leandro Ngo/SportSG
The excitement was evident, from the delight on their faces to the cheers that erupted in the room. The Singapore ball kids were thrilled to have officially been inducted on Wednesday and they couldn’t wait to meet the world’s top eight female players competing at the WTA Finals.
“It would really be a dream come true to see them play in front of my eyes!” exclaimed ball kid Lily Lim.
Serving as a ball kid in the tournament for the first time, Lily, who plays tennis for the Singapore Chinese Girls’ School, admitted to looking forward to meeting Simona Halep. She admired the Romanian tennis star’s sportsmanship, which contrasted with fellow ball kid Annette Loke’s reason for liking Maria Sharapova.
“I like her desire to win, and how she shouts and pumps herself up when she wins,” Annette revealed.
Pumped up is certainly an applicable term. With months of intense preparation behind them, the Singapore ball kids are as eager to play their part in the WTA Finals as the players themselves.
Lorenzo uniform fitting was part of the day's programme as the ball kids were inducted for the WTA Finals. Photo: Leandro Ngo/SportSG
After collecting their Lorenzo uniforms and WTA Finals accreditation passes during the induction, the ball kids were given a site tour of the Singapore Indoor Stadium, the location of the all-important Centre Court, where they familiarised themselves with the different positions from which they would be carrying out their role.
The ball kids programme, established by the Singapore Tennis Association (STA) in 2014 with assistance from Tennis Australia (TA), is well into its second year of nurturing ball kids and spurring on their love for tennis.
“We are much more alert and able to move faster and quicker,” Lily explained, when asked how much she and her fellow ball kids have improved over the past year.
“Being close to the [WTA] players, we can learn from them, and maybe in the future, aspire to be like them.
STA’s deputy general manager Wilson Tay expects the WTA Finals to be a “big eye opener” for the new ball kids, and he hopes for the experience to be a source of encouragement in terms of “fulfilling their dreams of being a professional tennis player”.
The road to becoming a ball kid for the WTA Finals has been an arduous but rewarding one for all the kids involved in the Ball Kids programme, established by the Singapore Tennis Association (STA) in 2014 with assistance from Tennis Australia (TA). Photo: Leandro Ngo/SportSG
According to chief ball kids trainer V.Thigarajah, many of the ball kids serving in the 2015 WTA Finals have also carried out similar duties for other major sporting events like the 28th SEA Games, where they were “graded as top ball kids by most of the players”.
“We’ve had exchange programmes with Australia this year, so I think this year we would be better prepared for the games and I’m confident that would translate to good performances on court,” said Wilson, on his expectations for this year’s group.
Similar to last year’s WTA Finals, the top two ball kids who carry out their duties well in this edition could earn a chance to serve at the next year’s Australian Open, so one can certainly expect agility, accuracy and good character from the group on court.
Ball kids being given their final briefing during the Ball Kids Induction on Wednesday, ahead of the WTA Finals this weekend. Photo: Leandro Ngo/SportSG