Evan Huang, 15, may not be a contender in this year's U.S. Open, but the high school sophomore from Dix Hills has been on the tennis court anyway with highest-ranked American player John Isner, French player Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and Italian hotshot Fabio Fognini.
Huang is one of 264 ball persons at the U.S. Open in Flushing this year, a position that offers a starting pay of $8.75 per hour. More than 50 percent of the ball persons at the Open are boys and girls between 14 -- the minimum age -- and 18, says Tina Taps, manager of the U.S. Open Ball Persons.
Their job: chase errant balls during matches. "If a ball goes out of play, they have to get it off the court and get play going again," Taps says. "It's a lot of pressure out there."
This is Huang's second Open, and he says he throws about 30 tennis balls a day. "It's rigorous, running through the heat," he says. "It's intense." He is inspired by the professional level play; Huang plays junior varsity tennis at Half Hollow Hills High School East.
In addition to being paid during the three weeks of the Open, the ball persons are given an official uniform that they can keep -- two shirts, two pairs of shorts, even socks, sneakers and a hat or visor.
Ball persons have to try out for the position. Tryouts are usually held in June; Taps suggests that prospective ball persons check USOpen.org in May for information.