The temperature was around 100 degrees when I first stepped onto the court at the U.S. Open ballperson tryouts at the U.S. Tennis Center in Flushing in June. The minute I walked into the complex, I was in awe of how impressive the National Tennis Center was.
Standing in the shadows of Arthur Ashe Stadium, I took my first steps toward becoming a U.S. Open ballperson. To be honest, my first glimpse of the iconic stadium was overwhelming and the thought of stepping onto a court where famous tennis legends have played was equally intimidating. Despite being nervous, I took to the court and eagerly awaited my turn.
The three drills that I participated in were supposed to test my speed, catching ability and, most of all, my throwing arm. First, I had to scoop up the tennis balls quickly after they were hit into the net and throw them to one of the two assistants positioned at the end of the court. This part was probably the easiest out of three, but still was extremely tiring. Afterward, a ball was thrown toward the center of one side of the court and it was my job to scoop this ball, run it over to one of the assistants at the end of the court, and run back to my position. The last of these drills was to throw three tennis balls from one end of the court to the other, trying to make it to the assistant on one bounce. Additionally, I had to catch throws from the other assistants in return.
While throwing the distance wasn't a real problem for me, I did find that accuracy was a pretty difficult part of the drill. Even some of the seasoned veterans were having trouble hitting their targets, some of them even clearing the fence. All the participants showed a lot of effort throughout the day, and never once complained about the blistering heat.
I knew going in that, although my tryout was for the media only, there could be more than 400 contestants like me arriving a few hours later to test their skills just as I had done. I was amazed at how many people were eager to participate and even earn a spot as a ballperson for the event. As I was leaving, I saw the line of hopeful future ballpeople begin to form.
Looking back on my tryout, I think I did pretty well on the running and catching exercises they put me through, but I thought the accuracy of my long throws needed work.
In all, for my first time out, I thought I was pretty successful. My evaluator thought so too, saying I did very well for a first-time participant. Hearing this news made my day. Although the U.S. Open ballperson tryouts left me out of breath, it was an experience I will never forget.
Although I later learned that I did not make it in this year's tryout, I will definitely be back next year!