For a front-row seat at the U.S. Open, it’s hard to beat being a ball person. So Brooke Gubitosi, a recent Stony Brook University grad from Northport, is about as close to the action as one can get. On Saturday, Gubitosi worked the Madison Keys-Aleksandra Krunic noon match in Arthur Ashe Stadium, the tournament’s main show court.
“I just think it’s so cool to be around professional athletes,” she said.
She herself is an elite athlete, having been a two-time all-American lacrosse player at Stony Brook.
“I’m not a tennis player,” Gubitosi said. “I love tennis, to watch tennis. I come here every year with my dad, and my dad always made a joke about, ‘You should be a ball person.’ I saw a commercial or something on YouTube about a tryout.
“I tried out and made it. And here I am.”
There are 275 ball persons working the Open, but it could be that no one else among them was named because of an accidental meeting at the Open. It happened in 1995 when Gubitosi’s mother, Joanne, “was eight months pregnant with me,” she said, “and she actually met Brooke Shields walking around here.”
At the time, the actress Shields was dating perennial Open contender Andre Agassi — they later were briefly married — and Gubitosi’s mother liked the name.
Brooke Gubitosi studied health science and sociology at Stony Brook and intends to go into nursing. Her mother was a pediatric cardiology nurse and her father, Freddy, “is a technician who fixes the X-ray machines my mother would put patients in.”
As for her own personal Open tales during this rookie season as a ball person, Gubitosi said, “I got hit in the stomach with a serve.” It was struck by top American male John Isner, who so far has recorded the third fastest serve — 139 miles per hour — in this year’s tournament.
“I forgot to look at how fast that one was,” Gubitosi said. “I was just trying to pick up the ball.”
She said Isner gave her a little wave of apology. “I never get to really talk to the players,” she said. “I don’t introduce myself or anything. But they’re very polite. I’m learning the players’ names and faces and becoming a fan of everybody.
“But, and probably he’s everybody’s favorite, but probably my favorite is [Roger] Federer. He’s so cool.”