Each time the ball rolled out of reach, all the players had to do was look back, just for half a second, and there they had it at their service.
The fancy abbreviation, BBG, or ball boys and girls of Wimbledon are those brisk and bouncy teens who run about from one side to the corner across, in a matter of split seconds, just so the game can cruise along.
With dozens of cameras flashing continuously, a massive and sometimes intimidating crowd with public figures like Bjorn Borg and Borris Tadic watching the game, the high afternoon temperatures as well as incessant zooming of the balls flying from one side of the court to the other, the BBG’s work in the middle of all of this with momentum and composure.
The prospects must first complete an online registration form, which is available at the official Wimbledon website. After the registration, the applicants gain access to a ‘pre-training’ program, which is essential to proceed to the next part of the procedure. There are no specifics as to who can apply but only those who are recommended by the heads of their schools will be selected, thus making this process even more stringent.
Anne Rundle, who has been in this program for over 25 years, directs the training. The weekly training sessions take place from February all the way till June and last from 2- 2.5 hours. There are equal number of boys and girls taken in the program. The training includes circuits, ball skills which consist of rolling, controlling, receiving, knowledge of game, scores and set pieces. The trainees learn marching, the start and end of game, about the tie break, ball changes, when the play has been suspended as well as which side the balls are supposed to be at.
For this year’s Wimbledon, there were 1000 kids who applied, out of which only 250 are chosen. According to Rundle, there are some kids who complete the training perfectly but when its actual game day, they start getting cold feet and forget what the training was all about.
But it’s not all smooth all the time. In one match, there was a ball boy who got a heat stroke. In 2009, the match between Tommy Haas and Michael Llodra, the latter player collided with a ball girl and retired hurt.
According to the bold and brave BBG’s, it s rewarding experience for them as they not only are a part of so-called historic games but they also get meet new people and above all, assist their idols.
Even though Wimbledon is well over, these are the heroes that tire themselves and where the audience, the referee, the coaches and even the skies catch fame for moments on the camera, the BBG’s are all about diverting focus off of themselves. They are even unstructured to do their job well and to ‘avoid getting the camera’s attention’.