Hi everyone seeing as the Ladies final has just finished and the Men's is tomorrow, I thought it would be nice to start an IAmA.

I was a ballboy for the 2012 and 2013 championships and have ballboyed for practically all of the top stars with insight into Wimbledon from the point of view of the "unsung" and many stories to tell.

Here's my proof

EDIT: Thanks for all your kind messages, I'm heading off to bed now however if you ask away I will answer them from bed until I fall asleep and then tomorrow morning (GMT). Peace and love.

Comments: 153 • Responses: 67  • Date: 

AcuteAppendagitis16 karma

Do they give you tickets for your family and friends? Additionally, do they provide the uniforms, and do you still throw it on occasionally and run about the house?

EstablishedDesigner27 karma

AELTC supplied every ballboy and girl with two free ground passes.

We were supplied with all the uniform for free which was great because it was easily over a grands worth of Ralph Lauren. Oh I wear it EVERYWHERE. The trackies are so comfy, the socks are so soft, the kit is all fitted so it's amazing, plus nobody else has them. I feel so fortunate.

darkbydesire16 karma

Any funny stories you'd like to share?

EstablishedDesigner67 karma

One in particular, I was on court 3 in 2012 for the Gentlemen's invitational. Fortunately Henri Leconte and Mansour Bahrami were playing and they were notorious crowd pleasers.

They were playing against Patrick McEnroe and someone else who escapes my mind but Leconte did a rather tragic unforced error and stropped off by throwing his racket on the floor. So I (as I was trained to do) ran over and picked it up for him.

He said "you play" and went to be the Ballboy and I got to play a couple points at Wimbledon in an exhilarating role-reversal. God the other ballboys hated me for it because I was stupidly lucky. Bahrami just told me to "play along" and we just had a great time. I missed every single shot but I had an amazing time, got a massive round of applause and did get Leconte's sweatband (which if you want proof it made a very good christmas present to my granddad who watched him during his prime).

mountainboy9658 karma

I think I may have seen this. Is there a video clip of this on youtube?

EstablishedDesigner13 karma

If it's a little white kid from 2013 that's not me however I did select him to go to Wimbledon, I went to his secondary school and due to my experience, was part of the team who chose which 1st year kids from my school made the preliminary rounds of trialling. I've searched for hours on end for that clip but unfortunately couldn't find it. I am on YouTube on a few other occasions though.

hwknd1 karma

Thank you thank you thank you !! For years I've been trying to look up 'that funny older tennis guy from some random non tennis country' I once saw playing doubles indoors against McEnroe. It is Mansour Bahrami. I'm going to have so much YouTube to watch now :).

I also think I remember seeing a ballboy get to play on the BBC. Could have been you. Congrats!

EstablishedDesigner2 karma

My pleasure hwknd!

SimB516 karma

Who were your tennis player crushes and was it hard to not be a gibbering wreck while working with them?

EstablishedDesigner26 karma

Serena Serena Serena Serena Serena Serena Serena Serena Serena Serena Serena Serena Serena Serena Serena Serena Serena Serena Serena Serena Serena Serena Serena Serena Serena Serena Serena Serena Serena Serena Serena Serena Serena Serena Serena Serena Serena Serena Serena Serena Serena Serena Serena Serena Serena Serena Serena Serena Serena Serena Serena Serena Serena Serena Serena Serena Serena Serena Serena Serena Serena Serena Serena Serena Serena Serena Serena Serena Serena Serena Serena Serena Serena Serena Serena Serena Serena Serena Serena Serena Serena Serena Serena Serena Serena Serena Serena Serena Serena Serena

yeah i'm in love with Serena Williams...

datlibra174 karma

How do you feel about Serena Williams though?

EstablishedDesigner23 karma

She will be my wife.

Serious note though: all the animosity is so undeserved, she is very strongly built yes but she is not manly, up close and in real life she's remarkably attractive and people can't see that. I read a terribly written article a couple days ago in the Daily Mail about the tension between her and Maria Sharapova and they said and I quote:

Williams, 33, is the more physically powerful, with a ferocious temper and the mindset of a battling champion. However, she cannot compete with Sharapova’s media-friendly combination of blonde Siberian beauty and sponsor-friendly image control — which has meant Sharapova, 28, has waltzed away with a fortune of £125 million and counting.

Like you need to be blonde and Serbian to be beautiful. Just shows the childish behaviour of her haters. She's a tremendous athlete, one of the best in our generation and of all time in the game, an inspiration for young girls & boys, and one hell of a lady.

Plus dat ass phat.

andon941 karma

I wish she was Serbian. Maybe then I would have some interest in tennis...

americanpsy1 karma

Got to love the daily mail! Doing us Brits proud!

EstablishedDesigner1 karma

They make me proud to be a Brit...

Leslie21715 karma

which player is the nicest player you have met?

and what embarrassing thing you have witnessed in your career?

EstablishedDesigner49 karma

Easily King Roger. Just a homely down to earth man.

Funny story:

I was the bagboy for the men's final in 2012 meaning I took of the racket Federer won Wimbledon with and Murray's bag. I handed the racket back to him and this conversation ensued:

"Congratulations on your victory Mr. Federer"

"Thanks man, sounds cliché but each one really is as good as the last"

"What do you reckon you'll do now Mr. Federer?"

"Ah probably just enjoy tonight with my wife."

So he was that kind of guy, just a true gentleman. Plus he was a ballboy years ago for some other tournament so he appreciates the trials and tribulations we go through and is really sympathetic.

Leslie2179 karma

so can you show your support to a player during the match?

for example cheering or act exciting to some plays etc?

EstablishedDesigner30 karma

Oh hell to the damn no. Any interference would result in our immediate dismissal. It was tough though, I'd seen so many moments in which I wanted to give out a little yelp of excitement but just look at us, we're trained to be robots. No emotions allowed :(

Leslie21714 karma

omg that is so hard

for example i jump off my bed when i watched a play from Federer vs Murray, i cant imagine i need to pretend i saw nothing if i see a big play

EstablishedDesigner17 karma

It hurts man...

Mecha_Engineer14 karma

How did you become a ballboy at Wimbledon?

EstablishedDesigner25 karma

Hi Mecha_Engineer,

Becoming a ballboy was a long and arduous process. The AELTC choose the ballboys and girls from local schools and a few thousand originally apply. This gets instantly cut to around 700.

I went through months of online tests, written tests, theory, etiquette and physical testing until around two weeks before the tournament, I received an email saying whether I was in or not.

This all started in around October and every week, more and more got cut. Very worth it in the end.

RamenPood1es10 karma

Did you have to go through the whole process again for 2013?

EstablishedDesigner20 karma

Being a recall was very easy, it was literally 2 training sessions because the AELTC were very aware that recalls were older and had more important exams around that time. Plus we had the experience so all the theory etc. wasn't required.

RamenPood1es6 karma

Thanks for answering!

EstablishedDesigner14 karma

My pleasure RamenPood1es.

bleke_16 karma

What kind of theory did you learn?

EstablishedDesigner15 karma

Oh certain game situations like the many hidden things inside the tiebreaker, the ball-change (which is hardly ever shown on TV which is a shame because the hours of practice is a shame), suspended play (which is a bitch, court-coverers actually try to trap ballkids because they're twisted fucks), the warm up, the list continues.

kazuri856 karma

What is 'the ball-change'?

EstablishedDesigner10 karma

Okay so this men's final keep a tally of the total number of games played. Once 7 total games have been played the umpire will call "new balls please". Then after the next 9 games, then another 9, and so on and so forth. The balls get swapped out for new ones as the players do so much hell to them.

The reason it's 7 only for the first time is because the warm up counts for 2 games, therefore it's technically every nine.

kazuri855 karma

Why does that take hours of practice?

EstablishedDesigner10 karma

It's a lot more difficult than you think. Like mastering how to cook rice, seems very simple but you need hours of practice to get it right. Ballkids have to judge 4/5 things at a time, and of such importance to some very important people. It's stressful especially as noise is prohibited.

Pikkususi12 karma

What you should never do as a ballboy?

EstablishedDesigner35 karma

Call "OUT".

SteamSpoon12 karma

What do you think of the recent incident with Djokovic and the court staff?

EstablishedDesigner24 karma

If you're referring to the him shouting in the direction of the ballgirl I feel so sympathetic to her. He was in the zone and it was handled very well. I know loads of guys who are still ballboys and they told me she got to meet up with him and got some signed memorabilia as well... lucky son-of-a-bitch...

pherring11 karma

What was a typical day like? What did you eat for lunch? Did you have a favorite position when you were working?

EstablishedDesigner23 karma

Wake up at 6am

Travel to the pick up point for 8am (always arrive early for some early morning banter and to spot the milf that always walked her kids to school past the pick up point, appropriately dubbed the UltiMILF)

Picked up and dropped off at Wimbledon for 8.45am

Breakfast and debrief

On court for an hour, an hour rest as the other half takes over

During your rest, eat as much food, throw banter, and shower (strawberries and cream a plenty)

This lasted until around 6-7.30pm when it gets dark and visibility an issue

Centre court finishes 11pm latest (if you're on centre you get driven home fortunately #GoodGuyWimbledon)

If not, coach back to pick us up for 8.30pm

Back at drop off for 10pm because holy traffic of roadworks

Then journey back home, sleep at 12pm because we checked social media for pictures of us for us to share on multiple ballkid group chats

Rinse and repeat for 2 weeks and you have yourself a Wimbledon.

As far as positions go, I trained to be a "Right Centre", Centres are by the net and bases on each end of the court. Everyone can fill in anywhere but I trained as a Centre, preferably right as that's where the higher ranked players sit. Everything is in relation to the umpire's chair.

mountainboy9659 karma

Haha, the UltiMILF.

Sounds like a grueling two weeks, but probably totally worth it.

EstablishedDesigner11 karma

Oh I wouldn't have it any other way. Was simply a magnificent experience and I feel truly honoured to be part of such an amazing history, honestly I'm so grateful.

Gamer8801 karma

Did you get paid or any reward?

EstablishedDesigner2 karma

I got paid for the whole two weeks plus I have a look at this.

theseyeahthese11 karma

Did you or other ballboys/girls have any embarrassing moments? With a stage like Wimbeldon and the frantic scurrying that ballboys need to do, it looks like it'd be inevitable.

EstablishedDesigner24 karma

Loads of slips that I styled out however on court 16 I tried to run across the net and got the worst cramp ever. I whelped so load and fell to the ground. I told myself I wasn't getting stretchered off out of the fear I'd become some internet meme. Fortunately the ballboy change over was soon so I lasted the remaining 10 minutes.

God it was bad... some people laughed, some winced, I remember turning to look at the player apologetically and she was fuming.

UntrustworthyBadger3 karma

who was the player?

EstablishedDesigner2 karma

Some unranked guy, didn't know his name then, sure as hell don't know it now.

Dat_one_italian11 karma

How much (roughly) did you make a year?

EstablishedDesigner19 karma

We got very little in the grand scheme of things. For the months of training we endured, we didn't get paid, but only for the two weeks.

The payment was a "courtesy" and was in the area of £250-£280 depending on whether you got released on the 2nd Thursday or lasted the whole two weeks.

kazuri8510 karma

To be fair this is the ball-peoples fault. They clearly want incredibly skilled people based on the process you described to be selected. So if enough of you refused to work, they would either have to pay you more or greatly lower their standards.

EstablishedDesigner14 karma

Looks like we've found the liberal anarchist, we need more people like you to stand up for us :'(

IlluminatiSpy1 karma

I did design sort of a de-mining robot. I suppose that could be used to scoop up the balls. Although, something designed to hold in the blast of 6-8 cluster bombs might not be 100% safe to be zipping around people, running on grass, or low density baked clay surfaces.

Think of a sort of cross between a battle bot, and a very all terrain roomba. :D

EstablishedDesigner3 karma

Well give the AELTC a ring, you may put all my ballkids friends out of a job ;)

oniony5 karma

Sounds like it's more of an experience and less of a job.

EstablishedDesigner3 karma

I truly was one, I had a fantastic time, I wish it could be my job!

IlluminatiSpy2 karma

Without making people too nuts over ITAR, even though its a de-mining robot, think more something like this, but with rubber/composite diggers/grabbers www.vernoncomputersource.com/sites/default/files/images/Erins/cool diggerbot.jpg

And only about 80ish kilos, as they are by nature expandable, and are made to blow up, be blown up by de-mining charges inside the ball hopper/inverted blast cone thing.

vs the classic ball bot.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sh43JLKyTz8

or this duo

https://youtu.be/4PcL6-mjRNk

That's probably enough to get a few people screaming OPSEC OPSEC! The Sky is Falling! The Chinamen will copy out designs and sell then CHEAPER to third world nations! All is ANARCHY! We're doomed! Doomed!

Forgetting of course, that the de-mining robots are going to be used in conflict, and former conflict zones, and likely, gutted for parts, and thrown on a pile when done. Making reverse engineering kind of easy anyway. ;P

Probably less hassle to use some larval engineers ball bots. ;)

EstablishedDesigner3 karma

I reckon I'm just a tad quicker ;)

SMLSML10 karma

Are the women pretentious assholes ?

EstablishedDesigner32 karma

Not all of them, the more pretentious women tend to be the lower ranked ones with an inferiority complex. However I remember having a pretty bad time with Sharapova.

itsthebrownbear13 karma

What happened with her?

EstablishedDesigner16 karma

Oh she's just very superstitious and generally very ignorant. She has things done her way which is rather exorbitant otherwise she refuses to cooperate at all. Loads of players are like that but you know, that was one example.

[deleted]0 karma

[deleted]

EstablishedDesigner2 karma

Here's something I said earlier that might help

She is also quite self-centred and not easy to cooperate with.

SMLSML10 karma

Is there as much narcissism as what's written about the top women players ?

EstablishedDesigner27 karma

Not necessarily, there is a lot of superstition and that gets very annoying, and of course there are the occasional "do what I say because I'm better than you", but nothing worth crying about. You learn to ignore it.

Players like Serena and Wozniacki are lovely kind people who don't care about the 'looking good' and just play.

I liked that.

Killoah10 karma

Ever touch Andys balls?

EstablishedDesigner20 karma

Yes... :(

Killoah4 karma

If Dave haden't taken all my money I'd give you gold.

Fuckin' Dave.

EstablishedDesigner10 karma

Ahh fuck you Dave...

usaywat10 karma

What were some of the most important rules of being a ballboy?

EstablishedDesigner23 karma

Believe it or not the most important thing is our safety. So if you notice, during the warm-up, when the umpire says "2 minutes", the ballboys at the bases move to the corners to avoid getting struck by the serves. We never catch the balls that fly at ridiculous speeds etc etc.

Other than that it's about being neither seen nor heard. We aren't what the people pay to come and watch so make it as easy as possible for their money to be well spent.

And of course, player satisfaction is very key.

Stra2caster8 karma

Do you have to wear clothes or shoes endorsing sport's companies? Also, what kind of shoes do you wear?

EstablishedDesigner19 karma

The whole kit was Ralph Lauren, the shoes were Babolat Wimbledon editions and we could only be seen drinking Evian water. Was a nice life to be honest.

absolutemint8 karma

What's the thing you hated most about being a ballboy?

EstablishedDesigner19 karma

The superstitious players and their whole "it's my way or the highway" "I'm better than you" mentality. I'm sure they worked tremendously hard to get to that level but it doesn't mean they can just become dicks. Really didn't like that.

soapmactavish6 karma

What is an example of a particularly strange superstition?

EstablishedDesigner14 karma

Oh for example some players like Nadal have to dab himself with a towel after every point even if it's not required. Some players like Sharapova will only take the ball from one particular corner which means having to alter the whole style of ballboying, making it very difficult for that side as one kid may find himself juggling 6 balls in one hand. Some players like to see every single ball before hitting them all back before every point which makes the game long and tedious. Some players won't have their drinks bottles opened, or their new rackets opened etc etc.

Chizep1 karma

Some players like to see every single ball before hitting them all back before every point which makes the game long and tedious.

I've always wondered about that. Like can they really assess them that quickly?

EstablishedDesigner2 karma

I guess when it's your job you grow accustomed to these things and it's practically second nature.

absolutemint3 karma

thank you for answering!

EstablishedDesigner5 karma

Thank you for asking absolutemint!

NoMoMoneyNoMoHoney7 karma

Who's the funniest tennis player you've seen play?

EstablishedDesigner15 karma

Mansour Bahrami, the man was in a world of his own. I want him to be my grandfather.

Impal0r7 karma

Did you ever tip Roger Federer's fedora?

EstablishedDesigner17 karma

Word has it his fedora was forged from the gold from all his trophies by Zeus himself.

Impal0r9 karma

Joke aside, did you ever have a major interaction with him? He seems like a pretty cool guy.

EstablishedDesigner11 karma

I did in fact, I answered a very similar question earlier on and I think that has what you're looking for so here it is.

RobustTitan7 karma

Did they instruct you on what to do if you feel the urge to use the bathroom during your on time?

EstablishedDesigner9 karma

When teams are called up to go to court everyone uses the toilet beforehand so that hardly ever happens. We weren't trained for that possibility however I would love to see it happen.

HockeyHenry145 karma

Looking back, what do you miss the most about your time as a ballkid?

EstablishedDesigner17 karma

Ahh just the idea of waking up and thinking I could meet any of the best tennis players in the world today.

Yeah that was a nice feeling.

bleke_14 karma

Only seeing the umpire and line umpire on TV, they seem so strict and humorless, how were they outside of the court, and did you sosialize with them? And is there really like a strict hiearchy in the world of tennis, not only from the players but others as well?

EstablishedDesigner17 karma

Line judges are typically very boring as they are constantly tense and under testing. Umpires are the coolest guys. The have a switch on the side of their chairs which turns the mic on/off, and after every point they'll check on us, chat all kinds of foolishness or just start a fully blown conversation. They're cool guys.

Ch4osCosmo1 karma

I thought you weren't allowed to speak during the game? Also, I must admit I appreciate your vocabulary.

How old where you when you were a ball boy?

EstablishedDesigner4 karma

We weren't, but what's life without a tad of mischief? ;)

I was 15 and 16 in 2012 and 2013 respectively. Thanks for the compliment however, how kind of you :)

dunemafia4 karma

Did you meet any other celebrity, besides the tennis stars, during your time?

EstablishedDesigner8 karma

We didn't get to meet any celebrities but I did see LOADS of them, they were everywhere.

scruggs924 karma

Do you play junior tennis? ITF tournaments?

EstablishedDesigner13 karma

No I didn't in fact. I play tennis in my spare time but never competitively. You just need an appreciation for the game and a willingness to learn.

tarab0833 karma

How frequently did players make testicle jokes at your expense?

EstablishedDesigner25 karma

Players didn't but I got it all the time from friends...

family...

redditors...

TheDinoroar3 karma

Did you have any specific reason for becoming a ballboy, or was it just out of interest and curiosity you became one?

EstablishedDesigner11 karma

Sheer love for the game, plus I thought I'd never get the opportunity to do this again so why not?

astroman99953 karma

Best match you witnessed?

EstablishedDesigner8 karma

The 2012 quarters between Andy Murray and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga. The sheer power of Tsonga coupled with the technicality of Murray was too much to handle. Closest I came to standing up and applauding.

ElementalMagic3 karma

Did you ever get hit by one of those thousand mph balls?

EstablishedDesigner11 karma

Nope but I did manage to go against the rules and catch a 122mph serve by Cilic. I felt like the man and the crowd applauded. Felt fantastic.

ElementalMagic1 karma

Nice :D

Enjoy the rest of the day of Wimbledon.

Djokovic currently up 2 sets to 1.

EstablishedDesigner2 karma

Twas a good final! However I would've loved Roger Federer to have got the result. Both men are lovely and great men and I'm truly happy either way.

Bandeya3 karma

How is it decided who gets to be the ballboy for the final(or Center Court) and who gets stuck at Court 17? Is it random or performance based? Did you do Center court ever?

EstablishedDesigner10 karma

Great question Bandeya. Teams are ranked from A to Z, A being the best and Z the worst. The higher teams did the show courts. We were constantly being watched and evaluated, and if a team did well they'd move up, and vice versa. I started off in team Q but by the first Friday I was in team B where I stayed. So I did do Centre Court as well as every other court at Wimbledon. It's a very good and fair system that encourages maintained performance and motivation.

Fun fact, there are 19 courts at Wimbledon and the worst one is Court 11, dubbed the 'Graveyard' because of the lack of spectators. If you're team Z, you better get used to 11 Gang.

mat200683 karma

have you ever done some sweet catches of any balls coming your way?

EstablishedDesigner7 karma

One time on court 2 I caught a 122mph serve and the crowd applauded. One time on court 3 I caught a high bouncing ball my running and leaping with athleticism that would make Vince Carter jealous. People didn't applaud but I did hear one guy whisper "good catch" to me from the crowd. That was nice.

mat200681 karma

are there any videos? Cos that would be sick

EstablishedDesigner4 karma

Unfortunately not, you'd be surprised at the amount of amazing stuff that ballboys and girls do day in day out, it's just not documented. Typically it's the fails that get filmed because they're more rare.

Mercpool872 karma

Which of the female players have you seen has the best ass (excluding Serena because bias?

Just asking for a friend.

EstablishedDesigner9 karma

Eugenie Bouchard... Tell your "friend" I said "you're welcome".

Mercpool872 karma

I He was concerned it was a dude at first, but was pleasantly erotically surprised that she is gorgeous as hell. Thanks!

EstablishedDesigner2 karma

My pleasure friend.

sourcex2 karma

How many times have you bumped into each other while practising?

EstablishedDesigner5 karma

I never did in fact, we are quite spaced apart so we don't have to worry about bodily contact. It's an isolated and lonely job...

thezaynthe1 karma

what did you get paid?

EstablishedDesigner2 karma

Just over £280.

KnowledgeGrabber1 karma

What is the minimum number of steps to successfully jump over the net?

EstablishedDesigner2 karma

Is that a trick question?

KnowledgeGrabber2 karma

When players jump over the net, do they usually get a full running start or just take a couple of steps from up close?

EstablishedDesigner1 karma

Oh just a couple, they're all tremendous athletes.

bigheadtoddisamonste1 karma

did the grunting turn you on?

EstablishedDesigner2 karma

Hell to the damn no, you try standing whilst listening to Schiavone grunt and let me know if that turns you on.

elroy_jetson1 karma

i visited wimbledon once and was impressed with how well behaved the entire crowd was. it was nothing like an aussie football match. is this always the case? what are some of the best/worst things you saw from the crowd?

ps: you're an impressive young man mate, thanks for the AMA, really enjoyed reading your responses.

EstablishedDesigner3 karma

On the ground courts, past around 6pm all the tipsy lot who had a tad too much to drink wander out into the stands and that's when all the fun begins.

I was on Court 7 when a drunkard waving a lager in his hand whispers "Pssst ball boy, yeah the black one standing next to the player", I maintained a straight face.

"This player is loaded, she doesn't need all that gear, I need a memento, chuck me a racket!", I maintained a straight face.

"Ah yeah you're right, a bit much isn't it? How about a towel? Yeahhh a towel would be great, give me a towel. Hey, hey, hey a towel, come on man" bellowed this man. I maintained a straight face.

This continued for a good minute and a bit until stewards escorted him away. God that was hilarious.

And thank you for the compliment! Really nice of you, I truly appreciate it :)

ablack012-1 karma

Is it cold in the uk?

EstablishedDesigner2 karma

Well my friend that depends on multiple factors: time of day, time of year, longitude, latitude, altitude, whether you're indoors or outdoors, whether the indoors has A/C, whether your upbringing was in a warm climate therefore it's always relatively cold, you get the jist.