It’s Official: Ball Kids Love Stosur. Azarenka, Not So Much
STANFORD, California—Those little blue and red clad blurs that have been zooming around the Bank of the West Classic grounds all week know a good time when they see it. Turns out they also know good tennis.
18 year old Raymond Lee, a no-nonsense upwardly mobile high school student believes that his eyes don’t lie. “Stosur will win, because I saw her play,” he told me.
11 year-old Evan Tobin concurred. I caught him running the stairs outside Stadium court, and he was nice enough to share a few moments of his precious time with me. “I think Sam Stosur is gonna win, because when I was ballboying for her in the match, she was just amazing.”
11 year-old Drew Davison was also wowed by the phenom known to many simply as ‘Sam.’ “I want Sam Stosur to win because in my opinion she’s the best player in the tournament and I guess she deserves to.” I’m not sure what he meant by “I guess” but, being so lucky to have Drew grant me this exclusive interview, I declined to press him on the matter. “I ballkidded for her earlier today,” he said. “And her serve was pretty amazing.”
Hmmm. Considering the draw still features such tennis royalty as Maria Sharapova and Elena Dementieva, I must say I was surprised at all the support the kids were giving Stosur. Was she taking them out back and feeding them candies? Was it something that she said or the way she looked at them? Or, had she intimidated them so much with her ripped physique that they didn’t dare say anything bad about her for fear there would be repercussions?
It was hard to say, so I persisted further.
Then things started to get interesting. “I’m not giving my name,” said a 17-year-old who apparently had a story to tell. She had just come off a long shift, and while she was very happy with her job, she did have one complaint.
“Azarenka is very particular,” she said.
“How so,” I asked.
“She wants all the balls on one side, and if you don’t she yells at you.”
“Is she the only one,” I asked.
“Sharapova is picky too, but she is nice about it.”
Being that this wasn’t a WTA slander campaign, I wanted to know who the kids thought was the nicest. Turns out that Melanie Oudin is a real sweetheart.
“Oudin was really nice, and the qualifiers were really nice too,” said the hesitant ball kid. “And Bartoli was nice least year,” another chimed in.
“Sharapova was picky about which end she took it from, but she was nice.”
“Sharapova’s nice,” someone else chimed in. They all seemed to agree. Maria’s finicky, but nice. Azarenka though, is a different story.
Now they were really starting to open up. “I like Stosur because she doesn’t grunt,” said one.
“I like her t-shirt,” added another.
I had uncovered a lot in my hours of running with the ball kids, but there was still one thing that I needed to know.
“So all in all this was a good experience and you guys would be happy to do it next year?”
Chris Oddo is a freelance tennis writer and blogger who is based in San Francisco, California. He is a regular commenter at OTB under the moniker The Fan Child. You can follow his blog at http://thefanchild.blogspot.com.