The news today about the changes in the criteria for U.S. Open ball persons to open the process up to more people reminded us of a neat activity during kids’ day at the French Open last month.
While a lot of the kids were out watching Rafael Nadal practice, or enjoying the afternoon entertainment inside Philippe-Chatrier, a lot of others were learning how to do another tennis job.
The tournament had a fairly creative idea: they had two French players play some practice sets on Court 4.
And they invited kids to come out and shadow a full complement of line umpires, who explained what to do, where to stand and how to stylishly bend, hands on knees, to guard their line.
If they accidentally sent one more on court than there were line umpires, no problem about the kid feeling left out. They just lifted him up into the umpire’s chair, and he got to call the score.
The line umpires were so cute and patient with the kids, who were getting right into it.
The ones who displayed the most aptitude got to “call” a match on one of the show courts at the end of the day.
(No, they didn’t have the players come up to them and challenge them to point out the right mark on the terre battue; wouldn’t want to scare them away on their first day!)
Here’s what it looked like.
Great tournament activity idea
All the tournaments should have something like this.
Most kids can never hope to play professional tennis. But as long as they have good eyesight, there’s nothing to prevent them from going the officials’ route.
And with the ability to watch just about any match anywhere on the planet these days, a lot of the chair umpires are becoming rock stars in their own right.
You see them being asked for autographs all the time, as they walk around the grounds at tournaments.
And while many fans might not recognize Zarina Diyas or Ana Bogdan, Albert Ramos or Marton Fucscovics on sight, there’s a good chance they’ll spot Mohamed Lahyani, Kader Nouni or the swinging pony tail of Eva Asderaki-Moore.