Sam Weissman and Kyle Meyers, two members of the Plainview-Old Bethpage John F. Kennedy High School varsity tennis team, got the opportunity of a lifetime earlier this month when they served as ball boys for the U.S. Open in Flushing.
“I’ve known about the opportunity for a while,” said Weissman, a senior. “Each year, I considered it with my parents. After I applied, I came in for a tryout. I was one of 150 chosen out of more than 500 that tried out.”
“They took us in groups of seven and put us out on the courts to see how fast we were,” said Meyers, a sophomore. “We had to practice our rolling of the ball to see how accurate we were. When I got the email that I got in, I couldn’t believe it. I was dreaming of this moment my whole life. To me, it was not even real.”
The role of the ball person is to assist in the flow of the match, from retrieving the ball that is out of play to something as simple as holding an umbrella for the player during breaks. A day in the life consisted of two ball people being assigned to one court and working every other match throughout the day.
“It was really cool for each one,” said Weissman. “Whether it was junior girls, junior boys, handicap or the men’s, and women’s, singles and doubles, to be on the court with them was a different view with how fast they hit. I worked a match with [Borna] Coric, who was ranked 12th in the world.”
The two boys had the chance to work with lots of major players. For Meyers, he got to work with Stan Wawrinka, U.S. Open runner-up Danill Medvedev and the doubles team of Coco Gauff and Catherine McNally. Weissman actually went to the men’s final, as he was one of the flag bearers during the final ceremony.
“We stood there for a half hour and we had to keep the flag on our feet, so my foot couldn’t feel anything after a while,” said Weissman. “But I sat there taking it in and realized how cool it was.”
For both athletes, it was a chance to see the professional players they watched all their lives up close and it definitely gave them a new respect for the players for what they do.
“I thought that these players practiced a lot but now I believe these players are talented athletes from the moment they are born,” said Meyers. “It was just incredible to see them.”