The U.S. Open is the most highly attended annual sporting event in the world with more than 700,000 fans packing the grounds in Queens to watch the greatest players in the world ... and the greatest ball persons in the world.
Every year the USTA hosts an open tryout for ball persons. With the exception of a minimum age requirement of 14, there are no restrictions. Men and women, young and old, tennis players and non-tennis players come to Flushing to vie a spot on the court. Of the roughly 400 that tryout, only 80 are selected.
Before this year's tryout in late June, the USTA gave the media an opportunity to go through the same process. Although we didn't have the stress of failure weighing on us, there was the potential of embarrassment in front of fellow journalists gathered at the Grandstand, which hosted its final official U.S. Open match in 2015.
From the point of view of a GoPro strapped to my head, this is what it looks like to be a U.S. Open ball person.
To explain the four drills in the video:
1. When at the net position and a ball remain close to the net, ball persons are instructed to grab the ball and stay at the net position, exiting the court to the nearest side.
2. When at the net position and a ball is moving past the service line, ball persons are instructed to pick up the ball and move to the base position.
3. At the base position, ball persons need to transport balls to the opposite base position by throwing a ball down the line on one bounce.
4. In extreme circumstances, ball persons may have to throw balls across court to the diagonal base position.
If the GoPro video is making your head spin, here is the tryout in Periscope form:
— Jeffrey Eisenband (@JeffEisenband) June 23, 2016
Follow Jeffrey Eisenband on Twitter @JeffEisenband.