IANS

More than 100 vie for dream trip to Australian Open as Kia ball kids

New Delhi, Nov 24 (IANS) Hoping to be selected as ball kids for the 2019 Australian Open, around 100 young tennis fans from across the country underwent a rigorous audition process under the watchful eyes of legendary doubles player and the current non-playing captain of the Indian Davis Cup team, Mahesh Bhupathi, at the R.K.Khanna Stadium here on Saturday.

The kids, all aged between 12-15, completed the drills supervised by two Australian Open officials, showcasing their agility and speed on the court.

They demonstrated their ball collecting and ball rolling skills as well as the temperament to be smart and courteous as they will have to take care of the players during the breaks.

Bhupathi believes such exposures are a “baby step” towards creating a tennis culture in the country.

“It’s a baby step, this year we have around 500 kids…next year we will probably have a thousand kids, so it gives that boost and interest for kids to be able to get that opportunity not only to Melbourne but standing on the court with some of the greatest players of the sport,” Bhupathi told reporters at the start of the audition for the Kia India Australian Open Ballkids programme.

“That is something regardless of how much money you have and how many contacts you have, you can’t buy,” he added.

Bhupathi encouraged the kids to give it their best and felt that initiatives like this will help in promoting tennis in the country.

The 10 selected kids will be revealed at a press conference next month.

The initiative was launched on November 10 and saw as many as 1,800 kids from the four metros enrol and take a shot at this dream assignment. All the expenses of their trip will be borne by KIA Motors.

–IANS
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