Winston-Salem Open holds ball persons tryouts
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WINSTON-SALEM — The Winston-Salem Open is holding tryouts for ball persons. Applicants 13-years of age and older are competing for nearly 80 volunteer positions.
Many fans go to the tournament to see tennis pros, but behind the players is a team of ball persons who may not make the scoreboard, but keep the matches rolling.
"They're integral to the success of the tournament because they're dealing with the players at the most precious time: when they're on court competing," said tournament Director Bill Oakes.
This year, Michael Moerk is trying out for one of the openings. The job doesn't pay, but Moerk said he gets the best seat in the house; interacting with the circuit's top players.
"It's kind of nerve-wracking. But then as soon as you get in the mood and the players are doing the same thing that you are and you're just out there with a bunch of your friends, then you finally get to calm down," said Moerk.
Fellow candidate Kaylon Summers agrees the experience is worth more than a paycheck.
"When it comes down to you being on the court with an actual tennis pro and they're like looking at you to throw the ball at them, it's just overwhelming, "said Summers.
The job entails more than just picking up a ball. Candidates must be able move quickly, keep score of the games and be able to endure lengthy matches.
"You want to see, but you don't want to hear. You don't want to notice them. You just want them to kind of be in the background. To do that, they have to go through training and preparation. It's a lot of hard work and concentration, but it's a lot of fun," said Oakes.
The tryouts are open to the public and continue on Saturday from 10 a.m-12 p.m and 2 p.m.--4 p.m.