MELBOURNE, January 9, 2018
Former Australian Open champion Stan Wawrinka from Switzerland officially welcomed the Australian Open ballkids, fuelled by Vegemite, to Melbourne Park on Tuesday.
The three-time Grand Slam winner and Australian Open 2014 champion will join the 350 ballkids for the traditional team photo which signifies the beginning of the Grand Slam season.
The Australian Open ballkids, are aged between 12 and 15, and hail from around Australia and the world. There are 304 from Victoria, three fromQueensland, six from New South Wales, five from South Australia, two fromTasmania, two from Western Australia, 20 from Korea, six from China and two from France, all aged between 12 to 15 years of age.
Tennis is also a family affair at the Australian Open, with 21 sets of siblings, including four sets of twins in the squad this year.
Being an Australian Open ballkid is a highly sought after position, with thousands of applications received each year. Extensive trials were held throughout 2017 in Melbourne, regional Victoria and Sydney, with international trials staged at the China Open, Roland Garros and in Korea.
The final squad was selected in November and the team has had the chance to hone their skills at the Australian Wheelchair Tennis Nationals, Australian Open Play-off and December Showdown.
“After the players, the ballkids are the most visible members of the Australian Open team,” Australian Open Tournament Director Craig Tiley said.
“Our ballkids are renowned for being among the finest in the world and display incredible focus and skill as they work alongside the world’s best players. They’ve been through a rigorous training process and we know they are ready for what will be an amazing experience for them.
“Working as a tight-knit team they’ll make lots of new friends and their on-court experiences will create memories that last a lifetime.”