Given the chief aim of a Wimbledon Ball Boy and Girl is to blend into the court and not be noticed, you can't help but notice how blooming incredible they are!
The tradition at Wimbledon started in the 1920s, when young boys would be recruited to assist matches from Shaftesbury Homes, institutions that trained the kids for a life in the Royal Navy. Then, from 1946, Barnardo’s (a school for orphaned and impoverished children) provided volunteers for 20 years, giving them work experience that would help them later on in life.
Peter Knight, a post-war ball boy told your.co.uk “I was a ball boy just after the War. The best thing about being a Wimbledon ball boy was meeting the tennis stars and eating strawberries and cream. We also sometimes sold pictures of the tennis stars for 3 shillings!"
The process starts as early as January when roughly 700 pupils, aged 14 to 18, send in their applications to become BBGs of which 250 are eventually chosen. These pupils are from a number of schools that work with Wimbledon from South West London and Surrey.
First of all candidates need to pass a series of written tests on the rules of tennis including foot faults, scoring and much more! It is crucial that the candidates know the subtleties of tennis in great detail if they want to see themselves walk onto the SW19 grass!
Once candidates pass the written test they begin the gruelling physical training stage! This includes showing coordination, throwing ability and even the ability to stand still, all with the aim to find the best of the best. At this stage those who begin to fall behind are dropped from the process. “We don’t lose them for the sake of it, but we lose them if they don’t meet the standard,” Sarah Goldson, a PE teacher who heads up the training, told the Press Association.
Once the select few put on their bright white shoes and step onto the famous grass, it's GAME ON! It has been well documented that a number of players have rather specific requests for their BBG's on court..."We do have a list of who does what on court, but sometimes those things change and we expect the BBGs to adapt to that,” Goldson told the Telegraph last year.
"Dustin Brown, for example, is known to ask for the same ball back if he has won a point with it. While Rafa Nadal presents a variety of unique challenges – including once handing a wrapper from an energy bar to a ball boy to place in a nearby bin instead of doing it himself."
So just like so many athletes who find themselves counting the seconds until 2021, the Wimbledon BBGs will be back more eager than ever!