Tennis: Alex Targett 'Barclays Ball Kid 2014 Review'

Alex Targett

I travelled up to the O2 on Saturday 8th of November where I met the rest of the ball kid team.

We had already spent a week at base camp where we all got to know each other and do all the fundamental training for ball kid preparation.

When I arrived at the O2 I was given all my kit for the week. The sponsor was Erke and all kit was a blue colour and consisted of shirts, shorts, tracksuit, jumper, hat, sweatbands, shoes and even socks, so it was fair to say I was geared for the week. I took my first look at the O2 stadium that evening. We all walked out of the tunnel and viewed the arena from courtside. It seemed absolutely massive. The waves of vibrant blue seats ascended almost out of view and the lights shining down were almost blinding. However this spectacular view made me feel almost less nervous and just so excited to get onto court the next day.

The first night at the hotel we stayed in was enjoyable and I woke up to have a full English and filling breakfast. We arrived at the O2 and the crowds started flooding in. It suddenly became slightly daunting, realising that we would be on view all the time by thousands of people and on court with some of the greatest players of all time. The first match was definitely the hardest. I was on court for Murray vs Nishikori. When I came on Murray was down and this made the spectators only louder as they tried to inspire the frustrated Scot. In the end Murray lost the match, but the ball kids had made a great start to the tournament and set high standards for the rest of the week.

As the week went on it became much easier and less nerve-racking as day by day I seemed to just forget about the audience and even the players and just focus 100% on the job I needed to do. However it did become much more physically difficult as the constant late nights and long days took their toll on my body.

On day five I was due to be starting Federer and Nishikori's match. This was definitely the most enjoyable match of the tournament for me because the atmosphere was fantastic. I was on court when Federer walked into the arena and the noise made was so phenomenal it made the hairs on the back of my neck stand up and sent a shiver down my spine. It was almost surreal how the man I had watched my whole life, the greatest tennis player ever, winner of 17 grand slams, sitting directly in front of me asking for a water…

The past week was a fantastic week and one which I will remember and treasure for the rest of my life. I made some great friends, learnt so many new skills and got to spend 8 days at the Barclays ATP world finals.