The All England Club had recently saw their bid to replace ball boys and girls with trained dogs at Wimbledon rejected as the canines refused to return the balls back. As per a report in an English Daily, a push was made by a local tennis club to train the dogs to fetch balls and return them. However, the dogs refused to return the balls and were required to offer them treats to get the ball back.
Thus, the decision was taken which addressed that the dogs are not an ideal replacement for the ball boys and girls. Martin Schiller, the coordinator of the Wilton Tennis Club in Wilton Grove, London talked about how the dogs were excellent at fetching the ball quickly but weren’t great at returning them.
“Our players did find themselves in a game of tug-of-war,” club coordinator Martin Schiller stated. He then said, “We had a stash of treats on the sidelines to offer up as a bit of encouragement which certainly did the trick.”
The job of being one of the ball boys and ball girls is very prestigious as every year around 1,000 teens apply to work at the tournament. Around 1/4th of the applicants are chosen to take part. Ball boys have been part of the tournament since the 1920s but girls were only included in 1977.
At heart, I’m always gonna be a ball boy: Roger Federer
Throughout the history of the sport, being a ball boy or ball girl has been a rite of passage for rising tennis players in their careers. This group of players also includes one of the greatest tennis players in history, Roger Federer, who has called the experience of being a ball boy as a great memory.
“I kinda remember it, of course, you know, I did it for two years. It’s a great memory for me,” Federer said in an interview with Tennis TV. “I loved being a ball boy here. I was able to see the best players in the world first-hand, and see how they would prepare, and how they would sweat, and how did they deal with the pressure.”
“I still get them today actually from the ball girls and ball boys. And I have pizza with them at the end of the tournament. They also give me a medal,” he said. “I guess it means I’m still a ball boy, too, because at heart I’m always gonna be a ball boy.”