TEENAGE tennis fan Olivia Crowhurst had a ball sharing the court with the likes of Rafael Nadal at one of the showcase events of the season.
The 16-year-old from St Leonards worked as a ballgirl at the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals at the O2 arena in London appearing in front of almost 20,000 every day.
And one of the highlights was working the court for world number one Nadal and handing him his towel during points.
Olivia was one of 30 chosen from a field of thousands who entered the Barclays Ball Kids competition.
She had to attend a tough 90 minute trial assessing agility, co-ordination, ball skills, balance, speed, endurance, concentration and teamwork.
Entrants needed to understand the rules of tennis, have good coordination, be fit, and be able to work as part of a team.
Once selected as part of the Barclays Ball Kids squad, Olivia took part in a training day, followed by an intensive five day Barclays Ball Kids Base Camp to perfect their skills before the O2 event.
A capacity crowd of 17,800 on Monday evening witnessed defending champion Novak Djokovic defeat World No.1 Rafael Nadal for the title and a record $1.92m in prize money, bringing the overall attendance across the eight days of the tournament to 261,247.
The youngster, who plays tennis at the David Lloyd centre in Eastbourne, said: “It was really good,”
“The best moment was probably being on court for the [Roger] Federer versus [Novak] Djokovic match – that was amazing.
“Federer is my favourite player so that was great. But I just had to stay focused on my role.
“The first time walking out was really nerve-wracking but after that it was fine.
“All the players were really nice, the doubles players were particularly nice and so was Del Potro.
“I would definitely recommend other people to apply to be a Ball Kid. it’s so much fun.”
Six-time Grand Slam champion Boris Becker helped chose Olivia for the O2 role where she caught the attention of 2009 US Open winner Juan Martin Del Potro.
Del Petro met Olivia off the court at the O2 to give her hints and tips and the world No.5 admitted she did a sterling job for all the players involved, not just himself.
“I was 10-years-old when I was a ball boy at a Futures tournament in Buenos Aires and I remember all the players who played that tournament,” said Del Potro.
“I know how big it is for the Ball Kids, meeting all the players, giving the balls to all of us. They are so fast. They are so good and they make our job very easy. I think they’re great, they’re smart, they know when we ask for our towels, our drinks and they are so professional too.”For more information about the Barclays Ball Kids programme visit www.barclaysballkids.com or visit the Barclays Ball Kids Facebook page