Young and old share a dream: To fetch tennis balls at U.S. Open

Thu Jun 19, 2014 9:26pm EDT
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By Ellen Wulfhorst

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Hundreds of people, young and not so young, lined up under rainy skies on Thursday to try out to be U.S. Open ballpersons, a short-term, low paying summer job that can be a dream come true for tennis fans.

A few dozen will be chosen from the competitive tryouts at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center to join veteran ballpersons from previous years, and spend three weeks in August and September working at the tennis championship.

Those who are hired find out in early July.

For some, the job is a chance to get behind the scenes at the Open, rub shoulders with pro players or list the job experience on a college application.

Some teens trying out admitted that their parents want them to make money over the summer vacation. And a couple giggled that they wanted the free T-shirt from Ralph Lauren, which sponsors the tryouts.

None of those reasons mattered to Arthur Leinbach, a retired Pennsylvania state trooper whose gray-streaked hair set him apart from the mostly teenage crowd.

"I'm 50 and it's on my bucket list," said Leinbach, who made the trip to the tennis center in New York City's Queens borough from his home in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.

"Just because you're old doesn't mean you can't stay active and compete with someone half your age - or less than half your age."   Continued...

A girl holds a tennis ball during ballpersons tryouts at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in the Queens borough of New York June 19, 2014.  REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton