Barclays Ball Kids
Do you spend a sizeable chunk of your time driving the next Andy Murray or Maria Sharapova back and forth from tennis training? And know that booking a fortnight's holiday in July for the family is "really not on" – unless it's for two weeks in sunny Wimbledon?
If your kids are just a little bit tennis mad, then give them the chance to become a Barclays Ball Kid and appear on court alongside the world's top eight by applying now. If your child gets through the trials and is picked for the squad, they will be a part of next year's prestigious Barclays ATP World Tour Finals tournament in London.
If your kids are between 12 and 16 and want to run out on court with the likes of Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer, just head to the Barclays Ball Kids website to find out everything you need to know about the programme and how to apply for next year's tournament.*
And families of the Ball Kids get tickets for the main event, so no one's left out.
What the mums said
We asked the mums of some of this year's Barclays Ball Kids how they felt about being part of the Barclays Ball Kid programme.
"My son Nick made it to the final 100 Ball Kids in 2010 with a broken arm, so it was clear how determined he was to be involved! Especially in a sport he loves. My eldest son, Tom was a Ball Kid at the Australian Open for two years and was selected last year for the 2010 BBK programme.
"They are both very busy with their study and sport commitments already, but they adjusted to make sure they met every deadline. This was made a lot easier as we had advance warning of all the dates and times of the activities involved. I'm certain this has made them even better at organising their schedules to fit everything in.
"Every aspect of being a Ball Kid was a fantastic experience for them. And I know the opportunity to meet and talk with past great players, like Boris Becker, was a highlight."
Vivienne Hubble, Canterbury, mum of Barclays Ball Kid 2011, Nick, 14
"My daughter, Linnea is extremely sporty and has played a lot of competitive tennis. I thought this would introduce a fun angle to her tennis interests, which can sometimes all get very serious.
"The trials in particular were really positive and very upbeat – throughout the children have been made to feel very special.
"On top of their training, the kids took part in media interviews for Newsround and BBC news, did a publicity photo shoot, and went on a visit backstage at The O2 to see the venue and Britney's stage set. And that's all before the main event!
"Linnea now has a group of 29 wonderful new friends from across the country, the confidence to speak to the press and so many happy memories. I'd say, don't think twice if your child is sporty and determined – this will be an unforgettable experience."
Fiona Bengtsson, East Sheen, mum of Barclays Ball Kid 2011, Linnea, 15
"Joe was so proud to be selected as a Ball Kid and he loved meeting a whole bunch of like-minded kids. They bonded over the challenges of the training really quickly, which was rigorous but they were really well supported and felt very motivated.
"The whole Barclay Ball Kids team have kept us fully informed at all times about Joe's progress and we feel entirely confident that he has been trained by the best in the business to ensure that he will deliver a quality performance on court.
"There have been a few additional pressures, as Joe has had to make sure he keeps up with his GCSE work, but school have been really supportive and more than anything, they are glad that he has this great opportunity."
Sally Davey, Wokingham, mum of Barclays Ball Kid 2011, Joe, 15
"A friend emailed us about Barclays Ball Kids, knowing Peter's love of tennis. I thought it would be a great experience for him to meet other young people involved in tennis and give him the opportunity to meet first hand some of the tennis players he looks up to.
"And Peter's loving it, he says it is one of the best experiences he has ever had.
"It's broadened his friendships, and they keep in touch on Facebook – the local Ball Kids even managed to organise meeting up during the school holidays."
Jan Richards, Gravesend, mum of Barclays Ball Kid 2011, Peter, 15
"You could never give your child this opportunity so it is invaluable and they will remember this for the rest of their lives.
"My son, Thomas is a keen tennis player and I thought being a Ball Kid would be such a lovely change from his gruelling tennis training. He absolutely loves it – the adrenalin rush when you run on court and as he's very much a team player – being in the Ball Kid squad really suits him.
"They had five days of intense but fun training at base camp with lots of team bonding. It was lovely for them to meet new friends and have that bit of independence for 5 days.
"Thomas doesn't socialise outside of tennis that much as he is always training so to have this opportunity to meet new friends was lovely for him, and they've all kept in touch.
"Everyone involved was fantastic, very approachable and dedicated to the safety of our children. They couldn't be in better hands. When Thomas returned from base camp he didn't stop talking about it for days, which shows what a good time he had. I just wish our kids had more of this type of opportunity. Life can be a bit tough so it's lovely to be able to see your child taking part in something like this. I will be a very proud mum during this year's tournament!"
Judith Kyle, Liverpool, mum of Barclays Ball Kid 2011, Thomas, 14
"Dan loved being a Ball Kid in 2010 and he has loved being involved in training kids for 2011. When we applied, I thought it would be great experience for Dan to be around top players in world and good experience in terms of training to transfer skills and discipline to his tennis training. And although Dan had to miss tennis tournaments in half term, it was so worth it.
"We've already recommended it to other families, and now we have our second Barclays Ball Kid from Southbourne Tennis Club!
"As a Ball Kid, Dan's learnt lots of team-building and leadership skills, which are great for tennis players who usually compete individually. And they've learnt lots of life skills from being in a team and being taught to strive for excellence – mainly due to coaches' input.
"The coaches were brilliant. Dan was encouraged to be the best he could be on this programme, which is my philosophy in life. The Ball Kids team have been so friendly and it feels like a big family, which I am proud and pleased that my son was a part of."
Angela, Southbourne, mum of Barclays Ball Kid of the Year 2010, Dan, 15
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*You must be a UK resident aged between 12 years and 16 years old as of the first day of the event (5th November 2012) and eligible to participate as a volunteer on the Barclays Ball Kid Programme within the UK in accordance with immigration rules. You must not have been a Barclays Ball Kid before. Online registration will close one week before each regional trial. Parental permission is required to enter. Terms and conditions apply.
Last updated: almost 2 years ago