USTA tries out ball persons

A former tournament player was one of 400 candidates who tried out to work and be part of the United States Open Tennis Tournament in various classifications in Queens later on in the summer.

Chris Rod of Flatbush, Brooklyn has been at this sport for seven years competing primarily at the Prospect Park Tennis Center. He attended but did not play high school tennis at Clara Barton High, mainly because he was too busy playing USTA sanctioned tennis tournaments on the tour.

He did not play college tennis, for there he just played as a hobby.

The borough of Brooklyn is now more noted for its basketball with the emergence of the Nets competing in the established National Basketball Association.

Rod played in tournaments and did a lot of travelling.

He recently came to the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in Flushing Meadow Corona Park because he was interested in the position in working during competition in the big tournament, including its qualifying round.

“Being a ball person is a great opportunity,” said Rod, who tried out for various positions on the tennis court.

While Tina Taps is the director of the ball persons during the tryouts and for the employment of the ball persons during the US Open, she has supervisors working under her. She has a huge staff who helps her out and they return year after year. One of them is Ron Foster, who has been working at the position of supervisor for the past seven years at the US Open venue.

Starting as a ball person, Foster got to a point where the kids became a little faster than he was; therefore he moved up to a supervisor position for the tournament.

“And I liked doing this job as a supervisor very much,” he said.

In addition, Foster played tennis tournaments as well at different clubs, including at the Central Park Track Club in Manhattan and at Staten Island’s Silver Lake Park.

Foster also played in Eastern Sectional Tournaments where he kept on improving on his USTA Eastern ranking. He played more on the junior level than he did on the adult one.

“My favorite tennis player is Roger Federer because I like the way that he plays,” he said. “I like that he wins championships. He’s number two in the world.”

Then there was Jeremiah Harris, whose father Jeremiah, Sr. originally came from Greneda.

Harris, a football player at Bayside High School, came to the USTA tryouts to be a ball boy and work at the US Open tournament. He found the tryouts a great experience and if he makes it, he will get the experience of his life meeting those world-wide and top-ranking players and working with them at the same time

“I think that football can translate into tennis and help earn me some money at the same time,” Harris, Jr. said.

Harris, the father, played a little soccer in Greneda, and now he owns a hardware store in Brooklyn. But he likes football more so than tennis.

Harris Jr. goes along with Novak Djovic to win the men’s singles title of the US Open. Tryouts included from the back position and from the net position. The candidates were allowed to try out for one or both positions. Those candidates who passed the first round will return for the next round, until the ‘roster is completed.

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