Battle of the ball boys – and girls

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DOZENS of youngsters battled it out in a bid to be ball boys and girls at a world-famous competition.

The Barclays Ball Kids regional trial, at Wearside Health and Racquets Club, Doxford International Business Park, Sunderland, saw more than 50 school children take part in a series of tests to prove their ability to feature at this year’s Barclays ATP World Tour Finals.

It marked the final stage of the local selection process for the event at The O2, London, in November.

Mark Magrath, head trainer of the Barclays Ball Kids Talent ID team, was involved with the selection and training of the Wimbledon Championships Ball Boys and Girls.

He was full of praise for the youngsters hoping to make it through to the final squad of 30.

“We couldn’t have asked for a better start to the 2013 Barclays Ball Kids and the trial in Sunderland was no exception,” he said.

“Each one of the kids was here to prove they’ve got what it takes.

“We always have huge competition between the children in this area and this was no exception.

“It just goes to show that hard work pays off and the ones that stood out were the kids that listened, took on board what it means to be a Barclays Ball Kid and put this in to practice.”

Bayley Cartmell, 12, and Robbie Brasington, 13, from Newcastle, showed “outstanding” athleticism, agility, endurance, co-ordination, ball skills, balance, speed and team work to be named among those who will take part in the national finals.

Robbie said: “The ball kids are the closest people to the players so you can learn a lot. My dad told me about the trial, so I signed up straight away. I thought it would be fun.

Bayley said: “I heard about the trial last year and this is my second year of trying out.

“Hopefully, I can make it through to the final squad this year. We focussed on various drills, including hand-eye coordination as well as speed and agility.

“I think the coaches are probably looking for speed, strength and smiles above everything else.

Fourteen regional selection trials were held across the country.

A National Selection Trial will take place later this month, when judges will choose the final squad of Barclays Ball Kids.