Patrick McEnroe inspires Chicago ballkid hopefuls
Team World Vice Captain Patrick McEnroe visits Chicago for the Laver Cup ballkid tryouts and provides motivation to local kids hoping to make the final squad.
The Laver Cup’s official ballkid tryouts concluded on Monday June 18 at Chicago’s Midtown Athletic Club in readiness for the return of this highly anticipated tennis blockbuster from September 21-23 at the United Center.
Over the course of two days, eager and talented boys and girls from across the Chicago area were put through their paces for the unmatched opportunity to appear on court alongside some of the world’s biggest tennis stars including No.1-ranked Roger Federer and his rival on the world stage, Nick Kyrgios.
In addition to competing for the distinct experience, kids were treated to a special appearance by former tennis pro and US Davis Cup captain Patrick McEnroe, who returns as Vice Captain for Team World in September.
McEnroe oversaw the day’s drills, and took time to speak to aspiring ballkids, reminding them of the value of hard work, dedication and a positive attitude.
That positive attitude was on full display on Monday, with participants encouraging each other throughout the afternoon. Approximately 80 kids participated in Monday’s tryouts, perfecting the skills of rolling and servicing. They also demonstrated their speed, quickness and coordination in working as a team with other ballkids on the court at any given position.
We’re going to have an incredible atmosphere at the United Center with the best players in the world
McEnroe fielded questions from the young audience, and even gave some helpful pointers as to the skills and techniques he preferred to see from ballkids when he was on the court. McEnroe, who was a ballkid at two US Opens growing up, acknowledged just how special Laver Cup will be for this group.
“We’re going to have an incredible atmosphere at the United Center with the best players in the world,” said McEnroe. “I think it’s going to be awesome for these kids.”
Numerous Chicago programs and clubs were represented at the tryouts, including USTA’s Net Generation, National Junior Tennis & Learning Programs, Kamau Murray’s XS Tennis Program, and ball kids from the Nielsen Men’s Pro Tennis Championship.
“We have kids coming from all over the Chicago area; 45 different clubs are being represented,” said McEnroe of the two-day tryouts. “These are kids that have been exposed to tennis already, but this is really something that can get their interest to a whole other place. You’re seeing the best players in the world. You’re sort of interacting with them in the most heated moments of competition.”
A shortlist of 40 were chosen to take part in this year’s tournament, with further training taking place this week and in the weeks and months leading up to the event. The squad will learn to work closely together, using the values of discipline and hard work within a collaborative environment.
“This is going to be an incredible, heated competition – as it was last year. For these kids to be right there on the court and participate is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity,” said McEnroe.
All kids participating in the tryouts on Sunday and Monday will be invited to join Laver Cup festivities in September, and each child received gifts from the Laver Cup or the United States Tennis Association for their participation.