Though some tournaments pay their ball boys and girls, most tournaments don’t. But still, tournaments receive hundreds, sometimes thousands of applications for their ball person jobs.
The job has several perks – ball boys and ball girls get to see many great players in action in close quarters. They get to hand around the court and get free tickets to watch matches. They get a food allowance and in most cases, get to keep their brand-name uniforms.
Great players such as Roger Federer have been ball boys. Federer has talked about memorable his experience was as a ball boy.
How much do ball boys and ball girls make?
US Open pays its new ball boys and girls by the hour – $12.50 in 2020, which is New York’s minimum wage. Returning ball persons earn a little more.
They also get a food allowance and can watch any match for free. They get tickets to watch any match, though they are not premium seats.
Wimbledon does not pay its ball kids, though there is a stipend of around £200 for the whole tournament. But it is an honor to be selected. Wimbledon selects 250 ball kids from around 700 applicants. The ball kids typically come from select schools.
Wimbledon offers its ball boys extensive training so they can be at their best during the only grand slam tournament on the grass.
Australian Open ball boys and girls are not paid. They are volunteers for Tennis Australia that runs the tournaments. They get free meals and tickets for themselves and their families as perks.
Australian Open selects around 350 ball kids from 2500 applicants. Few ball kids at the Australian Open come from other countries.
French Open does no pay its ball boys. But it has one of the rigorous programs to select ball boys. The program is one-year long where potential ball boys tested for physical and ball-handling abilities.
The program starts with around 400 kids but also around 200 are selected for the French Open.
Ball boys deal with odd requests and sometimes get hit by the ball
Here are a few instances where ball kids had to face the ball or had to attend to odd requests from players.
A tennis player asked a ball girl to peel a banana and was told off by the umpire.
Rafa accidentally hit a ball kid and then kissed her