Friday, 24 September 2021

Tennis-mad teenager shares court with pro's

A TENNIS-MAD teenager will take to the court with her heroes after she was selected as a ball girl for the ATP World Tour Finals

A TENNIS-MAD teenager will take to the court with her heroes after she was selected as a ball girl for the ATP World Tour Finals.

Bella Bowater, 15, of St Mark?s Road, Henley, was chosen from more than 200 hopefuls to work at the finals, which will be held at the O2 in London next month.

Bella, who has played tennis since she was four, hopes to be on duty at a match featuring her favourite player, Rafael Nadal, if he qualifies for the end-of-season event.

She applied earlier this year by writing a personal statement about herself and her sporting achievements and was then selected to attend a trial in London, where her ball skills, athleticism and teamwork were tested.

Bella, a pupil at Queen Anne?s School in Caversham, said: ?They made us all run together at one stage and eliminated anyone with ?funny? runs as ball kids have to be regimented. All our parents sat in on the trials so one of the tasks was to go up to them and introduce ourselves. We had to chat with other parents so they could see who had confidence.?

Bella?s father Justin, 48, is a catering and hospitality consultant and mother Jacinta, 45, is a part-time personal assistant. She has a 14-year-old sister Millie.

She will attend a boot camp at the end of this month to hone her skills before the tournament. Bella currently plays tennis for her school?s first team and Caversham, as well as representing Berkshire and England in youth lacrosse.

She said she can?t wait to take to the court after watching the tournament on TV in previous years.

Bella said: ?I watch the tour finals and Wimbledon every year. My favourite player is Nadal, who I hope will be playing. There will be about eight ball kids on court at a time and it?s pretty tiring so it will be done in shifts. There will also be thousands of people watching so it might be hard to concentrate.

?I went to the 2012 finals and it was amazing. The atmosphere was almost better than Wimbledon. It must be nerve-racking because it?s all in darkness apart from spotlights on the court.

?I was so excited when I found out I?d been selected. I had to write to my headteacher to ask for the time off but the school is happy for me to do it, especially my sports teachers.?

Bella is hoping to work as a ball girl at other tournaments and her dream is to take to the court at the All England Club.

The ATP Finals, which were founded in 1970, pit the world?s top eight men?s singles and doubles players against each other over eight days. Last year?s winners were Novak Djokovic in the singles and the Bryan brothers, Bob and Mike, in the doubles.

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