By Brooke Haffenden
YOUNG tennis player Cooper O’Brien will be playing a different role on the court this summer when he lines up for the Australian Open.
The 13-year-old from Wallan is among 350 kids in this year’s squad. It will be the first time for Cooper, who’s looking forward to representing Australia on the big stage.
The squad includes 304 Victorians, 18 from interstate and 28 international ballkids from France, China and Korea.
Having played competition tennis for the last three years, Cooper is most excited about the prospect of potentially meeting his favourite tennis player Roger Federer.
Cooper said he was thrilled to be named in the final ballkid squad for this year’s Australian Open.
“I can’t wait, I’m really excited,” Cooper said
“My favourite player is Roger Federer. It would be awesome (to meet him) and it would probably be the best experience ever.
“I like tennis and I want to see all the big players.”
Cooper was selected from more than 2500 applicants around Australia and the Asia-Pacific following months of extensive training.
Australian Open Tournament Director Craig Tiley said the Australian Open ballkid program is one of the most highly regarded in the world.
“Our ballkids are an integral part of the Australian Open and are vital to ensuring the matches run smoothly,” Tiley said.
“We receive more than 2500 applications and the desire to be involved in one of the world’s best ballkid programs increases year-on-year.
“It’s an incredible opportunity for the kids. Not only do they have the chance to be on court alongside the world’s best tennis players, they develop great teamwork and communication skills. It’s an extraordinary experience for them and something they will remember for a lifetime.”
Some of the world’s best tennis players, including Roger Federer, and Australia’s own Pat Rafter and Lleyton Hewitt, were ballkids before joining the professional ranks.
Applications for the Australian Open 2019 ballkids program are now open at www.tennis.com.au/ballkids.