Ten­nis ral­lies around ball kids

‘Get your own tow­els’: Judy Mur­ray sug­gests rule change

Global Times US Edition - - SPORTS -

Fer­nando Ver­dasco’s treat­ment of a ball boy who failed to bring him his sweaty towel fast enough has thrust ten­nis play­ers’ at­ti­tudes to­ward the child vol­un­teers into the spot­light, and could prompt changes.

The 34-year-old Spaniard has not com­mented on the in­ci­dent, when he ag­gres­sively ges­tic­u­lated at a ball boy to hurry up dur­ing last month’s Shen­zhen Open in China.

The footage went vi­ral on so­cial me­dia and saw Ver­dasco heav­ily crit­i­cized.

Judy Mur­ray, the for­mer British Fed Cup cap­tain and mother of three-time Grand Slam win­ner Andy Mur­ray, tweeted, “What about a rule that makes play­ers get their own tow­els?”

Oth­ers, while con­demn­ing Ver­dasco’s be­hav­ior, pointed out that he is by no means the first ten­nis player to treat a ball kid harshly.

Last week at the China Open, the Be­laru­sian Aryna Sa­balenka was caught in footage shak­ing an empty bot­tle in the ap­par­ent di­rec­tion of a ball boy, be­fore toss­ing it on the floor.

“I don’t care how good a ten­nis player you are but this type of be­hav­ior needs to STOP,” tweeted Anne Keothavong, Bri­tain’s Fed Cup cap­tain.

At this week’s Shang­hai Masters, Roger Fed­erer said ten­nis sets the stan­dard for many sports when it comes to re­spect­ful be­hav­ior – and that must ex­tend to the treat­ment of ball boys and girls.

“The ball kids are re­ally im­por­tant to us be­cause they are also maybe the fu­ture of our game, like I was,” said the Swiss, a ball boy be­fore go­ing on to be­come a 20-time Grand Slam cham­pion.

“You don’t want to have them leav­ing with feel­ing: Oh my God, I was not ap­pre­ci­ated or I was not liked or it was a hor­ri­ble thing.”

But Fed­erer, 37, the de­fend­ing cham­pion in Shang­hai, pointed out that emo­tions run high in the heat of a match and that ten­nis is more in­tense now than in the past.

In 2015 No­vak Djokovic, now a 14-time Grand Slam win­ner, apol­o­gized to a Wimbledon ball girl af­ter he screamed in her di­rec­tion, leav­ing her look­ing shaken.

The Ver­dasco in­ci­dent in par­tic­u­lar high­lighted the is­sue of ball kids be­ing asked to han­dle sweaty and snotty tow­els for play­ers, many of whom like to wipe their faces af­ter each point.

Fed­erer said that play­ers are un­der pres­sure not to hold games up, so it is quicker for the ball boy to hand them the towel rather than fetch it them­selves.

“The show’s got to [ keep] mov­ing on. So all this stuff, it’s quite hec­tic to be quite hon­est, even though it seems like we have a lot of time,” he said Tues­day.

One so­lu­tion is a towel rack at the back of the court.

That will be tested out at next month’s Next Gen ATP Fi­nals in Mi­lan, which brings to­gether the best play­ers aged 21 and un­der.

World No.1 Rafael Nadal has spo­ken out, say­ing that he is not a fan be­cause it will slow matches down.

Kei Nishikori, Ja­pan’s world No.12, agrees.

“Maybe I don’t pre­fer that one. Maybe that may take some time,” he said.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.