By Jonty Ralphsmith
Bunyip junior tennis player Josh Piovesan was a ballkid at last month’s Australian Open for the second consecutive year.
Josh got the opportunity to ballkid the tight fourth-round encounter between Stefanos Tsitsipas and Taylor Fritz, two top-12 seeds, as well as sharing the court with a host of Australians.
Having had a tennis racquet in his hand since he was aged two, and regularly attending Melbourne Park growing up, Josh made his debut last year.
“I went (to Melbourne Park) when I was 11 to watch tennis and I was watching the ball kids on court and wondered how to apply,” he recalled.
“I searched it up and figured out that you could register when you were 12 and once I was 12 I registered.”
Josh was initially in the ‘train-on’ squad for 2023, where he would ballkid tournaments including the December Showdown, wheelchair and blind and impaired vision events, but not the Australian Open itself.
But he was a late elevation to the AO squad and believes last year’s experience, which also includes regular sessions in the lead-up to work on rolls, servicing and court movement, placed him well to take a step forward with his skills in 2024.
“It’s a lot of running around in the heat and it’s a really good experience to see famous players and getting to practice and learning how different things work,” he said.
Ballkids spend 45 minutes to an hour on-court at a time, before rotating off for a similar length of time to ensure they are adequately rested.
On one of the days, Josh was on-court for six rotations which made for a 12-hour shift.
Josh will be eligible to be a ballkid for another two years and has loved the experience so far.
“I want to work on my rolls, get lower to ground and swing my arms more to get momentum,” he said.