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Young Estonian tennis players train as ballkids, line judges in Pärnu

Kids in Pärnu training to become ballkids in tennis. February 3, 2024.
Kids in Pärnu training to become ballkids in tennis. February 3, 2024. Source: ERR

Junior tennis players ages 12 and up trained as ballkids and line judges in Pärnu this weekend, which will enable them to work in support of both competing tennis players and chair umpires at future pro tournaments.

By midday Saturday, some two dozen junior tennis players had convened at Pärnu Downtown Tennis Center. Of these, children aged 12-14 trained as ballkids, while those aged 14 and up trained as line judges.

"They're preparing for the bigger tournaments coming up in Estonia, such as the Estonian Championships in Tallinn this summer," said Evelin Vaino, director of and coach at the Pärnu Downtown Tennis School.

"They're in good physical condition, since they're all kids in lessons; they know how to keep score in tennis," Vaino explained. "This is a job that requires very good physical fitness and stamina, attention and speed."

Lenna, Kristella, Milaana and Ronja, four of the kids to participate in training on Saturday, confirmed that the job of ballkid suits them well.

"I've always wanted to learn [how to be a ballkid]," Milaana acknowledged. "I really also like watching tennis matches where they're always bringing balls back in the background and are well prepared."

Asked what the hardest part of the job is, Milaana admitted that it's constantly having to stand motionless like a stone.

"The fact that you have to roll [the ball] to exactly the right spot somewhere; that you don't roll it I don't even know where," Ronja added.

An older participant at Saturday's training event, Janar, said he wants to become a line judge.

"Because I've even started enjoying tennis in the meantime," Janar said. "And I've been a ball boy for several years too, so of course you can do something else in the meantime too."

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Editor: Aili Vahtla

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