If you have even paid attention at a USTA Pro Circuit Event on the final weekend, you see hard working ball kids scurrying around the court, retrieving balls and tending to the needs of the players. With very little training, these kids get the job done, but as they get used to their duties, sometime some honest mishaps do occur.
Not so at the 2013 ButlerCars.com Tennis Classic of Macon. The ball people were almost never out of position, and always on point with their tosses to the players. Outside of 14-year old Daria Brown's one trip and fall- because she was moving at breakneck speed to scoop up a netted serve, the ball kids were the best I've ever seen at a USTA Pro Circuit tournament.
The reason, outside of 14-year old tennis playing Brown, the rest of the ball people were members of the Mercer University men's and women's tennis teams.
Getting D-I student athletes to serve as ball kids? How did this happen? It helps when the event's tournament director is Mercer Tennis Coach Eric Hayes.
Mercer student athletes also jumped in to help with tournament PR and operations.
Cassandra Speirs, a member of the Mercer University Dance Team helped by taking photos of the players on the court during play. Many of Speirs' images were passed on the players as souvenirs.
Amanda Bertani, a senior business major from Brazil, who also happens to be on the Mercer Women's Tennis Team helped out my manning the tournaments official Twitter account and keeping Twitter followers up to the minute on what was happening on and off the court during the tournament.
"It's been fun, and I'm glad I had the chance to do it," said Bertani, who also previewed the next day's matches on Twitter and offered expert commentary.
Speirs and Bertani are both students Dr. Ania Rynarzewska's marketing class and Rynarzewska encourages her students to get out and see how events work and how marketing and social media plays a role. It helps that Rynarzewska is a former D-I college tennis player herself, so she knows what goes into a running a world class tennis tournament.
Playing a sport at a D-I school and school itself are two full-time jobs that today's student athletes must manage each and every day. Add in volunteering for some real-life work experience at a profession sports event, and you have some Mercer University students going above and beyond the call of duty.