What it's like to try out to be a U.S. Open ball person

·Anchor, Editor-at-Large
·3 min read

Being a ball person at the U.S. Open may be as difficult as trying to pin down fair value for shares of AMC Entertainment, BlackBerry and GameStop. 

Maybe harder.

That is something this journalist quickly learned in tryouts currently being held at the site of the 2021 U.S. Open in Flushing, NY. 

I instantly found myself severely out of breath after two passes at the net in nearly 100 degrees temperatures. No Serena Williams or Roger Federer like stamina here

After four passes at the net while wearing a slim fit blue suit (because I had just got off set for Yahoo Finance Live, and didn't want to waste time changing and thought this would be a physical cakewalk), I was ready to go back home to my kitchen and report again on meme stock madness as I have been doing for the past 18 months of the COVID-19 pandemic

Each run up to the net gave me nightmares to being forced to run wind sprints back in high school by some out-of-shape gym coach. My poor performance and subsequent shame on the court momentarily took me back to my childhood of being yelled at in Little League by coaches for failing to get the game-winning hit. 

And all of this is despite me cranking up my Peloton runs weeks in advance of these tryouts. I stretched extensively the night before the big day. I even meditated, envisioning ball person success right off the bat. 

In the end, none of this prep mattered and I failed. A humbling experience indeed.

Brian Sozzi
Yahoo Finance's Brian Sozzi tries out to be a ball person at the U.S. Open.

That said, not everyone fails in ball person tryouts, obviously (although I do think robots will eventually take the place of ball persons). Sal Chan, 39, is a long-time ball person at the U.S. Open. He said all you need is laser focus and fierce physical fitness (both of which I thought I had, but apparently not).   

"A good ball person is quick, agile and they pay attention to everything on the court. And they’re not noticed by anyone," Chan told me. 

If you think you have what it takes, there is still time to try out for U.S. Open ball person duty. Applications for tryouts run to June 16. Should you get selected, you are paid $15 an hour and are able to be steps away from tennis royalty. 

As for me, tune into Yahoo Finance Live each day at 9:00 a.m. ET. That's where you will find me reporting, perhaps on tennis and the winners of the 2021 U.S. Open. 

Brian Sozzi is an editor-at-large and anchor at Yahoo Finance. Follow Sozzi on Twitter @BrianSozzi and on LinkedIn.

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