On The Line with Alyaa Faresha Shamsuri

Q & A

The Straits Times speaks to the people who work away from centre court and behind the scenes to find out the quirky details of their jobs.

Today: Alyaa Faresha Shamsuri, a 13-year-old WTA Finals Lorenzo ball kid from Singapore.

Q How long have you been playing tennis?

A I started when I was 10 and I'm on the school team at CHIJ Secondary (Toa Payoh).

Q How long have you been a ball girl?

A I started in 2012 at the Manulife Singapore ATP Challenger but this is the biggest event I've worked at.

Q How does one become a ball kid?

A We had to go through one week of intensive training during the September holidays and out of about 200 kids, 42 were selected.

Q What time does your day start?

A There are two shifts, morning and night. I report here between 9.45am and 11.45am, and usually end around 5-6pm. It depends on how long the matches are.

Q Are you on court for the entire match?

A No. I probably do two to three matches every day but we work in shifts of 10 ball kids (six on court and the other four outside to collect balls that fly out). Each shift lasts about 45 minutes and then we are rotated.

Q What's the No. 1 rule for ball kids?

A To serve the player first. That's our main role.

Q What's the best position?

A Some people prefer working at the net because you're nearer the players. I've only been at the baseline so far.

But they get to interact with the players when they bring them cold towels and water and whatever else they want during the breaks.

Only the net kids get to do this as they're closest.

Q What are some quirks of the players?

A Maria Sharapova only takes the ball from her right side (when facing the court). She never takes from the left when she's serving.

Q What's the hardest thing about being a ball kid?

A Multi-tasking. There are six balls used and you have to keep track of where they are, how many are on your side, get them quickly for the player and also give them their towel when they ask. It's all a rush.

Q Favourite player?

A (Last year's champion) Serena Williams but sadly she's not playing this year. For the men, it has to be either Novak Djokovic or Rafael Nadal.

Q Most memorable moment so far?

A I got to hold hands with Simona Halep and walk into the stadium with her for her first match on Sunday. There were some online pictures of it but, unfortunately, they weren't very clear.

Q Which player's autograph would you really like to get?

A We're not allowed to as we're working. Maybe after the tournament, hopefully. If I get to see her, I would like a picture with Venus Williams (who's here as an alternate). I really like the Williams sisters.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 31, 2015, with the headline 'On The Line with Alyaa Faresha Shamsuri'. Print Edition | Subscribe