Joel’s ‘king of the kids’ at the Australian Open
By JOSH HUNTLY
WARRANDYTE Tennis Club coach Joel Compagnino has been kept on his toes during his third year of co-ordinating the ball-boys and girls at the Australian Open, managing over 350 children as the Grand Slam rolls into Melbourne for its 2018 edition.
Joel, who was a ball-boy himself at the 2001 Australian Open, has a total of six years’ experience under his belt working in different roles around the event prior to settling on his current task of assisting in the management of the ball-kids.
“It’s been a lot of fun,” says Joel.
“During the tournament, it’s all about marking them, making sure they stay hydrated and generally supervising them through the event.
“It involves getting on to the court and watching them in action day to day.
“It’s good to be involved with the kids, especially the ones that you know from coaching.
“It’s always good seeing them make friends as well,” Joel told the Diary.
It’s a busy time for the Warrandyte Coach, but he says working with others in the fifty-person management team who are as passionate about tennis and developing the youth of the green-ball game is a plus.
“It’s a really good atmosphere,” he says.
“We’re pretty like-minded and do the same things so it’s good to catch up every year.
“You’re predominantly watching the kids but you also get to watch a bit of tennis as well which is a lot of fun.”
For the ball-boys and girls that participate, the Australian Open will provide memories that last a lifetime and the chance to work with the greats of the game and witness their prowess firsthand is a highlight that won’t soon be forgotten.
“They definitely enjoy the experience,” says Joel.
“They like to rub shoulders with their idols, even just to be involved with the inner-sanctum of the tournament and to see a little of what the public doesn’t see as well as seeing their heroes walk down the corridors.
“I still get goose-bumps watching them, I can only imagine how the kids feel.”
As well as being involved with the kids during the tournament, Joel has a significant role in assessing the ball-kids for the next tournament and he says the criteria to qualify for a spot can be tough, but there’s always a sure-fire place to start.
“Firstly, they’ve got to know a little bit about tennis,” he joked.
“They’ve got to know how to score the game so they know which end the balls need to go.
“They would need to have a good roll and provide good service to the player, and their general speed around the court is important as well.”
The trial period, which occurs in March, is a hectic time for Joel and the other coaches as they attempt to grade 2000 prospects.
There is significant competition for spots as young tennis players from around the area and interstate, and in some cases overseas, vie for a spot amongst the 350 chosen during the June-July selection period.
In the meantime, however, Joel remains the “king of the kids”, overseeing the current generation of the Australian Open ball-boys and ball-girls.
Warrandyte Tennis Hot Shots all the rage at Australian Open 2018
By CRAIG HASLAM
Once again the Tennis Guru provided a once in a lifetime experience to 40 kids from the Hot Shots tennis programs at Warrandyte Tennis Club (WTC), Warrandyte Primary School and Milgate Primary School.
The kids were demonstrating their amazing tennis skills to the adoring fans (and of course their parents).
The 30 minute demonstration opens up play on the stadiums and the kids are followed on court by the professionals for their Australian Open matches.
Coaches Matt Neil & Angus McLellan represented WTC and helped the kids and parents throughout the morning.
Charlotte Petrella tossed the coin for Dylan Alcott’s match and Max Brogan tossed the coin for the legends featuring Henri Leconte.
The rest of the kids got to make a guard of honour so they could high-five the players as they came on court.
We also had five WTC Hot Shots competing in the inaugural Orange Ball and Green Ball challenge on Australia Day at the Australian Open.
The teams competed against other clubs from around Melbourne on the courts the pros play on. Certainly some amazing tennis action for the kids from WTC.