TENNIS: Duo bid to cash in with heroes

Jemima Gray and Mansour Bahrami

Jemima Gray and Mansour Bahrami

First published in Tennis

Faringdon's Jemima Gray and Wallingford’s Jack Woodard, both 12, enjoyed a tennis master-class with former Wimbledon champion Pat Cash and French Open finalist Mansour Bahrami as the race to become a Barclays Ball Kid reached the final stage.

Gray, from St Hugh’s Prep School, and Oratory School pupil Woodard, were among 119 youngsters at the Barclays Ball Kids National Trials at Westway Sports Centre in London with the best 30 set to attend the ATP World Tour Finals in November.

They were both tested on their agility, endurance, co-ordination, ball skills, balance, speed and team work as Cash, Bahrami and Andy Murray’s former coach, Mark Petchey, ran the rule over her sporting prowess.

Gray, who plays at Colston Lawn Tennis Club, admitted it would be a dream come true to share the court with the likes of Murray, Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal at the O2 Arena.

“My favourite player is Nadal and he is one of the best players in the world,” said Gray.

“It would be really good to work next to him at the ATP Finals, it would be a fantastic experience.

“I really enjoyed the day and learning off people like Pat and Bahrami.”

Woodard, who plays at Benson Tennis Club, added: “To get to go to the ATP finals would be a once-in-a-lifetime experience and my birthday is on November 21, which is when the tournament starts so it would be the best present ever.”

The nationwide Barclays Ball Kids search began last November with the pair qualifying for the National Trial in London at the City Academy in Bristol last month.

And Cash – who along with Bahrami and Petchey will have a hand in selecting the winners – believes the pair did everything they could to be part of the lucky 30.

“It was a fantastic day and they were both very impressive,” said Cash.

“All the kids showed a great attitude and it will undoubtedly be a difficult decision to choose the winners.

“But it is a fantastic opportunity for the winners to go down to the O2 and get to experience what will be a great week for them all.”

FOR more information on becoming a Barclays Ball Kid at the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals in London visit www.barclays ballkids.com

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