The Next Gen ATP Finals presented by NEOM's arrival in Jeddah is set to inspire a generation of young Saudi tennis enthusiasts — and not least those who will be just metres from the action next week at King Abdullah Sports City.
The first ATP-sanctioned event ever to be held in Saudi Arabia will take place from 28 November-2 December. It will be a historic moment for tennis in the Gulf nation and promises to be a particularly memorable one for the 19-strong team of ballkids, aged between 10 and 15, who will be on hand to help ensure the event runs smoothly.
“I’m really excited. I play tennis five or six times a week, so I had ballboy training a couple of times a week too,” ballboy Sulaiman Ashoor told ATPTour.com on Saturday in Jeddah. “I have seen live tennis before at a tournament in Riyadh. I saw Stan Wawrinka and Dominic Thiem. It was really fun. I like seeing the players up close because if they can do it, it means I can do it.”
Sulaiman’s sister Tala Ashoor is one of six ballgirls on the team. A keen tennis fan and player like her brother, Tala is ready to relish the experience of being on court with some of the world’s best young professional players.
“I’m really excited, it’s my first time being a ballkid, but I’m also nervous,” said Tala, who was asked to take part in training for the event via her tennis coach. "The training was a lot, but it’s fun. My friends and family will come to watch when I am on court."