280 Ball Crew Members volunteered for the BNP Paribas Open
While professionals from all around the world are competing in the BNP Paribas Open, there are two hundred eighty ball crew members who maintain the court.
As the announcer welcomes the players, the ball crew lines up. Jared Gillespie says he's been a ball crew member for six seasons.
"When you do year after year, you almost climb up the ranks; you realize more of the first and second years will turn to you for questions," says Jared Gillespie, a 6th-year BNP Paribas Open ball crew member. "And that's something that I felt a lot this year."
Gillespie says he grew up playing tennis. Being a part of the ball crew has allowed him to see some of his favorite players.
"I was lucky enough to be on Federer's court back when we were still doing towels," says Gillespie.
That was back in 2019.
"And one of the standout moments to me of my entire career as a ball kid was when I gave the towel to Roger Federer.
The Swiss tennis layer he refers to is now retired, but Gillespie's love of the game increased at that moment.
Gillespie, along with 279 others, is a part of this year's ball crew. Some local students also had an opportunity to experience the ball crew.
"There's a high school near here at Coachella valley high school," says Gillespie. "And we've been enlisting their help in basically they sent a couple of kids over, who were briefly trained, and we helped them out. And they help us out. And in fact, being an almost honorary ball crew."
One ball crew chairman says some local students had an opportunity to help during the first week of the tournament. The rest of the ball crew have trained since the fall to prepare for the BNP Paribas Open.
"For example, if you're at the net, someone might roll a ball to you," says Gillespie. "And you should be thinking about, oh, there's a ball on that side; I need to be prepared for that ball to come to me at the net. It's stuff like that. I think that makes the best of the ball kids."