Champions Tennis has revealed that they are trialling dogs at this year’s event, to see if they have what it takes to support traditional ball girls and boys at the Royal Albert Hall, between 6th and 9th December.
The dogs, or balldogs, are being trained by British tennis legend Tim Henman, who recognises dogs lightning speed reactions, a keen eye, a strong grip and tireless enthusiasm, all traits that tournament organisers expect from ball boys and girls.
Tim, who has already spent time barking orders at some of the furry candidates, has been putting them through a series of exercises including fetching, catching and staying still, in a bid to see whether four legs really are better than two.
The first glimpses of Tim’s training camp went live today and show Tim trying to teach a group of enthusiastic dogs a bunch of new tricks.
Tennis legend Tim Henman said: “It’s been great fun giving the country’s finest pups a lesson on how to become successful balldogs.
Fingers crossed they will all be good enough to make the final cut and appear at this year’s Champions Tennis event, as I’d love to play alongside them in December. The dogs’ enthusiasm and desire to fetch would certainly make it even more of a fantastic spectacle and no doubt they’d get more attention than the players!”
The tournament, now in its 22nd year, is comprised of an afternoon and an evening session per day -with two scheduled matches per session; one competitive singles match and one entertaining doubles match.
As the season ending finale to the ATP Champions Tour, the event welcomes former Grand Slam Champions, World No.1s and national icons, with players including Goran Ivanisevic, Mark Philippoussis, Juan Carlos Ferrero, Carlos Moya, Mansour Bahrami and Tim Henman already announced.
Charlie Grave from Champions Tennis said:“Year on year we offer fans of tennis, sport and live events a four-day tournament full of fast paced action and world-class tennis from legends of the game.
Alongside the tennis we’re always looking for ways to a bring a bit of humour to Champions Tennis and felt that introducing dogs at this year’s event will bring a whole new dimension to the art of being a ball boy and girls and fits in to our ambition to bring a bit of fun to such an established sport.”
The ball dogs will need to face a final round of training before the official decision is made as to whether or not they will be good enough to run alongside the ball girls and boys at this year’s Champions Tennis – some were more woof-ful (woeful) than others! Watch this space for further updates on how the dogs get on. In the meantime, information on this year’s event and tickets can be found here: www.championstennis.co.uk