There is an old adage about never working with children and animals. But judging by what they have in mind for next week's Finals at the Royal Albert Hall, no one seems to have told the ATP Champions Tour
Keren Amiran is the lucky winner of our competition for tickets to the Champions Tennis finals at the Royal Albert Hall next week and she is in for a treat. Not only will there be some great tennis to enjoy, there is an unexpected variation to the staffing this time.
Unlike most of the innovations at tennis tournaments this year, which have been about something serious, like the shot clock at the US Open, the Champions Tennis final is introducing….dogs.
For the first time at a major tennis event, balldogs will be used to retrieve the balls.
For all of the doubles matches, ie a total of 6 sessions, dogs will be fetching the balls and getting the players’ towels. The pooches have not, it is fair to say, had the intensive training that goes into teaching the Wimbledon ball kids what to do, and their tennis knowledge is apparently quite limited. But like all happy hounds, they do know how to chase down a ball when someone says Fetch!
Working in partnership with Spiller's and Canine Partnerships, the event will be using 'assistance’ animals who have been trained to work with people who have a physical disability. So the dogs know, for example, how to open the fridge or switch on the washing machine. Coping with shots from players such as Tim Henman or John McEnroe will, of course, be a whole different ball game. But all the dogs are used to being ambassadors for charitable events and comfortable with crowds. What could possibly go wrong.
HEAD are offering 20% off all seats, excluding boxes at the Champions Tennis, for Local Tennis League players. Simply enter the code 38546 in the top right hand corner when selecting your seats to claim your discount. The link to book is here