Ball Kids set to join tennis stars at O2

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A team of 30 youngsters had their first glimpse of a venue they will be sharing with the best tennis players in the world in just a few days time.

The search for the country's top ball kids to take part in the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals at the O2 began earlier this year, with the select few tennis enthusiasts whittled down from an initial pool of 2,500 entrants.

After being kitted up last week, the group of 12 to 16-year-old's were treated to a backstage tour of the venue, which will welcome the best eight singles players and doubles teams in the world from November 5, as well as a meeting with tournament director Chris Kermode.

He said this year, the hunt for the ball kids had expanded to France, where a pair of teenagers were selected for the tournament.

"Doing it in an arena like this too, it's a bit of theatre," he said.

"The court is lit like a boxing ring and there are 1,800 spectators - it will be quite special for them."

Barking teenager Abiola Adeseye, 16, said he was one of the few new recruits who was not a member of a tennis club.

"It's just something to do outside of school," he said.

"Anything to do with sports, exercise and athleticism, I just love things like that.

"I am looking forward to meeting the tennis players and being on-court with Federer, Tsonga and Murray, it's going to be amazing."

Sutton Tennis Academy player Paula Mazur, from Surrey, will take to the O2 courts fresh from her stint as a ball-girl at this year's Wimbledon.

The 14-year-old said: "We're making new friends here and just to be with the players on-court, that will be amazing meeting them all.

"My favourite is Nadal but he's not playing so that's a let-down, but I'm looking forward to Djokovic."