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Practice, practice, practice! Reuben Gabb's advice on becoming a ball boy or ball girl at Wimbledon

Wimbledon's all over for another year and the ball boys and boy girls are taking a well deserved break.

Chosen from schools close to the All England Lawn Tennis Club, they go through rigorous selection and training before making it to SW19.

So what does it take to get selected? Reuben Gabb helped keep the play flowing at this year's Championships.

In his own words he explains the excitement and exhaustion of rubbing shoulders with the world's biggest tennis stars at Wimbledon.

By Reuben Gabb

Shivers ran down my spine as I sprinted onto No.1 Court at Wimbledon in front of a crowd of 12,345. Over eight months of eye-opening and tiring training to be a Wimbledon ball boy were more than worth it.

No.1 Court at Wimbledon

My first taste of the journey to become one of the best ball boys in the world began in October 2018. I trained week in, week out as 40 young applicants from my school in Surrey vied for eight places to go to the prestigious ball boy trial at The All England Lawn Tennis Club.

Ball boys and ball girls at Wimbledon

I failed to get any further at this point the previous year and I was determined not to let myself down again, as I practised feeding, running and rolling the ball for hours.

On my birthday, January 11th, I was grateful to be selected as one of the eight boys to go the Wimbledon trial. For three-and-a-half hours, over three days, 700 girls and boys did everything to try and impress the instructors who seemed to be ubiquitous, always watching your every move.

I gave it my all as I was more than aware that I had a once in a lifetime opportunity.

The wait felt endless after the trial. I waited every day for a phone call from my school representative who would say if I would embark on a further five months of training for the July championships. The wait was worth it. I got good news and called every person on my contact list to let them know.

That joy remained with me from January 11th to July 14th, and that excitement was the reason I put myself through five months of utterly intense training for two-and-a-half hours a week. I have seen people compare becoming a Wimbledon ball boy to going through military training and in some aspects I agree.

I came home exhausted every Thursday night for five months as I ran, rolled and fed the ball to perfection. Most importantly and arguably the hardest skill, was being able to stand totally still. At the time, I questioned the reason for having to stand like this, but when I had to stand stock still for over 15 minutes on No.1 Court with over 10,000 people watching me I finally understood!

I cannot give enough credit to all of the instructors who praised, criticised but most importantly taught me everything (and when I say everything I mean everything) about how to be a ball boy at the home of tennis in SW19.

Reuben Gabb on court at Wimbledon

July 1st came about too quickly. Nothing can describe the excitement I felt as I stepped onto a packed court to be a ball boy for my first Wimbledon match. You could describe my journey as a steady transition. I was part of a team of boys and girls who I grew close to over two weeks as I worked for four hours a day with them. We began on courts with 50 spectators and finished on No.1 Court with 12,345 people.

Genuinely, nothing could ever match the adrenaline that surged through me as I ran onto No.1 Court on the final Sunday. I will never forget the eerie silence during match play and then the eruption of noise as a player hits a winner right down the line as it skims past my face.

My advice for a budding ball boy or ball girl would be to push yourself beyond your limits in training and when you can soak up the experience when on court.

The past two weeks have been the best of my life and nobody can ever tell me I was not one of the best ball boys in the world in 2019. If I had to sum up my experience in three words they would be excitement, noise and strawberries!