'I would like to be able to deal with everything in life with the dispassion and robotic precision of a Wimbledon ball boy.'
£200 a fortnight is the prize. That, honour, and all-important time spent in the absence of graffiti-etched textbooks. But these rewards are not for nothing; they serve as compensation for weeks of gruelling and intense training; for unflinching, military discipline in the beating summer sun. This is the bounty for a Wimbledon BBG.
In the lead-up to the tournament, there's no time to lose and lots to learn. Even seasoned BBGs have their work cut out. Aside from the written exam - which evaluates applicants' aptitude for arithmetic and the technical aspects of the game - there are rigorous fitness standards and almost a century's worth of unbreakable etiquette guidelines to meet.
This list doesn't even scratch the surface. Between the strictly height-sensitive bounces that must deliver a ball to the server's racket with laser precision, and the secret art of 'rolling', these boys and girls are tasked with being on high alert at all times. Think it's easy? Try it. Try it on a hard court, and wonder how they manage to get the ball rolling so powerfully and smoothly all at once. On grass. It's a mean feat, down to the slick delivery and consistency of technique. Let us know how you do. And it's not just the physical things.
There's something in the stony-polite 'I don't know, Sir's and 'I don't know Miss's that clashes in the face of temptation; these aspirational teenage sports fans (we choose the word 'sports' carefully*) deny any urge to parley with these tennis superstars. To face the wrath of a contested point or the frustration of a losing match is something that even the strongest among us could struggle with. It's in their interest to stay stoic and present though. In the words of one BBG coach, once a ball girl herself, 'Being hit by a 120mph serve is quite memorable.'
It's clear that while the battle on the court rages on, it does so only thanks to the mechanised focus of these purpose-built, uniformed stagehands. If tennis were a clock, and the players its hands, then these dedicated BBGs would surely be the cogs that kept them ticking and tocking. Be sure to keep your eyes peeled for their hard work over this year's Wimbledon, and naturally, The Boodles, of which PlayBrave is official sponsor.
* It's been said that, for many, being too much of a tennis fan is distracting.