Thursday, September 07, 2006

42 year old outlasts Agassi at U.S. Open

After 21 years playing at the U.S. Open, Andre Agassi has lost and is retiring. Rick Spitz has been on the same court for 26 years and has no plans to stop.

Spitz is a ballboy, and has been one since he was a teen in 1980. If you live in the NYC area, you've probably seen a story about him in the local media. The U.S. Open uses more than 250 ballboys and ballgirls during the two-week tournament. You have to pass a tryout, but the great thing is that there are no age restrictions––if you succeed at the tryout, you have a chance of being on one of the biggest and most famous stages in sport.

Spitz is a lawyer by day and each summer manages to cram in his work duties around his love for tennis and being a ballboy. When he started, Bjorn Borg was one of the stars. Now he's seen luminaries like Agassi, Sampras, and Steffi Graf come and go.

I was surprised to learn that the ball-persons actually get some pay for their duty––$10 an hour, in fact. Not much, I know, but beats a lot of other jobs people get these days. And if you like sports it's great because of the chance to see countless matches from the best seat in the house. Hey, you also get a free Ralph Lauren uniform and a pair of shoes, too!

Maybe I'll try out for ballboy next year. I'm about the same age as Rick Spitz, and it's never too late to start, right?

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