Ten ball kids from India chosen for Australian Open duty

The 10 were picked from a group of 1,800 from Delhi, Mumbai, Bengaluru and Kolkata by Kia, the main sponsor of the first tennis major of the year.

Mahesh Bhupathi said it was a great opportunity for the kids, pointing out that the some of the greats of the game like Roger Federer and John McEnroe had served as ball boys.   -  Kamesh Srinivasan

It will be three weeks of Grand Slam experience for the 10 selected children who have been chosen for duty at the Australian Open by sponsor Kia.

Congratulating the chosen kids, from a group of 1,800 kids picked from Delhi, Mumbai, Bengaluru and Kolkata, multiple Grand Slam doubles champion Mahesh Bhupathi told them to enjoy themselves in Melbourne.

Inspiring the kids, Bhupathi said it was a great opportunity for them, pointing out that the some of the greats of the game like Roger Federer and John McEnroe had served as ball boys.

“Leander Paes was ball boy to Jaidip Mukerjea and Ramanathan Krishnan at South Club. The Aussies are sports loving people. The Australian Open is the right place to get inspired by the game for any kid,” he said.

The 10 kids selected are Sarthak Gandhi, Varshith Kumar Reddy, Naman Mehta, Ankit Pilania, Akshit Chaudhary, Soham Dewan, Ribhav Ojha, Swati Malhotra, Jennika Jaison and Ananya Singh.

Lauding Kia for the initiative and expressing confidence that there would be many more thousands lining up to grab such an opportunity next year, Bhupathi said such corporate sponsors can give a new direction to tennis in India.

“I have played the Australian Open for 18 years. Kia’s involvement with the Australian Open has been evolving. I remember their first ad with Andre Agassi and the Rafael Nadal. They have a strong association with tennis. Their support to India is an amazing opportunity for us. It has been only three months for me on this project. Give me some more time,” Bhupathi said when asked about the possibilities of the company further extending support to Indian tennis.

Kookhyun Shim, managing director and chief executive officer of Kia Motors India, said the company is passionate about not just making great cars.

“We look at a lifestyle beyond automobiles. We believe that sports has the power to inspire,” he said, highlighting the company’s support for football, golf and tennis.