FOR most teenagers, the January holidays is spent relaxing on the couch or camping in the bush.
But, for year 10 student Taine Lang, the break will see him take to the courts of Melbourne Park as one of 350 ballkids for the Australian Open.
It’s a dream come true for the 14-year-old aspiring tennis star, who is one of only two from Bendigo to be selected from more than 2500 applicants. This year is Lang’s debut donning the bright orange uniform.
“It is very exciting, and a great opportunity – not everyone gets selected, so it is very special to be put in,” he said.
Lang said is was nerve-wracking jumping on court for the first time on Monday.
“There was a great atmosphere, which made it even better,” he said.
In the full throes of the first week of grand slam action, Lang has already “ballkidded” for the likes of Uzbekistan’s Denis Istomin and Frenchman Gilles Simon, as well as been given the chance to learn tips that he can apply to his own game.
“It’s pretty cool to see how they focus, and how they go about their game,” he said.
The two weeks of centre court glory didn’t just happen overnight, with Lang and his fellow ballkids having to endure a 10-month tryout and training program to ensure they were up to scratch to respond to the serves of the pros.
“They had volunteer hitters there and we had to ballkid them, like a semi-reenactment of what we had to do in a match,” he said.
Lang is already planning ahead to 2019’s tournament, hoping to again secure a place in the prestigious squad.
“The whole experience has been great. I’m having the chance to learn a few more things about tennis, and it is fun as well,” he said.