BRACKNELL’S Maxim Wallace was the British star at the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals in the absence of Wimbledon champion Andy Murray – and he admitted to loving every minute of it.
Having won a nationwide competition the 16-year-old, who plays at Latika Junior Tennis Club, shared the court with the cream of world tennis at the O2 as one of 30 Barclays Ball Kids.
Back surgery put an end to Wimbledon champion Murray’s hopes of appearing, but Wallace still rubbed shoulders with this year’s French Open and US Open winner Rafael Nadal in London.
And after playing a starring role in the capital, Wallace, who saw off thousands of youngsters to get his eight days of fame, insisted it was an experience he would never forget.
“It was amazing, it made all the hard work worth it, it was one of the best experiences” said Wallace, who appeared in front of 20,000 spectators a day at the O2.
“There were a few nerves at the beginning, I fumbled the ball at the start, but only once, and then after that I just got more and more confident.
“We were the first team of the whole tournament to go on and even though it was a doubles match, there were still quite a few people there. It was amazing.
“A few of the players did some keepy uppies with the ball and then they smashed it across the net and I caught it, which also got a big cheer from the crowd so that was good.
“Roger Federer was my favourite, he is such a classy guy, even when he lost he was still shaking our hands.” Six-time Grand Slam champion Boris Becker helped chose Wallace, who attends Reading School, for the O2 role where he caught the eye of 2009 US Open winner Juan Martin Del Potro.
Del Potro met Wallace off the court at the O2 to give him hints and tips, and the world number five admitted he did a sterling job for all the players involved, not just himself.
“I was 10 years old [when I was a ball boy] at a Futures tournament in Buenos Aires and I remember all the players who played in that event,” said Del Potro.
“I know how big it is for the ball kids, meeting all the players, giving the balls to all of us. They are so fast, they are so good, they make our job very easy.
“I think they are great, they’re smart, they know when we ask for our towels, our drinks and they are so professional too.” For more information about the Barclays Ball Kids programme, go to barclaysballkids.com or visit the Barclays Ball Kids Facebook page.