ATP Set To Reinstate Rule Allowing For Players To Request Towel From Ball Kids

ATP Set To Reinstate Rule Allowing For Players To Request Towel From Ball Kids

by Nurein Ahmed

The ATP board has reportedly approved restoring an old-age rule requiring ball kids to honor tennis players' requests for towels between points.

For many years, the discourse on whether towel exchanges between ball kids and players should even take place has been contentious, to say the least, because of hygiene reasons.

Additionally, there have been emerging issues about the treatment and rights of ball kids, with some of them who have dutifully performed this job in the past finding it demeaning and comparing it to enslavement.

However, since the coronavirus happened in 2020, it was by serendipity that the tennis authorities improved the integrity of the role of ball kids, limiting them to only retrieving balls in matches.

Therefore, players were directed to tend to their own towels between points or sets over fears of spreading the contagious disease that killed millions and forced the shutdown of the tennis tour temporarily four years ago.

Even when normalcy returned around the world, the amended rule remained in place, and players have continually been picking and placing towels at the designated stations on the court all by themselves.

But that will change again after the 2024 Wimbledon Championships. According to a tweet by veteran journalist Jon Wertheim, one of the agenda items discussed and agreed upon during a board meeting by the ATP Tour was reinstating an additional role for the ball kids.

"Notice to prospective ballkids...From the @atptour recent meetings: "Board approved a rule change to permit players to request and be handed towels between points, as was customary before the Covid-19 pandemic. All ATP tournaments must accommodate this provision. This rule change will take effect starting after Wimbledon."

This will now mean tournaments will resort to the pre-COVID era when ball kids served the players with their towel requests between points. The argument for restoring this rule is that it will also help with timekeeping as players adhere to the shot clock system.


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