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Barclays is the title sponsor of the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals, the largest indoor tennis tournament in the world.

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The programme is great. It’s a really nice opportunity for these young kids to be up close and personal with players such as Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal.
Richard Gasquet, Tennis player

The event takes place from 21 to 28 November at The O2, London and represents the finale to the season at which the top eight players in the world battle it out to finish as the number one player.

As part of the sponsorship, Barclays runs an initiative to involve young people in the action and excitement of the tournament. Barclays Ball Kids is a unique opportunity for 30 young people to act as ball boys and girls during the event.

After all, some of the world’s greatest tennis players, such as Roger Federer and Pat Cash started off in their first major tournament as ball kids, so it is a great introduction to the sport for many youngsters.

The hunt for ball kids between the ages of 12 and 16 began last November, when Barclays launched a UK-wide ‘X-factor’ style search from the 1,601 hopefuls that registered to take part.

Ten regional selection trials were then held across the country in February and March with 115 young hopefuls progressing to the National Selection Trials in April. From there, the final squad of Barclays Ball Kids were selected.

Former Wimbledon semi-finalist, Richard Gasquet (pictured right) was a surprise guest at the Barclays Ball Kids’ first official training session, held on Sunday 6 June at The Chelsea Harbour Club, London.

The training session led by the Barclays Ball Kids talent spotting team was designed to ensure squad members were empowered with all the skills required to provide outstanding service to the world’s top tennis players. The session included a series of drills to develop ball skills, rolling with precision, speed, balance and teamwork.

After the training session, one parent said: “What a great session, your coaches really know how to get the kids to open up and interact with each other which, as an ex-PE teacher, I can tell you isn’t easy!”

One of the coaches explained: “We have been overwhelmed by the number of great athletes that we have seen – not just kids that play tennis but a whole range of sports. The standard has been much better than we anticipated.”

After joining in with the training, Gasquet gave the squad some top tips on what makes a good ball kid: “The Barclays ATP World Tour Finals is a big event. The most important thing to being a good ball kid is to be quick. You need to be fast between first and second serves and be working all the time, concentrating on the play.”

He added: “The programme is great. It’s a really nice opportunity for these young kids to be up close and personal with players such as Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal.”

The Barclays Ball Kids will now undergo another training session in September, followed by an intensive five-day Barclays Base Camp in October where they will perfect their skills before the joining the world’s top eight tennis players on court as Ball Kids at the 2010 Barclays ATP World Tour Finals.

Michelle McEttrick, Barclays Global Retail Banking Chief Marketing Officer, said: “We are delighted with the response we have had towards the Barclays Ball Kids programme and are particularly proud of our final squad of 30 who have done incredibly well to make it this far.”

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