Gympie teen’s date with his sporting heroes
GYMPIE champion tennis supporter Dustin Mostofizadeh expects a gruelling time on court at the Australian Open, where he will have one of the most prominent and highest pressure jobs in the sporting world.
Even being a supporter can be a competitive event in itself, as Mostofizadeh has found out already.
Mostofizadeh is shaping up for his second and last year as one of the "ballkids," who will keep the action flowing at the big 2020 Melbourne comp next month, working with some of the great champions of tennis.
His motivation is simple.
"I just want to be involved," he said.
"The ball kids are between 12 and 16," he said at Tennis Gympie's courts in Cartwright Rd.
"I've been keen on tennis since I was five years old."
Most people realise the highly competitive nature of the Australian Open from a player's perspective, but fewer realise how tough the competition is for the game's highest profile supporters, the ones who keep the courts tidy and the game running smoothly.
The "ballkids," as ball boys and ball girls are officially known this year, have to be fast, fit, alert and ready for action - on the ball in more ways than one.
And they have to do it in Melbourne's sometimes fiercely hot summer weather, in a competition area where grandstands mean there is no breeze.
Only the best make it through the selection process, so it is a high honour for the Gympie lad to be chosen, from a field of thousands, to be an integral part of the Australian Open KIA 2020.
His favourite player is the Spaniard, Rafael Nadal, but Mostofizadeh says he is honoured to work so closely with the champions and to briefly share the sporting stratosphere with people like Novak Djokovic, Maria Sharapova and the young Australian great, Ashleigh Barty.
Mostofizadeh says he is not imagining himself wielding a racquet on the court with the greats, but this sort of progression is far from unknown.
Tennis Australia points out that some of the world's best, including Roger Federer and Australia's own Pat Rafter and Lleyton Hewitt, were ballkids before playing their way to fame and fortune in the sport's professional ranks.
To make the final squad for the Australian Open, Mostofizadeh had to be selected from thousands of applicants, including some from overseas.
He is now among the squad's 16 interstate Australian members, along with 290 Victorians and 38 internationals from France, China, India and Korea, all ready to perform at peak for the 2020 event, which will run fom January 20 to February 2.
The event, sponsored by Kia Motors in association with Luzhou Laojiao and Rolex, will be held at Melbourne Park.
Applications for the Australian Open 2021 ballkids program are now open at 'www.tennis.com.au/ballkids'.