Becker amazed by standard of Barclays Ball Kids
UNDER the A40 flyover is Westway Sports Centre, and if you listened carefully past the sound of speeding cars overhead on Saturday, you would have heard 130 excited 12-16-year-olds as they battled it out at the Barclays Ball Kids National Trial.
BUDDING HOPEFULS: Boris Becker lends a hand in selecting the 30 Barclays Ball Kids for the ATP Finals in London
With the prize of becoming one of 30 ball boys and girls at November's ATP World Tour Finals up for grabs, youngsters travelled far and wide to strut their stuff, hoping to earn a spot at the O2 Arena with the world's top eight players.
And the competition was fierce, all being tested on their agility, endurance, ball skills, balance, speed and team work, to prove they were up to test of starring at such an illustrious tennis tournament.
And if that wasn't hard enough, they had to do so in front of the watchful eyes of one of tennis' all-time greats, perfect practice for the real thing.
Three-time Wimbledon champion Boris Becker was on hand to offer the youngsters some tips, show them how it is done with an impromptu knock-about with Andy Murray's former coach Mark Petchey, and give the hopefuls some words of wisdom.
And with the prize of rubbing shoulders with the likes of Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and British number one Murray on the cards, Becker was impressed with what he saw.
"It was a very tough decision to pick the final squad and it certainly wasn't easy for us because everybody was very good," said Becker, who also won two Australian Opens and one US Open during his illustrious career.
"It isn't just the physical ability you need to do the job but also the mental ability too because it is an amazing tournament and all these 130 kids have made it this far because they have shown that.
"I have been very impressed with what I have seen and I couldn't believe the standard last year but this year it seems even better, everyone has been amazing."
And despite beating of competition from 2,500 other 12-16-year-olds to make it this far, the final 130 were finally whittled down to just 30, with ten in reserve.
So, Novak Djokovic isn't the only one to already have his place at the O2 this winter booked!
Among the lucky winners was 11-year-old Jodie Anna-Burrage, who trains 20 hours a week and has already represented Great Britain at under-12 level.
And after being given the thumbs up from both Becker and Petchey, she admitted she would be counting down the days until she gets to share a court with the likes of Federer and Nadal.
"It's really amazing to think that I will be a ball girl for the eight best tennis players in the world," said Burrage.
"I can't wait to be up close to be able to see the stars in person, I'm sure I will be able to learn a lot and it will also be really fun to take part in.
"The stadium is going to be enormous so I will definitely be a bit nervous but I'm sure it will mostly just be excitement about meeting some of my heroes on court."
And who knows, maybe these 30 will soon be back at the O2 Arena in years to come with a racquet in hand.
We will keep our fingers crossed that this is just the beginning of a fruitful tennis journey for these lucky winners.
For more information on becoming a Barclays Ball Kid at the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals in London visit www.barclaysballkids.com