Brazil Open Spices Up Tennis With Unconvential Ball Boys
by Julia Lebovitz on Thursday, March 10th, 2016
Brazil has received negative press recently on several different subjects. The Zika virus has been identified as the cause of birth defects in young children, and no cure has been found. With the upcoming summer Olympics hosted by Brazil, this virus has created concern about the health of athletes and spectators. Even before this outbreak, Brazil’s preparation for the Olympics has been marred by corruption, cost overruns, and delays. At the same time, Brazil’s economy has suffered because of a recession.
The tennis world has also faced difficulties this year. Recently, several players have been accused of cheating by accepting money to intentionally lose matches. The year’s first major, the Australian Open, was dominated by this scandal instead of the brilliant play of Novak Djokovich, champion and number one player in the world.
In the face of all of these challenges, both Brazil and the tennis world desperately needed good news. In general, tennis matches are quiet and understated affairs. However, at the recent Brazil Tennis Open, the goal was to make conventional activities fun and entertaining. One of the major ATP Tour tournaments, the Brazil Open includes many players ranked in the top 50 world-wide. In their Thursday night match, Gastao Elias and Roberto Carballes Baena had pretty unorthodox ball boys. The Brazil Open, played in Sao Paolo, utilized four shelter dogs, Frida, Costela, Mel, and Isabelle, as ball boys with the goal to raise awareness for animal adoption in a fun manner. These dogs, found roaming the streets of San Paulo, were taught to be the ball boys for a match in a major stadium in just a few months.
Marli Scarmella explained to Fox News Latino that their aim was, “to show people that a well-fed and well-treated animal can be very happy. We have more than 1,000 dogs in our care.” Scarmella and the Association of Animal Wellbeing trained the animals to chase after any ball that fell into the net or landed outside the court. While the dogs reluctantly returned the balls to the players, they eagerly and quickly retrieved every ball necessary. The trainer, Andrea Beckert, reflected that the most difficult aspect of teaching the dogs was increasing the dogs’ confidence and will to play after they were mistreated. The dogs ended up receiving more attention from fans than the players did.
Just last week, the tennis world lost one of its most colorful commentators, Bud Collins. Collins entertained tennis audiences with his zany descriptions of players and his funky outfits. He was also one of the most knowledgeable historians of tennis and was beloved by fans and players alike. With all of the negative issues the tennis world is dealing with, the game needs more off the wall ideas like using dogs as ball boys and humorous figures like Bud Collins.
Short URL: http://miltonmeasure.org/?p=7820