Harry Mastermann heads to Australian Open

Harry Mastermann, 11, of Auburn has been selected as a ball-boy for next year's Australian Open. Photo - supplied.

Harry Mastermann, 11, of Auburn has been selected as a ball-boy for next year's Australian Open. Photo - supplied.

It is a long way from Auburn to Rod Laver Arena.

But the town at the entrance to the Clare Valley will be represented on the big stage of Australian tennis when 11-year-old Harry Mastermann takes to the court.

Harry is one of 312 kids from around the country who will descend on Melbourne next month for the 2019 Australian Open.

He will be on court when the best tennis players on the planet take centre stage.

Think Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Thansis Kokkinakis, three of Harry’s idols and who he models his game on.

It was a lengthy process for Harry to be selected as a ball-boy.

He first threw his hat into the ring in February this year by registering for the National Ballkid Program after getting his first taste of the tournament circuit closer to home.

Around this time last year, Harry became a ballboy at the ATP Challenge Tournament held at the new City of Playford tennis courts in Elizabeth.

“Watching the players and being on court with them was just fantastic,” Harry said.

“After that I was pretty interested in ball-boying. I signed up for the Australian Open and did try-outs monthly.”

In March he flew across the border to take part in the first try-out alongside a whopping 1600 other hopeful applicants.

Over the next few months, Harry continued to fly to Melbourne and back for try-outs before he was selected in the final squad.

Harry said the try-outs were intense with the first session consisting of three hours of ball drills including rolling and servicing.

In total, Harry participated in eight try-outs before his selection was confirmed.

But he very nearly missed out on making the cut.

Ball-kids at the Australian Open are aged between 12 and 15 years of age, with Harry just meeting the cut off by celebrating his twelfth birthday just five days before the first match of the Grand Slam.

Harry said he was looking forward to getting over to Melbourne for the tournament, describing it as a “very exciting” opportunity.

With the draw for the Open not taking place until next year, Harry won’t find out what games he will ball-boy until he arrives.

But he said he would love to ball-boy a game for Federer or Kokkinakis, the final or even be a flag bearer for the opening and closing ceremonies.

Harry paid tribute to his father Nick who not only sparked his love for the game but traveled over to Melbourne with him during the try-out phase.

A budding tennis player in his own right, Harry regularly travels down to Adelaide to train and compete in tournaments.

He said he hoped to one day turn professional and take to the court as a player one day instead.