Youngster Anna Hughes shares court with Rusedski

Magic moment: Anna meets up with British star Greg Rusedski.
Magic moment: Anna meets up with British star Greg Rusedski.
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SHEFFIELD’S Anna Hughes was put through her paces by former British No 1 tennis player Greg Rusedski as her bid to become a Barclays Ball Kid entered its final stage.

The Silverdale School, Bents Green, pupil, who turns 14 years old on Friday, was one of 100 youngsters to be given expert tuition from Rusedski at the Barclays Ball Kids National Trial at the Westway Sports Centre in London.

Up for grabs is the prize of starring alongside tennis galacticos Novak Djokovic, Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal at the O2 as one of 30 ball kids for the ATP World Tour Finals in November.

Hughes demonstrated her talent in front of Rusedski as well as Mark Petchey, the former coach of current British No.1 Andy Murray, who will also be in action at the ATP World Tour Finals.

And Abbeydale Tennis Club’s Hughes admitted it would be a dream come true to rub shoulders with the likes of Murray and his international rivals later this year.

“The National Trials were really fun and it was good to meet lots of new people,” said Hughes, who has beaten off competition from thousands of 12-16 year-olds to make it this far.

“I applied last year but I didn’t make it through the regional trial so being at the National Trial is a bit more nerve racking. But hopefully it will all be worth it and I get to share a court with all the players at the O2 – that would be amazing.”

The nationwide Barclays Ball Kids search began in January with Hughes - a former pupil at Dobcroft Junior School, Millhouses - qualifying from the East Midlands regional trial at The Nottingham Tennis Centre.

But Hughes wasn’t the only one flying the flag for Sheffield as Birkdale Senior School student Jonathan Holtum is also in contention.

And Rusedski, who along with Petchey will select the lucky winners, believes the youngsters will be in for a treat they will never forget should they reach the O2.

“This is a wonderful opportunities for these kids because if you love your tennis then you get to see the eight best players in the world and be on the same court as them,” said Rusedski, who reached No 4 in the world during his playing days.

“Right now we are going through a really magical era of tennis stars and to think that these young people could be alongside them is brilliant.

“We are narrowing it down to just 30 players which is very difficult but it does ensure we have the best of the best come November at the O2.”

For more information on becoming a Barclays Ball Kid at the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals in London in November, you can visit ww.barclaysballkids.com