India proves a smash hit in Finals race

India Taylor in action at the trials
India Taylor in action at the trials
Blu Baker in action this season

Baker on the rise in Florida

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India Taylor is in the final shake-up to become a ball girl at the ATP World Tour Finals at the O2 in London later this year.

Braving the wintry weather, the 14-year-old shone during the trials at the Hampshire Heath & Racquets Club in Southampton on Sunday.

The Wykeham House pupil showed impressive agility, endurance and ball skills to stand out from almost 100 hopefuls who took up the challenge.

Having won over the judges, Taylor was named as one of just seven aces who will move forward from the county event to the London finals on April 13.

The Ball Kid Talent ID trial was the brainchild of ATP World Tour Finals sponsors Barclays.

The project is designed to find 30 children aged from 12 to 16 to join the world’s eight best tennis players and star as ball kids at the event.

It is the fourth year they have run the competition to supply budding tennis talents from all around the county to staff the tournament – which was won last year by Novak Djokovic, after an epic battle with seven-time Wimbledon champion Roger Federer.

Mark Magrath, head trainer of the Barclays Ball Kid Talent ID, was impressed with what he saw at the regional trial.

And he reckons Taylor, along with the six other youngsters who made the grade, has a great chance to see the likes of Britain’s US Open and Olympic champion Andy Murray at close quarters in November.

Magrath said: ‘Each one of the kids was here to prove they have got what it takes.

‘And I have no doubt some of them will go far in this Barclays Ball Kids search.

‘We always have huge competition between the children in this area and this year was no exception.

‘It just goes to show that hard work pays off and the ones who stood out were the kids who listened, took on board what it means to be a Barclays Ball Kid and put this into practice.’

– JAKE JONES