© Ella Ling

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New York diary: Military veteran working as a ball boy

   

Fans of Seinfeld, which is still repeated with regularity on American television, will doubtless remember an episode which featured the US Open, when Jerry and Co. take a trip to the US Open, with George Costanza eventually caught on camera with ice cream running down his face, The gang were at Flushing Meadows because Kramer had somehow become a ball-boy, prompting all kinds of mayhem.

It might sound unlikely but the ball boys and girls at the US Open are often more men and women, with some advanced in years more than they would care to admit. Others have dramatic, even heroic back stories and in 2012, a 23-year-old called Ryan McIntosh has been making headlines. McIntosh had his right leg amputated below the knee after losing his right foot in a land mine explosion while on duty in Afghanistan. But with the help of a prosthetic blade, he has been working at the US Open along the other 249 ball boys and girls.

Jim Courier named his United States team on Tuesday to play Spain in this month’s Davis Cup semi-final, a match for which Andy Roddick will be retired and Mardy Fish is not available because of health reasons. Beating Spain in Spain, on clay, even without Rafael Nadal, will be incredibly difficult but the task will lie with John Isner, Sam Querrey and Bob and Mike Bryan. Difficult, but not impossible.

What was most interesting to hear was Courier saying that Isner has overplayed this summer, leaving him too tired when it comes to the big matches. This is the man who beat Roger Federer on clay in the Davis Cup in Switzerland this year but his defeat by Philipp Kohlschreiber in round four at the US Open means he has lost in five sets in all four grand slams this year, a pretty telling statistic. “He’s overscheduled himself and he’ll learn from that,” Courier said. “He’s been incredible in Davis Cup this year. He’s incredibly excited about Gijon and he’ll get some rest for it now.”

Don’t let it ever be said that Sam Smith is not a woman of her word. The former British No 1 was commentating on Laura Robson’s matches at the US Open when she said she would jump in the fountain at Flushing Meadows if the 18-year-old beat Li Na. Robson duly upheld her end of the bargain with a fabulous win over the former French Open champion, and ran through the fountain as a result. Sky Sports have been showing re-runs ever since.