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Douglaston girl, 15, a veteran ball girl at US Open

Juliette Hainline has loved tennis her entire life, and the US Open has always been a time of great excitement for her, going back to her days as a young child playing at the USTA facilities just a ball’s bounce from Arthur Ashe Stadium in Flushing Meadows Corona Park.

The 15-year-old Douglaston resident has since turned that passion into something of a career, or at least a summer gig, and this year she spent her second season as a professional ball girl at the event.

“It’s always been my dream to be a ball girl, so when I used to come to the Open, I would sit and watch how they run, how they catch the ball,” she said during a break in between tending two matches. “It’s a fantastic thing. And all the people I meet here love getting to be here on the court, experiencing the true Open.”

Decked in the ubiquitous dark blue Polo dress with orange and green neon highlights, she is one of the lucky few who get to share the courts with the best players in the world each year, chasing after their errant serves and handing them towels to wipe the sweat from their brows.

Though she has to hang up her visor Thursday to begin her sophomore year at Stuyvesant High School in Manhattan, she had the opportunity to work at more than 15 matches this summer.

The highlight of her experiences this year was getting to run balls for 45 minutes to wild-card American Donald Young — one of the 2011 Open’s Cinderella stories — during his four-hour victory in five sets over Switzerland’s 14th-ranked Stanislas Wawrinka.

In her second year on the courts — she is now known as a veteran among the ball boys and ball girls who hang out at the Perch, their headquarters high above Louis Armstrong Stadium — she continues to learn the specialized trade.

“It’s a fantastic thing, the experience I get from getting to be the ball girl for a great player and being there on the court,” she said. “I know the Open well already, but I’ve found a lot of new places I didn’t know about, and the veterans show you around, which is great .... I still learn something new every day.”

Juliette, who wants to go into theatre, film or law, is the second Hainline family member to work as an Open ball girl. Her 28-year-old sister Clotilde spent the last days of all four of her high school summers in the sun, chasing balls for the stars.

And though the position is a glamorous one she hopes to reprise in 2012 and 2013, it is not as easy as it looks, Hainline said.

“You have to be attentive, you have to stay focused. The hardest part is going from concentrating and staying focused, standing there rigid, and then sprinting to get the ball,” she said. “But I think I’ve done a lot better than last year. I’m doing pretty well.”

Reach reporter Connor Adams Sheets by e-mail at csheets@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4538.

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