Billericay’S Leanne Judge could not hide her delight after getting up close and personal with the cream of world tennis — and former England captain Rio Ferdinand — at the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals.
Having won a nationwide competition, the Billericay School pupil shared the court at the O2 Arena with world number one Novak Djokovic as well as Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer.
And after her week in the Barclays Ball Kid spotlight Judge, 13, — who saw off 2,500 other children to get her 15 minutes of fame — admitted it had been an experience to savour.
But as well as sharing the court with the best the world of men’s tennis, as her sister Nicola had done a year previously, Leanne, also got chance to rub shoulders with Manchester United defender Ferdinand.
“It was amazing, the best week of my life,” said Judge, who appear-ed in front of 35,000 spectators a day at the London event and also shared the court with Federer during his final-winning performance.
“Being on court with the top tennis players in the world was amazing and it was a week off school.
“I really liked being on court with Novak Djokovic because he was really nice to us. I was also on court when Rio Ferdinand played his game and getting to talk to him was really good.
“I am not really into football but he was a really nice person and I enjoyed meeting him.”
Judge was not the only south Essex representative experiencing the atmosphere in south east London, as 14-year-old Southend High School for Girls pupil Isabella Wolfe was also part of the showpiece event.
“It felt incredible when I was on the court,” said Wolfe. “After the first match I was able to take it all in and enjoy the moment.”
And the Southend pair were praised for their week-long efforts by former world number one and three-time Wimbledon champion Boris Becker, who was among those to select the duo during the initial stages of the competition.
“The kids were great on the court all week,” said Becker. “It’s not an easy task, they have to train a lot and be very disciplined and be very fit. They were being watched by millions of people with thousands inside the arena. It was a nerve-wracking thing and they did very well.”
>For more information on becoming a Barclays Ball Kid at the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals i