2006_09_ballbabe.jpgWith the US Open heading to its climactic weekend, there have been some fun articles about the ball boys and girls at the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center. Take the NY Times' US Open blog post about "Ballbabes": Male spectators seem to love some of the ladies wearing the Ralph Lauren designed outfits (sleeveless and short, while the ball boys get less revealing polo shirts and shorts) and boo when their favorites get rotated off the court. The Staten Island Advance chatted wtih four Island ball boys and girls, including Ronald Butts who has been a ball person for 18 years:

The New Brighton resident was working behind the baseline at the nationally televised 1996 men's single quarterfinal between Alex Corretja and a flu-ridden Pete Sampras.

"I could see [Sampras] didn't look right, so I offered him a towel. But he wouldn't take it, he waved me off. Then he got sick," recalled Butts. "He got some of it on my shoes. He was really sick but he had to continue because [the chair umpire] had warned him for a time delay. He was getting ready to play but there was still a mess on the ground behind him. I was worried that he was going to slip, so I raced out and wiped it up with a towel.

"They started calling me 'Vomit Boy' after that," laughed Butts, noting that Sampras ended up winning the match en route to the fourth of his five Open singles titles. "I tried to live it down, and most of the ball people I worked with at the time have left. But they still show it every once in a while on ESPN Classic."

Wow, can you imagine Kramer wiping up vomit? Butts also mentioned that Andre Agassi is demanding, and in an interview with Metro, Gary Spitz, a veteran ball boy for the past 26 years, confirms this and tells a fairly insane story about Agassi freaking out over getting a towel.

Tonight, the big match is between number 1 seed Roger Federer and American James Blake (seeded 5). The J Block will be going crazy, and you can see that if you're lucky enough to have tickets or on USA at 7PM.