Arthur Ashe Stadium in Queens, New York is both the largest tennis stadium in the world and the American hub of the sport – especially during the late-summer weeks each year that are marked by the US Open. With the event drawing crowds that neared a million in 2023, there’s no shortage of fans eager to get close to the action at the only tennis Grand Slam event played on US soil. And, as the short documentary Ball People (2023) shows, no one, with the exception of the players themselves, gets closer than the members of the US Open Ball Crew tasked with grabbing loose balls between points.
A filmmaker with a knack for chronicling American subcultures with style, the US director Scott Lazer takes viewers inside the process by which Ball Crew hopefuls try out for perhaps the most coveted $11-an-hour job in the country. Shooting inside Arthur Ashe Stadium and the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center that houses it, Lazer captures participants of many ages and degrees of experience as they chase down balls with speed and agility, share what inspired them to try out for the gig, and react to the thrill of being selected or the sting of being passed over.
Director: Scott Lazer
Producer: Tripp Kramer