But the unanimous choice for the pro the ball people would most love to throw under the number 7 train? Conchita Martinez, the Nurse Racket of tennis. "She's rude," Spitz says. "She's all 'Gimme the ball now! No, not this ball! That ball!' She even hits balls at you! When the kids misbehave around here, we make them do one of her matches."
Italy's Giorgio Galimberti ain't no field of daisies, either. I was his chair valet for one set when he suddenly yelled out, "Ice!" Ice? I had no idea. I brought him a little Dixie cup full of ice. "No, no! Ice! For my leg-a!"
For his leg-a? I floundered around for maybe 20 seconds. Suddenly a teammate rushed me a bag of ice, which I was about to hand to him when time ran out. Galimberti waved the bag away with something that sounded like, "Idiot-a!" and limped back on the court. And one set later he retired with leg cramps. Oops.
Afterward, still in uniform, I gingerly approached him in the press area and said, "Do you know me?"
He braced as if I were going to present him with paternity papers. "No."
"I was one of your ball persons tonight," I said. "You don't remember me?"
"No, I don't notice you," he said. "But to be honest, I never worry about the ball boys in New York because they're so good. Very quick. They're always ready for you."
We love tennis pros.
? To see a photo gallery of Rick Reilly's day as a ball boy at the U.S. Open, go to SI.com/ballboy. If you have a comment for Reilly, send it to email@example.com.