A high school girl who learned tennis at Boothbay Harbor Yacht Club was one of over 100 ball kids at the 2021 U.S. Open. Sadie Yentsch grew up in Boothbay and now attends Kennebunk High School. She was the Rams’ top female player and lost a tight match in the high school singles tournament in June.
But the talented teen’s next big tennis event was the U.S. Open in New York City in August. She was a ball kid for the grand slam tennis tournament. “I absolutely love being active and watching and playing sports of all kinds, tennis in particular. After watching the U.S. Open on TV (last year), I had a desire to find a way to be a part of the action and energy. I found out how to apply online and was invited to participate in tryouts,” she said.
Yentsch reported 500 other prospective ball kids applied. Prior to the qualifying tournament held Aug. 24-27, Yentsch was trained with the others, who had various amounts of experience. Training was a two-day event at the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in Queens. Yentsch and the other ball kids learned ball-person formations and rules of the job. Between the qualifying and main tournament, she worked 15 eight-hour days. “We worked 90-minute shifts throughout the day. Some days during the qualifiers hit 95F with no breeze so it was nice to have a break from the sun and heat,” she said.
Yentsch received her daily assignments via email and during the tournament she was on court with the game’s top aces such as 20-time major singles champion Novak Djokovic, Kei Nishikori, Gael Monfils, Reilly Opelka, Aryna Sabalenka, women’s champion Emma Radacanu, Carlos Alcaraz, Felix Auger-Aliassime and women’s singles runner-up Leylah Fernandez.
One of Yentsch’s favorite aspects of the U.S. Open is that it’s an international tournament with competitors from all over the world. As a tennis player, she was motivated to see up close so many different athletes play the sport she loves. “It was so inspiring to see the athletes on the practice courts and around the stadium doing footwork and strength drills. The energy of the athletes and crowd during the matches was so exhilarating, I constantly had chills,” she said.
Yentsch has returned home to Kennebunk and now is focusing on her senior year. She wants to build on a successful singles season which saw her lose a three-set match to a “highly seeded” player in the state tournament. Yentsch would like to return to the U.S. Open as a ball girl, but isn’t sure if her schedule will allow it. “I would love to do it again at some point in my life, but I'm not sure if next year will work because I will be starting college,” she said.
Yentsch is the daughter of Sara Woodman of Kennebunk and Colin Yentsch of Boothbay. Her sister Ella was a member of the championship Kennebunk High School swim team. Her grandparents were Charles and Clarice Yentsch, who founded Bigelow Laboratory for Ocean Sciences. Sadie participated in the lab’s Keller-Bloom weeklong program this summer.
In her elementary school days, she participated in Central Lincoln County YMCA’s gymnastic program and the Boothbay Region Y Arts program. She earned a Junior Theater Festival All-Star selection in Atlanta. Sadie also participated with her mother in Harbor Fest Fishin’ for Fashion as models.
Yentsch played first singles for Kennebunk last season and led her team to the Class A regional final. She started playing tennis as a kid hitting with her grandfather. It wasn’t until her sophomore season where she began training with hopes of playing college tennis. “I had the great opportunity this past summer to work with Chantelle Arsenault at the Boothbay Harbor Yacht Club. She is another person who inspires me, on and off the court. I am also fortunate to have my family that supports my training and goals,” Yentsch said.