Ball dogs, the hit of the 2016 Brasil Open, returned to the ATP World Tour 250 tournament on Saturday to chase more fuzzy yellow balls. Cindy, Nanda, Pretinha, Mia, Arlete and Ovelha dashed around the red clay in Sao Paulo as Brazilian Marcelo Demoliner and Brazilian coach Joao Zwetsch, who works with Thiago Monteiro and Thomaz Bellucci, played a few points and posed for photos with the shelter dogs.
“It was pretty fun, super cool with the dogs, really nice experience,” Demoliner said.
The Brasil Open and tournament sponsor PremieR Pet brought back the crowd-pleasing activity for fans and for the pooches. All of last year’s ball dogs were adopted, and tournament officials hope this year’s dogs will be just as lucky and that the activity will help raise awareness for all pets without homes.
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Who let the dogs out? This year’s ball dog helpers came from two local non-profit dog shelters, Project Second Chance (Proyecto Segunda Chance) and Dogs Without Owners (Cão Sem Dono).
Demoliner, though, thinks the ball dogs might need a little more practice before taking the court for some primetime ATP World Tour action. “I think they need to improve a little bit because if they put dogs in a real match… we will have a lot of let calls,” he said before laughing. “But I think it was really nice to do this thing today.”