Roger Federer and Ronnie Banjeree on set at the Wilson Tennis shoot
Ronin Banerjee, aka Ronnie, is 4.5 years old – He could go on and on about tennis, but is understandably challenged to write his own blog. So, as his mom, this is the first homework assignment that I’m writing on his behalf and hopefully the last! :)
Our journey to the Wilson shoot started in August 2012 on Arthur Ashe Kid’s Day – Ronnie was 3.5 years old then but could keep a rally going with his dad – He is crazy about tennis – He could rattle the names of the top 5 players including their ranks, where they lived, the 4 Grand Slams, types of court they are played on, the number of Slams the big 4 have won and winners for the year etc and if I might add, much more fluently than his ABCs and numbers!!! On a bright August day we were all excited to see Ronnie hit a few balls and were also hoping we could catch a glimpse of the top seeds in the practice courts – Ronnie’s version of the story was very simple “I’m going to play at the US Open with the champions”. The place was packed and there were many courts for kids of all ages… Ronnie played in most of the courts – often, with his father feeding the balls from outside the fence – Ronnie loves power and speed and his dad was his ball machine and coach all rolled into one. Tracy from Wilson spotted Ronnie hitting balls and approached us about the casting for the Wilson shoot with Roger. We froze and all I could think was – Ronnie wanted to play with the Champions and here is his chance to play with the greatest of them all!!
The next few months were filled with anxiety – Tracy was in touch with us throughout – requesting videos, recent pictures and Ronnie’s tennis progress in general. Every email from Tracy meant progress and after several email exchanges including clothing size and shoe size, Tracy confirmed Ronnie’s selection in early February – Considering Roger had almost a god status in our family, Ronnie had no clue (and still doesn’t) what his achievement meant to us. But in Ronnie’s mind, it was Roger’s privilege to play with him and not the other way around. And he practiced every day, the “Championship shot” as he called it, with which he was going to beat Roger and win the game!
Everything revolved around the shoot for the next month and we loved planning every moment of it – we were so ecstatic, we decided to take the week of the shoot off and make a vacation out of it…
It was a dream come true opportunity for us to have Ronnie shoot with the legend himself and Wilson organized it flawlessly. Ronnie got the Wilson Steam racket two weeks ahead of schedule so he could practice and get into the groove with the new racket. Wilson took care of our travel needs very professionally and made it a pleasant experience for us. Tracy and team had everything planned well – the media interviews, the shoot and they even got us some pictures of the shoot for memories. It was a night time shoot and it was great that the crew was very patient with Ronnie, and I was glad he was up to the occasion… Roger was a natural with kids, bonhomie he shared with the crew and his whole attitude was incredible. There is so much more than just tennis to learn from the master!
There was a shot where Roger had to hit a ball can on his serve. Roger took just a few shots to get it right and when he finally connected, he looked at Ron and said – did you like that Ronnie? , our dear son in all his innocence yelled back – “But you hit it just once Roger” – I was speechless but Roger threw a warm smile at Ronnie and said to us, “he is right, I hit it just once”… Even during his shoot with Ronnie, Roger continued to rally even after the shot was cut asking Ronnie if he was going to give up… When Ronnie did not yield, Roger netted the ball after a few shots and pretended he lost and that was the moment of victory for our son – he immediately looked at me and mimed – “I won the game mama!” – I thanked Roger profusely for giving Ronnie that winning moment – proving above all that he truly is a champion in every sense of the word.
Since it was a night shoot, we ended at 9 PM PST, which was technically midnight for Ronnie (we are from NJ). We managed to wrap up his shots quickly as he was clearly ready to go to bed.
Ronnie’s immediate reaction to the commercial when he saw it for first time was “I was so sleepy that day mama, can I play with Roger again?!!”
Ronnie’s wish did come true, he played with the greatest champion of them all….. at 4 yrs old….unbelievable….. But to play again??!!
Roger with Ronnie and his parents Arun and Praveena