BY JERRY MILANI
It is a hot and humid July night on the East River just off Manhattan and below the RFK Bridge. At the new, $18 million Sportime Tennis Facility the New York Sportimes are taking on the Springfield (Mo.) Lasers in front of an intimate Monday night crowd, with many people choosing to stay home and enjoy the air conditioning and the MLB Home Run hitting contest before filling the stands for the John McEnroe-Andy Roddick key matchup (as part of the Sportimes-Philly Freedom tilt) in Wednesday night.
But Ken Gelman doesn't mind.
Gelman, 61, is one of a handful of the Sportimes "Ball Seniors" group, ballpeople who have volunteered to help out on court and who also happen to be 60 years of age or older. The Seniors, sponsored by New Jersey financial services company Snerson-Houmis, perform all the tasks of the ballpersons a quarter of their age, manning the hand-operated scoreboard and patrolling the baselines and other parts of the court to keep the right amount of balls ready for play, a time honored ritual usually handled by juniors.