Monday, April 25, 2016

A Day In The Life Of A Coach, Player, or Spectator



In the past few weeks I have gone from Norman, Oklahoma to Austin, Texas and then out to Lubbock, Texas and then back down to College Station, Texas--and I've heard all kinds of fun and interesting tennis stories--and some that cause me a little fear and trembling.

All of the matches that I have witnessed personally have been either collegiate or UIL and they have all been good ones!  I've seen some of the best players in the nation, some of the finest parents in the land, and some of the most fantastic coaches that tennis has to offer.  I always try to listen to coaches, spectators, and players to get an idea of how we are doing with our officiating and sometimes the results are great and sometimes they aren't...

Here are some of the things I've heard from coaches:

*  Why aren't you officials more consistent in what you do?
*  Why do all officials hate Russians?
*  Why can't you see the far sideline as well as I can?
*  Who in the world hired you?
*  Can I get another official?
*  Why are you making my players hug and sing Kumbaya after the match is over?



Then the players lend their hand with these comments:

*  Are you the very worst official in America?
*  I could officiate better than you if I was blind.
*  Why do you hate me?
*  Its right under your nose.  Why can't you get it right?

And then the spectators say this:

*  These new collegiate rules are ruining tennis.
*  Everyone my son plays cheats.
*  An official cheated us out of our last dual match.
*  How much money do you guys get paid?

I love hearing from the masses and then I realize that there are a lot of things we do that make them think we might be crazy at worst and not know our rules at best.  Here are some of the events from the past month:

*  An official in west Texas told the collegiate player that he could only change rackets during the set break.
*  A collegiate official heard one player call the other player a "faggot" and did nothing.  The official said he didn't know if he should code it or not and that he didn't want to offend anyone.
*  An official told a collegiate male player that he could take a bathroom break but it would only be 30 seconds long.  Even a collegiate guy can't go that fast.
*  One official told a collegiate coach that noone could cheer during a point and the other said any spectator could cheer anytime they wanted to.   Guess someone needs to go back and read the conference rules or at least work a match where all of you are on the same page.
*  A chair official on court #1 gave a code violation to a player on court #2 because the official on court #2 didn't see it happen after the match was completed.  Not sure how that code would have been announced.
*  In a UIL mixed doubles finals match, the official told the players that the server could serve to whomever he wanted to serve to.  Astounding...
*  When four of us officials were eating at a restaurant last night, two fans came up and said, "What have you done to our collegiate matches?  Noone seems to know who can cheer, when they can cheer, and where they can stand to do whatever they want to do."
*  A guy came up to us at the same restaurant and asked, "How much money do you guys make?"  I told him $1,500 per match plus expenses.  Then I gave him Bruce Sampley's number to call...

Here are some suggestions to help our situation:

*  Study the rules and know them well.
*  Understand that the ITA rules give very explicit and complete instructions on how to deal with unruly players, coaches, and fans.  Learn to use them wisely.
*  Realize that some conferences have their own specific rules and it is your responsibility to know them and know them well.  A confused official makes for an angry coach and player.
*  Use some common sense out there.

Saturday, April 16, 2016

Personality Types of Coaches

We had a great response to our blog post about personalities of officials so we thought it might prove interesting to do a study of coaches personalities and compare them to different breeds of dogs.  Remember this is all in jest--but many a truth is said in jest!


PIT BULL UNDER CONTROL

*  Always an "alpha" personality.
*  Strong leadership qualities.
*  Needs to be in control of every situation.
*  Very protective of their team in all aspects. 
*  Can be the "life of the party" when not on the court.
*  Outgoing personality.
*  Dominant in all aspects of their life.
*  Likeable up to a point.
*  Very expressive and doesn't hide their feelings well at all.


PIT BULL OUT OF CONTROL

*  Devastating to players, friends, officials, and casual acquaintances.
*  Usually under 6 feet tall.
*  Very aggressive in their behavior--especially during a dual match.
*  Not concerned about anyone else's feelings or whether or not they might be wrong.
*  Plunges headlong into every situation with a demanding spirit.
*  Personality is overbearing and usually affects the entire team.
*  Governs by fear and not by respect. 
*  Given to vulgarities and swearing.
*  Probably has been divorced at least once and has difficulty in personal relationships.
*  Given to verbal outbursts and verbal attacks on those who disagree with them.
*  Doesn't care if they are out of control--they only want to get their way.


CHIHUAHUA UNDER CONTROL

*  Smaller in stature but lovable and likable. 
*  Greatly concerned in seeing that things run smoothly and in order.
*  Has many friends.
*  Respected by many.



CHIHUAHUA OUT OF CONTROL

*  Wreaks havoc on everyone and everything around them.
*  Suffers from "Napoleon complex" if a male. 
*  Yips and yaps instead of getting attention with leadership attributes.
*  Usually in need of counseling and attending anger management classes.
*  Bites even those who are close friends.
*  Has no personal loyalties.
*  Would bite even his/her mother.
*  Noone invites them out for a beer.


LABRADOR RETRIEVER

*  Strong personal values and leadership qualities.
*  Nearly always the head coach. 
*  Commands respect without words. 
*  Extremely loyal to friends and players. 
*  Treats officials with respect and dignity. 
*  Concerned about personal image and how others are treated. 
*  Usually has a long tenure as coach. 
*  Keeps assistant coaches for long periods.
*  Good at teaching values to their players. 
*  Greatly admired by all who know them.


DOBERMAN

*  Strong personality type with vast leadership qualities.
*  Nearly always in control of the situation. 
*  Personality can be overbearing if out of control.
*  Nearly always an alpha personality. 
*  Strong loyalties in personal relationships.
*  Usually the life of the party. 
*  Admired by their peers.
*  Gets the most out of their players.
*  Can govern with fear if out of control.
*  Usually is married or about to be married. 
*  Outgoing and gregarious when they are under control.


JACK RUSSELL

*  Extremely energetic.
*  Moves from task to task without completing any. 
*  The "great entertainer" at parties.
*  Tons of fun to be around.
*  Drinks a lot of coffee and is a regular at Starbucks.
*  Has an attention span of about 2 seconds.
*  Lovable when under control.  Hateful and overbearing when out of control.
*  Usually single because he/she can't slow down for personal relationships.
*  Frustrates his/her players because of their energy and lack of a viable attention span.
*  Nearly always is the head coach.
*  Not good in secondary roles.

Thursday, April 14, 2016

Personality Types of Officials

Psychiatrists and psychologists tell us that we can learn a lot about human personality types by studying the different personality types in animals--and that is surely true in the tennis world!  Not only can we learn about personality types in players, we can learn a lot about officials and coaches.

Check out the different personality types of officials by comparing them to different breeds of dogs.


ST. BERNARD PERSONALITY TYPE

*  They think they are called to rescue the whole world with their officiating.
*  They want to hug every player they code.
*  They want to be the "new best friend" to all coaches and parents.
*  They get their slobber all over their score cards.
*  Their sensitive spirits gets them into trouble more often than not.


DOBERMAN PERSONALITY TYPE

*  They code anything and everything.
*  They butt into every match they officiate.
*  They offend most of the universe with their attitudes and demeanor.
*  They bite.
*  They snarl.
*  They are not easily taught or controlled.


COCKER SPANIEL PERSONALITY TYPE

*  They always win the award for "most loveable."
*  All parents love them--until they rule against their kid.
*  Coaches want them on all their matches.
*  They give more warnings than codes on a regular basis.
*  They try to figure out the "reason" for infractions instead of coding them.
*  They rush to pick up the balls for the players.
*  A great asset but tend to be way too emotional.
*  A great peace maker in volatile situations.


JACK RUSSELL PERSONALITY TYPE

*  They run around like the energizer bunny.
*  They measure every net in sight.
*  They love to number the ball cans.
*  They can't understand why everyone can't keep up with them.
*  They drive their referees crazy.
*  They're good with parents because they drive them nuts.
*  Players can't stand them.
*  They know all the rules and want to remind you about each and every one of them.
*  They're cute but will make you really tired just being around them.
*  They grab the best lunches.


CHIHUAHUA PERSONALITY TYPE

*  They make cute but useless officials.
*  They are sweet until they get mad.
*  They yip and yap about everything in sight.
*  No player wants them on their court.
*  When they kiss you, they are just licking off a place to bite.

Friday, April 08, 2016

Is It Time To Enforce The Rules? Abolutely!



In an age and era where we see increasing harassment of officials and players at ITA events, Timothy Russell (CEO of the ITA) issued a stern and much-needed edict this week.  Because of some restrictions I cannot offer my personal views on this subject but let me just simply say, "Timothy Russell--thanks for your edict!"

Here is the letter from Timothy Russell:

April 7, 2016
 
Dear ITA Officials:
 
I hope that this note finds you well.  Yesterday, I sent the letter below to all ITA coaches regarding my personal assessment of the current state of parts of the college tennis competitive landscape and my beliefs regarding the requisite sportsmanship needed in our game. You are a critical link to the reality of a world of college tennis that is embedded in principles of fair play, honor, and integrity.
 
As I told the coaches that I would be, I am now writing to you to remind you toenforce our ITA rules - all of our rules - especially the following: 
 
(1)   "All college match play will follow the principles set out in 'The Code' . . ."
(2)   Principle No. 1 of "The Code" states: "Courtesy is expected. Tennis is a game that requires cooperation and courtesy."
(3)   Section I. K. of the ITA Regulations (the Coaches Code of Conduct) states: "The conduct of coaches before, during, and after any competition must be exemplary. Any deviation from this standard shall [i.e., legally that means
must] result in the following penalties with the understanding that all coaching penalties are cumulative for the entire coaching staff (Head Coach, Assistant Coach, Volunteer Coach or a player acting as a Coach) and apply to the whole match - singles and doubles."
(4)   Section II. B. of the ITA Regulations (General Rules), No. 7
Home coach is responsible for spectator conduct states: "The home coach shall [i.e., again, this means
MUST] make sure that the behavior of spectators remains fair and non-abusive.  Failure of the coach to ensure proper behavior shall [i.e.,
MUST] result in the application of the ITA Point Penalty System against the home team and in extreme cases, forfeiture of the match."
(5)  
Section I. F. 3. Restrictions on Players and Spectators: Harassment of players prohibited states: "Team members and their spectators shall not [i.e., MUST not] harass opposing team players."
(6)  
Section I.B.2 of the ITA Regulations (Calls in Matches) clearly states:Opponent gets benefit of the doubt. Whenever a player is in doubt he shall [i.e., MUST] make the call in favor of his opponent.  Balls should only be called 'out' when there is a space visible between the ball and the line."
 
In reference to #5 above, it is clear in discussing the interpretation of our rules with top ITA officials throughout the fall and spring that players and spectators can cheer for their team and their team's players, but cannotharass the opposing team and the opposing team's players.  Very specifically, for example, opposing fans cannot harass a server while that player is serving, or between points of that server's serving game.
 
In reference to #6, from early in our tennis careers, we have been taught not to take a point that we don't deserve. I see no reason to deviate from that timeless principle.
 
Please re-read the ITA Rule 2016 Rulebook that we sent you, and please enforce our rules to the absolute best of your ability.
 
Thank you for all that you do for our sport.  We are thrilled to have all of you as part of the ITA Family.  Please continue to contact our ITA Officials Department, officials@itatennis.com, for any officials-related questions. Continued best wishes.
 
Yours sincerely,
 
 
Timothy Russell, Ph. D.
Chief Executive Officer

Thursday, March 31, 2016

Question of the Day: Should Women Get Equal Prize Money At The Grand Slam Tournaments?



Today is a beautiful spring day and a great day to start a great discussion...

The US women's soccer team made a huge announcement today saying they are suing to get equal pay with the men's soccer team.  This discussion is nothing new to tennis but with the recent issues at Indian Wells and comments by some of the top male stars, it might be a good day to hear the differing opinions on this issue.

Should women get equal prize money at the Grand Slam tournaments?

BE SURE  to vote in the survey located at the top right side of this page.

Monday, March 28, 2016

How Would You Rule? Same Court Or A New Choice



This one is hot off the press--and happened tonight in a major men's collegiate match here in Texas...

SCENARIO

In a men's singles match, deuce, deciding point, receiver's choice the receiver chooses to receive in the ad court.  The point begins but in the middle of the point, a let is called (and rightfully so.)

After the let is called, the receiver wants to move over to the deuce court to receive the serve.

How would you rule????

Sunday, March 27, 2016

What Shoe Is The Right Shoe and What Sock Is The Right Sock?

Now that the players are wearing every color imaginable, there is much discussion about the color and style of shoes that officials should wear and whether or not they should wear socks and what kind.  Seems that "all white" is totally out of style and the "no sock look" are options so here are some items for your consideration:


The "younger generation" seems to prefer the no-socks look.


The "old man" look.


Traditional with a hint of blue.


As close to "all white" as you are going to get.


Slightly preppie with black overtones.


A bunch of women officials decided to go totally without shoes.  Check out the great tans--and then try to guess who they belong to.  Their husbands only got one right...

Saturday, March 26, 2016

In Memory of Joe Mounger


Willie Joe Mounger
January 4,1945-March 24, 2016

Our tennis officials family in the Metroplex mourn the loss of a good friend and fellow official--Joe Mounger.  We all have many fond memories of our years working alongside Joe and his memory will be ever-lasting through the years.

Here is Joe's obituary:

Coach Willie Joe Mounger of Richardson, Texas passed away on March 24, 2016 at the age of 71.  He was born on January 4, 1945 to William Carver and Aureba Dimple (Hays) Mounger in McKinney, Texas.  Joe graduated from McKinney High School in McKinney, Texas.  He was a graduate of North Texas State University.  Joe taught with the Richardson ISD for forty years and was a tennis and golf coach for thirty of those years.  He was a member of First United Methodist Church in Richardson.
Joe is survived by his cousins, Bob Willard and his wife Sara of Gunter, Texas, Kay Willard of Celina, Texas, Evelyn Ella Stark of Plano, Texas, Doris Jean McMath of Dallas, Texas, Lera Nell England of New Bern, North Carolina, Charles Hays of Daingerfield, Texas, Albert and Gaither Phipps of Nocona, Texas, Donnie and Mary Phipps of Garland, Texas, and Mary Charles and Don Campbell of Granbury, Texas; second cousin, Amy Monsivais; former wife and lifelong friend, Beverly Mounger Biering of McKinney, Texas; dearest friend, Marilee McMichael of Frisco, Texas; very close friends, Sammi and Rob Hogan, Pete and Susan Smith, and Lyndal and Kristi Weaver, all of Richardson, Texas, and Ron and Martha Holly of Dallas, Texas; his loyal companion and dog, Walter; and numerous former and present students and their families.
A graveside service will be held at 4:00 p.m., Monday, March 28, 2016 at Restland Memorial Park, 13005 Restland Memorial Park Cemetery Dr., Dallas, Texas 75243. A celebration of life will follow from 6:00 p.m. until 8:00 p.m. at Canyon Creek Country Club, 625 W. Lookout Dr., Richardson, Texas 75080. Friends are welcome to share stories and antidotes of Coach’s life. Family and friends are invited to Turrentine-Jackson-Morrow Funeral Home in Allen, Texas at their convenience on Sunday, March 27, 2016 to pay their respects and to sign the register book.

Thursday, March 24, 2016

It Takes A Special Person To Be A Collegiate Chair Official


Here's what we sometimes think--but we know we can't say it.


And then the harsh realization that some people just aren't cut out to be officials.


Here are two common responses we hear when enlisting people to become a collegiate chair official:

1.  There's no way in hell that I'm going through what you guys go through.
2.  I'd love to do it.  It looks pretty easy to do and lots of fun.

Both are right in some aspects but the common ground is probably somewhere in the middle.  Consider this when contemplating becoming an official (and these all come from real life examples):

*  Coaches will insult you to your face and scream obscenities.
*  Coaches will insult your birthright and right to exist on this planet.
*  Coaches will even lie to  you.
*  19 year old players will do the same as their coaches and expect you to endure it all.
*  Fans in the stands will lie to you and call you bad names.
*  Some people will think you are blind as a bat--and tell you so!
*  Your personal security will be threatened.
*  Your own Mother may even doubt your abilities.
*  When you come home, your dog may turn and run from you after you called 5 overrules.
*  The other five officials go out to eat after the match and exclude you.

It takes a VERY SPECIAL PERSON with some very specific skills to navigate the waters of collegiate tennis officiating.  Here are some observations:

*  You get to work with some fantastic coaches and players.  99% of them are wonderful!
*  You get to be right on the court with some of the best players in the world.
*  You get to train and work with some great people who ultimately become great friends.
*  You need to have a heart of gold and skin like an alligator to live through it.
*  You can't be easily offended or intimidated.
*  You have to realize you are just human and might even make some mistakes.
*  You have to learn to be fair and unbiased in the face of the forces of hell.
*  You have to be able to put it to rest after the match or tournament is finished.
*  You have to be able to realize that the coaches and players don't totally believe everything they say to you.  They do mean a lot of it though...
*  You have to remember that there is a Mother somewhere that loves that screaming coach and/or player.
*  You have to remember that the Lord God in Heaven is still on His throne and will exact His just reward on those who have spitefully used you and persecuted you.

Put all this in your mind and then decide if you are one of those SPECIAL PEOPLE--and then go for it!  You won't be disappointed in both the positives and the negatives because they will both be there.

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

How Many Requests For An Overrule Are Too Many?



The collegiate tennis season is in full swing--and so is the level of drama and indignation over line calls.  Players think they have been mortally wounded when their opponent is not overruled and feel abused when they are overruled.  Coaches develop perfect eyesight from two courts away when their player has been overruled but are conveniently silent when their player is rightly overruled right before them.  As officials try to sort through all the drama, one question we frequently encounter is, "How many requests for an overrules are too many?"

In a doubles match a few years ago (back when they played an 8 game pro set), one team was penalized for "excessive requests for an overrule."  The coach came running to the court demanding an explanation and reaffirming that his players had every right to question a call.  The score was 4-4 at the time.  After suffering through a verbal rebuke from the coach, the official asked the coach, "Just how many requests for an overrule do you think are too many?"  The coach replied, "8-9 times in a doubles match."  The official then responded, "That was their 37th request for an overrule."  The coach then turned and walked away...

Every official has done a match when one team consistently argues about every close call on every court, so its an issue that deserves some consideration.

The ITA rules are very clear on this issue when they say, "A solo chair umpire shall caution any player making excessive appeals for the apparent sake of disrupting play.  Thereafter, if the solo chair umpire determines that the player is making appeals for the apparent sake of disrupting play, he may penalize the player under the ITA Point Penalty System."

Here are some things to consider when there are excessive requests:

*  Is the player just whining about calls to be whining or are they legitimate requests?
*  Did the player graduate from the "American Drama School" and is just exercising their lungs?
*  Is the whole team continually asking for overrules?  If so, they may have been coached to do so.
*  Is the player howling and gesturing every time there is a close call?
*  Is the opponent making good, clean calls?
*  Is the coach prompting the player to make the requests?
*  Is the coach being overly dramatic and reacting to every close call?

Personally, I don't mind a player asking about a call if it is close but 10-12 inches out is not a close call.  The vast, vast majority of collegiate players call very clean matches and it is the job of the official to see that a match is run fairly for all players so use your good judgment when it comes to excessive requests for overrules.

Monday, March 21, 2016

How High Can A Collegiate Player Actually Jump?



As we go through life we all have a mental file called "And I thought I had seen it all..."

Yesterday, my file just got a new addition.  I was officiating an SMU men's match with UT Permian Basin.  We were roving the match so I was standing at the net post observing the doubles play.  During one of the points, one of the SMU players leaped in the air to hit an overhead--and as I looked at him, his feet were ABOVE the net level!  Years ago I watched Pete Sampras come in and make leaping overheads but this went far beyond what Pete was doing.

Its nearly unbelievable that a player could jump that high in the air much less to hit an overhead.  In talking with the player he told me that his vertical leap is 36 or 37 inches--and that would certainly account for his ability to leap higher than the net.

Just goes to show--life holds more exciting lessons and examples for us every day that we live...

Thursday, March 10, 2016

How Many Overrules Are Too Many?


An overrule causes different reactions in different players.


Some players yell and scream and think they have truly been violated.


And some just frown and keep playing--but much is said in that frown.

In an ITA dual match there is probably no subject that garners more attention than overrules--how many were or were not given and the reaction to those overrules...  One of our premier leaders in the ITA world recently said, "If you have more than 5 overrules in a season, you are probably overruling too often."  Might be some food for thought for some officials...

Consider these scenarios:

*  I was referee at the Men's National Indoor Tournament in Dallas a few years ago and I was called to court #1.  When I got there, I asked the official in the chair what was going on.  He said, "I have one code violation, three overrules on one player, and two overrules on the other."  After trying to catch my breath and not hyperventilate, I asked him what the score was and he said, "3-2 in the first set."  Go figure...

*  A new official came off the court after chairing his first singles match and was beaming with pride.  When asked why he was so happy, he said, "I only had 4 overrules in my first match.  I must be doing great!"

*  A TCU #1 player was defaulted in a dual match with Baylor a few years ago for 5 overrules.

*  A player recently bragged that he gets at least two overrules in all of his singles matches.  Wouldn't you love to be his chair official...

*  A new chair official was asked by her referee was the score was and she beamed and said, "4-4 in the first set.  The referee then asked, "How many overrules do you have?"  The chair smiled and said, "Only 4!"

Here are some things to remember when asking how many overrules are too many:

*  Sometimes a player just simply cheats and its not the official's fault at all if there are a lot of overrules.

*  Some coaches teach their players to cheat on the far sideline early in the match to see "what the chair official will do."  Again, not the fault of the chair.

*  If you are overruling 2-3 times in every match, you should probably stop and think a bit before your next match.

*  5-8 overrules in a season is a lot.

*  A bunch of overrules is not a good sign and is certainly not a badge of honor.

*  ALWAYS remember that you have to be 100% sure to overrule and you are to overrule when there is a clear error.


Tuesday, March 08, 2016

How To Sell Your Call



One of the most difficult things to do as an official is to learn how to "sell" your call or your overrules.  Since players, fans, and coaches will read your body language as well as your spoken words, its imperative that a good official learn the art of selling  their calls.

Over the years we have heard officials make calls with the following comments that quickly caused a reaction and a rebellion from everyone watching the match:

*  The ball might have been out so I'm staying with the call.
*  Most of the ball missed the line.
*  The teammates in the stands said the ball was good so I'm overruling the out call.
*  I think the ball was probably good.
*  I hope I made the right call.
*  I don't like your player so I'm overruling  his/her call.
*  Coach, you've been yelling at me the entire match so now I'm overruling your player.
*  Its cold and I'm freezing so don't ask me to overrule on the far sideline.
*  Its hot and I'm tired.
*  I remember your player and he cheated in his doubles match so I'm overruling his sideline call.
*  I don't like Russians so the ball is good.
*  I never overrule a blond female player.

Since we are being paid  to be professional and do a good job, we should always be looking for ways to improve our officiating skills.  Here are some hints about "selling" your calls:

*  Always speak firmly and clearly.
*  Do not yell at the player or coach.
*  Look at the player or coach when they are talking to you.
*  Do not turn away and ignore a coach or player.  They at least deserve to be heard.
*  Make your overrule quickly.
*  Do not put your head into your scorecard so quickly that you miss everything happening on the court.
*  Make eye contact with the player when you are overruling but don't stare.  If you stare them down you are going to have a mess in a hurry.
*  Don't get into a protracted discussion about why you made the overrule.
*  Don't brag about how many overrules you had in the match.  Everyone probably already knows it and they are trying to find a way to tell people that they don't know you.
*  Never, ever tell the player that you didn't see it.  You are paid to see it.

Players and coaches read your body language and listen carefully to your tone--do your best to make yourself the very best...

Monday, February 22, 2016

Just How Well Can A Collegiate Tennis Coach Actually See?


"Eagle Eye" is what everyone strives to be in tennis.


Here is what a coach would look like if he actually had eagle eyes.

As officials, its always exciting when a collegiate coach informs us that we are "blind as a bat" and have missed the call because he/she has seen it clearly (on the far sideline) and we should take their word for it--the ball was good!

All that sounds well and good, but it just ain't true.  It is physically impossible for a person standing on a sideline to see the far sideline as well as someone sitting 9 feet up in a chair...

Here are some things I've learned over the years about coaches and their eyesight opinions:

*  The beauty is in the eye of the beholder and they all think they have perfect eyesight.
*  Officials are blind and can see nothing.
*  Officials are biased against them and are biased in their calls.
*  They can stand at the net post and clearly see the far sideline and far corner of the baseline without error or question.
*  Officials are making the call because they are afraid of the opposing coach.
*  The officials were paid to make bad calls.
*  The official is dating one of the players and are making calls to benefit them.
*  Lots of coaches have friends and relatives in the stands who are always truthful in how they see the ball and are more than willing to help the official officiate.
*  According to one coach, the official was making bad calls on his player because he didn't like Russians.
*  The coach is arguing the call simply to motivate his own player.  He knew the ball was out all the time but didn't want to admit it.
*  As one coach said, "I can see all 6 courts at one time and I never miss a call."

Here are some things that are TRUE about making line calls:

*  Noone is 100% right all the time.
*  Some officials are not very good at making line calls and that will never change.
*  Just like some coaches suck at their jobs, some officials do too.
*  The person in the chair can see the court better than a person standing or sitting on the sideline.
*  Officials are to overrule only when there is a "clear and obvious" error.
*  Officials are human and can make mistakes.  Coaches and players are the same by the way...
*  Any official who changes their call because the coach rants and raves won't be an official for long.
*  Officials should treat all coaches with the respect and honor they are due.
*  A coach has no right to verbally abuse an official over a line call.
*  A coach should always treat an official with respect as another human being.
*  A coach should never call into question an official's race, intellect, abilities, biases, sexual orientation, or anything that demeans them as a human being.

Overall, I would say that 99.9% of all coaches are fine, upstanding people doing a great job in a very difficult position.  As one coach said, "Can you imagine having your future being held in the hands of a 19 year old?"

Its the .1% that make our life difficult from time to time...

The Truth of the Matter



And oh how true this is!

Sunday, February 14, 2016

How Young Is Too Young To Be An Official?

One of the most perplexing questions facing us in the tennis officiating world is the question of "how young is too young to be an official?"

We are constantly seeking new people to become officials and there seems to be a new crop of young officials just chomping at the bit to become officials--and that's good!  We always need new and fresh blood in our occupation--but along with that growth sometimes come some difficult questions.

We are welcoming 16 year olds into our ranks but the question is now coming up--is that too young to be an official.  Of course they are limited to working matches with players younger than they are but is that the solution?  In DFW we offer a "shadowing" program in which they have to work at least one shift with an experienced official before working on their own.  A tournament director recently said that she did not want 16 year olds shadowing in her tournaments because they are simply too young.  I tend to agree...

Officiating is an occupation that deals with parents, players, and spectators--usually at their best and worst.  We are called upon to intervene in conflict and I'm just not sure that a 16 year old has that level of maturity.  The other side of the coin is that very few parents or players will give them the respect that they need to accomplish their task.  No parent wants a crucial decision about their child to be made by a 16 year old--no matter how mature we might think they are. There is no doubt that a 16 year old can learn the rules of tennis but in no way are they mature enough to handle the conflict that regularly occurs in an official's life.

I would tend to think that 18 years of age is the absolute lowest age we should permit into officiating.  Ideally it would be best for them to be out of high school and in college to be able to handle all the duties of an official.  I have personally witnessed numerous 18 year olds make it and do a good job but not so with 16 year olds.  They simply don't have the required maturity.

This is not to say we discard anyone under 18.  We can offer advanced training and shadowing (if the tournaments permit it) and bring them along carefully and wisely.  We need to remember that they are still young and need wisdom and guidance.  I've seen far too many adults walk away from officiating because they can't handle the stress and conflict so just imagine what that does to a 16 year old.

Let them come along to observe and shadow in situations that are non-threatening and nuture them until they are old enough to launch out on their own.  They will appreciate it later...

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Has Corruption Invaded Our Sport?



Ominous storm clouds on the horizon for tennis officiating (at least at the pro level.)

If you think not, check out this article.

http://www.theguardian.com/sport/2016/feb/09/revealed-tennis-umpires-secretly-banned-gambling-scam

Sunday, February 07, 2016

And The Upsets Keep Coming On!



In the past week, Oklahoma (lost to Wake Forest), TCU (lost to Cal), and Baylor (lost to Ol' Miss) all lost dual matches.  The only team to salvage any honor was UT's victory over Stanford men today.

Must be the season for upsets!  Can't comment any further than that--just reporting the facts.

Friday, February 05, 2016

Texas and Oklahoma Still Holding Strong In The Rankings

In this week's rankings, Texas and Oklahoma men's teams are still holding strong.  Here are the rankings:

1.  Virginia.
2.  TCU
3.  Texas A&M
4.  Baylor
5.  Oklahoma
6.  USC
7.  North Carolina
8.  Ohio State
9.  UCLA
10.  Wake Forest

Congratulations to these fine teams!  Keep up the good work.

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Collegiate Tennis Is Rolling In Texas and Oklahoma!



In the latest ITA poll, it shows that  collegiate tennis is ROLLING in Texas and Oklahoma!  Congratulations to these fine teams and their coaches and fans.  Keep it up--and finish strong.

Here are the latest men's rankings:

1.  Virginia
2.  Oklahoma
3.  TCU
4.  Baylor
5.  Texas A&M
6.  Illinois
7.  Georgia
8.  USC
9.  North Carolina
10.  Ohio State
11.  Wake Forest
12.  Texas

Here are the latest women's rankings:

1.  Vanderbilt
2.  USC
3.  Florida
4.  North Carolina
5.  Georgia
6.  California
7.  Virginia
8.  Stanford
9.  UCLA
10.  Texas A&M
11.  Baylor
12.  Oklahoma State

Corruption In Pro Tennis? Can It Be So? If So, Roger Wants Names...



The tennis world was shocked this week with allegations of match-fixing and gambling at the highest levels of tennis.  Here is the article that opened the floodgates:

http://www.buzzfeed.com/heidiblake/the-tennis-racket#.qiyBamJBP

Roger Federer came out in today's Dallas Morning News demanding names--and rightly so.  If the house is corrupt, then it needs to be cleaned...  The next few weeks should be interesting!

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

How To Make "Training Workshops" Work And Not Become A Fiasco


Social interaction and bonding is the key to success!

After reading through the information put out by the USTA for the new certification requirements and introduction of "training workshops" I am cautiously optimistic that it might work but realistically unsure about effectiveness.

First of all, the "training workshops" are not required of officials but will be offered on a sectional basis--and we all know full well that officials don't attend much of anything if its not required.  We are promised a fleet of instructors but the bottom line is that they may be instructing an empty room.

Surely the USTA can come up with a more well thought out plan to implement these new changes.  Many of the instructional materials aren't even ready and some won't be available until 2017!  What kind of effective business in America changes the entire certification process of their workforce and then not present a finished product to implement that change?  None.

The online testing is a much welcome and needed change and should be effective but there's a lot more to officiating than just knowing a bunch of rules.  We have to find ways to instruct our officials in anger management, handing disruptive people, learning how to work with other officials, communication, and simply learning how to implement the rules they know.  That won't and can't be done on an internet testing program...

Theoretically the "training workshops" are a great idea--if and only if you can get people to attend them.  Just having instructors ready and waiting isn't going to cut it--YOU HAVE TO HAVE PERSONALIZED CONTACT IN ORDER TO GET PERSONAL ATTENDANCE...

Here are some suggestions:

*  Make sure there is a specific coordinator in every localized area of the state.  Be sure to get someone who is committed to growing their area and all of their officials.

*  Have the coordinator appoint a person who is specifically asked to grow the training workshops.

*  Focus on "one on one" enlistment.  When people feel wanted they will come.  Call them, write them, encourage them, and let them know they are important to the officials family!

*  Learn to use "social gatherings" to grow the group.  Its much more than just announcing a "come and drink/eat party"--it involves personal involvement to encourage people to come, learn, and share.

*  Use social media, texts, and emails to keep all officials well informed.  Once we get officials certified we usually pitch them out there to learn on their own.  Its time to be sure they know where to work, how to get hired, and what they need to do when they get to work.

*  Use "officials teams" made up of two or more officials to meet together regularly and share their experiences together.  This sharing teaches new officials more than any class ever could.

*  Most of all--DEVELOP A SENSE OF FAMILY among your area's officials.  Make them feel welcome, needed, and appreciated and then you'll see the training workshops grow and new officials begging to come and join us!

These are just a few thoughts about the upcoming changes.  We would welcome your thoughts and comments...

Monday, December 14, 2015

Follow Up To Blog Post About Attack on Officials


Ex-Coach Mack Breed

We originally did a blog post on September 15, 2015, about the attack on a football official by two players who were encouraged to do so by their coach.  Here is a link to an article today sharing the outcome of the coach's trial.

Congratulations to our legal system for working.  Perhaps he got off a little light but at least some legal action was taken.

http://usatodayhss.com/2015/former-john-jay-coach-pleads-guilty-in-assault-on-blindsided-official-charges-against-players-to-come

"Former John Jay (San Antonio) assistant football coach Mack Breed has been sentenced on misdemeanor assault charges in a plea agreement with the Burnet County (Texas) Attorney’s Office for his role in two Jay players blindsiding official Robert Watts during a Sept. 4 against Marble Falls.
According to a statement from the Burnet County Attorney’s Office, Breed turned himself in to Marble Falls police on Monday after a warrant was issued for his arrest. Breed pled guilty and was sentenced to 12 months in county jail and a $3,500 fine, but the sentence was suspended and he was placed on probation for 18 months and will be required to permanently surrender his Texas Teaching Certificate, complete an anger management program, perform 120 hours community service, and pay restitution to Watts.
The charge was assault causing bodily injury, a Class A misdemeanor.
The attorney’s office said charges against the two players — Michael Moreno and Victor Rojas — are expected to be filed shortly. The statement said assault and aggravated assault are under consideration. Because Moreno is older than 17, any charges will be handled by the adult criminal system. Misdemeanor or felony charges against Rojas would be held in juvenile court. The statement from the county attorney did not name Rojas because he is a minor.
Rojas and Moreno are both serving 75 days in the district’s alternative school for their role in the incident. Jesse Hernandez, who represents both players, was unavailable for comment.
Breed initially told the school principal that he instructed the players to hit the official but later recanted in a statement given to the school district’s human resources department. In the second statement, Breed wrote that he took the blame to protect the two players from being expelled from school. Breed resigned from his position Sept. 23."

Sunday, December 13, 2015

2016 Certification Requirements, Clothing Information, & Friend at Court Information

Everyone in our officials world have been wondering about the new certification requirements and they have finally come out with at least some of the details.  Listed below is the latest edict concerning education, certification, clothing, and Friend at Court Information.

SPECIAL NOTE:  Be sure to notice that under the "Clothing" information that there is a link to the apparel guidelines.  There is also a link to order USTA clothing on the upper right hand side of the blog.

Education
Online Courses
Over the next two years, we will be replacing traditional USTA in-person certification schools with online education modules.  We have partnered with the USTA Learning and Development Department and E-Path to develop these online modules, which will be rolled out as they are completed.  
In the past, the USTA National and Sectional TEs held 1-2 day in person training schools.  The online modules are more convenient, allowing Officials to complete them at any time and at their own pace.  They are cost effective for both the Sections and the Official.  In addition, the teachings are consistent regardless of where the Officials are located.
By delivering the education via online, the USTA Sections can now use the resources that were allotted to National Schools to conduct specialized and localized officiating training.  In-person training can focus on putting Officials in the field and enhancing their skills (more on that below). 
The modules being developed and their projected completion dates are:


In-Person Sectional Training
By moving the initial training to more robust and consistent online modules, we can now take the in-person training to a new level. The new approach will allow the Sections to maximize the funds allocated to training Officials by holding training workshops for specific disciplines.   Based on the officiating training needs of the Section, they will have the power to decide when, where and for which discipline to hold trainings in.
The in-person training workshops are being developed with the help of the USTA Learning and Leadership Development Staff and Subject Matter Experts for each officiating discipline. The USTA will provide training materials for each course. Through an application process we will identify, train and approve Officials to teach specific workshops across the country.  By the end of the process, we will have a network of trainers that will be locally available to all Sections.  


Certification

In an effort to have a National Standard, USTA Officiating is focusing more time on the requirements a person must complete before becoming a Certified Official.  This will ensure consistency and more than adequate training before a provisional Official goes on court.  This will help Sections focus further training on these Officials as they progress in their disciplines.  The three basic requirements to become an Official have been slightly modified to reflect the new online modules:
1.     Be a USTA Member.
2.     Complete the online Safe Play Training, which includes passing a criminal background check.
3.     Complete the Introduction to Officiating, Rules and Regulations modules, and Roving Umpire 1 (once available) to complete the testing requirement for Provisional Certification.
As we previously mentioned the online modules will be available in January. Until they are launched, we ask that you have any of your new recruits go through the SafePlay Training and Background Screening, which in some cases can take 10-business days to complete.  The USTA Officiating Website will have the new 2016 Friend at Court as well as supplemental documents for all Officials to get acquainted with the rules prior to completing the courses.  
In order to maintain their certification, all Certified Officials will be required to complete the following courses by October 1, 2016:
  • Introduction to Officiating
  • Rules and Regulations 1
  • Rules and Regulations 2
  • Rules and Regulations 3
  • Roving Umpire 1
The Sectional Chairpersons will be given access to the names of all Officials who have completed the online modules.  We are in the process of determining how those records are transferred into the individual NUCULA accounts so that Sectional and District Chairpersons can also view the information in NUCULA during the re-certification period.   

Clothing Program
(Be sure to check out the link below to the clothing guide)

We are about to launch the USTA Umpire Clothing Program next week.  This has been a long process, and we appreciate your patience as we worked out all the details.  We are confident that the Officials will be happy with the items we have selected, the website created, and the high customer service level S&H provides. In preparation for the launch, we have also created a clothing guide that includes pricing, size chart, and any additional information about each item. Click here to view the clothing guide. 
As we mentioned before, the roll-out will be tiered.  We have prioritized the Pro Circuit Officials working in January as the first group to receive the link for the Clothing Program Website.  Those Officials will have one week to place their order before the rest of the USTA Certified Officials receive the link.  This will ensure that they will receive their uniform before their first assignment in January. The clothing information and link will then be sent to all Certified Officials on December 16th.  

Friend at Court

We anticipate the Friend at Court to be mailed to all Certified Officials at the end of the month. In preparation for this, we will be pulling the mailing list from NUCULA on December 15th.  Please remind all the Officials in your Section to make sure their mailing address is correctly displayed in NUCULA. Also, remind them that if they are listed as uncertified, they will not receive the 2016 Friend at Court. We appreciate your help in coordinating the mailing.
As you know, the Friend at Court has been revamped.  Some comments, the majority of Regulation VII, and ITA Regulations have been moved online and will be available on the Rules page of the usta.com/officiating website or USTA resources page at http://resources.usta.com/category/usta-rules--regulations .