Thursday, July 30, 2015

Diversity Has Arrived In Texas

Reprinted from USTA Texas Section News:

There are three organizations throughout Texas that have given LGBT members an outlet to be themselves while playing the sport of tennis. These organizations meet to play the sport, but it’s more than that. They not only spread acceptance within the sport but provide help for outside organizations.
The organizations, some of which have been running for over 20 years, also provide their members with life long friends and companions.
The Oak Lawn Tennis Association was founded in 1979 by a group of friends who enjoyed tennis. This organization was the first to support gay and lesbian tennis activities in the Dallas-Fort Worth area. OLTA and similar groups began hosting the Texas Open. In addition, for the past two years, funds raised from the Texas Open, have been donated to CURE, an organization that provides healing to developing countries around the world.
“We have several success stories ranging from beginning players winning club awards…winning the Texas Cup competition in 2012 to several members winning tournaments at all levels on the GLTA tour,” said OLTA executive director Richard Chaney.
Also in Dallas, Sets in the City is a lesbian tennis organization founded in 2012 by Mary Sherman. Although a new club, SITC has around 150 members and welcomes lesbians of all ages, disabilities and skill levels. The organization meets every Friday afternoon to play tennis and round-robin matches, afterwards retiring for dinner and socializing.
“We view the primary purpose of Friday nights as introducing new players to the game and giving the group as a whole an opportunity to re-connect,” says SITC member Kathy Wise.
SITC sponsors 3.0 to 4.0 USTA and Metro teams and coordinates mixed doubles with their counterpart, OLTA. Success for SITC has been abundant, such as a 3.0 player being ranked No. 5 in Texas, their doubles team winning statewide and GLTA tournaments, and a rookie 2.5 Lone Star Team winning the championship with Sherman captaining the team.
Relationships have also flourished from this organization, from girlfriends and wives to lifelong friends, all supported within the SITC organization.
Founded in 1980, the Houston Tennis Club is a non-profit tennis organization that welcomes all players of all race, gender, and sexual orientation that play at any level. HTC hosts events like HOUTEX, an international GLTA tennis tournament held annually on Veterans Day weekend, where funds are donated to local LGBT organizations. Besides tennis activities, HTC hosts social events such as Fun Charity Tournaments and Happy Hour.
USTA Texas commends these organizations for their successful efforts in the tennis and LGBT community. It is with organizations like these that give players of all backgrounds the confidence to be themselves and feel included in the tennis community.
“Any organization that helps people feel comfortable and gives people a common bond (tennis) in the LGBT community is important,” said USTA Texas diversity and inclusion coordinator Veronica Nicholls.
USTA’s support for LGBT rights has reached new heights this Pride Month. USTA has announced that they participated in the 2015 New York City and San Francisco Pride Parades in June celebrating the LGBT community.
Along with their appearance, the tennis organization has also announced their partnership with award-winning global provider of mobile event applications Double Dutch to bring people the “LGBT Tennis Network.” This free social media app is a networking tool for LGBT tennis players to connect with fellow players, friends, family and allies.
Tennis Hall of Famer and activist Billie Jean King applauded USTA for its participation.

Time For Our Tennis Family To Pray For Luke Siegel

Luke Siegel, son of former Texas Tech men's tennis coach Tim Siegel, was critically injured in a golf cart accident a few days ago.  He is currently in the intensive care unit of the hospital with serious head trauma.  Many of us have had the privilege of working with Tim over the years as he led the Tech Red Raiders to many successful seasons so I know you will all want to lift up Tim and Luke in your prayers.

If you would like to help financially, a fund has been established at the link below:

Monday, July 27, 2015

August 8th: Tennis Officials River Raft Trip

All tennis officials and their friends are invited to come and join us for the TENNIS OFFICIALS RIVER RAFT TRIP on August 8th.

Here is the information for the trip:

Date:  August 8, 2015
Location:  New Braunfels, Texas
Departure time:  9 a.m.
Cost:  $16/tube and $25 per person for raft.

Rafting the river in New Braunfels is always an exciting experience--and its even better when shared with friends!  If you are interested in going, please contact Randy McDonald ( as soon as possible.  We already have a good group signed up to go so be sure to get in on the fun as soon as possible.

Friday, July 24, 2015

That Was The Week That Was...

Just about the time you begin to think you have seen everything in a tournament, something new pops up to burst your bubble.  That's the way it was this past weekend in Texas...

First, there was the woman who escaped from the hospital in her hospital gown, climbed the tennis center fence, and was wandering aimlessly through the tournament site.  Eventually the tournament was host to four police cars, two ambulances, and one firetruck just to subdue and restrain the errant woman!  Welcome to Texas...

Second, after a singles match when the boys were shaking hands at the net, Player A reached out to "hug" the other player but in reality he was grabbing him around the neck and pulling him close to say, "I'm going to kick your ___.  Let's go to the parking lot right now and I'll kick your ___ for you." Sadly, the roving official was not close enough to view the incident but I'm sure it will make its way up the chain to the proper authorities.

In today's world, nothing is surprising...

Monday, July 20, 2015

Parent: One Bleeding Nostril Is A Different Body Part Than The Other Bleeding Nostril

Thought you would enjoy hearing this one from a USTA junior tournament this past weekend.

A young boy developed a nose bleed and was given a bleeding timeout.  The bleeding was stopped and the boy continued play.  A while later his nose began to bleed again and he was denied another bleeding timeout.  His father indignantly said, "He was bleeding from the left side the other time and this time its from the right side and that's a different body part."  The parent was also quick to point out that he was a physician and he knew the body parts.

Needless to say, I am glad he's not my physician.

Friday, July 17, 2015

Football Season Is Nearly Here! First SEC Rankings Announced

Fall weather isn't quite here but the start of football season is on the horizon.  Check out first media pre-season poll for the SEC.  Should be an interesting year.  Can't quite figure out how Alabama is ranked first in the SEC West but Auburn is picked as the SEC Champion.

SEC West:
1.  Alabama
2.  Auburn
3.  LSU
4.  Arkansas
5.  Ole Miss
6.  Texas A&M
7.  Miss. State

SEC East:
1.  Georgia
2.  Tennessee
3.  Missouri
4.  South Carolina
5.  Florida
6.  Kentucky
7.  Vanderbilt

SEC Champion:
1.  Auburn
2.  Alabama
3.  Georgia
4.  LSU
5.  Ole Miss
6.  Arkansas
7.  Texas A&M
8.  Tennessee
9.  Miss. State
10.  Florida

*  Only SEC Media Poll results will be printed on this blog.

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Welcome To The Land of Crocodile Tears and Remorse For The Loss of The Big 12

It is with much sadness and regret that we must pen this final blog post remembering the days of glory and fun in the Big 12 Conference.  I looked for an appropriate crocodile shedding great tears but was unable to find a willing participant; therefore, this lone sad eye will have to do.

Due to some new changes in the Big 12 Conference policy we will no longer to be able to write anything (good or bad) about any Big 12 team.  This includes not just tennis teams but any other Big 12 team.  Sadly, that means we will no longer be able to congratulate the conference champions and/or any Big 12 team that wins any post-season honors in the NCAA.  This greatly grieves me since three now-to-be-unmentioned teams did quite well this past year and some of the men did quite well in the NCAA individual tournament.  Hopefully those who do well in the future know we honor and respect them all but sadly, must remain silent.

On the bright side, we will continue to write blog posts about any other university in America and about any good officiating stories and questions we encounter in any locale other than the Big 12.  In fact, I have already washed my University of Georgia shirt and have ordered some new Texas A&M shirts to wear in this coming year...  Its hard to change my spots but I'll give it my best effort!

Sadly, I think our readers will miss a lot of good stories in the days to come.  We have surely had some great days in the past few years...

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Hail To The King And Queen

Novak Djokovic & Serena Williams

Wimbledon Men's Singles Champion

Wmbledon Women's Singles Champion

Saturday, July 11, 2015

You Cannot Accuse Wimbledon and London Of Not Being Diverse

In honor of being the "most diverse Grand Slam Tournament", London and Wimbledon have gone all out this year.  Check out some of the new changes this year...  With the spirit of diversity in the air, just imagine what the US Open is going to be like in New York City.  London ain't seen nothing yet!

The latest thing in women's panties and look especially good with the "all white" look at Wimbledon this year.

Not to be outdone, the men also have a special tennis shoe designed just for the occasion.

Two of the more illustrious tennis fans as they walk the streets before the finals.

Last (but not least) is this pair of matching boys.

Friday, July 10, 2015

New Guidelines For Our Tennis Officials Blog

Due to some changes in policy in the Big 12 Conference there will no longer be any blog posts that contain anything about any Big 12 team in any sport.

We will however continue to post about issues that affect officials and any other collegiate team other than a Big 12 team.  There will also be no comments published that pertain to any Big 12 team in any form or fashion.

Thanks for your understanding.

Randy McDonald

Thursday, July 02, 2015

Could It Be True?

Here is an article from USTA Today.  Kind of interesting and thought-provoking...

It’s a practice probably as old as the game itself: coaching from the stands. It comes in many forms: subtle nods, a shifting of a hat, a wink or sometimes out-and-out verbal instructions. The procedure itself is illegal. The enforcement of said legality is a gray area that gains more scrutiny by the year.
The accusations have dogged Rafael Nadal since he arrived on the worldwide tennis scene, if you even want to call them accusations. If you watch his Uncle Toni during a match, you can see him and Nadal often make eye contact and I doubt it’s to bird dog Kate Middleton when she’s in attendance. Andy Murray talks to his box as much as he talks to the press. And at this Wimbledon, Novak Djokovic is fending off claims that his coach, former Wimbledon champion Boris Becker, has been coaching too and, therefore, cheating.
Becker didn’t help things when he admitted that “[we] have our ways” of signaling to Djokovic “to tell him it’s good or it’s bad,” a direct admission of coaching.
Both players have responded this week because, with the British press, everything is magnified at Wimbledon. Djokovic has been uncharacteristically testy when asked the question, saying that if he hasn’t been called for a violation on court, then he shouldn’t have to answer for it in the media. Nadal had a calmer, more rational response, though an ironic one given that the player he defeated before this press conference plays without a coach.
“It’s an old regulation. It was logical many years ago because some players had coaches, and others didn’t, so this was protection for those who didn’t have coaches, But now everybody has a coach so today I don’t see any player in this circuit who doesn’t have a coach so it’s rather absurd that everyone pays for a coach to help him and then when you need him the most you can’t talk to him.”
Who’s right? Are they cheating? Are they not? What should be done? In regular WTA events, after all, coaches are allowed to come on the court, just not in Grand Slams.
Well, the players are cheating by the letter of the law. But when umpires refuse to enforce the rule, then it’s like jaywalking or, in tennis terms, the time violations that are called so infrequently and arbitrarily. Therefore, it’s Nadal who has it pegged. Banning coaching from the box is an outdated rule and one that nobody enforces anyway. It’s like pitchers putting Bullfrog on their caps or batters using too much pine tar or 
quarterbacks deflating footballs or professional teams making contact with free agents before the 12:01 a.m. deadline. It’s widely practiced, oft discussed and almost never enforced.
Here’s my suggestion: Don’t let the coaches come on the court, don’t let players go to the box for a sidebar, but short of holding up Chip Kelly-esque signage, allow a little communication between the pair. It makes things easier, it clears up any confusion and, let’s be honest, if a player needs a tip of his coach’s cap to let him know to stand back farther on the return of serve, then he’s not winning many matches anyway.

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Wawrinka's Answer To His "Clothes Critics"

Seems that Stan Wawrinka received a lot of criticism about his shorts at the French Open.  He must have given his critics another option this week as ESPN Magazine had him as their feature star in this month's issue.

Stan showing off his form minus the offensive shorts.

A "unique" view of his phenomenal backhand that won him the French Open.

Friday, June 12, 2015

NUCULA: Nuke It Or At Least Fix It!

All of us officials have gone through the nightmare of working with NUCULA and maybe its time for us to demand that they either fix the thing or get rid of it...

We have all known new officials who have had to wait days and weeks after taking their tests before they had an account...

After taking the tests, they want us to "ASK" them to recertify us.  Why in the world would we be taking the tests if we didn't want to be recertified?

Even though we take the tests and they have us in some database that sends us our scores, they still ask us to go in and enter what school and the scores.  The only problem is that there is no place to enter your score.

They want us to fill out a complete work record but they only count the first few chairs you do and don't count ITA work for much of anything...

Pray that the nuke comes sooner than later...  I'm sure they could go to Plano High School and find a teenager that could fix the thing in a few minutes so why not get it done right now?

Monday, June 01, 2015

2015 French Open--A Great Tournament But The Worst Styles Ever.

The French Open unveils perhaps the worst ball girl outfit in history.  Looks like a cross between a 1960's car hop and a 3 year old on a playground.

At least we now know what the ball kids are doing when they aren't working.  They need to rest up because they do an awesome job--and run miles and miles...

Please tell me we aren't going back to the shorts of yesteryear...

And herein is one of the reasons that Djokovic is so immensely popular.  He's enjoys life and make sure the ball kids have a great time too.

Friday, May 29, 2015

Yes, Your Personal Skills Do Matter...

I've often asked myself the question, "What makes a good chair official and what disqualifies some from doing a good job?"  I've finally come to the conclusion that its not a lack of knowledge of the rules but simply an issue of personal skills and whether you have them or not.

We've all seen the official who thinks they know all the rules and then you put them in the chair they bomb out quicker than a coach reacts to a bad overrule.  I found this great example (pictured above) that explains it quite well.  Here is a brief description of each of the personal skills in your brain:

EMPATHY:  Empathy is defined as "the psychological identification with or vicarious experiencing of the feelings, thoughts, or attitudes of another."  That's why I think officials who are at least tournament players make the best chair officials--they know what's going on out there and can identify with the players and coaches.  It doesn't mean you cry tears when they get overruled but at least you understand the situation.

MOTIVATION:  Its easy to spot a motivated official--good and bad.  Just spend some time with them and you will soon discover if they are there to climb some ladder of life or are motivated to be the best official they can be.  Self-inspection is good for this personal skill and if you are intent on climbing some imaginary ladder then move on to something besides tennis officiating.  Sadly, you will find at the top of the ladder there is noone there but a bunch of self-edifying people just like yourself.

COMMITMENT:  As my grandmother used to say, "The proof is in the pudding."  You can tell if the official has a valid level of commitment within the first 15 minutes you spend with them.  If there's no commitment, then move on quickly because they will be nothing but trouble in the days to come.

SELF-ESTEEM:  One of the most "glowing" or "smoldering" of all the personal traits.  Remember to spend time with them and you'll figure it out real quickly.  If their self-esteem is bloated and bigger than their inflated rear ends, then run away quickly.  They'll never make it.

INTERPERSONAL AWARENESS:  This is the trait that produces humility in a person.  They know their strengths and weaknesses and continually works to make themselves a better person in both of these areas.  They make great officials by the way.  This also means they know how to work with and get along with other officials.  If they don't know how, then move on to the next selection.  A good chair official knows how to get along with coaches, players, and other officials.  This ability can be taught but it requires a pliable and teachable person.

DECISION MAKING:  An absolute requirement for a good chair official.  Notice that "knowledge" isn't listed in this group so its not whether or not you know the law  but whether you know how to apply what you know.  New officials either tend to retreat or become overbearing when they are faced with a critical decision.  Decision making can be taught and strengthened but it takes work and a lot of it.

When you're tempted to complain when you aren't selected for this job or that and you might not get invited to work some tournament then think back on your personal skills.  They may be that which is holding you back...

Be honest with yourself and then get to work strengthening your personal skills--you might be surprised what it can do for you--and all those around you.

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Make Your Plans Now To Come To "The Gathering--2015"

Plans are all finalized for "The Gathering 2015" and it looks like it is going to be a fantastic day of fun, food, and fellowship for ITA officials in Texas and Oklahoma.  If you are from Arkansas and just want to be an ITA official--you are welcome too!

Tom and Vickie Wright have a great home for a huge party!  Lots of room, tons of food, and a newly refurbished pool and deck area.  Its going to be a great so you don't want to miss it...

Here is all the information you need:

*  The party starts at 2:00 p.m. and goes until we get pooped on June 6, 2015.

*  Party Headquarters:  2009 Oakview Drive, Round Rock, Texas  78681.

*  Cost is $10 per person to cover the cost of the bbq and drinks.

*  What will we be doing?  Eating, swimming, water volleyball, drinking, fellowshipping, and more eating.

*  "Bring Your Own Bottle" if you would like alcohol.  Randy will be providing MD2020 if that suits your taste!

*  Everyone is invited that wants to come!

*  Reservations are required so we have an accurate count and have enough food and drink for everyone.

*  You can reserve your spot by emailing Randy McDonald ( or Vickie Wright (  If you can't type, call Randy at 214 796 7402 or Vickie at 512 922 7220.

Hope you can come!

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Its Time To Require Linesmen In Deciding Matches

The infamous "far sideline."  Strangely vacant at the NCAA tournament.

After watching the deciding match in the NCAA semi-finals between Oklahoma and TCU men, I have decided its time for us to call for a requirement that all deciding matches have officials at least on the long lines.  There were two points in the second set tiebreak that would have had an undisputed and clear resolution had the NCAA powers that be believed in putting the remaining officials on a line when it comes down to the deciding match.

In this specific match, there would have had to have had an official on both long lines but that's what is done in the Big 12 and numerous other collegiate matches in Texas.  The official in this match upheld an out call by the OU player which he may or may not have changed to good.  Had there been a linesperson they could have seen his change of mind had there been one.  The question would have been settled and the right decision made.

In the second instance, the chair overruled an out call on a serve by the TCU player on the near sideline.  To say the overrule was questionable would be an understatement but would have been corrected or confirmed had there been an official on the near sideline.  Again--that's a good place to put the officials who are doing nothing but watching a deciding match.

Linespeople are regular fixtures at all Big 12 matches, SMU, Rice, University of Houston, UTA, UNT, A&M, and numerous other universities in Texas and Oklahoma--so now its time for the NCAA to get on board.  In fact, at the Big 12 tournament this year the deciding match in the semi-finals had linespeople on every line.  Its an easy decision and stops a lot of things that shouldn't be happening in a deciding match.

To go a step further, the above-mentioned universities and conferences use a far linesperson in all doubles matches since there are three officials who are not working during the doubles point.  Why not put them to work and help make sure the match is fairly officiated.

There must be some arguments against having linespeople in doubles and deciding matches but I'm not sure what they are.

Waiting to hear your thoughts on this huge issue...

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Men's National Junior College Tournament Highlights

What a great week we had at the Men's Junior College National Tournament in Plano this past week.  ASA (from New York) dominated the men's tournament but also had some stiff competition from Tyler Junior College, Laredo Junior College, Mesa, and ABAC.  Congratulations to all of the players for a great week of competition!

Vickie Wright and Dean Richardville were busy preparing cards each morning.

A great team of officials in front of our officials' tent.  Left to right are:  Rick Gabel, Ty McDonald, Vickie Wright, Dean Richardville, Myron Krueger, and Ron Guse.

Rick Gabel, Vickie Wright, and Mark Gatzki enjoy a moment of levity between matches.

Not sure there are words to describe this one!  
Myron Krueger, Cheryl Jones, & Randy McDonald

Of course the highlight of every day was when Tom Wright fired up the bbq!

2015 Chair Academy Highlights

2015 marked the year of some of our most exciting matches at the Men's National Junior College--and also the year that our Chair Academy people got to work some of the best matches and get some of their best training ever.

Meal Time was always one of the highlights of the Academy.  Here are the trainees and instructors enjoying a meal at La Posada.

"Trainer to the court!" was a familiar refrain during the week.  Here is trainer Wade Johnson treating Janda Jackson from Lubbock for a cut on her hand suffered when opening a can of balls.

For those of you who think the blog is dominated by Republicans, here is a picture of Kristy Francis from Austin who was our resident Democrat at the Chair Academy.  Her nickname was "Left Wing Lilly".

Listed below are this year's participants at the Chair Academy:

Mike Baird (Houston)               Martha Bartlett (San Antonio)
John Boyd (DFW)                     Michael Fontana (DFW)
Kristy Francis (Austin)             Janda Jackson (Lubbock)
Alisha Kim (DFW)                   Dee Murphy (Waco)
Jerry Prohaska (DFW)              Mary Reeder (San Antonio)
John Rodrigue (Houston)         Brett Rovey (Houston)
Ruth Rowland (San Antonio)   David Stalcup (Lubbock)

Thursday, April 30, 2015

"The Gathering" 2015

June 6, 2015

Its time to send out the call for all ITA officials to come and join us at "The Gathering 2015" on June 6, 2015.

Here is all the pertinent information:

·        Start time is 2:00 p.m. until 10:00 p.m. on June 6, 2015.

·        Location: 2009 Oakview Drive, Round Rock, Texas  78681.
         (Home of Tom & Vickie Wright)

·        Dress is casual and focus is on lots of food, fun, and fellowship.

·        Swimming pool and bbq.   Water volleyball for those who are more athletic and tons of food to eat for everyone!

·        Cost is $10 per person to cover cost of bbq and drinks.

·        “Bring Your Own Bottle” format if you would like alcohol.

·        Open to all ITA officials and their spouses or significant others.

·        Reservations are required.  You may register by emailing Randy McDonald ( or Vickie Wright (

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Lying And Cheating Are Basically First Cousins

12 Good Truths To Remember

When you are playing tennis there is probably nothing that bothers you more than being cheated.  In the game of life, there is probably nothing that bothers you more than being lied to.  In all reality, people soon discover that lying and cheating are basically first cousins in the sins of life...

We are all hired as officials to help combat cheating in the tennis world.  Its not an easy task, and often a thankless task, but that is our lot in life--and we all make the choice to make it our profession. That means we enjoy the benefits of tennis but we also accept the criticism and fiery denials from those who practice cheating.  All of that comes with the territory.

On the other hand, LYING is a much more grievous habit that manifests itself in so many undesirable ways.  Here are some examples of lying that we encounter in our tennis world...

*  A few years ago a collegiate player was accused of spitting on a fan after his singles match.  As I had to sort through various versions of "the truth", I met with the young man and said to him, "I am going to ask you one question and I expect you to tell me the truth.  Did you spit on this fan?"  His quick reply was "no."  I knew he was lying but since I (nor any other official) had seen the incident, it went unpunished.  The worst part was that he was meeting with his coach before I got to the court and everyone (God included) knew the coach was telling him to lie...

*  In a high school dual match the officials gave out numerous codes for behavior and cheating on one of the teams.  The infractions even involved having the police remove two of the parents of players.  In the ensuing district investigation, the offending team's coaches stood before an athletic committee and lied.  Their excuse was "that it never happened."  Lying affects not only the players but their coaches too because their players and fans knew their beloved coaches stood and lied.

*  In my many years of collegiate officiating, I have read justifications (lies) from coaches, players, and administrators alike that are completely fabricated.  Their fabrications are elegant and eloquent but are still lies just the same...

*  And what official has never been told by a coach, "You need to remember who pays you when you are making your calls."  If confronted with the truth, they would deny every saying it.  The sad part is that when a coach or an official cheats, the players know it.  Is it really worth destroying the trust of a young athlete because of your lies??

One of the hardest parts of dealing with liars is that they seem to be "winning" in the game of life and even tennis officiating.  But then, their victories will soon be short lived.

As we all try to understand people who lie, we often justify lying by saying, "that's just their nature" or "you know how they are."  Well, I decided to check out God's view of lying so I went to the "Owner's Manual" and here is what it says:

In Colossians 3:9, He says, "Do not lie to one another." And in Revelation  21:8, God puts it rather plainly...

"...and all liars, their part will be in the lake that burns with fire and brimstone..."

Seems that God takes a dim view of lying and He knows the truth.  Maybe people should be a tad more careful when they spout forth an untruth--either in life or on a tennis court or in an office...  Fire and brimstone is not a good outcome.

Sunday, April 12, 2015

A Great Blog About ITA Tennis--Be Sure To Check It Out!

Everyone is excited about collegiate tennis this year--and rightfully so!  Our blog deals primarily with issues that concern tennis officials in general and not ITA tennis.

Here is a great blog (be sure to check it out):

Be sure to read down and check out their account of the Baylor vs OU men's match on Friday night--and check out the comments.  Puts a whole new light on things that happen in the collegiate world.

Friday, April 03, 2015

Less Pay For New Officials? Maybe Its Time For An Officials Union

Has the time finally come?

A new topic seems to have arisen in the past few weeks--and its not one that is welcomed in many circles other than those who make money off of tournaments--and that is the issue of paying new officials less than experienced officials.  While this has been a topic since the beginning of time, it seems that there are now committee meetings at the USTA level to discuss the issue.  Many of us officials have been opposed to having an OFFICIALS UNION but perhaps it is time to seriously rethink that issue...

This editor is diametrically and forever more opposed to the idea of less pay for newer officials because of numerous ramifications--but in order to be "diverse" and "sensitive", here are some thoughts to ponder in the discussion.

*  What possible criteria would be used to determine the pay scale.  Do you base it on years of experience or levels of certification.
*  Do you pay less for an official that is obviously inept in their job performance?
*  Remember that rates are set by local associations and referees and not by USTA committees.
*  Always remember that officials are "independent contractors" and thus can set their own rates.  The policy in the Metroplex is that the Metroplex Tennis Officials Association will not issue paychecks for those who pay less than our established minimums.
*  If the issue is that new officials don't do as good a job as experienced officials then do we deduct pay from those who don't do a good job?
*  Whatever happened to the truth that "if you don't like an official or are dissatisfied with their job performance--then don't hire them"?

I might be open to a discussion of this topic if the following steps are taken:

*  The tournament directors would publish accurate accounts of the finances from their tournament and then base the pay scale on these figures.  A tournament director could not pay the officials less than an established minimum but could always pay more for good service.

*  Have a minimum base pay for new officials and do not permit tournament directors to go below that rate.

*  Make a firm determination of what constitutes a "new official."  It could be based on years of service or number of tournaments worked or some other valid criteria.

*  Base the officials' pay on the amount of the entry fee for the tournament and the pay could never be less than the established minimum.

*  Base the officials' pay on the number of entries in a tournament and not to be less than the established minimum.

*  Establish a minimum pay for all officials and then add to the base pay for years of service, level of certification, and amount of training.

Here are some examples to consider:

   Minimum pay for officials with less than 2 years experience:  $16/hour w/8 hour minimum.
   Minimum pay for officials with more than 2 years experience:  $18/hour w/8 hour minimum.
   $1/hour added for those officials who are referee or ITA certified.
   $1/hour added for those officials who do pro lines.

   Minimum pay for officials with less than 2 years experience:  $18/hour w/8 hour minimum.
   Minimum pay for officials with more than 2 years experience:  $20/hour w/8 hour minimum.
   $1/hour added for those officials who are referee or ITA certified.
   $1/hour added for those officials who do pro lines.

Note:  And just to excite those who hate eating, meals would be included in all fees and if not provided, then $12/meal would be added to each paycheck.

That means that officials who have over 2 years experience and are referee and ITA certified and do pro lines will be making $22/hour w/8 hour minimum.

I'm ready for a union and changes to our pay...

Wednesday, April 01, 2015

The Chair Official--The Only One Whose Opinion Really Matters...

One of the most abused creatures in the sports world is the chair official in a tennis match--sometimes rightfully so and sometimes wrongly...

Recently I was standing with two Division I coaches on a court adjoining the deciding match in their dual. We were all three looking directly down the baseline of the match that was still in progress.  Player A called the ball out on his baseline.  The coach of Player A immediately said, "great call!" and the coach of Player B begin to rant and rave and say, "Worst call in history."

Just goes to show that two very qualified people can see the same thing and come up with two completely different conclusions.  Maybe its a good thing that the only opinion that matters is that of the chair official...

(Please note that I did not tell you how I saw the ball.  I don't want to risk offending one of the coaches...)

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Be Sure To Cast Your Votes...

For your convenience and enjoyment, we have added a "voting section" to our blog.

Check out the topics of the day on the right hand side of the page and then cast your votes.

The results should be interesting!

TV Time For ITA Tennis: You Can Kiss It Goodbye!

One of the most fun things about collegiate tennis these days is discovering which format you are going to be using and then the 15 different variations of that format.  Maybe we can enlist the collegiate deans to come to the matches and help us make sense out of all this mess...

How many times have we heard the refrain, "We want to simplify collegiate tennis so we can get more tv time" or "We want to make collegiate tennis "user friendly" so we have bigger crowds and get more tv time" or "We have to shorten the format so ESPN will televise the NCAA's."  All of that sounds wonderful but unfortunately there are some truths that need to become self-evident...

First of all, the NCAA is going to use the old format at the NCAA's this year--and that means matches that can last forever.  When we began this year using the new format, we saw matches well under 2.5 hours.  After a bunch of schools and conferences switched back to the old format, we are seeing matches regularly go over 4 hours and some over 5 hours in length.  And do people actually believe that ESPN is going to televise a 5 hour women's collegiate match???  Not in this lifetime.

Second, in all reality collegiate tennis is not going to be a big sell in the television market.  The truth hurts but the truth is the truth.

Since everyone in America (and the universe for that matter) have put their two cents worth in on the "format discussion", here would be my recommendation:

*  All matches for men and women alike would be no-ad.
*  All dual matches would use a 9 point system with all singles and doubles matches counting as one point.
*  Play the doubles first and play an 8 game pro set.
*  All dual matches would have a 10 minute break between doubles and singles.
*  All singles matches would be 2/3 sets with the final set being a match tiebreak.

May not be the best solution but doesn't dilute down doubles (which is the biggest crowd pleaser in a dual match) and will shorten the time for dual matches.

Here are some other options that might be considered to increase fan attendance:

*  Give away "tacos from Torchy's" at every home match.
*  Always have free popcorn and hot dogs during the match.
*  Give away a new Babolat tennis racket in every match in the time between the doubles and singles matches.  The format used for the give-away should be left up to the home school.
*  Have a drawing and let the winner go into the locker room for the winners' post-match celebration.  Not sure how this will work if a woman wins the drawing on a men's match or vice versa...
*  Give a school shirt to the "oldest person" at the match (and not a t-shirt but a good shirt with buttons).  Since lots of the older people want to protect the "purity of the sport" then this would increase their attendance.
*  Play as many matches as possible beginning at 6:00 p.m.
*  Offer free nursery care to those who need it.
*  Offer gas vouchers for those who travel over 50 miles to attend the match.
*  Have a drawing before the match and let 6 lucky people sit on the benches during the doubles matches.  Of course that means two people on the bench for each match.
*  In each conference the team that has the largest attendance for the year should have a huge party (with food and alcoholic beverages) for the fans at the end of the year.
*  Shave the winning coach's head following the completion of the match.  Not sure what you do on their second winning match of the year and not sure what you do with a female winning coach.  Those details need to be worked out in advance.
*  Play a "best of seven points" exhibition doubles match between the doubles and singles featuring the #1 player from each team paired with a fan.
*  Make the players available after the match to take photos with their adoring fans.  At no charge of course...
*  At least one time during the year, have a student propose marriage to their boyfriend/girlfriend and televise the proceedings and the result.  And to assure diversity--there are no limits on who can marry whom.

Monday, March 23, 2015

Welcome To The Luby's Cafeteria Approach To Officiating

Seems that everyone everywhere is continually striving to be politically correct in everything they do--and that seems to have spilled over into tennis officiating...

Look at how we decide which format to use for an ITA dual match.  We usually ask the coaches what they want and they go along with it.  If one coach wants something that the other one doesn't want then we actually have to go back to the rule--but then, that's where the problems arise.  Seems that the SEC women play the old format and the SEC men play the new format.  The Big 12 uses the new format entirely.  UTA's conference requires that they use the old format and on and on and on...  At one dual match we even played where we would clinch the match when someone reached 4 matches but would play out lines 1 and 3.  Try to figure that one out.

Welcome to Luby's!  Pick and choose what you like...

Check out how we code coaches in dual matches.  They can say damn and hell and Jesus all they want but they dare not give Jesus a last name (i.e. Christ) or we immediately issue the code.  They can say God but don't add "damn" or the code will be forthcoming.  Someone needs to print us up a glossary of  terms that are not permitted and then maybe we will make some real progress in this touchy area.

Interesting that we let coaches deride us personally, denigrate our heritage, castigate our very existence, and question our ethics and morals but nothing is done.  Maybe its time we rethink the issue.

Welcome to Luby's!  Pick and choose the words you hate...

Note:  Personally I think that if a coach or player attacks your integrity and honesty then they should be coded.  But then, that's just my opinion for whatever its worth...

Friday, March 20, 2015

Come Work For Us And We Will Give You A 44% Pay Cut...

Seems like all the talk around Washington and Austin these days is about cutting budgets--and now the talk has come to the DFW Metroplex...

There is talk among some officials about developing a different pay scale for newer officials that includes a 44% pay cut from $18 an hour to $10 an hour.  The only excuse given for this proposal is that they are "new" and "inexperienced" and therefore deserve less pay.  Their main excuse for this proposal is that tournament directors are complaining that the new officials aren't doing as good a job as the more experienced officials.

Here are some points to consider in this discussion:

*  No guidelines are given as to what constitutes a "new" or "inexperienced" official.  All officials are certified and therefore should receive the same pay. All officials (new or experienced) are asked to stand in the same cold or heat and deal with the same players and parents.  Some offer that a "new official" is one with less than 5 years experience.  Basically, that is smoke and mirrors to cover up a pay cut.

*  If we are going to penalize "newer officials" for their lack of experience then we should also institute a program where "more experienced officials" are penalized for poor job performance.  Seems ridiculous doesn't it--and that's what its meant to do...

*  Let the law of "supply and demand" hold true.  If an official is no good--then don't hire them.  If the tournament director doesn't like the job performance of the officials being hired then check with the referee since it is their responsibility to oversee the officials.  If you don't like the product--then get a new referee...

*  In the Metroplex, new officials are already required to undergo a "shadowing" program and a "new officials training program" in addition to attending the regular officials school each year.  They have "paid their dues" in order to enter the officiating workforce by participating in all these requirements.

*  Some tournament directors are also referees for various tournaments.   This latest proposal smacks of being just another way to make more money.  The Biblical admonition, "no man can serve two masters" rings incredibly true in this instance.

*  The complaint that newer officials don't do as good as job as older officials simply isn't true.  Some of the worst officials are those who have been at it the longest.  Check out the complaints registered each year at the USTA and you will find that most of them are against more experienced officials.

*  If tournament directors are complaining about the quality of officiating by newer officials then why are no complaints being sent into the MTOA or the Texas Section?

*  Perhaps another way to consider the issue would be to issue "bonuses" or "pay incentives" to all officials based on their performance.  This would be quite a new experience in our officiating world!

*  Many officials are already being asked to report to work 30 minutes early without pay to "prepare" for the tournament.  This policy is expressly prohibited by the MTOA and should be reported immediately.

*  Officials are also being asked to "bring their own meals" or not being paid for meals.  This is just another ploy by some referees and tournament directors to make more profit on their tournaments.

As we think about this issue, here are some things to remember:

*  Ask your referee before the tournament begins what their pay scale is and if they provide meals and if they are asked to come early without pay.  If they fail in any of these areas--then don't work for them.

*  Do your very best job at all times and be conscientious in all that you do.

*  Make sure that you know the rules.  Study, study, study...

*  If you feel you need more training--then ask for it.  There are plenty of experienced officials in the state who would be glad to help you.

Hopefully this new proposal will meet a quick demise.  Learn to recognize it for what it is and then let's move on...

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Is It A Let Or Not?

There is nothing more frustrating that lining up to hit a winning overhead when you hear your opponent shout "let".  There is probably not a more contentious arena in tennis and seems that its become quite an issue in collegiate tennis these days.

What do you do when a ball rolls on the court during play?  Do you call a let if the ball is rolling along the back fence?  When do you call a let?  All of these are frustrating and legitimate questions.

Here are the rules:

FAC p. 50.  18.  Let called when the ball rolls on the court.   When a ball from another court enters the playing area, any player on the court affected may call a let as soon as the player becomes aware of the ball.

FAC p. 233.  12  Lets.  Requests for lets may not be made after a point has ended.  The Solo Chair Umpire or the Roving Official may call a let for a ball that is endangering a player or interruption of play.

Both rules are very plain but still doesn't resolve the issue in many instances...


In a men's ITA doubles match, team A hits the ball and it is obviously going to hit the wall behind team B.  Immediately before the ball strikes the back wall, team A sees a ball against the back fence behind them and calls a let.  The ball in no way endangered a player or interrupted play but the referee allowed the let. 


In a women's ITA doubles match, team A is preparing to hit a sitter lob for a winning overhead.  Team B sees a ball rolling along the back fence behind Team A and immediately calls a let before Team A can hit the winner.  The chair official allows the let.


In a men's ITA doubles match, team A is preparing to hit a sitter lob.  Team A notices a ball rolling on the back of the court behind team B.  Team A goes ahead and hits the winner.  The chair official does not call a let. 

All three of these are actual events (in fact, Scenario One occurred at the men's national indoor tournament.)  

Do you agree with the rulings?  How would you have ruled if you disagree?

My personal interpretation is that if the balls is rolling behind the player and endangers the player, then immediately call a let.  If the ball is along the back fence and does not disrupt play or endanger a player, then leave it alone.  

Unfortunately many players (and ITA players specifically) have eagles eyes and can spot a loose ball anywhere on the court and they are extra quick in calling lets.  Remember--any player can call a let but then its up to the discretion of the chair official as to whether the let will be allowed.

And the debate goes on...

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Our Blog--On The Cutting Edge of Modern Technology


Just so you know how progressive and "cutting edge" we have become here in bloggerland, please note the coin flip app above that we now use in all collegiate matches.  The coaches love it!

Also, look to your right and you can see the new link where you can send us a personal email or comment without it going on the blog.  Be nice--and enjoy.

The Battle Cry For Consistency--And The Need To Have It On Both Sides

One of the most common refrains we hear from collegiate coaches is that they just want CONSISTENCY from their officials--and its a valid refrain and one that everyone wants and strives for on a daily basis.  On-court training and experience are the key elements in finding consistency but it will be an elusive goal as long as we are humans and have different perspectives.  But just because it is elusive doesn't mean that we shouldn't strive for it every day...

The one area that we could achieve more consistency--and one that is needed now and not later--is in the area of match formats in the ITA.

Seems now that some conferences have chosen to abandon the new format as has the NCAA for the championships at the end of the year.  Before every match, we officials have to check with the coaches to see which format they are going to follow, if we are playing "clinch-clinch" or some variation thereof, or just what we are going to be doing.  Nothing drives us officials to desperation quicker than this indecision.  In a recent match we were told that we were doing "clinch" in the doubles unless they were close matches, and "clinch" in the singles unless the #1 and #3 players were still involved.  Want to come try to figure that one out???

I did a collegiate match yesterday and both coaches had been told by their conferences and athletic directors to go back to the "old format" and "regular" rules for the dual match.  Unfortunately, noone explained what all this means to their players because when they arrived at court and were told to go back to the regular format and scorekeeping they had no idea what we were talking about.  You should listen to a Russian player trying to explain to his South American teammate what "regular" scoring means.  I should have recorded a video and put it on You Tube...

Personally, I think that if the NCAA and everyone concerned in the decision making process is looking for shorter matches and hopefully some television time, they need to stay with the new format.  Every collegiate match I have done this spring has finished in well under 2 hours but with the old format yesterday, the match took 4 hours and 10 minutes.  ESPN will be out the door when they know that...

I like the new format but I also liked the old format but its time for everyone to get on the same ship.  We're sinking fast with all this indecision...

Sunday, March 08, 2015

Gender Diversity--In Reverse!

Rick Gabel, Tom Wright, Randy McDonald, Vickie Wright, Myron Krueger, & Josh Harvey

Since our last blog post showed Randy with 6 female officials we thought it only right and proper to show Vickie Wright of Austin with 5 male officials when they were officiating the SMU vs TCU women's match.

Diversity truly is king in Texas...

Monday, March 02, 2015

Gender Diversity & Style All In The Same Match!

Texas A&M vs Tennessee ITA Officials
(Ginny James, Terry Gatzki, Vickie Wright, Randy McDonald, Betty Boyd, Mary Lynn Satur, Buffy Powell)

Vickie Wright sporting her stylish "fur boa" for cold weather.

The men's match today between Texas A&M and the University of Tennessee featured some great men's collegiate tennis--and a great example of "gender diversity" and stylishness on the part of a superbly dressed official.

Pictured above is referee Randy McDonald with his 6 worthy teammates.  The second picture features Vickie Wright of Austin, Texas showing off her fur boa which she wore to overcome the cold weather.

Let it never be said that Texas ITA officials aren't on the cutting edge of everything relevant...