Wednesday, April 22, 2015

This Is The Week That Is...



Collegiate tennis fans have marveled all year at the heights achieved by Big 12 men's teams this year--and its been awesome!  Oklahoma, Baylor, TCU, and Texas have all been rolling along and Texas A&M has made a great run at the rankings.  Now is the time for the rubber to hit the road...

THE BIG 12 CHAMPIONSHIPS
April 23-26, 2015

This should be a great week since Oklahoma and Baylor enter the tournament ranked #1 and #2 in the nation with TCU not far behind at #6 and Texas at #10.  Texas Tech can make rumblings since they are ranked #17 and beat OU a few short days ago.  Oklahoma State is always tough so there's not an easy spot in the draw.

In spite of all the tantalizing matchups, the biggest topic at the Big 12 Tournament will probably be the new rules concerning fan behavior.  We officials all have our own views of the new rules but those views must be saved for another day.  Coaches on the other hand, tend to express their views very verbally and on a regular basis.  In their exuberance to make tennis like basketball, the rules-makers have created a unique and boisterous atmosphere for sure.

Just come to the tournament and get ready for the show.  Its going to be a great one!

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Boys Will Be Boys!



One of the greatest joys of having a tennis officials blog is that I get all kinds of information from all over the world on a regular basis.  The tidbits really seem to come flying in when we are the middle of the collegiate tennis season.

Just when I think I've heard it all and seen it all--something new comes along--and today was no exception...

Seems that in a men's collegiate match one of the players decided to go to the back of the court and relieve himself through the fence.  The chair official didn't see it--but some spectators did and wrote to tell us about the incident.

Oh well, boys will be boys...

Friday, April 17, 2015

TCU vs UT Men's Match Tomorrow




If you're a collegiate tennis fan, tomorrow will be a great day for you!  The TCU men will host the UT men in a dual match at 1:00 p.m.  Both of the teams are in the top 10 so it should be an awesome match.

Adding to the excitement of the match will be Big 12 rules concerning crowd behavior during a match.  The issue made Good Morning America, ESPN, and the Wall Street Journal this week so if you're interested in seeing how it all works--come on out tomorrow.

NOTE:  The match was a great match and the crowd behaved well!  TCU won 4-1.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

New Big 12 Conference Rules Make The Wall Street Journal!

While many of us are involved in trying to understand and implement the new conference rules about dual matches in the Big 12, the Wall Street Journal did a great piece on them yesterday.

Be sure to check it out at:

http://www.wsj.com/articles/new-college-tennis-rule-is-a-scream-1429122012

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):

http://collegetennistoday.blogspot.com/

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:

ZAT TOURNAMENT:
   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.

CHAMPS & SUPER CHAMPS & ADULT TOURNAMENTS:
   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...

SCENARIO ONE



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. 

SCENARIO TWO

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.

SCENARIO THREE

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...

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Congratulations To The Big 12 & Texas Men's Collegiate Teams

The men's tennis rankings have come out this week and the Big 12 has three teams in the top 8 and Texas has 3 teams in the top 9.  Congratulations guys for a job well done!

Also, congratulations to Rick Gabel's team (Ohio State University) for coming in #10 in the rankings.  I'm sure Rick is still rejoicing!

Men's National Team Rankings 
Administered by the ITA
NCAA Division I Tennis
March 10, 2015
RankAvgSchoolPrevious Week
180.08University of Oklahoma1
274.04Baylor University5
372.31University of Georgia4
471.35University of Illinois3
570.95University of Southern California6
665.58Duke University2
759.10University of Virginia12
858.96University of Texas7
957.81Texas A&M University10
1055.71Ohio State University8
1148.43Vanderbilt University14
1244.14North Carolina19
1343.92University of Mississippi9
1442.95UCLA16
1542.52Virginia Tech44
1641.54Northwestern University21
1741.16TCU13
1840.74University of Florida11
1938.81Wake Forest University20
2036.16University of South Florida17
2136.03Harvard University18
2232.38University of Minnesota34
2330.74Columbia University15
2428.98Florida State University29
2528.67Drake University24
2627.57California22
2726.97Princeton University25
2826.09University of Louisville33
2925.73University of Tulsa26
3025.55Indiana University-Bloomington27
3125.40University of San Diego32
3223.94Oklahoma State University37
3322.62Louisiana State University28
3422.32Texas Tech University30
3520.96San Diego State University60
3620.92University of Notre Dame23
3719.97North Carolina State31
3819.12University of South Carolina40
3918.06Auburn University35
4017.88Stanford University38
4117.69University of Pennsylvania39
4216.88Mississippi State University48
4316.25University of Denver42
4415.90Dartmouth College36
4515.77University of New Mexico45
4615.45Wichita State University66
4715.08SMU67
4814.90Penn State University41
4914.68Pepperdine43
5014.40Cornell University46
5114.14University of Iowa53
5212.84University of North Florida51
5312.31Univ. of San Francisco50
5412.02Cal Poly61
5511.86University of Tennessee59
5611.21Old Dominion University68
5711.06Brown University49
5810.96Troy University62
5910.86University of Washington54
6010.74University of South Alabama57
6110.50University of Memphis47
629.96Clemson University52
639.19Tulane University63
649.02University of Arkansas55
659.01University of Nebraska58
668.43University of AlabamaNR
678.06UC Davis70
687.87Georgia TechNR
697.77Texas A&M-Corpus ChristiNR
707.72University of Michigan64
717.47University of Oregon56
727.46Univ. of Texas at San AntonioNR
737.16Virginia Commonwealth UniversityNR
747.14Boise State University65
756.99UC Santa BarbaraNR