Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Does A College Team Take On The Personality Of Their Coach?

Anyone who has been around collegiate tennis for any length of time can tell you horror stories of coaches ranting, raving, and screaming about everything from a footfault to a disputed line call but sometimes the issue goes even deeper than an individual coach's behavior--it goes to the very core of the team itself.  The question has frequently been asked if the team takes on the personality of the coach--and I would say the resounding answer is YES.

Experts tell us that children learn from the example set by their parents and there is always the proud father who simply says, "Like father, like son" when his son is an example of honesty, integrity, and good behavior.  Sadly, their are very few fathers who stand beside a misbehaving son and say the same thing...

Here are a few thoughts to consider when asking the question of whether a team takes on the personality of their coach:

*  Whenever you encounter a player who is well-behaved, respectful, and thoughtful, you usually have parents with the same qualities.  How many times have you met the parents of a quality player and discover that they are mirror images of each other?

*   Whenever you encounter a  player who is out of control, abusive, and confrontational, you usually have at least one parent with those same attributes.  How many times have you dealt with an unruly player only to look in the stands and see their parents behaving the same way?

*   Whenever a coach exhibits self-control in his life and decisions, his players usually do the same.

*   Whenever a coach is a person of integrity, you will usually see the same quality in his/her players.

*   Whenever you see players who are overtly verbal in their on-court behavior, you usually have a coach who is the same.

*   Whenever you have a player who cheats, yells, and screams, he will usually have a short career with a coach who is a person with integrity and self-control.  Integrity cannot co-exist with those qualities which are the opposite.

*   A calm coach will usually have players who are the same.

*   Integrity and honesty are qualities that a coach can instill in his/her players and it manifests itself in stressful situations.  You never know about a person's integrity until you see their behavior when they are under pressure.

*   Players are still young people and they will imitate the behavior of their coaches.  This is only human nature and we see it on a regular basis--both good and bad.

*   If a coach does something unethical the players know the truth one way or another.  A player who has been raised by ethical and honest parents will always sense unethical behavior by a coach.

*   There are many negatives in this area but there are also many wonderful positives too!  A coach of integrity, honesty, and truth is privileged to be able to instill these same qualities in their players.

NOTE:  All of the points of interest above also apply to a tennis official...  If a collegiate official were to cheat for a player the worst by-product of this action would be that the player who benefits would sadly know the truth and subsequently lose all respect for that official.


Sunday, October 26, 2014

An Offer He Couldn't Refuse--But He Did!



After a lot of years of being involved in tennis you tend to think you've just about seen everything--but then something happens and you quickly realize you haven't...

I was doing a men's ITA match today and was roving on 6 courts.  Made it kind of difficult to see everything but just as I was walking up to a  court Player A threw his racket down and then kicked it across most of the court.  As I was walking to the net post to assess a code violation, his coach said, "Give it to him."  So I did...

Just as I uttered the words "Code Violation", his opponent, Player B, said, "I don't receive the point and I refuse the code violation point penalty you are giving him."  I asked if he was serious and he said yes, so we ignored the code violation.

The only problem was that the score was tied 7-7 in the first set tiebreak when the infraction occurred.  In spite of his generosity, Player B subsequently lost the first set tiebreak.

Just when I think that's about the weirdest thing I've ever seen in collegiate tennis, the players move to a tiebreaker for the 3rd set.  Player B then receives a code violation from the official on the court (not me)--and then guess what, Player A refused the code violation.

Seems like chivalry is not dead in men's collegiate tennis--or there are two young men who are home tonight thinking about their levels of generosity.

Not sure I'll ever see this again in my lifetime but it sure was fun watching it happen today.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Apparently We Still Have A Long Way To Go...



Interesting official's ruling from the glorious state of Texas:

In a UIL high school dual match, a female official made an interesting ruling when a male player stopped play because he was cramping.

The official quickly pounced on the opportunity to start her stop watch and then proceeded to violate more rules that any sane person could even imagine.  Here are some of the official's stats for the day:

*  Allowed the player to roll on the ground for 3 minutes before doing anything.
*  Asked the player what he wanted to do and then called for the assistant coach who was 8 courts away.
*  Allowed the assistant coach to take 9 minutes to get to the cramping player.
*  Allowed the coach to talk to the player and rub on his leg for 18 minutes before asking them if they were done.
*  Told the opposing coach that the boy needed time to recover from his cramps and time to "rehydrate."
*  Finally called time after 30 minutes and told the players to resume play.

Special note:  The player who was allowed a 30 minute timeout for cramping (when he should have been defaulted), came back to win the match.

Obviously, we have a long way to go in our training if this is considered acceptable.  But then, if they can foul up a cramping incident at the US Open, I guess we don't want to be outdone here in Texas...

Sunday, October 19, 2014

So Serena Is Officially Offended. Sexist--Yes. Racist--Not Hardly


Officially Offended SERENA WILLIAMS

Thought you might enjoy reading this article that appeared in the news services this morning.  We will leave all the comments up to our readers...
SINGAPORE (AP) — Serena Williams says comments by the head of the Russian Tennis Federation referring to her and older sister Venus as "brothers" were bullying, sexist and racist, and that she supported the one-year suspension imposed by the WTA against the official.
Shamil Tarpischev was also fined $25,000 for making the comments on Russian television. He also said the sisters were "scary" to look at.
"I think the WTA did a great job of taking (the) initiative and taking immediate action to his comments," Williams said Sunday in Singapore ahead of her WTA Finals defense. "I thought they were very insensitive and extremely sexist as well as racist at the same time. I thought they were in a way bullying. "
Asked whether he regretted his comments, Tarpischev told The Associated Press on Saturday at the Kremlin Cup that the program on which he spoke was "a humorous show," adding: "I don't answer stupid questions." When asked about his ban, Tarpischev said: "I can't comment. I don't understand it."
In a statement released later by the Russian Tennis Federation, Tarpischev denied any "malicious intent" and said his quotes had been taken out of context.
"I didn't want to offend any athlete with my words," he said. "I regret that this joke ... has garnered so much attention.
The WTA said it would seek his removal as chairman of the Kremlin Cup tournament, which ends Sunday.
Tarpischev has been chairman of the Kremlin Cup, Russia's only WTA event, for all of its 18 years as a women's tour event, and is also a member of the International Olympic Committee. During the 1990s, he was the personal tennis coach to Russian President Boris Yeltsin and served as his adviser on sports matters.
He made his comments during an appearance on a Russian talk show this month alongside former Olympic singles champion Elena Dementieva. When Dementieva was asked what it was like playing against the Williams sisters, Tarpischev interjected and called them the "Williams brothers." He also said that "it's scary when you really look at them."
The WTA tour issued a sharp rebuke on Friday over the comments.

What Happens When The Bee Strikes Home?


Benadryl Pen (available at any pharmacy)

"Be prepared" is one of the mottos of a good tennis official--and you never know when you will need it...

From a broken net strap to a good coin for the coin toss, we all know what we need to get going at the average tournament.  Its the unexpected that sometimes gets us...

The unexpected happened to me this past week in a UIL playoff match.  During the doubles, one of the boys was stung on the hand by an irate bee.  They called me to the court and the boy was busy trying to extract the stinger from his hand--all to no avail.  Finally, we found a Mother with a pair of tweezers in her purse and she quickly sprung to the rescue.  

Not to be outdone when the boy asked me if he was going to pass out or even die, I assured him that he would live but wasn't too sure about the other.  I asked him if he was allergic to bee stings and he said he didn't know since this was the first time he had ever been stung.  His coach looked at me with a somewhat perplexed look--and then my preparations became real!

A few years ago we had a female official get stung on the nose by an offended bee and someone had a Benadryl pen in their bag.  Quick action with the pen averted a lot of pain and suffering so I then went to the local pharmacy to purchase one for my officiating bag...

Little did I know that the unsuspecting Benadryl pen would be called into action--but the boy, his coach, and I were all glad it was there.

Note:  For those who might think that I treated the boy--I did not.  I told him and his coach that the pen was there for their use if they wanted it and they both agreed they did.  The coach took the pen and treated the boy after confirming that he wasn't allergic to Benadryl.

The pain quickly subsided and he went on to win both his singles and doubles matches.  Good day for the boy and the pen--but not so good for the bee.  It died...

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

How Would You Rule?


ZAT tournament tennis at its finest!

In a ZAT tournament over the weekend two girls were playing.  They split sets and the official on the court told them (wrongly) that they were to play a 7 point tiebreak for the 3rd set.  Both girls argued with the officials saying they should be playing a 10 point tiebreak but the official held his ground and made them play a 7 point tiebreak.

Player A won the tiebreak and both girls shook hands after the match and then went to report the score.  When they reported their score they were told that they should have played a 10 point tiebreak for the 3rd set--and then the players were sent back to the court to play out the 10 point tiebreak.  The desk person cited "official error" in justifying this ruling.

Player A then lost in the 10 point tiebreak--and now there is a very unhappy Mother out there.

BTW, they didn't exactly play a 10 point tiebreak but returned to the court and resumed play at 7-5 which was the score when Player A had won the match.

What would you have done????

Monday, October 13, 2014

Ball In The Mouth--How Would You Rule?


Balls in the mouth are quite a feat for a dog...


But probably not acceptable for a tennis player.


At the ITA tournament at Oklahoma University this past weekend the following scenario occurred:

In a men's ITA doubles match, one of the players on Team A  put the entire tennis ball in his mouth following the loss of a point.  He then went up to the net and spit the ball out of his mouth into his opponent's court.

One of the players on Team B then said that he would not touch the ball and wanted the player on Team A to be coded.

How would you rule?  Does the rule about spitting apply here?

HINT:  This player is notorious for putting the ball in his mouth and then spitting it out.  Last year an official ruled by telling the player that this was not acceptable and if he did it again he would be coded.  Seemed to help because there's no record of him doing it again until this past weekend.

Friday, October 03, 2014

Brookie Green: A Tribute To One Of The Best


Brookie Green & Bruce Avery

One of our finest, Brookie Green, passed away this morning in Midland, Texas.  Brookie has served as an official and an instructor at every level of tennis officiating and has always been one of our very best.  She could be firm, loving, sensitive, funny, and friendly but above all else, she was a woman of class and dignity.  Officials everywhere benefited from their time with Brookie and there are literally hundreds of officials that she has mentored over the years.

Brookie will be missed by the many who loved and respected her.

Thursday, October 02, 2014

Scenes From A Weekend Tournament


If you need to know the rules, just come and ask me.  I know them all!


You seriously want me to go code that Mom?


All this talk about diversity and inclusiveness and then they won't let me work the center court because they say my nose is too big!


Three officials seen hiding behind the tournament desk.


I'm ready to start officiating the 10 and under division.


I'm the head referee and that's just how it is!


I just got my Big 12 assignments!


How many times have I told you that you can't bite the parents?


I'm done here.  I'm going down to Austin and work for Vickie Wright.


I can see the lines better from up here.


And they removed me from my chair just for scratching an itch!


Hold still!  You're going out on center court and you have critters in your hair.


Just got his hair cut so he's ready for action!


I'm done!  I can't believe they expect me to work a 12 hour shift in this heat.

Wednesday, October 01, 2014

Sending A Novice Out To Do A Job Noone Else Wants


An old issue--now we are facing an even great issue today...

Throughout history there has been much ado about sending a woman out to do a man's job but in today's world that argument has pretty well gone by the wayside.  In the tennis officiating world, there is a new issue that arises when we send novice officials out to do a job that would prove stressful for even an experienced official.

Everyone knows that we send the newer, more inexperienced officials out to do the ZAT and champs tournaments (at least in Texas that is so).  Let's be honest--are we doing the right thing and are we being fair to a new and inexperienced official?  I think not.

After working a super champ major zone tournament this year, I am more convinced than ever of some truths that seem self evident.  They are:

*  Dealing with some of the players, parents, and coaches at junior tournaments in Texas is something that is difficult for even seasoned and experienced officials.  To say they are "out of control" would be an understatement.  I have never seen such an air of entitlement and bad behavior by parents and players in tennis as we are seeing today.

*  My new philosophy that I am developing is this:  Don't do a tournament where the players have parents...  That would go a long way towards stopping a lot of the problems we are seeing today!  Of course its an impossibility but at least its a thought.

*  If we are going to pitch a new official to the wolves at a site all by themselves then we need to be sure to prepare them for their upcoming doom.  We can't teach in a school what they are going to experience with players, parents, and coaches at all levels of junior tennis so we need to find a way to help them in their transition time.

*  Maybe we should pay the new officials more than anyone else because of what they are forced to endure on a regular basis.  Noone should be asked to be ridiculed, abused, and maligned by any other human being and that happens on an all too regular basis.

*  Its time we quit asking new officials (or any official for that matter) to work a 12-14 hour shift in stifling heat, with at least 12 courts to oversee alone, and then have a referee expecting them to "man up" and do a good job.  Most referees would never do what they ask of their umpires.

*  Why are some of these junior players still playing tournaments when they are supposed to be suspended when they accumulate enough points?  Noone can convince me that as bad as some of these juniors are, that they haven't accumulated enough suspension points in a month to be suspended for a long, long time.  Either they aren't being coded by officials who are ignoring their bad behavior, or they aren't being suspended for the codes they accumulate. Its time for those in leadership to "take the bull by the horns" and do something about this out of control behavior.

*  Since the average official per court ratio in Texas is one official per 11 courts its no wonder that new officials feel frustrated.  A seasoned official knows how to watch more than one court at a time but its high time to change that ratio and especially for the newer officials.

*  One good step in the right direction is that a junior player will soon be receiving two suspension points (instead of one) for a code violation.  If this is going to work then they need to be sure that they are immediately suspended when they reach their quota for suspension.

*  We send novice officials (either in age or experience) out to a site all alone to deal with parents who seem to have a doctor's degree in coaching their offspring or manipulating and abusing the rules of tennis.  Its not a fair fight from the getgo so we need to keep that in mind when making assignments.  Left to their own resources, a novice official will usually do whatever it takes to maintain order at a site--and sometimes those resources prove disastrous.

*  The experienced officials need to be more sensitive to the newer officials and work diligently to help them through their early days of officiating.  All too often we meet new officials who are overzealous and overly officious in their attitudes and job performances because they don't know what to do and just launch out with whatever personal skills they can muster on their own.

*  Novice officials need to learn to listen to what they are taught and to watch an experienced official at work.  Far too many new officials will say "I know" whenever they are taught anything.  If that is so, then why aren't they doing it?  Learn to keep your mouth shut, eyes open, and learn before you think you are an expert on officiating.

*  In the ITA world, we never send a new official out all alone.  We spend hours and hours working with them and then when we do put them in a chair, we stay close by to see that they live through their new experience.  It may not be a perfect system but at least it helps--now maybe we ought to expand it into the USTA junior world.

These are just a few thoughts about what we are doing in our officiating world.  Years ago I went coon hunting with an old hunter down in south Texas and he taught me a wonderful truth:  he always made the young pups go hunting with Ol' Blue so they could learn how it was done before he pitched them out on their own.

Maybe we should do that with some of our young novices before we pitch them out on their own...  And by the way, two hours of shadowing isn't what I'm talking about...

Monday, September 29, 2014

Attila The Hun (Or Hunette) Gets Officials A Bad Rap


An official to the rescue...

Sometimes on my days off I enjoy visiting tournament sites as a spectator and just observing fellow officials in action.  There are days when I introduce myself and then days when I just observe from a distance to see how we are doing as officials.

Lately I have observed some officials from a distance and a lot of what I've seen concerns me greatly. I'm afraid that much of the criticism we receive might be well deserved.  Let me illustrate it with the example of "Attila The Hunette" who was seen recently in a Texas USTA tournament...

Attila showed up late at her site but was attired in a crisp, freshly ironed and starched outfit, hair meticulously in place, and topped off with a new officials cap.  Upon entering the site, she immediately took charge of the tournament desk and all surrounding areas and began barking orders to players, fellow officials, spectators, and parents alike.  You might say she was an "equal opportunity offender" because in a few short minutes she either offended everyone in sight or berated them into submission.  Don't get me wrong--I've seen a lot of overly aggressive officials in my time but AH took the cake!  She was truly deserving of her moniker...

After reflecting upon my encounter with AH, I thought it might be good to offer these simple observations and hope it might help diffuse some problems in the future:

*  Remember that players and parents are human beings and deserved to be treated with common respect and dignity.  I wouldn't want to be the parent of some of the kids I've seen but that is their lot in life and they are trying to make the best of it.

*  Keep in mind that part of your job is to ensure that players, parents, and spectators have a good experience at their tournament site.  You are the only person entrusted with that responsibility so do your best to make the day a good one.

*  As an official you should be mature enough to know your personal strengths and weaknesses so pay attention to what you are doing and how you are coming across to others.  There is no excuse for being rude or condescending to anyone for any reason.

*  Remember that the vast majority of officials are Type A personalities and keep that in mind when you get to your site.  An A personality wants to take charge and be in control but that's not always the best course of action. Sometimes (usually) things don't go as we planned so always be prepared with Plan B.

*  Perhaps a course in "How To Win Friends And Influence People" would go a long way for all officials.  People will automatically respect your authority so we need to deserve and honor their respect.

*  Take time out of your busy life to study the mechanics of leading people, dealing with disrespectful people, dealing with conflict, and graciously leading others.  We can all benefit from bettering ourselves.

*  Remember that you aren't on a mission to subjugate the entire tennis world in one day.  If you are aggressive, demanding, and overbearing then people will react to you in like manner.  If you are calm and confident of your position and authority, people will usually support you and follow your leadership.

*  Just relax and enjoy your life as a tennis official.  Its the best sport in the world so do your best to make your's and others' experiences something to remember and not something they want to forget.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Should Or Could A Woman Coach A Division I Men's Team?



This has always been a question that has been tossed around among collegiate officials for years now and might be a good blog post for discussion...

Rather than take a stand one way or another it might be good just to point out some pertinent facts for consideration and then let the discussion begin.  Let's consider the facts:

*  Women are different than men.  (Big surprise!)  A great book to illustrate the differences is called, "Men are from Mars, And Women Are From Venus."

*  There are obviously logistical difficulties to overcome such as locker rooms, rest rooms, sleeping arrangements and such; however, men who coach women's DI teams seem to deal quite well with these issues.

*  The men's collegiate game is considerably different than the women's game.  Does being a former player (pro or collegiate level) qualify a woman to coach a men's team?

*  Women's temperaments are substantially different than men (and especially young men who are at the height of their testosterone output.)  Women are far more moody than men and this might affect the overall morale and production of a team.

*  Young men are interested in good looking women.  Surprise, surprise!  What do you do when a player has a crush on his coach?  In today's politically correct society you could never advertise for a men's coach that is "not good looking and very unattractive", so what do you do with this one?

*  Women give birth to children and possess motherly instincts.  If the coach has children they will naturally want to spend more time with their kids.  Does this affect a team or do they just welcome the coach and her kids on the bus and away they go?

*  Is a woman strong enough to deal with 10 or 12 type A dominant young men?  What type of woman do you think would be able to coach a men's DI team?

*  Men tend to be more outwardly expressive (and vulgar) than women (or at least most women).  Do you think the players or the coach would have to change on this issue?

*  Will collegiate young men respond well to a female coach or would there be conflict and problems from the getgo?

Many of the above issues deal more with psychological makeups than with court strategy but then perhaps that's why there are few (if any) women coaching a men's Division I tennis team.

What do you think?

Note:  If it were to happen, I think it would be better for a woman to be the head coach of a DI men's program than for her to be an assistant to a male head coach.  Can you just imagine a woman being an assistant to some of the men coaches we all know???

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Should Women Coach Men?


In an unusual and unprecedented move, Spain announced this week that they would now have a woman coaching their Davis Cup team.  Check out the article below that was posted at USA Today:

Spain’s decision to name former tennis pro Gala Leon Garcia as Davis Cup coach didn’t please Toni Nadal, who complained that a woman “doesn’t know men’s tennis because men’s tennis isn’t the same as women’s tennis.”
Leon Garcia replaced Carlos Moya, who resigned after Spain was relegated out of the Davis Cup World Group. (This means the most successful Davis Cup country of this century is in a consolation bracket for 2015). The 40-year-old Leon reached a career high of No. 27 in the WTA rankings before retiring in 2004. She’s Spain’s first female Davis Cup coach and only the fifth for any country.
Toni Nadal, the uncle and coach of Spain’s greatest tennis star Rafael Nadal, didn’t appreciate the import of such an announcement. He told Onda Cero radio:
“It is preferable that (the captain) is someone with a background in the world of men’s tennis. I have nothing against her, I don’t know what her capabilities are, and I hope she does her job well, but in theory she is a person that doesn’t know men’s tennis, because men’s tennis isn’t the same as women’s tennis.
“The truth is that the men’s game isn’t the same as the women’s game on the tactical level, not that one is better than the other.”
Nadal also said the appointment could cause problems at “the dressing room” level, echoing the same tired talking point that’s been around for years and is always debunked. (How many Davis Cup strategy sessions are taking place in a steam room?)
Anyway, the differences between the men’s and women’s game haven’t stopped men from being great women’s coaches, so why would they stop a woman from being a great men’s coach?
But Nadal’s statements are even more ridiculous than that. Forget the blatant sexism. The idea that a Davis Cup coach need be concerned with the tactical nuances of men’s tennis is preposterous! This is the Davis Cup. It’s an individual competition for team points. There’s little to no coaching involved. It doesn’t take a tennis genius to know that the two best players go in singles and the best possible doubles combination plays on the middle day. The “coaching” involves praying that Rafa and David Ferrer take part in the competition so you don’t have to rely on Pablo Andjuar, as Spain’s Davis Cup team had to do in its playoff tie.
When Spain won its last Davis Cup in 2011, the “big” decision was playing Nadal and Ferrer in singles and pairing Feliciano Lopez and Verdasco in doubles. Someone who can’t tell the service line from the baseline could have come up with that roster.
So why is Toni all bent out of shape about it? Maybe this quote reveals some more about his feelings.
“It would seem to be more normal if the captain had been someone like Juan Carlos Ferrero, or some ex-player of a certain level, which is what has happened recently.”
Did Toni Nadal want to be consulted on the decision? Did he expect Rafa to have a say? Did he want to hand-pick Ferrero as captain? Did Toni himself want to be captain?
None of that should matter. Complain about Leon Garcia’s lack of tennis bonafides if you want, but not about her gender."

Not that we would agree or disagree with the article, we do find the thought rather intriguing when it comes to ITA tennis.  Wonder how a woman do as a coach for a men's Division I team???


Monday, September 22, 2014

A Lighter View Of Life


Since we are in a bit of a slow season, it might be good to take a look at the lighter side of life.  Here are some new officials yearning and asking for wisdom at their first training meeting.



We finally found a word for that official that we all know and love.



A perfect ending for an old official.


Waiting for his Daddy to get home from the tournament.


Relaxing after a hard day at a ZAT tournament.


Headed over to harass the officials at the UT vs OU dual match.


"I told you I was going to climb up in that tree if you didn't let me do the #1 singles match!"


Patiently waiting to call lines for the first time.


Happy to see his Daddy back home!


Seems to have lost her head in the competition.


Ideal retirement home for a traveling official.


Checking out their Big 12 assignments.


A future official!


A great bar for after-tournament relaxation.


And here we have the line 1 singles match.


The decor of a happy man.


We're pooped!


Here's how a preppy young guy showed up to work his first match.


And now its time for everyone to take a much-needed nap!

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Is It Time For A Clothing Update?


A Big 12 football coach recently shared that one of the biggest drawing points for today's athletes are the types of uniforms that they wear--and football certainly seems to have made that transition!  These are just a few of the more colorful uniforms around the country.


Even Oregon can't match this one.


Might get a little confusing at Kyle Field.


A picture is worth a thousand words--or dollars...


Even the refs are getting in on the changes!


Since colors are now sweeping the country (and everyone seems to like it), perhaps its time for tennis officials to explore updating our color schemes.  Here are just a few of the modern day options...


Might be a good option for winter wear but probably not too good in the Texas sun.


Definitely lends color to the officiating scene.



We'll leave this one up to your own thought processes...