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 Banning coaching from the box is an outdated rule and one that nobody enforces anyway.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.

Wednesday, July 01, 2015

University of Texas Names Howard Joffe As New Women's Head Tennis Coach

UT announced that Howard Joffe will be the new head women's tennis coach.  Joffe currently is the head women's coach at Texas A&M.

Here is the UT announcement:

AUSTIN, Texas -- Howard Joffe (JOFF-ee), who led the Texas A&M women's tennis program to Top-10 NCAA finishes the last three seasons, has been named the head women's tennis coach at The University of Texas. The announcement was made Tuesday by UT Women's Athletics Director Chris Plonsky. Joffe replaces Danielle Lund McNamara, who announced her resignation on June 3. Joffe will assume his head coaching duties at UT on July 9.    
"I am enormously grateful to Chris Plonsky and Kathy Harston for allowing me this opportunity and trusting me to lead the Longhorns women's tennis program going forward," Joffe said. "This opportunity comes with a huge responsibility, but it's one that I'm excited about and eager to embrace. I'd like to pass along additional thanks to Steve Patterson for the chance to meet with him. Moving forward, it's clear that the vision for the Texas Longhorns is in good hands with Chris and Steve.    
"There's a tradition of excellence within the women's tennis program here," Joffe continued, "not only in having won national and conference titles, but also in producing very fine athletes and students. I'm cognizant of the charge and the responsibility, but I'm very confident that I'll be able to work with the student athletes and the administration to continue that tradition of excellence."
Joffe comes to Austin after serving four seasons (2012-15) as the head women's tennis coach at Texas A&M. Joffe led the Aggies to a NCAA runner-up finish in 2013, round-of-16 finishes in 2014 and 2015 and a round-of-32 showing in 2012. Joffe produced an 83-23 (.783) overall record at Texas A&M and led the Aggies to a share of the Southeastern Conference regular season title in 2013. Three Aggies collected four ITA All-America honors, and A&M accumulated 10 all-conference selections during Joffe's tenure at A&M. 
"We're extremely pleased to land a coach of Howard's character and caliber," Plonsky said. "He is a proven winner. Howard was a very competitive student-athlete himself. He was mentored by an exceptional coach, and after pursuing coaching himself, he has found it to be a perfect landscape for him. Howard is driven to excellence, cares about his student-athletes and is inspired by the combination of an institution with academic excellence and high goals for championship performance." 
This season, Joffe's Aggies totaled a 17-6 overall record and defeated eventual NCAA champion Vanderbilt while compiling an 11-2 mark in SEC play. A&M reached the round of 16 at the NCAA Championships and ended the 2015 campaign with a No. 10 team ranking. Sophomore Saska Gavriloska became the third Aggie to earn ITA All-America honors in Joffe's four years at A&M. 

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

A Walk Through Memory Lane

Thought you might enjoy a walk down the Big 12 memory lane of pictures.  Don't get offended--its all meant in jest.

Just a few Baylor fans getting ready for the Baylor vs Oklahoma men's match.

How many of you cheated on your final exams?

Too bad she can't be a cheerleader at Baylor matches.

TCU didn't have the #1 fan base for nothing. 

Now she wishes she hadn't come for "Free Taco Night."

An Oklahoma University fan.

Looks like this boy spent too much time at Eskimo Joe's in Stillwater.

Tech fans love to throw tortillas on the court and on the football field.

You've got to be kidding me!  Now everyone wants to go to Tech.

Maybe the Tech coach spent too much time taking photos...

Part of the "chosen remnant" because there wasn't much to cheer about in Austin.

Diversity rules supreme at UT.

Its a different world in West Virginia.

And he has a Mother somewhere that loves him.

A picture is worth a thousand words.

Not a Big 12 school but its hard work being the mascot for the University of Virginia.

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?

Wednesday, June 03, 2015

Interesting Tweet...

Today was an interesting day in the world of tweets...  Just saw this tweet coming out of Waco that says Diego Galeano and Julian Lenz are the #1 team in collegiate tennis.

What a great honor for the Baylor team and also pictured below are Soren Hess-Olesen and Lloyd Glasspool holding up their championship trophy and Hugo Dojas and Felipe Soares holding their runner-up trophy from the recent NCAA tournament held in Waco.

Isn't it great to see the Big 12 so well-represented in collegiate tennis!

Soren Hess-Olesen & Lloyd Glasspool

Hugo Dojas & Felipe Soares

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.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Observations & Thoughts From The 2015 Championships

Now that the 2015 NCAA Men's and Women's Championships have concluded and some great champions crowned, its time for reflection and observations from the tournament--and there are many.  Here you go:

*  Overall, it was a great tournament with some fantastic players and coaches who were all on their best behavior during the entire tournament.  Compared to a Big 12 match, these championships were calm and collected.

*  Baylor discovered that they should have built an indoor facility that has seating for more than 125 people.  Nothing more needs to be said after standing to watch the singles match yesterday...

*  In the team competition, they need to put linespeople on the lines in the deciding match.  Not sure why they wouldn't since this should be a no-brainer.

*  Having linespeople make all the line calls in the finals takes away much of the excitement and intrigue of a collegiate match.  In theory, the linespeople never make mistakes and get all the calls correct but we're all humans and that just ain't so...  Let the players play their matches like they do all year long.

*  The chair officials did an overall great job.  They were professional and highly accurate throughout the tournament.  They do need to quit signaling a ball is out even before a player makes a call.  This just ain't done in a collegiate match.

*  The price for concessions needs to be rethought.

*  The tournament proved (and hopefully to the Big 12 powers-that-be) that the ITA rules concerning crowd behavior work just fine.  There was a lot of cheering but the matches were also something that honors the game of tennis and sportsmanship.

*  One of the greatest highlights of the tournament (at least here in Texas) was having two Big 12 teams (UT and Tech) play for the men's doubles crown.  Congratulations to the guys for a great match and making us all proud!

Congratulations to the NCAA and Baylor University--you put on a great tournament!

2015 NCAA's Featuring A Great Field & Great Champions

The final day of the NCAA tournament featured good crowds, rain, tornadoes, and an NCAA DOUBLES CHAMPIONSHIP for Soren Hess-Olesen and Lloyd Glasspool and the University of Texas.  Congratulations to the guys for a great win!

There's nothing like an NCAA Doubles Championship to put a smile on a coach's face.  Here is UT head coach, Michael Center, celebrating after their win.

There was much celebrating to be done following the UT victory over Tech in the men's doubles finals.  Here are the UT coaches congratulating their players.

The last day of the tournament featured torrential rain and even a tornado nearby causing the fans to be quickly moved over to the indoor courts.  Pictured above is the crowd waiting for the players to begin play.

A last minute conference by the Baylor staff.  I would imagine they were saying, "And why didn't we put more than 125 seats in our new indoor facility..."

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...

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Sights & Sounds Of The Men's Final Four

A Baylor fan came directly from the gym for the match.

They grow them a little rowdy up in Virginia.

Truly "age knows no barrier."

Taking a break after lunch at Bush's Fried Chicken.

The Horned Frogs were in full force!

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Observations From The NCAA Tournament

Yesterday at the NCAA tournament was one of the greatest days of collegiate tennis I have ever experienced!  Since I tend to watch things very closely at an event like this, here are some of my observations:

*  First and foremost it was GREAT to see 3 Big 12 teams in the semi-finals.  First time in history and well worth it.  They made us proud!

*  The facility was great and everyone seemed to have a great time.  The seating on the Riverside courts is useless since everyone stands along the guard rail in front of the spectators and they can't see the court.  Policing the stands a bit more and letting the people sitting in the stands see would be a great improvement.  The new pavilions on the main courts are great because you can stand at the top of the stands and see both matches at the same time--and be in the shade the whole time!

*  The concessions were adequate but highly overpriced.  Guess someone has to pay to resurface those courts.

*  Bathrooms were way too far away.  Just be sure you don't have to go when you come to the match.

*  I got to witness a modern day miracle when the Baylor crowd behaved themselves and actually acted like real tennis fans.  The OU and TCU fans were much more vocal and involved in their match but they were also much closer to the players.

*  It was fun to be sitting in the stands watching the Baylor players perform their antics when they get overruled instead of being in the chair and enduring them.

*  Baylor is to be commended for putting on such a well coordinated tournament.

*  I was sitting on the front row on the Grandstand match and standing at the back of the court on the Riverside match and never heard a chair official call out the score.  Not saying that they didn't, but they sure didn't do it loud enough to be heard.

*  The chair officials were way to "quick on the trigger" is signaling that a ball was out.  Many times their signals were given before the player even made the call.  I can't even begin to imagine what it would have been like if retired Coach Wadley had been there to see that...

*  The OU and TCU crowds were a bit over the edge at the end of their match but it was to be expected.

*  For the life of me, I cannot understand why the NCAA does not use linespeople when a match comes down to the deciding match.  The 5 other officials are standing around and doing nothing and it would have stopped the two controversial rulings in the second and deciding set in the OU vs TCU match.

*  It was great fun watching the contrasting coaches in the two duals.  The Baylor-Virginia coaches are much more subdued while the OU and TCU coaches are both alpha males.  To say the least, it was great theater and great tennis!

*  The saddest part of the day was watching the male teams leave and the crowds along with them.  The women's semis were boring at best and had basically noone there watching them...

*  My two cents worth--its time to use the "new format" all of the time!  Enduring deuce after deuce gets boring in a hurry.

*  Special thanks to the Lord for providing us with near perfect weather for the men's match.

Monday, May 18, 2015

Men's NCAA Semi-Finals--What A Great Day!

The day dawned with bright sunshine and excitement over the semi-final matches between OU and TCU and Baylor and Virginia.  Noone was disappointed!  The OU-TCU match probably had the most intensity but the Baylor-Virginia match was exciting right until the end.

OU edged out TCU 4-3 with the deciding match coming down to the #1 singles won by OU with a score of 7-5, 7-6.  There were two crucial rulings in the second set tiebreak that both went in OU's favor and ultimately deciding the outcome of the match.

Baylor fought valiantly against Virginia but were basically outplayed during the entire dual with Virginia winning 4-2.

Both OU and Virginia emerged victorious and will play each other in tomorrow's final.  It probably will be a match that you don't want to miss!

Pictured above is Vickie Wright and Ty McDonald as they are enjoying the shade at Baylor stadium.

A view of the OU-TCU match from the upper deck of the stands.

Line 1 doubles in the OU-TCU match.  Came down to a tie breaker and won by OU.

The agony of defeat as the vanquished Baylor player is consoled by the victorious Virginia player.

Gary Tolbert outfitted in his Baylor cap and Georgia shirt and Myron Krueger in his Virginia shirt.  Looks like they are having identity issues!

Myron Krueger and Randy McDonald.  Please note that Randy is wearing his Big 12 cap in honor of OU, TCU, and Baylor.  Myron isn't sure what he's doing...

Gary Tolbert showing off his Georgia shirt complimented with the ever-present yellow Baylor cap. 

A great day for a father and son to enjoy some exciting tennis!  Randy and Ty McDonald had a great time...