Tuesday, November 29, 2016

The Hiring Process For Officials--How It Works & How To Succeed



This is the time of year for finalizing assignments for collegiate officials to begin their work in January--but its also a time when many people are choosing officiating as a field they want to explore.  The hiring of new (and experienced) officials is a difficult process that has many aspects to consider.

Here are some things to remember when you are asking to be hired:

*  Have you completed all the USTA and ITA requirements before requesting consideration?
*  How are your personal skills such as friendliness and ability to get along with others?
*  How committed are you to the task?  Noone wants to hire a new official who backs out of half of their assignments.
*  How much actual experience do you have?  Be up front and honest with your employer about what you have done--and haven't done.  It makes a difference.
*  Don't let your first question be to ask how much you are going to get paid.  That's the quickest way to take your name out of consideration.
*  Please don't say, "I'm a tennis player and already know all the rules."  You won't get hired by a reputable referee if you do this.
*  Don't say that you don't need training because you already know how to do it.
*  Don't laugh when the referee talks about requirements and say, "It doesn't sound that hard."  If by chance you do get hired, they will give you the most difficult match to show you how it works.
*  Don't show up for your interview dressed like a slouch.
*  Don't show up at your first match with something other than required attire.  It happens more than you can imagine...
*  Don't say, "I need money and this is an easy way to get some cash."
*  Don't show up with an arrogant attitude that you know it all and we should be glad to have you because we won't be and you won't get hired.
*  Don't show up late.
*  Listen more than you talk.
*  Don't drop the names of everyone you know and every tennis player that you have opened balls for.

The hiring process always includes the one doing the hiring.  If you are wanting to get hired, here are some things we integrate into our hiring process and here are some things to remember when you are doing the hiring:

*  Hire people who are energetic and pleasing to be around.  If they aren't, they will drive you crazy.
*  Check their previous work history and even talk to their previous employers.  It will pay off.
*  Avoid people who tell you how privileged you are to have them.
*  Run from people who continually say, "I know that."  They usually don't.
*  Don't hire people based on their skin color or sexual orientation.  It doesn't matter...
*  If you get chance, walk them to their car and see if its neat and clean.  That's a good indicator of what kind of official they are going to be.
*  Check out their personal appearance and hygiene.
*  Ask them generic questions about things other than tennis to discover their personal values and work ethic.  It can be done and you need to do it...
*  Listen to them talk.  They will usually tell you all you need to know.
*  If they shake hands, check out the quality of their handshake.  It tells you a lot.
*  If you reach out to shake hands and they want to do a fist bump--run.
*  Ask them what they believe about having authority--and then listen to their answer.
*  Take them out to eat and observe.  You can learn more here than in an audition.
*  Talk to other referees who know them.  This is a great source of information--both pro and con.


Friday, November 25, 2016

Christmas Wish List A Little Early This Year


Since we have now finished off all the turkey and dressing, it is now time to turn our thoughts toward Santa Claus and all of our Christmas wishes...  Here are mine for this year:

*  That a Big 12 team would win the NCAA team title in either the men's or women's division.  While we totally respect the other teams, it would just be nice to have the title in the Big 12 for a change.

*  That the USTA would come up with requirements for officials with over 5 years experience that are different than those for a beginner.

*  That Nucula would be a thing of the past and never to be mentioned again.

*  That the ITA would not raise our dues for at least one more year.

*  That Tom Herman would not go to LSU.  Makes you wonder what we think about another situation doesn't it?

*  That Trump would announce the formation of a Tennis Ambassador and put their headquarters in Dallas, Texas.

*  That Oklahoma would finally finish the road work between Denton and Norman.

*  That the state of Oklahoma would give $100 in casino credits for all Texas officials who work a match in Oklahoma.  Just a thought...

*  That the USTA would pay for eye exams since they require them of all officials.

*  That the USTA would put some teeth into their penalties for misbehaving parents and players.

*  That the USTA would forget the words "diversity" and "politically correct" and get back to basics again
.
*  That some of our officials would quit calling three days after an event wanting to know when they are going to get paid.  In Heaven, it takes at least a week so get over it.

*  That new officials in training would never again say, "I know that."  If they knew that, then why aren't they doing it?

*  That new officials wouldn't think they "have arrived" after shadowing one dual match.  Perfection takes time to achieve.

*  That pro officials would be required to take a course called "How To Keep Your Self-Inflated Ego Under Control."

*  That some of our officials would quit demanding their "ten minute rest break" every hour.

*  Teach some of our officials that their hero should be Jesus and not Attila the Hun.




Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Thanksgiving--And Its Meaning To Us All


Our wish for you all is that you have a fantastic Thanksgiving holiday season filled with lots of food, family, and fellowship.  Here are some different thoughts on Thanksgiving and its meaning to all of us...

*  Thankful that I've finished all my certification requirements and don't have to do any more until next year.
*  Thankful that I don't have to do any junior tournaments until next year.
*  Thankful that we lived through all the UIL dual matches this year.  There were 65 of them in October alone!


 Some will take this holiday season to practice their line calling techniques.  This is probably a good thing for some of the turkeys among us...


 Most of us guys will take the holiday as a time to run to the football games.  This weekend holds special significance for Rick Gabel and his Ohio State Buckeyes--and a little glimmer of hope for Brighton McMinn and Jim Lawson and their Oklahoma Sooners.  Probably won't be a good holiday weekend for Charlie Strong down in Austin...


Many officials will be rejoicing this holiday season over the fact they have finally finished all their background checks, videos, exams, and everything else that has happened to us this year.  If you are lucky enough to have a Nucula account, then there is much cause for happiness.



Some will be worrying throughout the holidays that they may have forgotten something in the certification process and won't be certified in 2017.  Remember--worrying will accomplish nothing.





Not everyone faces the holidays with grace--some rise up in arms to defend themselves and go after those who would harm them.  More power to them!




Looks like a bunch of new officials getting ready to chair their first match wondering which one will be chosen to go first.

Through it all--we hope you all have a great Thanksgiving!

Thursday, November 17, 2016

COACHES: How They Enrich And Strengthen Our Lives


There is nothing more exiting or rewarding than collegiate tennis officiating--and dealing with coaches is one of the main reasons that its so fun (tongue in cheek).  They offer us insight into our birthright, very existence on earth, our weaknesses, our Mother's bias, and a multitude of other things--but its still a great life and they actually serve to make it richer and fuller.  If we took all of their antics seriously we would never stay in the game.  Just watch, learn, cope and enjoy the life!

Here are a few of our types of coaches that we encounter on a regular basis:


The one who is absolutely amazed that you overruled that far sideline call.


The one who wants to hit something but remembers that his wife and kids are watching.


The "howler."  Enough said...  All you have to do it work with one and you will know what we mean.



The "lip licker".  Doesn't show much emotion but uses a lot of chap stick.


The "contemplator."  Just sits and wonders why we as officials even exist on earth.


The "screamer."  We all know who they are...  (and so do their fans, wives, athletic directors, and players)



The one who your son wouldn't want to play for.


The one whose Mother is ashamed of him and is in need of counseling.

Monday, November 14, 2016

Get Ready For The Children Of Millennials!

As our society struggles to cope with the advent of millennials and their impact on everything we do, we discover quickly that they are a gifted generation but one that comes with many weaknesses and pitfalls.  Someone has well said that you discover the most about a person's character when they are under stress--and if that is the case, then a whole bunch of them got failing grades this past week...


After losing the Presidential election, the young democrat millennials were quick to shed tears in their moment of disbelief.  I had the privilege this past week of standing beside four millennials who were on the street hugging and crying and saying, "I can't believe she lost..."  Of course I was quick to rush over to console them and promise that "Jesus still loves you."


Even the men weren't exempt from the "pain and suffering" that they were forced to endure.  Its not very comforting to have a man say that we "weren't sensitive to his needs during his time of loss" when he's whining about losing an election.


And then there were those who were totally out of control...  They haven't quite mastered the understanding that in an election someone always wins and someone always loses.  That's how democracy works...

Suffice it to say that the vast majority of millennials are fine young people and personally I feel that our future is fairly secure in their hands--but then there is that small percentage that ruins everything for everyone.  Their seeming inability to deal with defeat or situations in which they don't "win" or get their way is a cause for much concern--and not so much for the present, but JUST IMAGINE what kind of kids they are going to raise!

And we as officials will have to deal with their children when they start playing tennis...  Here are some thoughts about the future of junior tennis and what the future holds for all of us...


You'd better get ready for lots of temper tantrums and parents who don't know what to do about it.  There won't be enough room at the tennis centers for "time out areas" for the little darlings...


And if tantrums don't work, they can always resort to tears.  It works on their parents every time.

What should we as officials do in preparation for the coming onslaught?

*  Study the personality traits of millennials and their children and know them well.
*  Study the rules of tennis and know them well because the parents will have their phones nearby to show the rule about everything.
*  Be prepared to be a star because they will all have their phones and will be videoing everything you say and do.
*  Carry a spare puppy or kitten along with you so you can assign them to an unhappy child of a millennial and it will help them through their stressful time of playing tennis.
*  Keep a good supply of coloring books so they can express their emotions in a tangible manner.
*  Be sure we change the rules of tennis to allow them to communicate between every point with their parents and coaches on their cell phones.
*  Allow for at least 4 minutes on changeovers so they don't get overheated or stressed during a match.
*  Above all else, don't let someone be declared "winner" and someone declared "loser" because that would upset both their sensitive psyches.

Someone once made this wise statement:  The way that a child responds to his parents' authority will soon become the way that he responds to God's authority."

Since that is true, you'd better hang on because I don't know exactly where we as officials fit into the grand scheme of things but I can see many storm clouds on the tennis horizon...

Saturday, November 05, 2016

2016 UIL State Team Tennis Champions

Special congratulations to the these two fine state UIL champions!  I have had the privilege of officiating numerous matches for both teams and they are more than deserving of their honors!


6A State Champions
PLANO WEST HIGH SCHOOL
Coach:  Morgen Walker


5A State Champions
HIGHLAND PARK HIGH SCHOOL
Coach:  Dan Holden

Wednesday, November 02, 2016

USTA Exams--Ever Feel Like You Are Drowning And Need Help?



Seems like nary a day passes that we don't hear from a frustrated official who can't figure out the tests, how to take them, or how to navigate through the online programs--and then they don't know where to find help...

Its even more frustrating with someone wants to become a new official but here is about all we can offer in the way of advice and help.

*  Be sure to read and re-read all of the requirements to become an official.  You can access these by clicking on "Becoming A USTA Official" on the right hand side of this page.  Also, click on "Becoming An ITA Official" if you are interested in that area.

*  Remember that the tests are going to take over 7 hours even if you encounter no problems so allot plenty of time for the experience.

*  Email the USTA at officiating@usta.com if you get stuck.

*  Call Julio Echavarria is all else fails.  Maybe he can fix it for you or tell you where to turn.  His number is 915 696 7280.

*  Be sure that you have or get a Nucula account so you can proceed on with the rest of your life!

Tuesday, November 01, 2016

Welcome To Our World--Working With The New "Millennials"


Since we live in an ever-changing world, we are now confronted with a whole new generation called "millennials."  It is difficult to explain what it is like enlisting them and then working with them because there are so many valleys and mountaintops.  Suffice it to say, we are all still learning how to adjust to our newcomers.  Here are some of their traits:

*  Have no problems with self-confidence and self-image.
*  Not adept at arriving on time.
*  Pays little attention to detail.
*  Impossible to view them apart from their cell phones and I pads.
*  Usually very astute in their personal appearance and grooming.
*  Need to work frequently to help pay for their clothes and hair styles.
*  Usually a lot of fun but have a very short attention span.
*  Loves to be in the chair for the #1 match but frequently get into trouble.
*  Nearly always above average in intelligence.
*  Great at fixing the malfunctioning scorekeeper.
*  Can find almost any app for you in a matter of minutes.
*  Great attribute to the team if you can keep them focused and faithful.
*  Not given to a strong work ethic and tend to float in their allegiances.
*  Love to give a fist bump when you do most anything.
*  Fairly gullible when it comes to things in everyday life.
*  Like to have a mentor but only for about 10 minutes and then they think they know it all.
*  Don't do well with an overbearing and irate coach.  They don't handle conflict well at all.

In my exuberance to properly define our millennial friends, I found this definition in a contemporary dictionary.  It fits well...

"A special little snowflake.  Born between 1982 and 1994, this generation is something special, cause Mom and Dad and their 5th grade teacher Mrs. Winotsky told them so.  Plus, they have a whole shelf of participation trophies sitting at home so it has to be true.

They believe themselves to be highly intelligent, the teachers and lecturers constantly gave them "A"s in order to keep Mom and Dad from complaining to the Dean.  Unfortunately, nobody explained to them the difference between an education and grade inflation so they tend to demonstrate poor spelling and even poorer grammar.

At work, millennials believe themselves to be overachievers who just aren't understood by their loser bosses.  Even Mom said so when she showed up for the interview.  They are the only generation in the universe to understand the concept of work - life balance and to actually want to find a fulfilling career.  All those Gen X losers just don't get it what with their hoping to keep their jobs and pay the
bills but they are just corporate drones so who cares what they think?  They should be smart like Millennials and get Mom and Dad to pay for that stuff until they can work out what they want to do with their lives and then get rich doing it."

We will have to adjust to having them on the scene and applying for officiating opportunities--now we just have to figure out what to do with them...





Thursday, October 27, 2016

Footfault! To Code Or Not To Code... And All Kinds of Other Fun Things!

We are the midst of the UIL playoff season and boy is it fun!  We thought we would share some of the events and comments from the past few days...


Seems that an official called a footfault on a player (which is the right thing to do) but when the player did it the next time he issued a code violation...  Seems that the official's explanation was that "I told him not to do it and he did it again so I gave him a code for not following the official's instructions."

Unique to say the least--and not something I would ever do...  (Nor would I even consider hiring an official who did this.)

ARROGANT QUOTE OF THE DAY


The "Queen of Arrogance"

I was walking by a group of women at the tournament and heard this quote, "Entitlement isn't visible when you know you have it."

So much for humility at that house...

CANDIDATE FOR HELICOPTER MOM OF THE YEAR



As the official was walking around the tournament grounds a Mother kept glaring at her.  Finally, she went up and confronted the official and said, "What are you even doing here?  You are useless!  My daughter is over there playing a match and continually playing out balls.  You need to get your butt over there and start calling the balls out for her!"

Welcome to the UIL...

INTERESTING VOTE BY THE COACHES

In UIL regional tournaments the coaches of the teams involved have quite a bit of leeway in how their specific tournament is run in regard to bathroom breaks, collegiate coaching, and other things like that.

One regional voted for something I have never heard of...  They voted to give the players a TEN MINUTE REST PERIOD between the second set and the match tiebreak!  They are already playing no-ad so this is quite interesting to say the least...  I'd have to be there to see it before I would believe it happened.

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Its Time To Light The Fires of Change!


Now that the USTA deadlines for officials have come and gone--and we have people everywhere wondering what just happened to them--perhaps its time to tweak the system and make some "user friendly" changes...


A wasp's nest of problems were stirred up when the deadlines basically produced mass confusion and a rush to complete tests, watch videos, and pray that God would grant them membership in Nucula.

Lest we be accused of complaining and not offering concrete solutions, here are our suggestions for improvement...

*  First and foremost:  Design a set of exams for officials that have been officiating for over 5 years so that they don't have to spend 7-8 hours taking exams in front of a computer.  A "refresher video" with the new rules would be a good start.  You might even call it "Exams For Old People."

*  Put some teeth into discipline for inept officials who flaunt the rules, make bad decisions, and create havoc in tournaments.  In grassroots tennis, we know who they are so you should learn the same and then do something credible about it.  Additional training and/or suspension might work.

*  Find some way to make Nucula work or dump it and hire someone who can design a program that works.  Might actually look at ZebraWeb because it works well!  As it is, we have to take exams, pass a background check, watch videos, and get an eye exam before we are considered--and then we find that we have to Nucula account before we can even proceed into ITA officiating.

*  Design a set of exams just for new officials.  Asking a new official to buy clothing and take 7 hours of tests is going to discourage more than we enlist.  Its already happening and the results are going to be devastating.

*  Offer some concrete solutions to our declining membership.  You are our leaders and we expect more out of you.

*  Move the deadline for certification at least to November 1st each year.  In our modern computer age, surely you can get it done.

*  Be sure to communicate clearly with your membership about all that is required each year.  Now that we have exams, videos, eye exams, and background checks we need to know what we are doing and when we have to do it.

Don't want to overwhelm you with suggestions and hopefully these will help...



*  Keep up the good work!  The exams are easy to access and aren't overly burdensome.  Requiring exams is a necessity but you've kept the requirement to a minimum.  Don't jump on the bandwagon of the USTA and start lengthening everything you do.

*  Move completely away from the USTA so we can get officials certified and functioning as soon as possible.

*  Make certification possible year round.  We have new officials join our ranks all the time and we need to get them certified and working as soon as possible.  Contrary to popular belief, we do not have an overabundance of collegiate officials.

*  Tweak the webinars a bit to make them more professional.  The ability of officials to ask questions in the webinars seem to bog it down and make it cumbersome.  Needless questions frustrate everyone.

*  You do a great job of keeping officials informed.  Stay with the practice!

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Last Opportunity for 2016-2017 ITA Certification



If you are wanting to become ITA certified for next year, here is the latest information.  Be sure to do all that is written therein because we need you...

There will be one final certification opportunity in December and January.  This will most likely be the final certification period for the 2016-17 season.  If you are currently uncertified, you may complete this certification process to regain certification status.  Everyone going through this process will need to pass the open book test with a score of 80% or better and attend a required webinar.  The test will be available beginning in early  December and webinars will be held in early January, exact dates and times to be determined.  If you know of any official who has a USTA certification who may be interested in becoming an ITA official, please have them email officials@itatennis.com to obtain
more information.

Saturday, October 15, 2016

Advice From The USTA--If You Are Lucky Enough To Have A Nucula Account!



Amid all the confusion about 2017 certification and people looking everywhere for definitive answers, the USTA has laid things out fairly succinctly and you can check it out on your Nucula account--if you actually have one...  If this information doesn't answer your questions, go back into Nucula on their opening page and they offer more information for your reading enjoyment.

If you don't have a Nucula account or can't get one, call Julio Echevarria or Bruce Sampley for their help.

SPECIAL NOTE:  On Monday we will be offering information about how to become an ITA official for 2017.  Be sure to check back...

Here is the basic answer for many of you:

** Why is it that when I tried to apply for a background check, it says I already have one pending/completed?

Officials can only apply for a background check for 2017 certification AFTER October 1, 2016. If you attempt to apply prior to October 1, 2016, the system will prevent you from submitting the request if you have a cleared screening already on file.

** I submitted to a background check earlier in the year, do I need to submit one again?

Yes, ALL OFFICIALS seeking 2017 recertification need to submit a new background check after October 1, 2016, regardless to when they last submitted to the screening. Even if you are new Provisional Umpire who submitted to the background screening in September, you still need to resubmit to the background screening after October 1, 2016.

** Why am I being required to submit again if I already have one on file from this year?

The reason for requiring all Officials to resubmit is in an effort to keep ALL Officials on the same 2 year renewal cycle.

** Do I need to complete the USOC Training Module if I already completed it?

Yes, all Officials must complete the 30minute SafeSport Refresher Online training module before reapplying for the background screening.

**  Do I send a copy of my USOC Training Module Certification to the USTA Officiating Department?

No, you do not need to submit your current certification to us. We recommend that you keep it for your own records as a confirmation of completion.

**  Why didn’t I receive a confirmation email for my background screening application?

Please check your spam/junk email boxes for an email from compliance@ncsisafe.com. If you didn’t receive an email, you may not have completed the full application. The control number in that email is the confirmation that your application has been received. If you did not receive that email, please go to https://www.ncsisafe.com/members/selfreglandingUSTA.aspx and complete the application.

**  What do I answer for the question “Is this my first time using NCSI for a background screening?”

All Officials seeing recertification would answer “yes” to this question.

**  What is the member number the background screening application is asking for?

The member number on the background screening application is your USTA Membership Number.

Thursday, October 13, 2016

The Deadline Has Come And Gone... Now What A Mess!


The deadline for officials' certification on October 12, 2016, has come and gone and now we have a whole bunch of officials who don't know their status or are sitting around wondering if they have done everything they needed to do.  Seems that everytime they ask for help they basically get a deaf ear or some platitude that means nothing.  Saying, "I'll check on it" doesn't help a bit when we know you won't...

Part of genuine leadership is being smart enough to sit down after a debacle and find new ways to make things better and more effective.  Instead of just complaining, here are some thoughts and suggestions for the future:

*  Publicize things well in advance.  Don't want to argue about this--just do it.
*  Regularly communicate with officials.
*  Make a valid presentation of EXACTLY what an official has to do to be certified.  Don't hide the fact that we have to take a refresher course on "fair play" and then when we go to the site, we find that its nearly impossible to find stuff.
*  Answer your dang phone!  Nothing is more frustrating that calling someone in charge and then never get an answer or a returned call.  This has happened far too often and needs to stop.
*  When you make wholesale changes such as requiring new batteries of tests in order to be certified--BE SURE you have all the tests up and ready to go when you issue the edict.  Officials shouldn't have to spend time trying to figure out which tests are available and when...
*  If you can't get things done, then hire people who can do it or get out of the way and let someone else take charge.
*  Find something that works and send Nucula to south Africa.  That thing may be demon possessed.
*  Please don't ask us to put our work record in the thing and then ask us to find a button that we need to press to tell you that we want to be recertified.  Just recertify those who can be recertified and move on.  Its not impossible.
*  Everyone needs to learn to read their emails--and read the fine print.  The devil is usually in the details and we need everyone certified that we can get.
*  Get ready for the backlash--because its coming.  People don't like to be frustrated and sure don't want to lose their certification.


Hopefully I didn't get up today and then find out I have shaved for nothing...

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Tick, Tock--The Clock Is Ticking--and Here's What The USTA Is Doing For You


Today is the deadline day for all USTA officials to have completed all their tests, watched their videos, and passed their background checks so they can be certified in 2017.

The only drawback is that a whole bunch of officials haven't completed the requirements--but its not because of not trying.  Many have had problems even knowing what all is required...

Here is the speed at which the USTA is working to fix the problems:


Suffice it to say--we deserve better!

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Update On How Officials Are Feeling Today...

Thought you would enjoy a little update on all those officials who are still trying to take the tests and get certified before tomorrow...

 Just exactly how I describe what's happening to me!


Maybe a little sand will help.


I give up!  I can't win...

"Deadline Day" Is Tomorrow--How Are You Feeling Today?


The big "deadline day" for tennis officials is tomorrow--and things aren't looking good.  All we have done this week is try to answer calls for help from officials all over the country who either can't log on to the exams or can't get their scores recorded.  The worst crisis is the seeming inability of the USTA to get people into the Nucula system.  Here are some of the various feelings and then our shot at the "solution."


Crying is the most common response but it doesn't do much good.  It does however cleanse the sinuses and make us feel better so go for it!

Griping seems to be a popular option but it usually falls on deaf ears and will probably get you a divorce.


Throwing up sometimes helps but use it as a last resort...


Whining is really good but you have to have friends who are willing to join you.  Noone in authority will even give a hoot in hell if you are a whiner.


Getting mad and being overcome with disgust seems to be a popular option.


The most popular option by far!  We're going to see an exodus of officials like we have never seen before if they don't get this thing fixed!


Just lean way back and pull your legs up and tell them kiss your butt.  My favorite solution but will probably get you into trouble...


This would be our advice--but it often falls on deaf ears.  You may end up being decertified and have to come back as a dreaded "provisional" but at least there is hope...

Here is our SOLUTION:

Call Julio Echevarria (914 696 7280) or Bruce Sampley (817 371 1061) and keep calling until they answer.  They are the only two I know of who can actually solve your problems.

Good luck!  You are going to need it come tomorrow...