Sunday, August 28, 2016

Amazing Quotes From Tennis Parents

At one time or another, we have all encountered the infamous tennis parent--and the results aren't always good.  As we patiently wait on more decisive action from the USTA and the Junior Tennis Council, we can at least enjoy reading what the parents have to say.  Here are some of the more irate comments directed to officials:

*  "Do you realize how much money I have spent to get him here?"
*  "Do you not know the rules or are you just stupid?"
*  "You can't call a footfault on her if she isn't going to net."
*  "How much is that other Dad paying you?"
*  "Do you actually have a Mother?"
*  "I'm going to be waiting for you in the parking lot after this match is over."
*  "I'm going to kick your ass."
*  "You are only coding my kid because he's black."
*  "Why do you hate Asians?"
*  "You need to learn to speak Spanish if you are going to work in Texas."
*  "Its obvious you hate Russians so get off our court."
*  "What the f__k do you think you're doing?"
*  "Are you totally blind?"
*  "My son's opponent is mentally ill so you need to get down to his court and do something."
*  "Get off my kid's court.  He doesn't like having officials around."
*  "Go ahead and code my kid,  The USTA doesn't do anything about it anyway."
*  "Sweet, merciful Jesus!  Where did you come from?"

Sometimes the parents are a tad more educated and a little more socially acceptable, and here are some of their comments:

*  "Do I need to pay for you to get some additional training?"
*  "Can I have the name of your supervisor so I can report you?"
*  "I'm calling our pro so he can tell you that you made the wrong decision."
*  "Do you realize my son has never gotten a code violation in his entire life?"
*  "My daughter was elected class favorite so she never could have done what you said."
*  "Honestly, that is not how we do things in Dallas."
*  "I'm on a TCD team so we don't have to worry about having officials near our court."
*  "Its your job to make my son behave."
*  "Don't you have shade for us to sit in?"
*  "My maid is smarter than you are."
*  "I will be praying for you."
*  "You are insulting my intelligence with your decisions."
*  "Do you realize that I am a Stanford graduate?"
*  "I played all my life and I know that ball was in."
*  "I know Billie Jean King and I'm going to call her and report you."
*  "I have a friend who is on the officials committee so you are finished as an official."
*  "I played tennis at Texas in 1939, so you need to listen to what I tell you."
*  "I'm calling Herb Taylor so he can teach you the rules."
*  "You do know that I know Myron Krueger don't you?"

Friday, August 26, 2016

Great Article By David Mullins

Thought you might enjoy reading this great blog post by David Mullins (former University of Oklahoma women's coach).  You can personally check out David's blog by going to the "Links" section on the far right side of this page:


I spent 4 years competing as an elite collegiate tennis player and another 12 years coaching college tennis in three different conferences, on both the men’s and women’s side. The landscape of college tennis and college sports in general have changed dramatically since I commenced my playing career over 16 years ago. There is more money and resources available to these student-athletes than ever before and it appears that there has never been a better time to be a student-athlete than today. The quality of coaching, the access to medical care, the extra money available from student assistance funds, the ability to showcase their talents via social media, the internet and on cable television. The list goes on and the college experience I enjoyed in the late 90’s looks very different to how it does today.
However, I don’t necessarily believe that nicer facilities, bigger scholarship checks and more support staff is always of greater benefit to these young players. Many NCAA Division I universities have created endless safety nets in order to protect these students from failing, which they believe would negatively impact a team’s success or an Athletic Department’s reputation. My belief is that it will be a difficult path for student-athletes to experience deep growth and make positive changes in their lives if we don’t allow them fail.
 It was once understood that being a student-athlete would be a rewarding yet very challenging experience. Personally, I had a difficult freshmen year as I adapted to the college game, a different court surface, a new coaching style, a strange culture, and gaining my independence among other things. However, I endured many small challenges and by the end of my first semester as a sophomore I was thriving and taking full advantage of this unique opportunity. I grew each and every year, and by the end of my 4 years, I felt prepared to take on the real world. The lessons I learned from my athletic experience and coach far outweighed what I acquired in the classroom. I had become tougher, better able to handle any adversity thrown my way, all while developing my leadership capabilities. As a coach, I have had the great pleasure of watching many other players under my watch go through this same process time and time again. I have dozens of letters from former players thanking me for putting them through some of these difficulties and challenging them every step of the way. They did not understand it at first, but they persevered and benefitted greatly from the experience. Today they are applying these lessons in their personal and professional lives.
It appears now that many players, parents and athletic department administrators no longer trust in this four-year process. If players are criticized or challenged early in their career, they want to transfer, quit (but keep their scholarship) or run to the athletic administration to have someone set the coach straight! In recent years, I have seen this occur more frequently in all sports in many athletic departments throughout the country, and it is a very concerning trend for the future of our sport and, quite frankly, the future of our society. How can we develop leaders if they only believe everything should be “fun”, conflict-free and have no interest in being pushed outside of their comfort-zone?
There are many parties to blame for this trend, including the college coaches. We promise these student-athletes the world during the recruiting process and then wonder why they feel entitled when they get on campus! However, players and their parents need to understand that it is an honor and not a right to receive a scholarship to represent and compete for a specific institution of higher learning. Players need to truly understand what it is they have signed up for and look for ways to be better prepared for the realities and expectations of being a student-athlete. I hope in some small way, the following list can help current and future collegiate tennis players:
1.     You are no longer paying the coach for their input, like you have done for most of your tennis career. The coach, or more correctly, the University is paying YOU. Understand that one of the reasons your junior coach was probably super positive and encouraging was because you were contributing to their wages. They were willing to hold back their opinions and avoid being completely honest with you so that you would continue to pay them for their services.
2.     I hate to call playing college tennis a job, but the process of receiving a scholarship can be a great transition from High School into the job market. You are being paid for your dedication to the program just like you would be paid for any other job. With that, there will be expectations placed upon you. Don’t be surprised that your “boss” (your coach) has high expectations for you and your attitude towards playing for a team, training and competing. Your college scholarship is probably worth more than the average yearly salary for most people in the U.S.A. There is no perfect job just like there is no perfect collegiate program. There are going to be challenges and difficulties along the way. Embrace them, learn from them and keep persevering.
3.     You will either play low in your team’s line-up or will not play at all if you are not performing. You are not guaranteed a spot in the line-up because you believe yourself to be the hardest worker or make some better life decisions than some of your teammates.
4.     Practice match wins rarely count in how the coach determines the line-up. I have a practice match win over former top 10 ATP player, Mardy Fish, it doesn’t mean I believe I should have been Top 10 in the world!
5.     Your college coach cares about you a great deal, despite their actions at times. It would mean they did not care for you if they were not willing to hold you accountable for your actions. If they let you do whatever you wanted and never pushed you out of your physical and mental comfort zone then they are not a coach, they are a cheerleader.
6.     Understand that the only way to resolve issues with your teammates and coaches is to communicate with them. They may not always agree with you, they may challenge your thinking patterns, but it does not mean they are unapproachable and it should not stop you from keeping the communication lines open at all times. If you have an issue, then speak with that person about it. Your parents, or anyone else for that matter, cannot solve these issues for you. Have the courage to speak your mind; you have to be around these people nearly every day and it won’t be enjoyable if you are harbouring some ill will against a fellow teammate or coach.
7.     Understand that you have a role in the team’s functioning and success as much as the next person on the team. Learn to take responsibility for your actions and truly understand what role you are playing in any type of team dysfunction, on or off the court. There are always two sides to every story.
8.     The college coach is watching and evaluating you every day in practice, in competition and in the team environment. They often know you better than you know yourself, and they definitely know your game inside and out. Your junior coach probably did not get the opportunity to see you compete as much as they would have liked. Your college coach is sitting on your court for every match you play (which is a lot of matches) so believe me, they probably are not missing much. They know where you belong in the line-up better than anyone else, and it is not even close!
9.     If you do play in the line-up, be grateful for the opportunity and don’t complain where you play. Each match is worth the same amount of points so you are playing an equally important role as the person playing No. 1. Put the team first and don’t complain about where you think you should be playing. The coach ABSOLUTELY knows best as to what line-up sets the team up for the greatest chance of success.
10.  Stop telling yourself that the coach is putting pressure on you to win. There is inherently some pressure involved with trying to win for something bigger than yourself. But remember that any pressure you perceive is self-inflicted. You can choose not to succumb to that “pressure”. Again, if you don’t perform, you don’t play. That is life, get used to it. Don’t blame someone else for the things you have going on in your head. Take responsibility for your actions and your performances.
11.  ALWAYS TELL THE TRUTH: you will get yourself into a lot of troubling situations if you don’t own the truth. Your coach will be very understanding if you are quick to own up to any mistakes you make. You are in college: you will make plenty of mistakes. That is to be expected. Own the mistake, learn from it and help your teammates learn from it, too.

Life As An Official In Abilene, Texas

Since Texas is such a huge state and we have tennis officials everywhere, we thought it would be fun to hear from officials about what life is like in their area.  We will kick it off with Abilene, Texas and a word from their local coordinator, Allen Prachyl.

"Life as an official in Abilene is busy, busy, busy.  Population wise Abilene is the 25th ranked city in Texas with 117,000 people. Even though Abilene is not the biggest town in Texas, it is a big tennis town with a lot of events held here each year.

We have two Champs, one Supers, two Challengers, four Opens and one Adult tournament every year.  We have three high school tennis teams that require officials for their district matches.  We host the 6A and 4A regional tournaments in the fall, in the spring we host several smaller school tournaments. We also host the 3A regional tournament in the spring.

We have 2 Division III colleges, McMurry and Hardin-Simmons University.  We also have one Division I college, Abilene Christian University.  All three of our universities use officials for their home matches.

So, life as an official Abilene is a busy one."

Allen Prachyl

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

How To Have A Happy and Contented Chair Official

The face of true contentment.

A few years ago a prominent collegiate coach called and asked if I could come and meet with his men's team and help teach them how to deal with a chair official.  After picking myself up from the floor, I actually thought about it and realized  he was probably a very wise man...

As officials we often talk about different players, what they have done, and how best to deal with them so it makes sense that collegiate players should learn how to best deal with their chair official.  Since they usually get a different chair official for each of their matches they might need to understand some basic principles of working with a chair official.  Here are some thoughts:

*  Be polite. 
*  Don't tell the official that they are the "worst you have ever seen."  Trust me, there are a lot worse ones out there somewhere.
*  Don't ask us if we are blind.  We got up into the chair on our own so that's a stupid thing to say.
*  Don't be condescending when you ask questions or make comments.  Flattery will get you everywhere but a condescending attitude will get you nowhere.
*  Don't call us names when you are talking to your coach and saying it loud enough for us to hear.  We actually do have ears.
*  Don't yell "f__k" and then get mad when we code you.  Your Mother should have corrected that behavior a long time ago and we are now the instrument of instruction in your life since she abdicated her responsibility.
*  Don't spit at us or on us.  You know where that will lead...
*  Don't ever call a female official "fat".  They may be true but they sure don't want to hear it from a 19 year old.
*  Don't call a female official a "f__king bitch" and then expect no consequences.  If you do, the wrath of God is probably about to descend on you.
*  Don't smirk.  A smart ass will never get the benefit of the doubt. 
*  Remember we are humans (just like most of you) and we can actually miss a call now and then.
*  Keep in mind that we can have a bad day (and one made worse by your presence on our court) and know that days like that can produce unwelcome results in your life.
*  Don't call on God or look to the heavens pleading for help when you get overruled.  Jesus probably doesn't care about your match so help will not be on the way.
*  Act like a responsible, respectful young adult and you will be treated in the same manner.  Tennis is not a game of morons acting like morons so keep that in mind.  You behavior and demeanor do matter.

Last year a player gathered up the loose balls and brought them to the chair official after the 3 hour match was completed.  Wise young man...

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

State of Affairs In Texas Tennis

Now that the summer season is officially over, we can look back at the past three months and learn a lot of things.  We can see ways to improve tournaments, officiating, and the overall experience of a tennis tournament--or we can ignore what we see and continue in mediocrity in some areas.  Here are a few things observed over this summer (and especially in the sectional adult tournaments):

The infamous helicopter Mom.

Sadly, parents in Texas seem to be less under control than ever before.  We regularly hear of parents getting into physical altercations as well as verbal abuse of their children, officials, and anyone who dares cross their paths.  More stringent controls and penalties are much-needed, and sooner than later if you want to continue to see quality families participate in our sport.

Grade: C

The dreaded Texas summer heat seemed to be more overbearing than usual.  At one adult tournament site, they had 5 ambulance calls in one day!  Players need to be more educated about heat and its effects--and then actually take precautions.  One suggestion we received was to start play earlier, take off during the middle of the day, and then resume in the evening.  Great idea but not sure our tournament directors would like the suggestion.

Grade:  B-

Mis-rated players everywhere!

Texas seems to have an acute preponderance of mis-rated players--and its getting worse.  A mis-rated player who is one who plays in a division to which they do not belong--and it happens more often than not.  This travesty occurs at all levels and the USTA desperately needs to come up with a viable solution instead of giving lip service to the problem and then blaming everything on a computer. Nothing is more frustrating than entering a 4.0 tournament and end up playing a 5.5 player...  Add back in some evaluators who actually check out the players (and do it in a league match where it is actually competitive) and then increase the penalties.

Grade:  D

Tennis officials.

No discussion of Texas tournaments would be complete without a discussion of officials.  As usual, there are a ton of good ones who care about the sport and do a great job--and then there are a few that are a disgrace to the profession.  We regularly hear horror stories about officials' actions so we need to clean up our house!  Bad officials come to surface rather quickly and its time for the leadership in Texas to step up and do something about it.  Our pay is now at a good level so there should be no problem in expecting a job well done for a day's pay.

Grade:  C-

Junior Tennis

Everyone has encountered the screaming little brat that seems to enter every tournament and wreak havoc everywhere they go--but hopefully the tide is turning.  The kids seem to be behaving better and steps are being taken to reign in the terrors.  There is still much work to do but congratulations to our kids for doing so much better!

Grade:  D

Monday, August 22, 2016

Special Note

Since we opened our group up as a public group this morning we have had over 200 hits on our page.  Guess we made the right decision to open it up...

A Timely Reminder: Rules of our Tennis Officiating World

One of the goals of TENNIS OFFICIALS WORLD is to share articles about tennis officiating that are interesting to our readers.  We currently have over 200 hits a day and have just recently exceeded 400,000 readers in our history.

In order to keep our readers happy and interested, we will be making some changes in the coming weeks.  One of the special changes is that we will be adding articles about officiating from different authors.  We think you will find these interesting and informative.

As we seek to grow our group, please keep these guiding principles in mind:

*  We are no longer a tennis blog.  We are simply a site where officials, players, coaches, and fans can share their view about tennis officiating.  Our goal is to expand our "family" and readership to include everyone.

*  To provide as much help as possible to everyone in our tennis officiating world.  This includes informative articles as well as links to all areas of information.  These links will always be listed on the right hand side of our web page.

*  We want to especially develop the family concept among tennis officials.  From time to time we will include real-life photos from our tennis officials world.

*  Our articles will include officiating questions, answers, different scenarios, and anything else anyone can think of.  Some articles will be pointed, some humorous, some ridiculous, but all will pertain to the world of tennis officiating and all its complexities.

*  There will be no articles printed that pertain specifically to the Big 12 Conference.

*  Comments are always welcome and can be added to any article.  You can either do them anonymously or sign your real name.  Noone will ever be embarrassed for making a comment either positive or negative.  Vulgarities and personal attacks will not be tolerated.

*  Any certified tennis official is welcome to share any need or request for help in their area at any time.

Saturday, August 20, 2016

How Would You Rule? (This Is A Good One!)

One of the most fun things about having a tennis group on the internet are the strange scenarios that happen all the time.  Now we just have to figure out how to rule in the those situations...

Here's one I received yesterday:

In a recent adult USTA doubles match,  Team A hit a shot that landed in the proper court (though very close to the net) on the wide of Team B.  After the first bounce, the ball rose on the rebound, clearly hitting the net tape/cord (but no other part of the net) on the rise, and continued its ascent into the air when Team B was able to get to the ball for the put away.  Both teams were confused on who won the point.  Team A thought they had won the point since the ball had touched the net after the first bounce.  Team B claimed the point because they had not touched the net, nor had the ball bounced twice, and the ball had only touch the net tape/cord, legal during any other shot in play.

How would you rule in this one?  Not sure how the official ruled but will try to find out and post it real soon.

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Notice Anything?

Here's a picture of the medal presentation at the Olympics.  This was shot during the playing of the United States national anthem.

Notice anything  unusual???

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Lessons From The Lions

One of the fun things about living and working in the tennis officiating world is that we can enjoy studying each other and laughing at each other while we enjoy a great way of life.  As I was thinking about our officiating world, I thought of the amazing parallels we have with LIONS.  Here are some of the observations...

When we are new (baby) officials, we always have a lot of fun laughing and teasing with each other.  New officials basically don't have a care in the world and just enjoy their new-found vocation.

As the newbies begin to grow into their new officiating lives, they also learn to depend on each other for help, confidence, and safety.  There's nothing more daunting that going to a site or a dual match with a bunch of "older lions" and enduring all they have in store for you...

A wise young official will quickly learn to listen to his elders.  Of course, many of the elders are more than willing to dispense free and unasked for advice.  Just learn to listen and then sift through all you hear for the "pearls of wisdom" that be dropped in your life.  Remember--they are actually trying to protect you by teaching you all that they know.

Even though the older lions may mean well in their never-ending advice and instruction, sometimes the young bucks get tired of listening.  If you're tired--try not to show it.  They love thinking that you dwell on every word they impart to you.

Growing in wisdom and performance is the goal of every new official.  If you work hard and listen and learn from the "older lions" you will soon progress into a good official.  Always remember that there is a protective hedge with the older lions--learn to lean on them when you need them!

And then one day--you are actually a full-grown lion all on your own!  You have learned, listened, and applied all your training and now you're mature and ready to do.  Always remember--the greatest joy for an older lion is to see the younger ones grow into maturity and do a good job!

We do indeed have much to LEARN FROM THE LIONS...

Monday, August 15, 2016

How To Certify New ITA Officials

Many of us recruit new ITA officials all of the time but sometimes it hard to know exactly how to get them certified since we are now using Zebraweb.

Here is the word from on high:

As long as they are certified USTA officials and can be found in NUCULA with a USTA certification (provisional is acceptable), we can have them begin the process to become ITA officials.

Please send me a list of names and email addresses; we will have a new certification period in late September/early October.  We will be sending out an email in the coming weeks to those interested in becoming ITA officials with more detailed information.

Courtney Potkey
The ITA officiating department

Friday, August 12, 2016

What Do You Do When They Act Like A Fool?

In every area of life we encounter people who persist in acting like a fool.  In the officiating world, we can narrow that down to players, coaches, officials, and parents and will usually hit the nail on the head.  Here are some helpful hints when you encounter a fool:

Definition:  Someone who acts without regard to logical thinking and reasoning; a "tool" in modern terminology.

*  Always keep in the mind the definition when dealing with one.

1.  What do you do with a player who acts like a fool?

*  Stay close by so you can observe their aberrant behavior.
*  Use a "loving caution" at first be prepared to issue a code violation--and then do it if you need to.
*  Do not put up with their antics.  Remember that codes are progressive...
*  Do not get drawn into a verbal argument.  That's what they want.
*  If you give a code, give it and then remove yourself from the situation.
*  Be sure to write them up because they keep a "Fool's List" at the Section office.
*  Remember that you are the official and don't let them make you out to be the fool.

2.  What to do with a coach who acts like a fool?

*  Maintain your cool.  Observe their behavior and then determine in your mind what your options are.
*  Deal with them firmly but fairly.
*  Do not raise your voice and maintain eye contact when talking to them.  Nothing offends an irate coach more than an official who ignores them or turns away from them when they are talking.
*  If it continues to escalate, do not hesitate to explain what future codes entail if they are enacted.
*  Report them to the appropriate office if it is a serious confrontation.  Athletic directors respond quickly to a coach acting the fool.
*  Maintain your personal dignity.  Don't scream, pull your hair out, or spit.

3.  What to do with an official who acts like a fool?  (And yes, there are some!)

*  If they are a personal friend, confront them personally but do it in a calm and caring manner.
*  If you have never met them, observe their behavior and if need be, confront them personally.  Do not do it in a group.
*  Report them to the referee--and just hope that the fool isn't the referee.
*  Call their Mother--you would be surprised what an indignant Mother can accomplish.
*  Offer to help them get some counseling or additional training if they are losing control and having difficulty in managing situations.
*  Do not get into a physical or verbal confrontational situation.  Noone wants or likes to see two officials arguing or fighting...

4.  What do to with a parent who acts like a fool?

*  Use cautions liberally and wisely.  Sometimes a soft word will turn away anger.
*  Use codes on their child if they continue to disrupt.
*  Remove them from the facility if needed.
*  Try not to embarrass their child even if their parent is a moron.
*  Deal with them fairly and firmly.  If you see that you can't talk with them successfully, then do what you have to do.
*  Be sure to report them.  Not only do they maintain a "Fool's List", they also have a "Crazy Parents List" at the Section office.

Good luck in your future dealings--you might need it!

Wednesday, August 03, 2016


David Nalbandian being defaulted after hitting a linesperson.

Tennis players are often defaulted in tournaments for bad behavior but just when you think you've heard it all or seen it all, something new comes along--and this is it!

In a recent USTA adult tournament, player A (who was from out of town) was leading player B by one set and well up in the second.  The people with whom player A was staying, were talking with the roving official in the stands and told the official that player A would have to default the next day if she won because she would be leaving town. 

The official then went on the court and defaulted player A.  When we checked the tournament results for the reason, it stated "Retired-personal circumstance."  After talking with a good friend of player A, we were told that she did not "retire" but was "defaulted" by this roving official because she would not be there the next day to play. 

Miraculous to say the least....

NOTE:  Remember that we are writing this from information we received from the player's close friend.  If you are the official or the referee in this situation, we would be more than happy to hear your explanation if it is different.

Monday, August 01, 2016

A Walk Through The Park--What An Experience!

If you have ever met with a group of tennis officials or just observed them in action, you know that is quite an experience!  Never a weekend goes by that we don't hear bizarre tales of officials and their rulings.  Some totally wrong but the vast majority right on target.  The thing that makes the world of officials so unique and interesting is the fact that we are made up of different folks with different personalities and different ways of officiating.  Here are some of the wild ones...

The Fist Bumper

One of the most "politically correct" of all officials but also the most frustrating.  After all, we're not in the 8th grade any longer and hardly need to bump fists every time we see each other.  One official was overheard telling another, "let me give you some knuckle love".  Gross!  They are the ones who are always waiting for you when you finish your match with fist extended...

The "Expert on Everything"

There aren't too many of these but the ones we do have are awful!  They think they are an expert on anything and everything in life--and freely share their self image with everyone in the room.  Deeply offended if they ever miss a question on the officials' exams and rarely have many friends in the officiating world.  Seldom invited for drinks or supper...  Love to get you into discussions about rules so they can share their vast knowledge with everyone in sight.

Attila the Hun

This is the official who charges headlong into every situation and codes anything and everyone in their path.  Commonly seen running around with their tape measure and stop watch at junior events and are the scourge of any adult tournament.  Usually found in west Texas but have been sighted in all areas of the country. Don't dare take 21 seconds between points because they will get you!

OCD Terror

You don't want to have this one on your team for sure.  They are possessed with every detail and even if you put their sticks up for them and measure their net, they still go back and do it all over again.  They have to have their water bottle in the same place everytime and freak out if their clothes aren't perfectly ironed or if there is a hair out of place.  Usually iron their shorts and shirts and underwear before every match or tournament.  Women with this disorder are usually narcissists and men just drive everyone nuts.  Too bad there isn't a pill we can give them to chill them out...

The incessant talker.

This is the official that you just want to tell to shut up.  They talk constantly and about anything and everything--and usually show their ignorance just opening their mouths over and over again.  If this is you, do us all a favor and dial it back a bit...

Arrives late and wants to leave early...

You don't usually have to see these officials for long because no coordinator will put up with their antics.  They always seem to arrive late for their shift or rotation and then have some sob story so they can leave early.  Be careful that your coordinators don't get together and compare your stories or you will soon be out of a job.  High maintenance officials usually don't last long.

"The Whiner"

The scourge of all officiating is the whiner!  They gripe and complain about everything and then they are the first ones calling and asking when they are going to get paid.  Nothing pleases them and they are always looking for someone to listen to their complaints.  If they are a woman, they are usually divorced or have driven their husband crazy.  If they are a man, avoid them at all costs.  They will ruin your image...

Friday, July 29, 2016

Affirming A New Official

Here is one of the best ways of affirming a new official when he has done a good job...  A little positive affirmation goes a long way.

There is not a more daunting position in life than that of a new official.  They are wet behind the ears and basically have no idea what they are doing when we turn them loose on a tournament.  They are wide-eyed about everything in sight and sometimes overreact or go into a shell when they are hit with their first confrontation with a player and/or a parent.  More experienced officials sometimes tend to over-simplify the life of a new official but the stress and strain is more than life-like to that new official.

Here are some things to remember to do with a new official:

*  Offer them encouragement on every hand.
*  Make sure they understand they can ask questions--and no question is too small or insignificant.
*  Watch them closely when you turn them loose and be ready to help if you are need.  Don't be a "helicopter official" and hover over them but be within eyesight if they need help.
*  Don't be overly critical.   They don't know how to deal with every situation and they don't know every rule so give them a break.
*  Be constructive in your criticisms.
*  Be positive in your re-inforcement.  Find something they have done well and focus on that.
*  Don't tell them they are the worst official you have ever seen because that's probably what you were told when you were first beginning.
*  Offer to walk them through different scenarios but don't be overbearing and don't be offended if they don't (or can't) ask for your help.
*  Remember they will actually learn a lot on their own by trial and error.  Just be patient with them.
*  Call and take them to lunch the week after their first tournament.  By then they will have recovered somewhat and will be able to ask intelligent questions--or just need a shoulder to cry on.
*  If you see them sinking, go out and help them.  Noone wants to drown...
*  Offer to let them shadow you if they are really insecure.
*  Find the positives in their experience and major on that.

Remember--everyone loves their head rubbed from time to time...

Monday, July 11, 2016

How Would You Rule When The Players Are Late?

Interesting scenario came up this week at the ITA tournament in Dallas...

Play was suspended on Saturday evening due to rain and was to be continued the next morning.  When play was resumed on Sunday morning and all of the players were called to report for play it was discovered that four of the players were late in reporting.  The four players who were late were also well into the first set of their matches.  What do you do when players report late for their match on Sunday?

Here are some choices:

*  Ignore any penalties and just be glad they came back on Sunday.
*  Penalize them with the same penalties as at the start of a match.
*  Call their Mothers and have them get them to the courts as soon as possible.
*  Rebuke the evil spirit of lateness in the players and then continue play.
*  Give them a big hug and hope they are never late again.
*  Do nothing since the match was already in progress and how would you assess a game penalty when they are in the middle of a game.

HINT:  The referee made the decision that they should be penalized as if it were the beginning of the match.  However, of the 4 players that were late, none of them ever showed up and were subsequently defaulted.

How would you have ruled???

Tuesday, July 05, 2016

Share Your Thoughts & Comments--We Don't Bite (Even Though We May Bark From Time To Time)

Come on folks--we need your thoughts and comments to make the blog more interesting...

We published the previous post about 3 hours ago and we have already had over 100 hits on that post--but alas, no comments.

Remember, you can always comment anonymously and that request will be honored.  To be honest, I don't of anyone who posts that signs their real name.  Comments are what makes a blog fun and more interesting so PLEASE let us hear from you...

Hope you are all having a great summer!

How Would You Rule? The Non-Existent Warm-Up Opponent

The Clubhouse--the location of the missing warmup partner.

This one came up at a USTA tournament lately...

In a men's USTA tournament doubles match, one of the players on team A refused to warm  up with team B and would not come out of the clubhouse until the 5 minute warm-up was completed.  Team B reluctantly warmed up with one player from team A and then his teammate came out when the warm up was complete.

In the Friend at Court (page 37) the rule says:  A player should provide the opponent a warm-up of five to ten minutes.  If a player declines to warm up the opponent, the player forfeits the right to a wram-up, and the opponent may warm up with another person."

Here are some questions about this scenario:

*  Why did the desk person send the players out when team A was not complete?  In this case, the desk person knew the player from team A would not warm up his opponents since this is regular procedure in a tournament.

*  Why did team B consent to warm up with just one player from the other team?  They should have warmed  up with each other and told the player from team A to find someone to warm him up--or better yet, get his partner to come out.

*  Was this an act of unsportsmanlike conduct?

We'd be interested in hearing your answers...

Saturday, June 25, 2016

Getting Fired And Working Through The Experience

Now that we have completed another collegiate officiating season, its time to reflect back on what we learned and didn't learn.  One of the greatest joys is watching a new official mature in their officiating skills and move into new depths of competency--but its also gut-wrenching to watch an official crash and burn.  Sadly, we see both scenarios fairly often in the officiating world.

Frankly, there are some officials who need to be fired--usually not because of lack of rules knowledge but because of lack of personal skills.  Whether you are in the SEC or the Big 12 or any other collegiate venue, coaches are going to fire officials every year.  Even though we may not like it and may even be offended over it, they have the right to do so since we are independent contractors and they are our employers.  Here are some of the reasons that officials were fired for this year:

*  The official told the coach he was an "ignorant prick."  Probably should have been fired sooner than later.
*  The coach didn't like the official's attitude on the court.  Again we go back to personal demeanor and skills.  Usually if their attitude was bad on the court its probably worse when they are with other officials.
*  The coach thought the official was weak in their line calls.
*  The coach felt the official didn't know the rules.
*  The coach felt the official was afraid to overrule.  Of course, he meant that for the other team only.
*  The coach thought the official looked like a slob.  And he did.  Make sure you are clean-shaven and smell good.
*  The coach didn't want the official barred from all of collegiate officiating--just from any of their matches or matches that involved their coach friends.
*  The coach said the official was rude and condescending to him/her and the players.  And he/she was right!  Rude and condescending doesn't stop when they get out of the chair--its bone deep!

Coordinators have a difficult task when a coach or conference official demands that an official be fired from doing their matches.  Ultimately, we have to honor the wishes but sometimes it helps to try to talk through the issue before formally removing an official from those assignments.  When that doesn't work, they are gone...

Getting fired from a certainly school isn't the end of the world--unless you let it be.  Here are some things to remember if you have been fired:

*  Its not always your fault--but it usually is.  Be honest in your personal evaluation of your attitudes, demeanor, conduct, and personal relationships.  Usually that which got  you fired spills over into other areas of your life.
*  Don't get mad and cause trouble.  That will only come back to bite you in the rear.  Take your punishment and learn from it.  Work on every aspect of your officiating skill set.
*  Don't confront the coach that fired you.  Pouring gas on the fire will only make it worse--remember they all have friends!
*  Don't get mad at your coordinator.  Sometimes they have no choice and you don't know how many times they went to bat for you before you were fired.  Remember--if the coordinator didn't like you, you wouldn't be there in the first place.
*  Give it a little time and you may be able to return.  If you aren't too deeply offended and ultimately want to work at that school again, just relax and do your best.  Cream will always rise to the top.
*  Don't quit officiating.  We've all been insulted and most of us have been fired at one time or another.  Its part of officiating but be sure to learn from it.
*  Don't get your panties in a wad.  Its not becoming and will get you fired from your other assignments.
*  Don't run around telling other officials, "I have no idea why they fired me," when you know down deep exactly why.
*  Ask someone you know and trust how you can improve.  Let them be honest and then work on what they tell you.
*  Ask the Lord to forgive you for being an insensitive, rude pig and then let Him work on making you useable again...  This is the best solution I can offer!!!

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

The Joys of Tennis Offficiating

If you only listen to officials, players, parents, and coaches then you might come to think that tennis officiating is a dreadful profession and there is nothing fun or joyous about it--but don't listen to the naysayers--tennis officiating is a great profession and one that brings much joy into the life of an official.

Here are some of the joys of tennis officiating:

*  There is a sense of accomplishment when you pass all of the tests.  Contrary to what some may think, we actually do have to pass annual exams to be an official.
*  Its a great opportunity to learn about human nature and especially during stress and trials.
*  You get to meet some of the greatest kids in the world.  They aren't all bad...
*  You experience the privilege of working with some of the finest coaches in any sport.  99% of them are fantastic people and our times together should be treasured.
*  Its a profession where you can always improve and that fact should continually inspire you.
*  You get to meet some of the best parents in the world.  The bad apples always get the headlines and the attention but there are far more wonderful parents than the bad ones.
*  Hopefully you get to impart some good into the lives of the people you come into contact with.
*  You get to hear Gary Tolbert call out the score in his "ministerial voice" and wonder why he wasn't a preacher.
*  You get to see Ginny James come out in a new outfit every day.
*  You get to drive to Stillwater and see all the sights.
*  You get to watch Myron Krueger drive down I-35 and not kill himself and others.
*  You get to see Carol Bruehler continually prop herself up with her hand on her hip and not do permanent damage.
*  You get to watch Rick Gabel and Ty McDonald try to drink every beer known to man.
*  You get an up-close glimpse of David Roditi's hat.
*  You get to hear Michael Center try to convince us that he can see the far sideline better than we can when we are up in a chair.
*  You get to eat the free tacos and pizza that they give you at TCU.
*  You get to hear some deluded people try to convince others that they have an "elite program."
*  You get to watch Cheryl Jones try to make assignments that please everyone.
*  You get to have John Roddick tell you that you have made the worst call he has ever seen in his entire life.
*  You actually get to work with some coaches that are men and women of integrity and treat each other and us like human beings worth of honor and respect.
*  You get to see pro chair officials elevate themselves to heights that only they can conjure up and the wait for them to fall from their perch.  Remember--pride always comes before a fall...
*  You get to see Mary Lynn Satur work diligently on not saying the "f-word" so often.
*  You get to be right on the court with some of the finest competitors in any sport.

These are just a few of the many reasons that we have great joy in what we do--but then there are times of weeping and gnashing of teeth.  Isn't it great to have the wonderful Biblical promise that it only lasts for the night and there will be a shout of joy in the morning!

Monday, June 20, 2016

"Entitled Coaches." What Do You Do With Them?

Now that we have discussed entitled officials and parents, its time to turn our attention to entitled coaches.  Thankfully, they are very few and far between but the ones that exist deal much misery and scorn.  The great and vast majority of coaches are fine, upstanding folks that love the game and love their players (most of the time.)  But then, there are a few...

Attributes of an entitled coach:
*  Has a vastly inflated opinion of himself/herself.
*  Usually condescending to most people in their lives.
*  Probably graduated from college with a grade point around 2.7
*  If a male, given to frequent outbursts and profanity.
*  If a female, communicates their air of superiority with smugness and contempt toward others.
*  If they happen to be a winner with their team, they don't hesitate to share it with anyone who will listen.
*  Tends to think themselves an authority on every subject known to modern man.
*  Masters of manipulating players, parents, and officials.
*  Tend to think that they deserve "home cooking" whenever they play at home.
*  Can be manipulative of officials to get what they want.
*  Usually quite skilled in manipulative techniques.  As an official, learn them and beware.
*  If a male, very seldom eats salads but if they do, they have to have chicken or fish in them.
*  If a female, tends to overdo the makeup if they are feminine, and goes full out masculine if they lean that way.
*  Usually overextended in their financial obligations unless they make a ridiculously high salary but then, they tend to spend a lot.
*  Usually makes sure their outerwear is color coordinator.  Not sure about their underwear, but don't want to go there.
*  Treat officials "nicely" but with undergirdings of contempt.
*  Think they know all of the rules.
*  Cannot stand to be questioned or coded.
*  Has no intrinsic respect for their players but think of them merely as pawns in a game.
*  Knows full well that a team takes on the personality of their coach and tend to exploit it.
*  Usually doesn't stay long at one school.

How to deal with an entitled coach:
*  Be sure you know your rules because they will question you on every hand.
*  Be firm in your rulings and interpretations.  They can't stand an official that can't make up their mind.
*  Be sensitive to their moods--it will help as you strive to work with them.
*  Be loving--because they know that noone else really loves or cares about them.
*  If you want some fun, continually compliment them on everything from their team to their clothing and watch how they eat it up.  Remember their lives are based on the praise of others.
*  Watch out for sneaky tricks.  They have a bag full of them.
*  Remember that their players will usually emulate the attitudes and conduct of the coach.
*  Praise Jesus daily that there aren't many of them.

Working with coaches is one of the most rewarding but also the most taxing part of being an official.  The good ones are a joy and the "difficult" ones are a test.  Thank the Lord that the vast, vast majority of coaches are the good ones...

Saturday, June 18, 2016

"Entitled Parents" And How To Deal With Them

Now that we have pointed out the existence of "entitled officials", let's move on to discuss "entitled parents".  Seems that they are appearing more and more frequently in the tennis world and its imperative that we as officials learn to deal with them for our own safety and the integrity of the game.

Here are some of the characteristics of an "entitled parent":

*  Usually  highly opinionated and agressive.
*  Has very few friends in the tennis world--or in the universe.
*  Normally is projecting what they wanted as a child on their own child.
*  Has a child that never cheats or does anything wrong.
*  Very seldom sits with their mate if the mate will even accompany them to a match.
*  Their normal speaking voice is loud but their screaming voice is even louder.
*  Convinced that they know more than any official or parent.
*  Very quick to confront an official.
*  If a female, probably looks much like the woman in the picture above.
*  Loves to coach their child even though its against the rules.
*  Tries to sneak around when disobeying the rules so no official will see them.
*  Usually berates their child after a match.  Frequently does this in front of everyone.
*  More than willing to confront other parents or opponents of their child.
*  If a male, usually quick to point out what a great athlete he was in high school and college.
*  If a male, loves to name names of famous people he knows.
*  Usually paces around the stands and fence when their child is playing.
*  Sweats profusely and swears even more profusely.
*  Probably a Democrat or a rich Republican.

How to deal with an "entitled parent":

*  Watch them carefully.  You will probably be able to hear them before you see them.
*  Approach carefully because they respond aggressively to anyone questioning them.
*  Be firm and speak in a normal voice.
*  Do not get into a yelling match with them.
*  Do not let them bully you.  That's usually how they win arguments and get their way.
*  Remind them that you are giving them a warning and the next violation will result in a point penalty for their child and their removal from the tennis center.
*  Do not stand around and argue with them.
*  If they violate the rules again, do what you told them you would do.  Giving continuous warnings only enables their bad behavior.
*  Remember that you can call the local police if the situation escalates.
*  Always write them up if there is a confrontation.
*  Ask them if they would like to pray together and sing a hymn together after a confrontation.  This will either endear them to you or get you run over by a truck.
*  Always proceed carefully and wisely with an entitled parent as they can respond very negatively and very quickly when confronted.
*  If you are a male official, wear a cup to work and be glad you have it.

Good luck as you work in our wonderful world of officiating!

Friday, June 17, 2016

The Perfect Shoe For The Entitled Official

Just couldn't pass this one up when I saw the "absolute perfect shoe for the entitled official."  Wonder how many will be wearing them at Wimbledon this year?

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

"Entitled" Officials and Their Devastating Effects

The dreaded "ENTITLED OFFICIAL" who didn't get his way...

As tennis officials we have all encountered the dreaded "entitled kid" along with all their faults and failures--and we have encountered the "entitled parent" that usually raised that disgusting kid.  We usually look to the Junior Tennis Council for help but alas, none is coming...

Worse than the adults and demon-children, are the "entitled officials" that seem to be springing up everywhere.  Its like the legal definition of porn--you don't know to define it but you know it when you see it.  Same holds true for entitled officials.  Here are some of their characteristics:

*  Always complaining about everything and anything.
*  The food is never good enough for them or delivered on time to suit them.
*  Never satisfied.  There isn't a hotel that would make them happy.
*  Can't understand why they might actually have a roommate.
*  Feels that everyone owes them something in the officiating world.
*  Gets mad when they don't get to chair the #1 singles or doubles match.
*  Thinks they know it all and frequently share that view with others.
*  Their favorite line is:  "I never have trouble in my matches."
*  Their first question is always, "How much am I getting paid?"  And then it is never enough...
*  Calls the referee within two days of the match/tournament completion and wanting to know why they haven't been paid yet.
*  Always want to know when they can go home.
*  Usually very confrontational with coaches, players, and fans.
*  Doesn't take instruction or correction well.
*  If female, usually wears her shorts much shorter than everyone else.
*  If male, usually drives the newest car and/or biggest truck.
*  If male, frequently shares how much money they make.
*  If female, frequently complains about how men get the best assignments and make the most money.
*  The more they drink, the more they brag on themselves.
*  Always wants to know who got which line in singles.
*  Frequently criticizes other officials and freely offers them advice on how to improve.
*  If married and female, has a husband at home that's glad she's gone.
*  If married and male, has a wife at home that is praising Jesus he's not around for a week.

Those are just a few of their characteristics--now the real question is "What do you do with them?"  Here are some solutions:

*  First and foremost, never hire them again.
*  If you hire them, then you can't complain because you asked for it.
*  Give them the #6 singles match to help them learn humility.
*  Make them do the far sideline in doubles to help them get in shape.
*  Always be sure they have a roommate so maybe they won't come back.
*  Be sure that lunch is always delivered to their site LAST.
*  Never invite them to go out to eat with everyone else.
*  Make sure your car is full when they ask for a ride.
*  Be sure to recommend them to your friends who are referees so maybe they will hire them and get them away from you.
*  Pray that they quit.
*  Tell them that they need more training--and then they will quit!
*  Be sure to assign them to McAllen or El Paso for all their matches.
*  Get Subway to deliver day-old sandwiches to their site.
*  Get an empty water bottle and fill it with ordinary tap water just for them.

We all know them--send in your thoughts and suggestions about how to deal with them...

Monday, June 13, 2016

"The Gathering 2016" A Great Time Had By All

This past weekend we celebrated our fourth annual "Gathering" at the Tolbert lake house--and what a great weekend it was!  There were jet skiis, volleyball, pool, foosball, and tons of food!  What more could you ask for.  If you didn't get to come this year, hopefully you will be able to make it next year.  Its open to all ITA officials in Texas--and maybe a few from Oklahoma.

GARY AND PAM TOLBERT graciously shared their beautiful new lake home with us!

The kitchen was the central gathering place for the entire weekend.  Here is Ty McDonald and Brighton McMinn trying to figure out what to eat next and Gary Tolbert wondering what they are going to choose.

No "Gathering" would be complete without the "beer snob from Austin" (RICK GABEL) treating us to his brews.

The highlight of the week was the jet skiis.  Here is GARY TOLBERT towing a couple of the guys.

RICK GABEL AND TY MCDONALD enjoying a moment on the raft.

The Corn Hole Toss tournament was awesome!  Here are the 2016 CORN HOLE WINNERS! (Brighton McMinn and Ty McDonald)

The most intense competition was in the pool tournament won by TOM WRIGHT & NANCY EDWARDS.  Congratulations to our winners!

Headed out on the lake from left to right is RANDALL EDWARDS, NANCY EDWARDS, RANDY MCDONALD, AND MARY LYNN SATUR.

Everyone had a great time--even our little friend!  He was there to greet us and there when we all left...

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

"The Gathering 2016" on June 11, 2016

Enjoy your weekend at the Tolbert's new lake house featuring jet skiis and a beautiful outdoor setting.

Enjoy dominoes on the deck and lots of sun on the lakeside deck!

"The Gathering"

Its time to gear up for "The Gathering 2016"!  Its going to be a fantastic weekend of food, fun, and lots of fellowship at the Tolbert lake house on Cedar Creek lake.  This is a great weekend open to all ITA officials in Texas and Oklahoma and everyone is encouraged to come and bring a friend. 

Here are all the details:

*  "The Gathering" begins at 10 a.m. on Saturday, June 11, 2016.  The activities conclude whenever you are ready to go home that night. 
*  There will hot dogs, hamburgers, drinks, and all the trimmings.  Cost is $10 per person.
*  Everyone is encouraged to bring their favorite food dish with them. 
*  Hopefully someone will even make some homemade ice cream!
*  There will be jet skiis, volleyball, games, and activities for everyone. 

**  For those who wish to spend the night, there are numerous affordable hotels in surrounding towns.

This is our FOURTH "Gathering" and its always a great time for everyone so be sure to come if you can.  

The Tolbert's lake house is located on beautiful Cedar Creek Lake and is just over an hour east of Dallas.  Their address is:  5338 Magnolia Drive, Eustace, Texas  75124.  

RESERVATIONS ARE REQUIRED and can be made by emailing Gary Tolbert at or Randy McDonald at

Come and join us for a great time together!!!