Tuesday, June 30, 2009

An Answer To Prayer

One of the things I love and appreciate most about being a tennis official is that we are all part of a big "family" and included in that relationship are a lot of good and loving friends. There are also times that our family members go through some difficult times and it is during those times that we learn to pray for each other and support each other...

One of our past Texas Section Presidents, Marcia Rodriguez, has been struggling with cancer and cancer treatments for the past few years--but this week she got some good news and an answer to a lot of prayers. Here is Marcia's email to me:

"Hi! ...we just got back from London......I found a clinical trial over there on a new drug that helps locate tumors.....I got accepted into the trial so Mike and I flew over on the 17th....for a quickee few days in London. THEY FOUND THE PRIMARY TUMOR!!...so I have an appointment today with a surgeon at UTSW to talk about options to remove it asap! Its a long shot.....since the cancer has been racing thru my lymph system...but if they remove the primary source.....my prognosis will be MUCH IMPROVED....!!"

Now that's the kind of email that I like to get!! Marcia has been a dear friend for many years so I hope you will join me in praying for her complete healing...

Monday, June 29, 2009

A Flicker of Hope

DISCRIMINATION is a word and practice that causes all Americans with a moral and ethical conscience to recoil--and rightly so. However, it is still regularly practiced in many areas of our lives.

In the tennis world there still exists a huge amount of discrimination--and it is discrimination that is directed toward white men over 50. The gays, lesbians and transgendered have their advocates, the minorities have their advocates, the women have their advocates, but alas, there are seemingly no advocates for white men over 50. Just take a glance at the US Open and see what positions are filled by white men over 50 and that will prove our point.

Today our news was filled with a monumental decision by the Supreme Court. Here is the AP account:

WASHINGTON – The Supreme Court ruled Monday that white firefighters in New Haven, Conn., were unfairly denied promotions because of their race, reversing a decision that high court nominee Sonia Sotomayor endorsed as an appeals court judge.
New Haven was wrong to scrap a promotion exam because no African-Americans and only two Hispanic firefighters were likely to be made lieutenants or captains based on the results, the court said Monday in a 5-4 decision. The city said that it had acted to avoid a lawsuit from minorities.

Hopefully the USTA will take note...

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Are Foreign Players The Answers To A Successful Collegiate Program?

Anyone who officiates in the ITA world knows that teams are heavily weighted with foreign players. There are pros and cons to this issue but we might want to consider all aspects of this issue. Here are some points to provoke your thoughts:

* Foreign players tend to be stronger and better.
* Foreign players take up scholarships that could be used by Americans.
* Foreign players have more difficulty becoming and staying eligible to play.

Those are some basic facts, but here are some more aesthetic considerations:

* Which players tend to behave better?
* Does a program have to have foreign players to win?
* Is it fair to American players to have so many foreign players on teams?
* Should there be a limit on foreign players on a team?
* Should there be limits on the amount of professional events played by ITA players?

Personally, I enjoy meeting, watching, and officiating foreign players but the same can be said about Americans. Even though people say we need to be fair and equal, I'm not so sure that is the case in collegiate tennis. I believe there should be a limit on foreign players on a team since coaches are obviously not going to impose any limits. After all, we live in America and provide a free education to the foreign players. Maybe we should give a little more consideration to our "home grown" products...

We would welcome your comments.

Friday, June 19, 2009


First Annual

Since summertime is officially here and everyone always enjoys tennis and bbq, we will be hosting the first annual TENNIS OFFICIALS BASH. Tennis officials from anywhere are invited but you must be a certified tennis official, know one, or want to be one... Basically, you are all invited!
Here is the information:
Date: June 28, 2009.
Time: 5:30 p.m. for tennis at Collin College, Plano, Texas.
7:00 p.m. for bbq at 1912 Copper Creek Drive, Plano, 75075
Cost: Nothing. We will be asking people to bring various items.
Menu: bbq (hot dogs and hamburgers), beer, soft drinks, and margaritas!
This special event is an RSVP EVENT so please respond if you want to come.
Randy McDonald
214 796 7402
This should be a great evening of food, fun, and lots of friendship. If you can, be sure to come and join us!!!

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Jesus Has Come To The Tennis Courts!


In a recent juniors tennis match in Texas a fine young man lost the point and immediately dropped his racket, raised his hands in the air, and said, "The Lord Jesus Christ is my personal Saviour."


We are presented with numerous options, but here are a few:

1. That he actually does love Jesus and hopes that He lends a helping hand in his match.

2. That Jesus actually does care about what goes on in a tennis match.

3. That we hope the USTA diversity forces aren't there. If they were, they would want him coded for being insensitive to other religions.


Again you are faced with numerous schools of thought, but here are but a few choices you might consider:

1. Praise Jesus with him and be thankful that God got through to at least one junior tennis player.

2. Run to the center of the court and lead the spectators in a verse of Amazing Grace.

3. Move to the center of the court and immediately take an offering.

Personally, I lean toward option #3.

How would you rule????

Saturday, June 13, 2009


Anyone who is successful in nearly any area of life will tell you that COMMUNICATION is one of the keys to success--and I think that is especially true in the tennis officiating world...

In order for us to train and enlist officials, we must learn to communicate. In order to keep and nurture our current officials, we must learn to communicate. In order to develop a sense of "family" among our tennis officials, we must learn to communicate. But alas, we seem to be falling down in this vital area...

I checked the Texas Section webpage this morning and under "Officials" I found that our "home news" section has not been updated since last December and the last newsletter posted was Summer 2008. Folks, if we want to be successful we need to improve in our COMMUNICATION.

The Texas Section Officials Committee is composed of the finest and most talented officials we have in Texas. They are primarily the coordinators in each area and people who have the skills and know-how to communicate. Now we just need to turn them loose...

Personally, I think a blog is a great tool for communication because it lends itself to instant communication. One of the drawbacks is that it also allows for anonymous postings which can sometimes get out of control. Newsletters are another good source of communication but are somewhat outdated in today's technology.

Two of the most current tools of communication are FACEBOOK and TWITTER. Read the post below and come and join our group on Facebook--we'd love to start up a good group.

TWITTER is the newest rage out there and really a lot of fun. I joined (randymcdonald77) and have found a bunch of officials and tennis coaches out there in Twitterland. Come and join us if you would like to... Just go to www.twitter.com and follow the instructions.

I believe everyone's goal should be to make us the best officials we can become and we can never achieve that goal without good COMMUNICATION.

Hop on board and let's have a great time communicating with each other...

Facebook For Tennis Officials

Since we all want to be on the cutting edge of technology, we are starting up a new group for TENNIS OFFICIALS on Facebook. It should be great fun! Remember, you will have to sign in with your real name so be prepared.

Just look up my name (Randy McDonald) on Facebook and then join our group.

I think it will be a great avenue for sharing and keeping in touch!!!

Friday, June 12, 2009

Thought For The Day: Be Nice To Old People

As we look forward to the weekend I just wanted to pass a thought along to you. Let's all do all we can to be nice to OLD PEOPLE...

Remember--it won't be long before we are there with them!

(Hopefully these two have retired from officiating.)

Thursday, June 11, 2009

The Cure For Inept Officiating (Part 2)

As you can read from the previous post, there is a lot of interest and differing opinions about what to do with inept officials. This is an age old problem and one that won't be solved quickly--but I tend to think that we need to make more progress than we are currently making.

One of the dilemas you face is that you don't want to hurt someone's feelings--and that's an admirable attribute but probably one that will get you in trouble in the long run. A few years ago I had an official that had been banned by a college coach from ever doing his matches again and I tried to keep from hurting her feelings by telling her that we had to make some "adjustments in the schedule" instead of telling her that she had been banned. I guess in my desire to protect her feelings I thought she would appreciate me and my efforts--but that didn't work! Instead she blamed me personally and went on a vicious and verbal crusade around the state saying I had deliberately removed her from matches. Finally, I listened to the advice of an older and wiser official and told her the unvarnished truth--she was fired because she sucked! She still bad mouths me whenever she can but at least she knows the truth...

The other issue that confronts us in today's world is the threat of a lawsuit. The USTA is certainly no stranger to lawsuits so referees and sections tend to be wary when the issue of firing or removing an official comes along. A few years ago in our infamous ad hoc committee meeting (at Bruce Sampley's house) we were trying to remove a certain instructor who was obviously inept and unuseable but basically we backed off the issue because we were afraid of a lawsuit. When it comes to this issue, I guess sometimes retreat is the better part of valor--even though it makes me carsick!

I think the things recommended in the previous post will work but I agree with those who have written in that the BEST METHOD is DO NOT HIRE THEM AGAIN. There is a corporate responsibility for the Texas Section Chairman and the local coordinator but the main responsibility lies with the referee who hires them. If they don't have assignments they will eventually figure it out.

Now the real question arises--what do you do when the inept official is the referee????

Just a little food for thought.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

What Is The Cure For Inept Officiating???

What to do about inept officials is an age old question--and one about which I am not sure there is a pat answer. Those in authority have ruminated about this issue for years and have struggled to find cures that actually work; but alas, I think they may be to no avail.

We have all seen ineptness in officiating and it is always relevant. Sometimes it is uneventful and without cost but sometimes it is devastating and has huge consequences. In order to deal with this issue, I would suggest the following:

1. Teach and train until we are blue in the face. We already do this a lot but we're not home yet. More can and should be done...

2. Individualize training when possible. The best way for an official to learn is to see it done and observe it personally. This is not always feasible but we should at least strive for perfection.

3. Get the Texas Section to sponsor more training events.

4. Identify those officials who are habitually inept and enroll them in specialized training (required). This will have to be done on the local level but it can and should happen. The local organizations need to take the lead in this area.

5. Put offending officials on probation or remove them if they refuse training.

6. Just as there are penalties for offending parents, there should be penalties for inept officials. We are now at the stage where we are paid a good wage for our work and they should get a good product for their money.

7. Do all we can do to enlist new members. This won't cure the problem but at least we will have a new crop of officials to choose from...

These are just a few suggestions. I would welcome hearing any comments you might like to make...

Analysis of Tennis Parents

Since the majority of a tennis officials' time is spent in grass roots tournaments, that also means that a majority of their time is spent in interaction with players--AND THEIR PARENTS!

We all have horror stories to tell about abusive and intrusive parents but as a whole, I would say the vast majority of parents are law-abiding citizens who simply enjoy tennis and having a child who plays in tournaments. HOWEVER--there are always a few strange apples in the barrel.

Here are some brief observations about tennis parents:

* Most parents love tennis and love watching their children play tennis.
* Some parents are overprotective and always feel their child is being cheated, abused, or otherwise slighted whenever they are losing.
* Some parents try to "make friends" with roving officials and then try to use this to their advantage.
* Some parents actually cheat and coach their children when they are playing. Its a reality that we have to learn to cope with...
* Some parents actually do get into verbal and/or physical altercations with other parents. Sometimes this even extends to whatever official is close by...
* Many kids are embarassed by their parents and their behavior.

* Always be fair and consistent in your officiating. Do not single out one child for all of your attention.
* Do not be confrontational in your dealings with children and/or their parents.
* Do not tolerate abusive behavior by parents or children. There are specific steps in the FAC to deal with this issue.
* Feel free to use a "wise caution" in dealing with children. Sometimes a simple caution will save a battle...
* Be sure to report abusive behavior to the proper authorities.
* Encourage the parents and children to enjoy tennis. After all--this is only a game!

Monday, June 08, 2009

Psychological Study of Tennis Officials

For the past two years I have had a good psychologist friend of mine conduct a study of tennis officials. He has observed officials roving, chairing, and in simple personal interaction and here are some of his observations:

Type A Male Officials
* Tend to take leadership roles both on and off the court.
* Strong willed and usually make quick and accurate decisions.
* Do not tolerate a great deal of conflict from coaches, players, and spectators.
* Can be overly aggressive if confronted.
* Do extremely well in men's ITA chaired matches.
* Usually tend to see issues in black and white and leave little room for error and/or discussion.
* Tend to garner respect from players simply by their actions and behavior on the court.
* If experienced, they are well versed in the rules of tennis.
* Tend to gravitate toward other alpha-males in their personal relationships.
Type B Male Officials
* Tend to be very non-confrontational.
* Normally a follower instead of a leader.
* Pays meticulous attention to detail.
* Can be overly officious if faced with verbal conflict or confrontation.
* May also retreat into a shell if confronted personally.
* Tend to do better roving than in chairs.
* Very strong team players.
* Strong loyalty to other officials.
* Has a tendency to worry more about a player's intent than their actions.
* Tends to retreat quickly when confronted by coaches and players.
Type A Female Officials
* Tend to be very verbal, opinionated, and agressive in their personal styles.
* Usually have played tennis at a high level in their personal lives.
* Frequently have issues with those in authority over them.
* Strong personal presence but usually have a weak self image.
* Function well as referees but not as umpires.
* Tend to be overly officious on a regular basis.
* Very selective in their friendships within the officiating ranks.
* Strong presence in the chair but becomes officious and aggressive when confronted or questioned.
* Tends to try to become the alpha male in a group setting. Frequently tries to be in charge of everything. Responds negatively when under the authority of an alpha-male official.
* Loyal to their friends even to a fault.
* Reponds quickly and usually negatively when their authority is questioned.
Type B Female Official
* Weakest of all personality types among officials.
* Tends to be very submissive in personal dealings.
* Very seldom an actual tennis player in their private lives.
* Weak personal skills and extremely weak leadership skills.
* Very seldom make a good chair official.
* Easily offended and dominated by stronger officials.
* Usually a person with high personal integrity.
* If married, normally married to an alpha-male.
* Strong knowledge of rules but weak in application.
* Tends to be very emotional and unstable.

Sunday, June 07, 2009

FEDERER: Pehaps The Greatest Ever!

Sometimes we have the privilege in life of being around someone who is called the "greatest" in some sport--and that is truly our privilege today with Roger Federer...

Roger won his 14th Grand Slam Singles title (tying Pete Sampras) with his victory today at the French Open.

Just imagine how many more Grand Slam singles titles are within his reach. And we get to witness part of history being made...

Thanks Roger for letting us share in your special moment.

Saturday, June 06, 2009

Crybabies In Tennis...

I just finished watching the women's final of the French Open--and listening to John McEnroe (the world's greatest crybaby) and Mary Carillo edify Dinara Safina for her whining and crying on the court. Instead of praising Svetlana for a great final and for being the fantastic player that she is, they praised Dinara for "coming through her stress and anger and tears." What a pathetic commentary... I notice that Dinara never seems to have a problem with her tears and stress when she is winning.

Perhaps in this case we should just consider who was doing the commentating and forget it...

Friday, June 05, 2009

Qualities of A Good ITA Chair Official

Since we have hundreds of officials around the country, I would like to hear your comments about what makes for a quality ITA chair official.

Please be sure to send in your comments...

June 6, 2009: As of today, we have received some of the finest comments we have ever received. I think it shows we have a lot of well qualified and informed officials who are delivering a good product to those who employ us. Keep up the good work--and keep the comments coming...