Tuesday, November 30, 2010

One Solution To Overcrowding: Court Monitors

Sometimes there is security in numbers.

Sometimes its just better to sleep through the overcrowding.

Since there tends to be universal agreement that the ratio of officials per number of courts is way too high (it is one official per 11 courts in Texas), one official suggested that we enlist COURT MONITORS to help with the problem.

Here are the duties of a court monitor as listed in the FAC:

1. Maintain control over assigned courts.
2. Measure the net at the beginning of the first match and at other appropriate times.
3. Time warm-ups.
4. Call foot faults, remembering that there is never a warning.
5. Stop play when the monitor observes a code violation and seek assistance from the referee or other official.
6. Settle scoring disputes on a limited basis.
7. Overrule clear mistakes if authorized to do by the referee.
8. Time rest periods.
9. Record scores of matches if requested.
10. Inform the desk of open courts and of the progress of matches in play.
11. Send for a certified official if there is a question of rule interpretation.
12. Call the score if assigned to only one court.

These are the specific duties--what do you think about using court monitors????

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Defining Your Circle of Tolerance

At one time or another we will all be confronted with an angry parent, player, or coach.

Learning our "circle of tolerance" and when to call in the reinforcements is a valuable lesson for all officials.

As tennis officials we all discover that at one time or another we are going to be confronted with either an angry/irate parent, player, or coach--and we need to be prepared on how we are going to react. I call it our "circle of tolerance" or that limit that you impose on how much you are going to tolerate from another person.

During our schools we are given hints on how to deal with angry or disruptive people and its all good advice. Once you get on the court though you won't have an instructor to teach you or a book to advise you--you personally are going to have to decide how much you will or will not tolerate in your dealings with players, parents, and coaches.

In the ITA world we have the tool of "coach's warning and coach's penalties" which are very explicit. In the USTA world you have guidelines you can use to penalize someone who is creating a problem but these are simply guidelines and rules. A good official learns how to diffuse situations instead of creating them and it requires a lot of wisdom and patience. Here are a few thoughts on the issue:

* Always speak is a calm voice.
* Determine early in your career what you will and will not tolerate and then stand firm on your decisions.
* Study articles and books on dealing with disruptive people. It will help!
* Do not let the offending person scream at you. You have tools to use in this instance so learn to use them.
* Do not raise your hands in defense or anger with dealing with a disruptive person.
* Try to figure out quickly what their behavior is based upon.
* Learn judicious use of your stopwatch to get the person's attention.
* Do not permit them to swear at you or touch you personally for any reason.
* Know where the exits of the facility are located.
* Penalize when necessary but not in retaliation.
* Have the offending person removed from the facility if necessary.

We all have war stories on this subject--we would love to hear yours...

Friday, November 26, 2010

Denton Ryan: The Epitome of Bush League

Thanksgiving weekend is always a great time to watch the high school football playoffs in the new Cowboys stadium--where it is warm and comfortable; but today as I was all set to enjoy the show, I was treated to a display of BUSH LEAGUE FOOTBALL like I have never seen before.

Denton Ryan was playing Waco Midway in a 4A playoff game and the stadium was filled with excitement as the teams were working out in their pre-game preparation. Then the almost unbelievable occurred...

During the warmup, the Denton Ryan team went in a tight-knit group to the middle of the field and began to yell and scream toward the Midway players and coaches. Since I am always on guard for "taunting" this instance was particularly obnoxious. The Ryan players were worked into a frenzy by one of their coaches who ran about yelling and screaming like a hyperventilating hyena. Too bad we didn't have a tennis official in the chair so he could have coded them for taunting and unsportsmanlike conduct. It was embarrassing to watch an entire team and one maniacal coach acting in such a manner.

After the game began we were treated to more of the Denton Ryan coaching staff's bush league antics when their head coach, Joey Florence, was continually on the field ranting and raving about everything that didn't go his way. I watched as he continually badgered and berated the linesman on his side and I just wished I could have him on the tennis court for just a few minutes. And I thought the SEC coaches were the worst--but that is until I watched the Denton Ryan athletic department and football team on full display.

Ryan may have won the game but they will always be BUSH LEAGUE in my book.

At Least There Is A Silver Lining In These Clouds

What more can be said? After the worst season in my entire LIFETIME, the Texas Longhorns have finally finished their year.

As I was wearing sackcloth and ashes and seeking to find something good to think upon, I realized that every cloud has a "silver lining."

The "silver lining" for the Longhorns is that they aren't going to a bowl game--so they could lose yet again! Thank the Lord the season has come to a merciful end.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Happy Turkey Day

Hope you all have a good and happy Thanksgiving.

Don't you love these two turkeys. They remind me of a couple that we all know and love...

Monday, November 22, 2010

The Dilemma of Too Many Courts For Each Roving Official

Sometimes Mother just has too many puppies to watch at one time.

Then sometimes she just does the best she can and hopes that they all follow.

All of us have experienced the horror of being assigned a site in a tournament with way too many courts to cover--and not enough officials. Or even worse, being there by yourself and expected to see and hear everything that happens on every court.

From time to time some Texas Section committee or person in authority takes it upon themselves to pronounce to us officials that we "aren't enforcing the rules." While I vaguely sympathize with their sometimes self-serving pronouncements, I don't see how we can be expected to "enforce the rules" when we are given more courts to supervise than any normal human could ever do.

We did a survey of Texas tournaments and found that the average ratio in Texas for USTA tournaments is one official for every ELEVEN courts. Some national instructors say that it should be a one to four ratio and the USTA requires only "one official per site" for a USTA tournament to be sanctioned. It says nothing about the ratio of officials to courts.

Personally I have done tournaments where I had 24 courts all by myself and would love to do one with only 11 courts. The saddest part of this situation is that it is the players who suffer from lack of adequate officiating. Its not a question of officiating abilities but a question of being spread too thin...

I'm not at all sure what the remedy for this problem might be since I know that the tournament directors are in this to make money and if we lower the ratio, we would quickly lower their profit margin. However, if we are going to chastised and maligned as officials for not doing our jobs, then perhaps we need to reconsider this issue...

Please note that I have not even mentioned the fact that an official may be "stranded" at a remote site with way too many courts, no water or shade, and no meals along with having to work 12 to 14 hours without a break. That's food for thought for another blog post on another day...

We would welcome your thoughts on this vital issue whether you be an official, a tournament director, a parent, or a player... Maybe we can all come up with an equitable solution.


HAPPY THANKSGIVING to one and all!

The greatest "FOOD HOLIDAY" of them all.

My son, Ty, has told me that Thanksgiving is a "food holiday" and I guess in a lot of ways I have to agree. There is always a lot of great food but a lot more to be had on Thanksgiving...

As we stop for a moment to reflect here are some reasons I am thankful this season:

* I'm thankful to be an American and live in the greatest country on earth.

* I'm thankful to be a tennis official in Texas because from what I hear, its worse everywhere else in America.

* I'm thankful to have two great kids and two great Labs even though Ty told me that he was going to "put me in a home" if I didn't behave when I get old. The sad thing is that I AM old and now need to watch out...

* I'm thankful that the Cowboys finally won some games.

* I'm thankful that the Longhorns' football season is nearly over. My worst fear is that they actually will go to a bowl game and get embarrassed again!

* I'm thankful that the Myronian lived through yet another bicycle crash. Now we all need to pray that he finds other interests in life.

* I'm thankful that the Bears finally won a few games so I still have faith in God's miracle working powers.

* I'm thankful that our newbie officials in Oklahoma will get a few more months of training under their belts. Maybe in 2014 they will become "seasoned officials."

* I'm thankful that we have Chad Loup working for us in the Texas Section office. The young man is truly a miracle worker.

* I'm thankful I can still give Chuck Scott some Xanax for Christmas.

* I'm thankful that Kevin Foster has learned that we don't play doubles matches with the singles sticks still in place.

* I'm thankful that I can do ZAT tournaments when I want to and not as the ultimate form of punishment for all the evil thoughts in my life.

* I'm thankful that the ITA season will begin in 1.5 months.

* I'm thankful that we are going to be rid of Nebraska and Colorado and can get down to some serious football. The only problem is that I'm not sure Texas will be in the mix for the next five years.

* Most of all, I'm thankful for all my good official friends from all over everywhere!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Life's Most Embarrassing Moments

It happens to all guys at one time or another.

And he thought noone was looking!
The ultimate "most embarrassing moment"

We all know that real men don't cry--especially after losing a point!

Imagine what his Mother thinks...

Even though he wasn't embarrassed, he should have been...

Here's hoping that noone recognizes that posterior.

As we all make this journey of life (and especially the tennis officiating life), we encounter those special moments that are embarrassing at best.

It might be fun and interesting to hear your favorite "most embarrassing moment" stories so feel free to send them in. I'm sure most of you will post anonymously...

Here are a couple of mine:

1. I walked up on a girls singles match at a Super Champs tournament and immediately called a footfault when the girl was 1.5 feet into the court on her serve. She looked at me and said, "I was just taking my practice serves."

In my moment of embarrassment, I said, "I was just practicing my footfault calls."

Everyone then went on their merry way...

2. Watching a friend of mine squat down to talk to an evaluator following his match I noticed that his "maleness" was hanging out of his shorts. What to do, what to do...

I just turned red on his behalf and then ran and hid hoping the evaluator would never notice.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

How Would You Rule?

Here is an interesting scenario that one of our readers sent in this week:

We had rain that basically destroyed the second day of the tournament. Many matches were left hanging for the following weekend. Rain was again forecast for the second weekend. A decision was made by the tournament committee to finish all matches in the original format for the rounds that were left hanging, and then for subsequent rounds to switch the format to an 8-game proset in the doubles and the consolation singles in hopes of getting the tournament done.

Of course, everything that could go wrong did. . . but here in lies the learning experience. The second round matches in the singles consolation had started the first weekend with a match format of best of two tiebreak sets with a deciding 10-point match tiebreak if sets were split. So the kids were to finish playing that round in that format. However, one team was playing an 8-game proset, and the three other remaining matches were playing the correct format. The error was discovered at 6-3.

What is the remedy for this?

1. Finish out the proset and end it there (honor the format that both kids initially understood) and tough beans if it is unfair for their next round opponent who is in a longer match format and battling it out?

2. Finish out the proset and count it as the first set of the match and then revert back to the original format as everyone else was playing?

3. Award the first set to the "winner" of the set at 6-2 (which was the original "set score" win) and count the first game of the second set as won by the opponent so that all games played in good faith stand?

4. Award the first set to the winner of the set at 6-3, which was the score the error was discovered at and all games still stand as played in good faith? Start the second set at 0-0 so that the players have a clean slate?

5. Something else?

Furthermore, the kids who were playing in the two sets with a match tiebreak, wanted to change their formats to the 8-game proset if they could because they didn't want to be at a disadvantage later, and one match was already in the second set. All of the matches happened to be in a row with all of the parents now upset in addition.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Does Sexual Orientation Really Matter?

In an age of diversity and in a time when the USTA seems to be hyperventilating over "diversity", the discussion about sexual orientation always seems to come to the forefront. We have all heard the horror stories of the male "higher up" official who demanded sexual favors from new male officials to the lesbian chair official who could not officiate certain matches because she was trying to date the player but the issue goes much deeper than the flamboyant.

In order to keep the issue in some sort of perspective, I would suggest that we consider the following: (and this list by no means is exhaustive)


Because we were all created as sexual beings then sexuality will always be a hot issue (and I use that term carefully). Sexuality is fine and normal but flaunted sexuality will always lead to the appearance of the "HSH".

The Dreaded "HSH"

Out of control sexuality will always produce the HSH (Hyper Sexual Human) and that's not good. We all know them and they appear as homosexual, heterosexual, transgendered, and anything else that happens to be in heat. We all know men who think with their penises and women who charge forth with their out of control libido but I doubt seriously that sexual orientation has a thing to do with becoming an HSH. In fact, I know more heterosexual HSH's than I do homosexual ones.

The issue is not whether you are sexual or not but whether you flaunt it. I can still remember my first US Open and meeting a grandmother who walked up to me and promptly put her leg between my legs and tried to kiss me--and she sure wasn't a lesbian! I do however remember the lesbian who told me that she hated all men and would do all she could to bring us into subjection. Now that's sexuality out of control...

Remember--any flaunting HSH does matter--and shouldn't be hired. Militant gays always seem to grab the headlines but there is nothing more off color than a bunch of married men (and especially old ones) sitting around sharing war stories. We have some officials in Texas that you don't dare hire because they constantly run around like a pooch in heat...


Personally, I do not care about a person's sexual orientation. I do however care about their abilities to work as an official. I have a lot of heterosexual friends as well as a few gay buddies and even fewer lesbian friends, but we can all co-exist and do our jobs well. The only time I get uncomfortable with an official is when they flaunt whatever form of sexuality they espouse.

The issue with me is that I don't want the USTA or anyone else telling me I have to hire someone because of their sexual orientation. A coordinator or referee should always have the right "not to hire" someone for whatever reason they deem fit. With tongue in cheek, I would say that I have known more heterosexual men who suck as officials than I have homosexual male officials.

After all, we are "independent contractors" aren't we????

Friday, November 12, 2010

To Bet Or Not To Bet

Revelations have been coming out this week that IMG executive, Ted Forstmann, had gambled millions of dollars on sports events including the 2007 French Open. Forstmann admitted betting on Federer (who lost to Nadal) , who is represented by an IMG agent. IMG also owns and operates some professional tennis tournaments.

Forstmann did point out that he has not gambled since new laws governing gambling became effective in January, 2009.

If this is all true, there is "something rotten in Denmark"...

New Tennis Organizer & Scorebook

Just came upon this great new organizer and scorebook for amateur, college, and professional tennis players. Be sure to check it out. I think you will like it...

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Dad Helping Out Daughter

One of the joys of having a daughter is that Dad sometimes actually gets to help...

Shea is now selling some special new products and I thought I would share the news with all my blogging buddies.

Check it out at this site:

They have some great products and might make great Christmas gifts and this has absolutely no relevance to tennis officiating but I thought it would be fun!

Monday, November 08, 2010

What Do You Think?

Now that the CRIMINAL BACKGROUND CHECKS for officials have become a reality, I must admit that I have more questions than answers on this issue...

When we are seeking out pedophiles and trying to be sure that they don't work junior tennis tournaments, I have no problems or issues with the background checks. However, if we are doing this just to find out private details of people's lives, then I have questions.

Here are some of my question areas:

1. Are we seeking out only felony convictions? If so, does any felony conviction disqualify an official or only those dealing with sex?

2. Who will see the results of the background checks? Will it be a small USTA group or a large committee?

3. How will we guarantee the confidentiality of those who see the results?

4. Will the results be shared with referees all over the country so we know who not to hire?

5. If an official is "not certified" will we be told the reason why?

To be honest, I'm not sure what I feel about this issue. I have misgivings both ways.

What do you think????

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

Striving For Consistency In Officiating: The Eternal Quest

Striving to find consistency in tennis officiating is one of the goals that we always seem to be seeking but never finding. I'm not sure we will ever reach perfection but it seems the struggle seems to be more difficult these days.

Not a week goes by that we don't hear a report of an official failing to enforce the rules or enforcing them in error. The errors cited in our previous post are simply unacceptable and without excuse. The common joke among officials is that if you go to Abilene or Lubbock then they are not only going to code what you do, but they are going to code what you THINK... What a sad state of affairs for our officiating reputations if that is true.

Sometimes the CURE for a problem is hard and difficult but we just need to start on the adventure of correction...

I know that anyone involved in the leadership continually struggles with the best solutions for finding consistency. There isn't one pat solution but there are some steps that should help us along the road to recovery. Here are a few thoughts:

* Good solid teaching in our schools. There is no substitute for good education but its not the whole ball of wax. You can lead a horse to water but you can't make him drink...

* Institute more "on the job training" instead of more "classroom teaching." They need to know the rules but then they need to know how to apply them. If they flunk the test, then put them back in for more training.

* Stronger supervision of officials. Referees need to properly supervise those who work with them and the Texas Section needs to properly supervise those who serve as referees.

* Institute some form of "treatment" for officials that are continually in error. Requiring more training or suspension for a period of time would be good places to start. Everyone knows who these officials are--now we need to step up and do something about it.

* Pay valid attention to complaints that are filed. The vast majority of complaints are not valid but some do have truth in them. Learn to separate the wheat from the chaff and then act upon what you find.

* Quit hiring the offenders. This is the surest way to find consistency.

Monday, November 01, 2010

You've Got To Be Kidding Me

Not sure this pic has anything to do with this post but you still "have to be kidding me."

In our little tennis officiating world we often hear of decisions made by referees that boggle the mind and imagination...

In Austin this past weekend at a big men's tournament, the referee made the following decisions:

1. When player A called in at 9:05 a.m. and said he was "lost" he did not put him on the clock for his 9:00 a.m. match even though courts were available and the guy had played at that site the day before.

2. When player A arrived at 9:20 a.m. for his 9:00 a.m. match the referee had already put 9 of the 9:00 a.m. matches on and said there were no courts currently available. No penalty was given to player A for either infraction.

It does indeed boggle the mind... Perhaps we should have a remedial school for referees!