Now that the ITA season is getting into full gear and our officials are coming out of hibernation, it would be a good time to publish a list of the ITA coordinators. If you are interested in and qualified to work ITA matches you might want to contact the coordinators to see if they have any openings. I am sure most of them do...
One of the most frequently asked questions is "how do I become an official?" Hopefully this blog post will help make this process a little easier for everyone.
STEPS TO BECOMING AN OFFICIAL
1. Secure a copy of the Friend at Court (FAC) rule book. You will need this rule book to take your tests. The 2011 FAC is required to take the 2011 Provisional Test and the 2010 FAC is required for all other tests.
2. Go to the blog (www.tennisofficials.blogspot.com) in the upper right section and click on "Background Check Start Up" and begin the process. You must pass the background check before you can become an official.
3. Click on "Joining The USTA" to purchase a USTA card and get your member number.
4. Click on "2011 Provisional Exam" if you are a new official. Fill out all the information they request and then take the test using the 2011 Friend at Court rule book. The USTA will then notify Bruce Sampley (Sectional Chairman) and he will notify you of your next steps. The USTA will also send you an email outlining the steps you need to take to be added to Nucula (the national registry for officials.)
STEPS TO TAKE ONCE YOU ARE CERTIFIED
1. Click on "Nucula" and add your personal information and when you start working, add your work record on this site.
2. Contact your local coordinator and/or President to let them know you have passed the Provisional test and are ready to begin training and/or working. Click on "Area Coordinators" to find the coordinator in your area. You are certified to work at all levels once you have passed the Provisional Test but some areas require more training and shadowing experienced officials before you can begin work in that area.
3. Click on "USTA Apparel" to order your officials' shirt and other equipment. Such things as khaki pants/shorts, bags, and stopwatch can be obtained much cheaper at the local stores.
4. Contact the local ITA coordinator if you are interested in working at the ITA level. Each coordinator will have a training program that you can enter and you will also need to click on "ITA Apparel" to order your ITA officials shirt and other equipment.
5. If there is still an Officials School offered in your area, you need to attend if at all possible. If not, you are certified to work until you can attend a school in 2012. A list of those schools can be obtained by clicking on "Certification Schools."
6. Leap in and enjoy your new life as a tennis official! The only way you get experience is to get out there and officiate...
REMEMBER: If you have any further questions, please feel free to contact us at: email@example.com or call at 214 796 7402.
The 2011 ITA tennis season began this past weekend in Tulsa, Oklahoma. This year looks like one of the greatest ever!
The University of Texas men's tennis team crushed Tulsa 6-1, and California 5-2, this past weekend in Tulsa, Oklahoma.
Jim Lawson and Paul Jordan led the way in officiating and were able to provide some great on-court training for one of our new officials, Ron Ferguson. What a great way to start the collegiate season...
Table 11 allows a tournament to limit toilet/attire breaks if announced in advance of the event.
FAC Comment III. D-2 allows a player to combine a 3 minute rest period with a toilet/attire break if he/she asks for both up front. Coaching is allowed during the rest period and toilet break.
FAC Comment III. D-3 allows the longer of 3 minutes or reasonable time for the toilet/attire break when taking a break before a Match Tiebreak.
FAC Comment III. D-4 states that lateness beyond the three minute break before a Match Tiebreak results in a loss of match. The logic is Table 14, C loss of one game up to 5 minutes late. Since a tiebreak is one game, the match is over.
USTA Regulation IV.D.6.a states an official may assess a Code Violation based on what he, or a Court Monitor, saw or heard, or on an admission of a player.
COPIES OF THESE AND MORE RULE CHANGES ARE AVAILABLE UPON REQUEST. JUST SEND ME AN EMAIL AT (firstname.lastname@example.org) AND I WILL BE GLAD TO EMAIL THEM TO YOU.
ITA Rule I.B.21 (page 247) Hindrance- loud outburst following a
perceived winning shot. A solo chair or roving umpire (only if standing at the net
post) should immediately call a “hindrance – loss of point” when a player(s)
makes a loud outburst following a perceived winning shot that the opponent(s)
has a play on. (current ITA Rules I.E.10-13 become I.E.11-14.)
ITA Rule I.P.(page 255).
Interpretation from the USTA:
Player A hits an overhead and yells “C’mon” or “Vamos” thinking he hit a great point ending shot. Meanwhile, his opponent, Player B, actually had a play on the ball. Player B immediately stops and claims a hindrance. Is this allowed?Yes. Player A's shout was deliberate and Player B stopped play immediately.
If Player B did not have a play on the ball, can he claim a hindrance? No
Who determines whether Player B had a play on the ball? If no official saw it, Player B.
If a Rover/Chair umpire believes Player B had a play on the ball, does the official stop play immediately awarding the point to player B Yes or call a let and warns Player A that if it happens again, he will lose the point. No
(Should the USTA adopt the language of the ITA in the new 2011 FAC 1B.21 pg. 245. Yes
This year's ITA season should be spirited to say the least when we begin enforcing this new rule!!!
Since we have already had an officials school in Texas it might be time to bring up a discussion of a new rule in the 2011 FAC regarding cell phone usage.
Here is the new rule:
Page 19 of the new FAC (Comment 26.3) --The new comment states that if a cell phone rings between points, it should result in a Time Violation. Should a time violation be given any time a phone rings except during play?
Explanation from the powers on high: Yes. That is the intent of the comment, to get players to turn their cell phones off. "Between points" is anytime the ball is not in play once the match has started, except for an authorized rest period or suspension in which players leave the court. i.e. a medical timeout, change of end, end of game, etc.
As all of my blogging tennis officials, HOW WOULD YOU INTERPRET THIS RULE???
Our previous generated a lot of diverse opinion so I thought it would be a good time to enter into the discussion of the letter of the law versus the spirit of the law...
We have all heard stories of kids in Texas being expelled for one cigarette when there is a zero tolerance for smoking or a boy expelled because he left a hunting gun under the seat in his truck when there is a zero tolerance for guns. Those are rather extreme circumstances and ones that make us want to throw out the letter of the law in favor of the spirit of the law.
In officiating, there are times when we must and should follow the letter of the law--when it is plainly written out in the FAC. However, there are times that there are no specific written rules and we have to interpret the spirit of the law. Each of us have had times where we penalized or didn't penalize a player because we interpreted the spirit of the law.
Here are a few guidelines for you to consider when faced with this decision:
1. Is it specifically addressed in the Friend at Court? If it is, then follow the written law.
2. If it isn't, then be wise in your decision.
3. Be sure you aren't being biased by personalities. Players, coaches, and parents all have distinctive personalities and can be quite persuasive both in a negative and positive way so be on your guard.
4. Remember that one of our ultimate goals is to encourage play--not to become a Nazi official looking for ways to code everyone that walks.
5. Be firm in your decision. A waffling referee is always going to encounter difficulty. If a parent, player, or coach feels that you are in control of the situation and know your rules, they will usually accept your judgment.
6. Be kind and polite in your presentation of your decision. There is no reason to scream at someone or berate them. If they get a code violation, give it and move on. You're not there to determine why they are the demon they have become...
7. Always remember that it is better to err on the side of caution. The Bible teaches us that grace triumphs over judgment and I think this holds true in all areas of life.
8. When making a judgment decision, be open to listening to arguments from everyone. Players should have a right to express themselves (in a decent manner) and we have a responsibility to hear them.
9. Remember that if there is a dispute between two parties, one of them isn't going to like the decision that you make.
10. At the end of the day, remember its just a game and the universe doesn't revolve around any decision you make in a tennis match. I've seen officials go into deep depression over a decision they made. If you get depressed over what you did, then you probably did the wrong thing.
11. Learn the rules, be nice, and then do the best job you can do!
This weekend I had the privilege (and it truly was) of working a site for a 14 boys champs tournament. I had a great time, the kids and parents were all wonderful, and a great time was had by all--except for one boy and his dad...
Seems that the boy was playing a kid who was late for his 9:00 a.m. match. The late boy called to say they were tied up in traffic and would be there as soon as they could. There was a marathon race being run near UTA, where the match was being held, and they had many of the roads blocked off, so I ruled that it was a legitimate reason for lateness. The late player arrived 25 minutes late and no penalty was issued.
Since traffic is a valid excuse, I have never penalized a player for that reason. Some have told me that I should penalize them games and loss of toss but since it is a legitimate excuse, I have never penalized the late player in this scenario. In the Metroplex, traffic is frequently an issue for a player trying to get to a tournament site.
I'm sure there are all kinds of opinions on this issue so thought I would open myself on this one...