Friday, December 30, 2011

Happy New Year & Some New Prognostications

HAPPY NEW YEAR to all our blogging friends. May 2012 be your best year ever!

As we approach a new year many of you love to make new year's resolutions. I have found that most of us break them within the first month but they are fun to make anyway. Here are some for the new year:

* Resolve to keep trying to get our officials paid for their training time.
* Resolve to enlist as many new officials as possible.
* Resolve to have meals provided for all officials.
* Resolve to pass the officials exams.
* Resolve to be more diverse in the new year.

Along with the new year's resolutions are always some prognostications (that usually never come true), but again, they are fun to make. Here we go...

* Prognosticate that the Big 12 men's tennis race will be closer than ever and a dark horse team will emerge as champion.
* A&M will not have a joyous time in their new SEC home in every sport except track.
* UT might actually win 8 games in football in 2012--but its highly doubtful.
* UT might actually find a real quarterback as they roam the country recruiting.
* Baylor will find out how valuable Griffin was and will probably return to reality in 2012.
* OU will go undefeated in the Big 12 football race and play in a BCS bowl.
* Tech will buy stock in a new tortilla factory in Lubbock.
* OSU will suck in 2012 but at least they finished well in 2011.
* TCU will finish at least 3rd in the Big 12 football race.
* Tom Wright won't have to have surgery this year.
* Myron Krueger will cut back on officiating so he can spend more time in College Station.
* Herb Taylor could be close to matrimony in the new year.
* Gary Tolbert will make up four new officiating rules this year.
* Vickie Wright will be sporting a "new look" as an Austin referee.
* Mary Lynn Satur will start an "ex-bunny club" in the Metroplex.
* More pro level officials will quit when they discover they can't make a real living.
* A high profile Metroplex official will get married and two will get divorced.
* Djokovic will win the Grand Slam.
* Nadal will retire.
* A new ITA officials organization will emerge in Texas.
* The officials will wear burnt orange shirts at the men's NJCAA tournament.
* A transgendered man who has now become a woman will rise to the top 10 in the women's ranking.
* Television networks will severely curtail their coverage of women's tennis due to lack of interest and sponsors.
* A different woman will win each of the Grand Slam tournaments.
* There will be a three way tie for #1 in women's tennis at the end of the year.
* There will be some key resignations and retirements in the Texas officiating world.
* We will see more transgendered officials working our tournaments.

Monday, December 26, 2011

How Badly Do We Need An Update?

One of our blog readers recently sent in an email pointing out how badly outdated the USTA and USTA Texas Section websites are in regard to officials. Perhaps if we list them on the blog, they might actually get updated sometime in 2012.

USTA Website (

* When you click on the USTA website and go the "Officials" tab, click on "ITA National Championships" and you will see the last time the material was updated was 10/26/09. Here is a link to the site:

* When you click on the same location as above and then click on "Important Information For All Certified Officials" you will find that the information is how to send in your 2009 Data Card for your 2010 certification and the requirements to attend a 2009 school. Here in the link:

Texas Section Website (

* When you click on "Officials" and then go to "Becoming An Official", there is no mention of Nucula and no mention of the background check requirement in 2010. It also has instructions to send your non-existent data card to the Sectional Chairman. Here is the link:

* When you go to the above listed site and click on "officials" and then click on "FAQ", again there is no mention of the background check. In order to become an official you are instructed to send in your data card or write to Ryan Orner in NYC. Here is the link:

Obviously our officials are on the ball and finding these un-updated sites for our experienced and new officials. Surely someone somewhere could find the time to update these important sites sometime during the past two years...

We must apologize because in the past we have had a blog link on the right side of the blog entitled "Becoming An Official." That link has been removed since it contained such badly outdated material. As soon as the site is updated, we will put the link back on the blog.

If you are a new official or know someone who is beginning as a new official, you can send an email to this blogsite and will immediately send you a document outlining the correct steps that need to be taken in order to become an official.

Hopefully you will find the new information helpful.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas to all my blogging friends. I hope you have the very best Christmas ever--and then God's choicest blessings in the new year to come.

You are kind of like a "tennis family" to me, so my thoughts and prayers are with you all tomorrow on the most special day of the year.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

2012 Exams Now Available

The 2012 OFFICIALS EXAMS (Sectional, Referee, and ITA) are all now available. You can link to them by going to the right side of the blog under "Officials Information Sites" and clicking on "2012 Exams." Remember you need to take your exam before you attend the school.

You can also check out the dates and contact info for the OFFICIALS SCHOOLS by going to the right side of the blog and clicking on "Officials Schools Info."

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Tournament Player? Great New Site Just For You

For those of you who play tournaments and/or leagues on a regular basis, the USTA has come out with a great new tool just for you--your own personalized USTA page. Its complete with your name, USTA number, ranking, and all the tournaments are at your fingertips... What more could you ask for?

BTW, they also include a place where you can look up another player and their ranking with very little effort.

Why not get started now with your own home page--just click on the link below and its all yours.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Training Needs To Be Refined--Not Lengthened

And welcome to the world of tennis officiating!

It seems that the topic of training is on everyone's lips these days--and rightfully so. We all hear horror stories of something some official has done somewhere and we just shake our heads and hope it gets better. A cancer never gets better on its own and horror stories will keep happening unless we take specific, positive steps to help with the problem.

Unfortunately, a lot of people think that the cure is MORE AND LONGER TRAINING SESSIONS for new officials. One of the drawbacks to this approach is that a lot of the horror stories are coming from experienced officials! A few years ago we had a training session for instructors and the guy who taught the class said, "The issue isn't lack of knowledge, it is lack of personal skills." And therein lies the truth behind our statement that training needs to be REFINED instead of lengthened...

We already require all officials to attend an officials school and take a test to be certified so it is doubtful that we need to pile on more classes and tests. The vast majority of horror stories do not come from lack of knowledge, they come from lack of personal skills and training in human interaction. Here are a few suggestions and thoughts for us to ponder:

* Continue the shadowing program for all new officials. Be sure they are being trained by a good, experienced official and not someone who just wants to get it over with as soon as possible.

* Find some monies to pay people during their shadowing time. After all, they are certified officials and all corporations pay their people during training. The USTA and Texas Section certainly do not suffer from lack of money--now it just needs to be focused on the right areas.

* Refine the training to include the following:

1. Anger management focusing on how to deal with angry people and maybe even anger
issues within ourselves.
2. Self-image and specifically the official's self-image and how it affects their performance.
3. Human interaction. Involves learning how to recognize personality traits in people (such
as parents, players, and spectators, and then how to work with those traits.
4. Ego control. Seems like a lot of problems arise because the official's ego gets in the way
and then control and confrontation take over. Many of the problems we encounter come
about because of uncontrolled egos on the court.

* Require remedial training (especially in the above mentioned areas) for officials who are constantly written up and having complaints filed against them.

* Expand the educational horizon for our officials. Develop a good reading list of books that deal with these human issues as well as internet programs that help develop good people. Then make sure we all read and watch and learn.

These are just a few thoughts and suggestions. We would welcome more...

Monday, December 12, 2011

Its Time For Training--NOW

* A female official in the Metroplex stood at the net in a USTA tournament match and watched a male player throw his racket from the service line to the fence and said, "This is your warning. If you do that again I am going to code you."

* A male official in the Metroplex was officiating in a USTA tournament match between two men's doubles teams. On match point, team A hit the ball into team B's court. Team B considered the ball good and played the point. After the point was over, the official walked into the court and said, "the ball was out. Game, set, and match" even after all four players agreed the ball was good and noone had even questioned the call.

* An experienced official (not in the Metroplex) was standing at the net post in a major adult USTA tournament. The official clearly observed an incorrect call but did nothing. When questioned about his failure to overrule, he said, "I clearly saw the erroneous call but I was going to make the player ask me to do something before I was going to overrule."

These are just a few examples of our pressing need for better and perhaps more intense training. We have given some thoughts (and ways to pay for it) but apparently the time has come to find the money to pay for more officiating. Our previous blog post gives a concrete method for finding at least $10,000 to help pay for training and I'm sure there are others. We spend thousands of dollars sending evaluators around Texas when perhaps that money could be better spent on training.

The most highly trained officials we have are our REFEREES. Why not find them some money to help with training and let them train the new officials in their own areas. We don't have to import trainers and pay all those expenses when we have the best trainers right here with us--the ones who do the hiring and firing. They have the experience--now let's enable them to do the training...

The responsibility for developing and funding this lies squarely with our Sectional Chairman. At least he has authorized paying for some officials' training parts of Texas--and that's a good step but if its available for one part of the state, then it should be available for everyone.

Now let's see a better developed plan and program to help with our training...

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Let's Do The Math

One of the ways you discover creative methods of growth is to delve into the realm of the hypothetical--so here we go...

Let's us say "hypothetically" that we are going to establish a TRAINING GRANT to accumulate money to fund training around the state of Texas. These training programs would be in addition to the annual officials school that each official is required to attend, and in most cases for an experienced official, would be optional for an official to attend. The training would be a requirement only after a local association has deemed it so.

Note: This specialized on-court training would also be a good training school for officials who need refreshing and/or have had complaints filed against them.

Note: It might work best if there were a Texas Section Training Coordinator who would be responsible for coordinating the training efforts throughout the state. This person would also be responsible for submitting the pay vouchers for the trainers.

Back to the discussion of the TRAINING GRANT, and specifically how to fund it. One hypothetical idea would be the following:

* Use any leftover money in the officials budget of the Texas Section. This usually is at least $2,500 annually.

* Cut the officials committee back to one meeting (the annual Texas Section meeting when all other committees meet) per year. Require that any other meetings be done by conference call, email, or internet meeting programs.

* Here is the approximate amount of money that would be gained by this new policy. (Remember that travel expenses to meetings are not included in the officials section of the Texas Section budget).

18 officials (average number who attend the semi-annual meeting)
$300 average amount spent on each official including meals, mileage, hotel, and transportation.
$5,400 Amount of money to be gained by deleting the semi-annual officials committee meeting.


$5,400 Money to be gained by deleting the semi-annual officials committee meeting.
$2,000 Money to be gained by deleting ad hoc committee meetings.
$2,500 Amount of excess money in the Texas Section budget.

$9,900 Amount of money available with these changes.

What that means is that there would be 550 HOURS OF PAID TRAINING IMMEDIATELY AVAILABLE (at $18/hour for the trainers).

Note: With these changes, the trainers could be paid for their efforts (that they are currently doing for free) and there would be a much larger number of trainers available. With that amount of money available for training, we could easily increase the training programs throughout the state without any additional budgeting.

Just a HYPOTHETICAL THOUGHT for the day. We would welcome yours...

Thursday, December 08, 2011

Some Thoughts About The Issue of Training

As we get closer and closer to the time for officials schools, we also seem to intensify the debate about training--and this year it is focused on roving training. Seems like numerous TD's feel that Texas officials are weak in the area of roving and are calling for yet more training. At the recent TD-Referee Texas Section Workshop in Dallas there was much discussion about the need for more roving training in the state.

Since we hear from people all over the country, let me make a few suggestions about how to help in this situation.

Be sure to remember that these are just suggestions and we are more than open to hearing anyone's helpful suggestions concerning the area of rover training.

* Have each instructor pay special attention to roving (and subsequent questions) in the instructors' school. Most officials know the rules and have already taken the tests, why not spend a bit more time going over roving and chair procedures and leave time for questions and answers.

* Utilize the resources of the larger associations. All of the larger associations have well-developed and well-thought out training programs. They would be glad to share--just ask.

* Establish at Texas Section grant designed specifically for on-court training of officials. Even though many of our larger associations have well-developed training programs, the vast majority of Texas goes without any specific program for training. This grant money could also be used in the larger areas to pay the instructors who do the training. Currently, we ask them to do hours and hours of training without any pay and this is not right.

* How to pay for the grant?
1. Use the money in the officials budget item for the Texas Section. We always have an excess of money in that account and this would be a great way to spend it.
2. Cut the officials committee back to one annual meeting per year. Literally thousands of dollars are spent each year for people to come to the annual meeting, the semi-annual meeting, the ad-hoc committee meetings, and numerous other gatherings. Even though this travel money is not contained in the "Officials" budget line, it is still money being spend on tennis officiating.
3. Closely monitor and supervise monies being spent on the officials item in the Texas Section budget.

* There would be numerous well-qualified officials willing to teach new officials if there was at least some stipend for doing the teaching.

* Require new and older officials who have complaints filed against them to attend one of these training classes. The problems we encounter in Texas are not limited to new officials. New officials are already being required to attend additional training so just limit this training to those who have had complaints filed against them.

* Reaffirm the responsibilities of a referee to those who work in this capacity. Right now the only ITA chair training is offered at Highland Park HS in Dallas--the others get their training by being "taken under the wing" of an experienced official who trains them. A good referee always knows how to teach their new officials so they can quickly gain experience.

* Remember that the best training is always hands-on training. We can teach principles and technique all we want in a classroom but noone really makes it work until they are on the court working. The place for this is not "tacked on" to the instructors' school. Make a special time just for this training.

* Pay those who are in training. Remember that we are dealing with certified officials and they need to be paid during their training time. Again--establish a GRANT and then use that money to supplement their pay and that of their instructor.

These are just a few suggestions. We would welcome yours...

Wednesday, December 07, 2011

A Few Random Football Pictures

Pretty well sums up the season in Austin...

The Sooners are going somewhere but its sure not to a BCS bowl.

LSU Tiger is ready to roar again.

At least the Fiesta Bowl is better than nothing.

And we thought 10 points would beat LSU...
Traded in TCU for SMU...

Found out the Big 10 is better than they thought.

All Ohio State has left are some buckeyes and a new coach.

Interesting thought...

At least the Bears won more than they ever have...

Eating was about the only enjoyable thing in College Station this year.

A word of advice to Baylor.

Tuesday, December 06, 2011

And We Think It Only Happens In Texas

Printed below is an article on Zoo Tennis written by Colette Lewis describing some events at the Orange Bowl. You can read more at this site:

And to think some people complain about officials in Texas--just read this story:

I've seen a lot of tennis matches in my ten years on the junior circuit, but today was the first time I'd seen a chair umpire call a let but not order the point on which the let was called replayed.

That it happened on match point in American Mackenzie McDonald's 8 a.m. match with No. 7 seed and Eddie Herr finalist Patrick Ofner of Austria made the call more than just a novelty.

McDonald was up a break in the final set at 4-3, but lost that advantage in the next game and Ofner held for 5-4. Serving in the next game, McDonald saved two match points, and also was required to replay a point after he had hit a winner, when the chair umpire called a let from a ball rolling over from the adjacent court. McDonald won the replayed point in that instance, and after two more deuces, held for 5-5. Ofner held for 6-5, and McDonald called for the trainer at the changeover, who stretched him out on a nearby bench, but the delay was brief.

Serving at 5-6, McDonald won the first point with Ofner missing an overhead, but the 16-year-old Californian double faulted and made two forehand errors to give Ofner two more match points.

After a short return from Ofner, McDonald wound up to hit a forehand, a ball bounced over from the next court, and the chair umpire loudly called "let." McDonald went back to collect the balls to serve again, when Ofner circled a mark just beyond the baseline. The chair umpire bounded down to look at it, put his finger up to signal out, and called game, set and match.

The several dozen spectators, most of the them admittedly friends and supporters of McDonald, but also college coaches and others with more objectivity, were stunned for a moment, but then began yelling "you called a let." McDonald himself said that several times to the chair umpire, who didn't deny calling the let. He asked if McDonald wanted to call the tournament referee, and McDonald said he wasn't leaving the court, so the chair used his walkie talkie to call, not the tournament referee, but an assistant. There was a short conversation between the assistant and the chair, which wasn't audible to those of us in the stands on the other side of the court, but according to McDonald there was no discussion of the reason why the point wasn't replayed when the assistant referee came onto the court.

"[The assistant referee] just said he was going to do what the umpire said because he didn't see it," said McDonald. "I guess the umpire said I hit the ball before he called the let, which I disagree with and the whole crowd seemed to disagree with too."

Eventually McDonald accepted the decision, and shook hands with Ofner, but the crowd's boos, extremely rare in junior tennis, reverberated for some time after.

2012 Officials Schools Schedule & Information

Now that we have all had a good time discussing the pay and meal arrangements in the Metroplex, it is time to shift our focus to the OFFICIALS SCHOOLS in 2012. The Texas Section Coordinator, Kevin Foster, has announced the schools schedule so we wanted to get that information to you as soon as possible.

NOTE: You will need to take your tests before you attend the school and they will be posted on this blog as soon as they are available. You will also need to REGISTER for your school online and in advance. You can do so by clicking on "Schools Registration Link" on the upper right section of the blog. You can always check for schools information by clicking on "Officials Schools" on the upper right section of the blog.

2012 Officials Schools Schedule

DFW - National School

Jan. 14-15

Nancy Ebersole

Hill Country – Boerne*

Jan. 14

Carol Bruehler


Jan. 14

Trevor Edgemon


Jan. 14

Marta Hotz

College Station

Jan. 21

Gordon Brynildsen

Houston- National School

Jan 21-22

Nancy Vivero

San Angelo

Jan. 21

Courtney Nagel


Jan. 28

Allen Prachyl


Jan. 28

Ralph Martin


Jan. 28

Millard Countryman


Feb. 4

Janet Smith


Feb. 4

Mike Flynn


Feb. 18

Bert Rainwater

Wichita Falls

Feb. 25

Bobby Haggerman

San Antonio

Mar 10-11

Tippy Garza


Apr. 28

Al Trevino


May. 5

Jane Hammond


May. 13

Randy McDonald

Monday, December 05, 2011

New MTOA Board Members & Policies

In last night's meeting, the Metroplex Tennis Officials Association elected five new board members and then the board selected the officers for 2012.

The new board members added were:

Susan Wertenberger
Nancy Ebersole
Gary Tolbert
Larry Gendron
Stephanie Burnam

The new officers for 2012 are:

President: Nancy King
Vice President: Susan Wertenberger
Secretary: Roz Tuerk
Treasurer: Randall Edwards

The board also discussed various issues with the issue of tournaments providing meals for officials occupying the majority of the discussion. The board finally came up with this policy:

"A tournament is responsible for providing meals for officials. If they choose not to, then the official may leave their site for a reasonable time period to secure and pay for their own meal. They will be paid for this time."

This new policy is to be followed by all tournaments and enforced by the referee. If the referee does not secure the cooperation of the tournament, then it is their responsibility to notify all officials who will be working of this change in policy and procedure.

Friday, December 02, 2011

Time To Consider The Cost of Living During Budget Time

Just watch the gas prices rise and rise...

Remember most of us have kids (and grandkids) who always need money...

This is the time of year when all associations in our larger cities begin to think and rethink their pay scales for the coming year--and its a discussion well worth having...

With the sky-rocketing cost of living, we as officials need to take a long look at our pay scales but we also need to temper our discussions with reality. The reality is that gas prices (and everything else) are going up but the number of participants in tournaments is going down. Tournament directors will quickly tell us that they can't afford for us to raise our rates but many of them have no problems raising their entry fees to cover inflation.

So--here are some thoughts to consider in our discussions:

* The rising price of gas. Everyone knows it takes gasoline to get us where we are going and some areas haven't raised their rates in years.

* Some large associations (such as the Dallas Tennis Association and the Ft. Worth Tennis Association) have quit providing meals (which has been a requirement since the beginning of time in the Metroplex) in order to save money. The TD's saving money on our backs isn't the right answer... Higher rates should be charged for those tournaments that do not provide meals.

* We need to consider the costs involved in tournaments with less than 50 participants and adjust accordingly.

* Conversely, we need to consider the amounts of money taken in when a tournament charges large entry fees.

* Consider the amount of money paid football and basketball officials in UIL events. Tennis officials are way down the scale but many times we are asked to do a dual match with one official for 19 matches.

* When considering ITA fees, the answer is probably not to lower our fees but lower the number of officials on a match. The rate should probably be increased for those schools who do not provide mileage.

* The current rate structure in the Metroplex is $18/hour for the referee with an 8 hour minimum and $15/hour for the umpires with a 6 hour minimum. Meals are to be provided. This seems to be the gauging standard around the state--but probably needs to be raised in 2012.

* Consider the cost involved in attending an annual school as well as the cost of officials' equipment. Even though these are tax deductions, they still come out of our pocket.

These are just a few random thoughts at this budget-preparing time of year. We would welcome yours...