Monday, September 30, 2013

Singles Sticks And Obamacare: What Do They Have In Common?


Sometimes there are decisions that are made in our tennis world that correspond in an eerie sort of way with the federal government.  That should be a thought that gets your juices flowing on this Monday morning...

Seems that the Texas Section Junior Council has mandated that all junior tournaments at the super-champ level must have singles sticks for all matches beginning in 2014.  While this is an admirable thought and most definitely prepares our young charges for Wimbledon, let's stop and consider the issue a bit more fully.

As a tournament director considers this directive and how to implement it, he/she must first decide if they want the homemade version from Home Depot made out of wood and in their garage on a Saturday afternon.  Average cost would be about $1.50 to $2.00 per stick.  (Labor not included.)  If they wish to get the good and durable metal versions the cheapest price around is about $15 per set.

Since the average tournament has at least 300-400 entries, and large associations like Dallas, Fort Worth, Houston, and Austin use numerous sites and tons of courts, the cost is going to be prohibitive whichever way you go.  In Austin alone they will need 100 sets of sticks and that probably means an expenditure of about $1,500.  Even to a prosperous tournament director that is a lot of money!

Since Obamacare and this recent mandate share the same concept of someone else paying for it and using someone else's money, here are some solutions:


Have the junior tennis council allocate enough money in their budget to pay for all the singles sticks throughout Texas.  Each tournament director would be able to submit the number of sticks they would need and then receive a check by January 1, 2014.  They would also need an additional 25% to cover lost and broken sticks since they will be used at sites all over the state and probably never returned.  Only tennis/country clubs can adequately oversee a bunch of singles sticks.


Require each junior singles player purchase a set of high quality metal singles sticks and bring them to their matches.  If both players failed to bring their sticks then they both would be defaulted and the tournament would keep their entry fees.  This would make for fewer matches and tournaments that finish more quickly. Of course the junior council would need to allocate some budget money to pay for counseling for the irate parents of said children.


Require the tennis officials to pick up the sticks for their locations and then have them return the sticks at the end of the day.  The official would also have to leave a $100 deposit when they picked up their sticks for the day.  The official would be responsible for paying for any broken or lost sticks and that amount would be deducted from their pay or their cash deposit.


Designate a specific person for each tournament to be in charge of singles sticks.  Give them a $500 cash allowance to purchase new sticks to replace the broken and bent ones and the lost ones.  They will be permitted to keep any monies they do not spend but must be sure that the tournament has singles sticks that are in good condition.  Give them full authority to default any player who does damage to their sticks or to code any parent who bends or breaks a stick in a fit of anger.  They would also be responsible for returning all the sticks to the tournament director's office at the end of the tournament.  Their title would be:  "Most Honored Singles Stick Person"


Chunk the whole mandate and give it a little more thought before making it a mandate.  There are a whole lot of gaps that need to be filled in before something like this is required.

SPECIAL NOTE:  Please remember that these solutions are made in jest so don't get all bent out of shape.  It is, however, time to give a little more seasoned thought to this issue so the tournament directors are protected financially.

Sunday, September 29, 2013

How Would You Rule?

Some of our readers sent in these two interesting scenarios.  Everyone is welcome to share their views and rulings in the comments section.


In a Division I men's singles match, player A asks for a Medical Time Out.  His player comes to the bench, the trainer begins evaluation/treatment, and the official begins his stopwatch.  Then, player B motions for his trainer to come to the court.  The trainer then begins treatment on player B while player A is also receiving treatment.  At the end of the three minutes the official announces, "Time" and both trainers leave the court.

Who is charged with an MTO/point penalty?  Player A?  Both players?  Can player B have an  MTO later in the match?


In the 3rd game of the 2nd set, players realize they have served out of turn.

Player A had served the first two games of the second set.  The third game with player B serving is complete when the error is discovered.

What do you do?

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Special Post Modified for September 25, 2013

I had every intention of posting a lawsuit filed by a female official in the Pacific Northwest Section but after learning that one of the persons named in the lawsuit took his own life this past weekend, that article will not be published in its complete form on this site.  There are two links at the bottom of this post that give a great deal of information about the lawsuit but out of respect for Perry Hines' family I will not give credibility to this lawsuit.

Instead, I would ask that each of us remember Perry's family in our thoughts and prayers during this most difficult time in their lives.  He was part of our officials' family and will be remembered and missed by many friends and loved ones.


Learning To Carry A Tire

After looking at the picture above I imagine that many of you would say, "There's no way that I could ever do that!"  And you're probably right....

However, that's kind of the way that a lot of new officials look at us when they climb up into the chair to do their first match.  Fear, trembling, apprehension, sweat, tears and many other emotions are typical--but they are also part of the learning process.

Noone just jumps up into a chair and does a perfect job--even those teaching pros and 5.0 players that think they know it all.  It takes study, time, study--and lots of practice in order to do a good chair.  One of the most difficult things in training is to find the right balance between learning the rules and actual experience.  Its kind of like the chicken and the egg argument--you can't separate the two.

We all hear horror stories from around the state of mistakes and blunders made by all officials.  When its really a grievous error we hear the cry for "more teaching" as soon as the tournament finishes.  The only problem is that the vast majority of officials have a very good grasp and understanding of the rules--they are mainly lacking in actual experience.  Its similar to someone telling you all the facts about how to swim but you never really learn to do it until they pitch you into the water...

In Texas, I would venture to say that we do a fairly good job of teaching the rules and regulations of tennis but perhaps we are lacking in on-court experience.  There's nothing wrong with letting a new official "shadow" an experienced official and its usually the best way to get them started--but at some point we need to let them loose and learn to swim on their own.  The only problem is that a lot of parents, spectators, and coaches aren't willing to give them time to learn...   Let me share a few basic observations and then open it for your comments and discussion.

*  A good official must have a strong understanding and knowledge of the rules.  This has been diluted with the open book tests and lack of accountability.  When a person knew he/she had to pass a test or they wouldn't be certified, the learning level was much higher.

*  There is no substitute for on-court experience.  Learning may come sooner for some than others but we are all on a "learning path" when we go on the court.  Just when we think we have seen it all--we discover that we haven't.

*  Maybe there needs to be more training in the psychological arena.  Things such as learning personality types and how to deal with them; anger management and how to recognize it and cope with it; overbearing and dominant parents and what to do with them are just a few important areas in which we all need training.

*  As shown by events this summer, we need training in how to deal with a physically threatening individual, how to diffuse an explosive situation, and how to maintain control in a difficult arena.

*  There needs to be a good understanding of the different personality types among officials.  Not everyone is a type A or type B and its imperative that we learn how to work with each other more effectively.  Becoming "comfortable in your own skin" goes a long way toward a person becoming a good official.

We would welcome your thoughts and ideas of how to improve both our teaching and training here in Texas...

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Kudos To The DTA Grievance Committee For Getting It Right

"I'm on duty this morning and just wanted to be sure there weren't any cell phones flying through the air."


The Dallas Tennis Association's Grievance Committee met this week and formally suspended the tournament player who threw the official's cell phone "a considerable distance."  You can read all about it in a previous post on August 30, 2013.  After hearing of the incident we checked with numerous witnesses and confirmed that the official's account of the incident was accurate and true.  There were more salacious details offered by those who were there but suffice it to say, the issue has been handled.

Our congratulations to them for doing the right thing and suspending him from any and all activities of the DTA for a year.  Your decision is much-appreciated by officials everywhere.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Really? Is It Worth Saving The Cost of a Subway Meal?

A few years ago three of our MTOA referees took it upon themselves to undo years of MTOA policy and permit a tournament director to stop providing meals for officials.  Since that time there have been numerous discussions in our board meetings about this issue and the current policy is:

"Meals provided by the tournament enable the officials to remain on site for their full shift. In cases where they are not provided, officials may leave their site to obtain food as needed."

That basically means that if a tournament director does not provide meals then the official may leave the site to go purchase a meal at their own expense.  That also means that the site is left unattended while the official is gone...

I am not looking to get into a debate over whether meals should be provided or not because they are ALWAYS provided when I am the referee or the tournament gives the official an additional $10 for their meal.  I do find it interesting that in every case the tournament director is more than happy to take care of their officials.  This post is to point out what happens when a site is unattended when a tournament director is trying to save the cost of a Subway meal but not providing meals for the officials...

In a recent ZAT tournament in the Metroplex the official had left to go get their lunch.  During that time, a white mother accosted a black father and loudly accused him of cheating and coaching.  The black father told the white mother to "f__k off" and the white mother left and soon returned with her white husband to settle things with the black father.  A loud and abusive argument subsequently took place with no official on hand and a site director who was 18 and too young to do anything.

So, let me ask the question again, "Was it worth saving the cost of a Subway meal?"

Maybe those referees should have thought through the issue more thoroughly before they ignored MTOA policy.

Note:  When the official returned to the site, the site director told him about the confrontation but there was nothing that could be done at that point.  The tournament director then appeared--with a lunch in hand for the site director...

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Explanation of "One Ad" Scoring

Since we posted our previous post I have had numerous requests for an explanation of one-ad scoring.

Here is the best explanation as given to me by my illustrious boy son:

If game goes to deuce, whichever player/team wins deuce point will then have the advantage. If ad point is not won by team that won the first deuce point, the following deuce then becomes game point with receiver's choice of court.

2014 Experimental ITA Rule Changes

The ITA Division I Operating Committee held a highly-focused conference call and after a great deal of vigorous discussion, the committee voted to mandate experimentation in the winter of 2014 (January/February) with a new dual meet format that will represent a dynamic change from the current team format. The new ITA format will be time sensitive (under three hours), but still emphasize the importance of doubles in the college team match. The following is the ITA dual meet format for experimentation:

The dual meet will consist of three doubles matches played first (worth a total of one point), followed by six singles matches, each individual match worth a point. Four points are required to win the team match.

The three doubles matches will each consist of one set to 6, with one-ad scoring and a tie-breaker at 5-all.  Once a team has won two doubles matches, the remaining doubles match will stop (NB. this "clinch" policy is the current rule in the ITA National Indoor Team Championships and the NCAA Team Championships).

Six singles matches will follow the doubles, each singles match two out of three sets, with each set using one-ad scoring, and a tie-breaker at 5 all.

Once four points have been reached ("clinching" the team match), the remaining matches shall not be completed (as in the doubles point, this "clinch" policy is the current rule in the ITA Indoor Team Championships and the NCAA Team Championships).

There will be no warm-up against opponent before the first point is played in doubles and singles: players will be expected to warm-up with their own team prior to the scheduled match time (it should be noted that this "no warm-up against opponent" rule is tentative: a final decision about this will be made by the ITA Operating Committee at its annual meeting this December).

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Referees: Great New Way To Do Code Violation Reports

To say that tennis officials are creative would be an understatement--and especially in Austin.  Printed below is a link to a great new tool for referees and officials to do the paperwork on code violations in USTA tournaments.

The form is being used in Austin quite effectively and they have graciously consented to share it with officials everywhere.  When an official fills in all the information for a code violation and then submits the form, it will go directly to the tournament referee (the referee's email address must be filled in on the form).  This means the referee can just group together the forms and email them to the Texas Section office and be spared all the hand-written paperwork.

Feel free to use this form:

Note:  Please note that there is a link on the blog on the right hand side under "Officials Information Sites" for your convenience in the future.

Monday, September 16, 2013

2014 Chair Academy Enlisting Begins Now

Chair Academy training begins in May!

One of the practical requirements for a good CHAIR ACADEMY always begin with a successful enlistment campaign--and that begins now for the 2014 TEXAS SECTION CHAIR ACADEMY.  Our Academy is widely recognized as the best in the country and is open to any and all Texas officials that qualify.  Below is the vital information and if you are interested in attending, please let us know as soon as possible.  All local coordinators in Texas will be contacted for their recommendations so you might also contact them if you are interested in attending.

Date:  May 11-13, 2014

Location:  Collin College in Plano, Texas in conjunction with the men's National Junior College Tournament

*  Must be a USTA and ITA certified official.
*  Chair experience is helpful but not required.
*  Must have the recommendation of your local coordinator.
*  Open to all Texas officials.

What is provided:
*  Noon meals and supper on May 12.
*  Lodging in a double occupancy room.
*  $50 travel stipend if traveling over 50 miles.
*  NJCAA tournament shirt and cap.

What is not provided:
*  There is no pay for the tournament since this is a training opportunity.

The Chair Academy is an invaluable tool to advancing in pro and collegiate chair work so if you are interested, please contact me as soon as possible.  This year's Academy will be limited to 16 participants so be sure to sign up real soon!


Randy McDonald
214 796 7402

Saturday, September 14, 2013

How Would You Rule? Net questions...

These are a couple of really good scenarios from an ITA tournament in Belton this weekend.


In a singles match with singles sticks, the player hits a groundstroke that hits the top of the net between the net post and singles stick and then goes in.

Is the ball good or does the player lose the point?


In a singles match with singles sticks, the player runs up to the net to hit a short ball.  He then returns the ball for a winner but while it is still in play he runs into the net and net post outside of the singles stick.

Does he lose or win the point?

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Go Git 'Em Lois!


Be sure to check out the article below.  Now that charges have been dropped Lois Goodman is going after the ones who did her wrong.

My only advice would be, "Go git 'em, Lois!"

Monday, September 09, 2013

Its Time For A Rate Increase

There are a lot of considerations that go into a statement, "its time for a rate increase" and some of them are:

*  The cost of gasoline.  (Now at $3.50-$3.75 per gallon)
*  The frequency of rate increases.  It has been at least 5 years since our last rate increase.
*  The cost of tolls to get to tournaments. 
*  Being competitive with other major cities and their rates.

The current rate for the MTOA is $18/hour for the referee with an 8 hour minimum and $15/hour for the umpires with a 6 hour minimum.  The Houston Association just raised their rates to $19/hour for the referee and $16/hour for the umpires so its time for the MTOA to raise their rates. 

Considering today's economy a rate increase is totally feasible.  Gas prices have increased tremendously since our last rate increase and toll roads are everywhere in the Metroplex so that increases our costs considerably.

After our last increase some of our referees permitted tournament directors to quit providing meals for the officials as a way of off-setting our fees.  Basically, it was their sedate way of getting even with the officials for raising their rates.  We did implement a new policy that if meals aren't provided then the official can leave the site to go and get their own meals but the bottom line is still the same--we are paying for meals and violating a policy that has been in effect since the beginning of the MTOA.  More on this issue will be coming soon...

As a board member I will be making the following recommendation for a pay increase at our next board meeting:

Referee:  $20/hour with an 8 hour minimum
Umpires:  $17/hour with a 6 hour minimum. 

We would welcome your thoughts and comments on this issue.

Tuesday, September 03, 2013

Praying For Our Family

The tennis officials' family is a fairly close-knit group and we are always good about supporting our family members when they have special needs.

We need to pray for RICK GABEL'S (Austin) MOM who has lymphoma.  She is currently undergoing chemotherapy in Ohio and doing well.  Rick was in Ohio this past weekend and will be returning home today.

VICKIE WRIGHT'S (Austin) BROTHER is gravely ill with numerous health issues in Florida.  Vickie is traveling to Florida today to be with him so I know she would appreciate your prayers.

Please remember to pray for JUDY WEST (Waco) after the passing of her husband, Bernie.

Continue to pray for MILLARD COUNTRYMAN as he is recovering from a stoke in Tyler, Texas.

If you have any special requests or needs we would be glad to share them with our "family."  Just send them to me or put them in the comments section.