Tuesday, December 15, 2015

How To Make "Training Workshops" Work And Not Become A Fiasco

Social interaction and bonding is the key to success!

After reading through the information put out by the USTA for the new certification requirements and introduction of "training workshops" I am cautiously optimistic that it might work but realistically unsure about effectiveness.

First of all, the "training workshops" are not required of officials but will be offered on a sectional basis--and we all know full well that officials don't attend much of anything if its not required.  We are promised a fleet of instructors but the bottom line is that they may be instructing an empty room.

Surely the USTA can come up with a more well thought out plan to implement these new changes.  Many of the instructional materials aren't even ready and some won't be available until 2017!  What kind of effective business in America changes the entire certification process of their workforce and then not present a finished product to implement that change?  None.

The online testing is a much welcome and needed change and should be effective but there's a lot more to officiating than just knowing a bunch of rules.  We have to find ways to instruct our officials in anger management, handing disruptive people, learning how to work with other officials, communication, and simply learning how to implement the rules they know.  That won't and can't be done on an internet testing program...

Theoretically the "training workshops" are a great idea--if and only if you can get people to attend them.  Just having instructors ready and waiting isn't going to cut it--YOU HAVE TO HAVE PERSONALIZED CONTACT IN ORDER TO GET PERSONAL ATTENDANCE...

Here are some suggestions:

*  Make sure there is a specific coordinator in every localized area of the state.  Be sure to get someone who is committed to growing their area and all of their officials.

*  Have the coordinator appoint a person who is specifically asked to grow the training workshops.

*  Focus on "one on one" enlistment.  When people feel wanted they will come.  Call them, write them, encourage them, and let them know they are important to the officials family!

*  Learn to use "social gatherings" to grow the group.  Its much more than just announcing a "come and drink/eat party"--it involves personal involvement to encourage people to come, learn, and share.

*  Use social media, texts, and emails to keep all officials well informed.  Once we get officials certified we usually pitch them out there to learn on their own.  Its time to be sure they know where to work, how to get hired, and what they need to do when they get to work.

*  Use "officials teams" made up of two or more officials to meet together regularly and share their experiences together.  This sharing teaches new officials more than any class ever could.

*  Most of all--DEVELOP A SENSE OF FAMILY among your area's officials.  Make them feel welcome, needed, and appreciated and then you'll see the training workshops grow and new officials begging to come and join us!

These are just a few thoughts about the upcoming changes.  We would welcome your thoughts and comments...

Monday, December 14, 2015

Follow Up To Blog Post About Attack on Officials

Ex-Coach Mack Breed

We originally did a blog post on September 15, 2015, about the attack on a football official by two players who were encouraged to do so by their coach.  Here is a link to an article today sharing the outcome of the coach's trial.

Congratulations to our legal system for working.  Perhaps he got off a little light but at least some legal action was taken.


"Former John Jay (San Antonio) assistant football coach Mack Breed has been sentenced on misdemeanor assault charges in a plea agreement with the Burnet County (Texas) Attorney’s Office for his role in two Jay players blindsiding official Robert Watts during a Sept. 4 against Marble Falls.
According to a statement from the Burnet County Attorney’s Office, Breed turned himself in to Marble Falls police on Monday after a warrant was issued for his arrest. Breed pled guilty and was sentenced to 12 months in county jail and a $3,500 fine, but the sentence was suspended and he was placed on probation for 18 months and will be required to permanently surrender his Texas Teaching Certificate, complete an anger management program, perform 120 hours community service, and pay restitution to Watts.
The charge was assault causing bodily injury, a Class A misdemeanor.
The attorney’s office said charges against the two players — Michael Moreno and Victor Rojas — are expected to be filed shortly. The statement said assault and aggravated assault are under consideration. Because Moreno is older than 17, any charges will be handled by the adult criminal system. Misdemeanor or felony charges against Rojas would be held in juvenile court. The statement from the county attorney did not name Rojas because he is a minor.
Rojas and Moreno are both serving 75 days in the district’s alternative school for their role in the incident. Jesse Hernandez, who represents both players, was unavailable for comment.
Breed initially told the school principal that he instructed the players to hit the official but later recanted in a statement given to the school district’s human resources department. In the second statement, Breed wrote that he took the blame to protect the two players from being expelled from school. Breed resigned from his position Sept. 23."

Sunday, December 13, 2015

2016 Certification Requirements, Clothing Information, & Friend at Court Information

Everyone in our officials world have been wondering about the new certification requirements and they have finally come out with at least some of the details.  Listed below is the latest edict concerning education, certification, clothing, and Friend at Court Information.

SPECIAL NOTE:  Be sure to notice that under the "Clothing" information that there is a link to the apparel guidelines.  There is also a link to order USTA clothing on the upper right hand side of the blog.

Online Courses
Over the next two years, we will be replacing traditional USTA in-person certification schools with online education modules.  We have partnered with the USTA Learning and Development Department and E-Path to develop these online modules, which will be rolled out as they are completed.  
In the past, the USTA National and Sectional TEs held 1-2 day in person training schools.  The online modules are more convenient, allowing Officials to complete them at any time and at their own pace.  They are cost effective for both the Sections and the Official.  In addition, the teachings are consistent regardless of where the Officials are located.
By delivering the education via online, the USTA Sections can now use the resources that were allotted to National Schools to conduct specialized and localized officiating training.  In-person training can focus on putting Officials in the field and enhancing their skills (more on that below). 
The modules being developed and their projected completion dates are:

In-Person Sectional Training
By moving the initial training to more robust and consistent online modules, we can now take the in-person training to a new level. The new approach will allow the Sections to maximize the funds allocated to training Officials by holding training workshops for specific disciplines.   Based on the officiating training needs of the Section, they will have the power to decide when, where and for which discipline to hold trainings in.
The in-person training workshops are being developed with the help of the USTA Learning and Leadership Development Staff and Subject Matter Experts for each officiating discipline. The USTA will provide training materials for each course. Through an application process we will identify, train and approve Officials to teach specific workshops across the country.  By the end of the process, we will have a network of trainers that will be locally available to all Sections.  


In an effort to have a National Standard, USTA Officiating is focusing more time on the requirements a person must complete before becoming a Certified Official.  This will ensure consistency and more than adequate training before a provisional Official goes on court.  This will help Sections focus further training on these Officials as they progress in their disciplines.  The three basic requirements to become an Official have been slightly modified to reflect the new online modules:
1.     Be a USTA Member.
2.     Complete the online Safe Play Training, which includes passing a criminal background check.
3.     Complete the Introduction to Officiating, Rules and Regulations modules, and Roving Umpire 1 (once available) to complete the testing requirement for Provisional Certification.
As we previously mentioned the online modules will be available in January. Until they are launched, we ask that you have any of your new recruits go through the SafePlay Training and Background Screening, which in some cases can take 10-business days to complete.  The USTA Officiating Website will have the new 2016 Friend at Court as well as supplemental documents for all Officials to get acquainted with the rules prior to completing the courses.  
In order to maintain their certification, all Certified Officials will be required to complete the following courses by October 1, 2016:
  • Introduction to Officiating
  • Rules and Regulations 1
  • Rules and Regulations 2
  • Rules and Regulations 3
  • Roving Umpire 1
The Sectional Chairpersons will be given access to the names of all Officials who have completed the online modules.  We are in the process of determining how those records are transferred into the individual NUCULA accounts so that Sectional and District Chairpersons can also view the information in NUCULA during the re-certification period.   

Clothing Program
(Be sure to check out the link below to the clothing guide)

We are about to launch the USTA Umpire Clothing Program next week.  This has been a long process, and we appreciate your patience as we worked out all the details.  We are confident that the Officials will be happy with the items we have selected, the website created, and the high customer service level S&H provides. In preparation for the launch, we have also created a clothing guide that includes pricing, size chart, and any additional information about each item. Click here to view the clothing guide. 
As we mentioned before, the roll-out will be tiered.  We have prioritized the Pro Circuit Officials working in January as the first group to receive the link for the Clothing Program Website.  Those Officials will have one week to place their order before the rest of the USTA Certified Officials receive the link.  This will ensure that they will receive their uniform before their first assignment in January. The clothing information and link will then be sent to all Certified Officials on December 16th.  

Friend at Court

We anticipate the Friend at Court to be mailed to all Certified Officials at the end of the month. In preparation for this, we will be pulling the mailing list from NUCULA on December 15th.  Please remind all the Officials in your Section to make sure their mailing address is correctly displayed in NUCULA. Also, remind them that if they are listed as uncertified, they will not receive the 2016 Friend at Court. We appreciate your help in coordinating the mailing.
As you know, the Friend at Court has been revamped.  Some comments, the majority of Regulation VII, and ITA Regulations have been moved online and will be available on the Rules page of the usta.com/officiating website or USTA resources page at http://resources.usta.com/category/usta-rules--regulations .  

Friday, December 11, 2015

The Value of A Local Officials Association

Anytime you recruit a new official you also have to explain all the hoops they need to jump through in order to become a certified official in America--and that's not all bad because we want to have the very best officials in the world.  As new officials begin to wade through the different levels of certification and training they often turn to the local officials associations for their help--and thank goodness they aren't disappointed.

In Texas, there are well organized associations in the larger cities and less structured associations in the smaller cities but they all have a purpose.  Here are some of the good points:

*  They offer specialized training for officials.  In Houston and Dallas there are courses for new officials that help them adjust to their new calling in life as well as specialized training for those who want to go to the pro or collegiate ranks.

*  They offer a good advice resource for new officials.  Its always good to be able to ask questions of more experienced officials.

*  They watch out for officials in the area of pay, hours worked, and other details of the job.  Not all tournaments and tournament directors are nice to officials and will manipulate these areas if possible.

*  They offer a local standard for all officials when it comes to the pay scale and other benefits.

*  They offer a good resource for fellowship among officials.  Becoming "part of the family" is a necessary process for new officials to be happy--and get employment.

*  They take care of all your income tax requirement and do all the appropriate filing for you.  This is important to remember when choosing whom you wish to work for.

*  They make sure that you are paid the local pay rate.  It is the policy of the MTOA not to pay the referee's invoice when they are paying less than the local rate.


We would be remiss if we did not caution officials about referees and tournament directors who by-pass the local associations and offer "special deals" and "special rates" for officials who chose to work for them.  Usually this means they want to ask you to work some of your shift for free and nearly always they will pay you less than the local standards.  Any official who is contacted in this manner should DEFINITELY clarify what they will be paid before agreeing to work for these referees and their tournaments.  I can assure you these these referees and/or tournament directors aren't cutting their rates for anyone.   

ALWAYS REMEMBER that a referee who goes out of the local association will have to do all your W-9 work and you sure don't want that to be done incorrectly (or not at all) when the tax man comes calling.

Just stick with your local association--they have your best interests at heart and are made up of officials just like you...

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Metroplex Tennis Officials Association Elects New Officers

The Metroplex Tennis Officials Association (MTOA) elected new officers at their annual meeting on December 9th.  Here are the new officers for the coming year:

President:  Myron Krueger
Vice-President:  Randy McDonald
Secretary:  Terry Gatzki
Treasurer:  Randall Edwards

Monday, December 07, 2015

Tis The Season For Excuses

As we near the end of the collegiate football and professional seasons we see teams enjoying the ecstasy of victory and the agony of defeat--but this always spills over into their fans.  Sports Illustrated recently published an article naming the New England Patriots fans as the biggest crybabies in the NFL.  Even if you agree or disagree with their findings, its kind of fun to debate the question.

Now that we are approaching the beginning of the collegiate tennis season we are also hearing all the talk about "who will win", "who will lose", "who got the best recruits" and then we also hear all the preemptive excuses about why a team or players might not win.  Here are some of the excuses we frequently hear:

*  The courts were too slow and only pushers win on slow courts.
*  He hits like a girl and I can't play against a guy like that.
*  She must be a man.
*  Their crowd is out of control.
*  The sun was too bright.
*  The wind was blowing.
*  She cheats.
*  The official didn't like me.
*  My coach is inept.
*  My Mother stifled my creative development when I was growing up.
*  My Dad actually wanted me to play football but I am a girl.
*  Everyone knows she's not a 3.0 player.

I thought it might be fun to take a survey of our own.  Check out the poll on the top right and then register your vote.

Hope everyone has a fantastic Christmas...

Saturday, December 05, 2015

Welcome To The World of Public Courts Tennis

Thought I would share my adventure of the day...

SCENARIO:  A foursome of us men were playing doubles on a public court at a city tennis center here in Dallas this morning.  We were on a court that was one of 6 in a row with no fences separating the courts.

We began play at 9:00 a.m. and had the court until 10:30 a.m.  As we began play we noticed that four women went down one court from us.  They were giggling and twittering and obviously looking forward to their upcoming league match that was to begin at 10:30 a.m.  Of course I'm not sure what they were going to do with a 1.5 hour warmup...

About 9:45 a.m. the ladies group had grown to about 14 excited women tennis players.  They had four players warming up on one court and 4 on another--so that left EIGHT WOMEN to warm up on the court next to us--and lo and behold, they actually did it!

To say it was a FIASCO would be an understatement.  They were hitting on the sideline next to our court and we rarely played more than 2 shots without one of their balls coming onto our court...

As we approached 10:30 a.m. (when they would get our court) they begin to loudly ask each other, "How much more time do these men still have left on our court?"  This went on for about 15 minutes before the bewitching hour struck at 10:30 a.m.  We were in the middle of a point when the hour came and 6 indignant women descended onto our court saying, "Your time is up so you need to get off our court."

The greatest miracle of the day was that none of us said a word.  We just grabbed our balls and left...

Welcome to the world of public courts tennis!

Saturday, November 07, 2015

How Would You Rule: Ball Hitting The Roof Indoors

Beautiful new indoor facility at SMU.

We recently got a phone call from a local pro asking for a ruling about a ball hitting the roof of an indoor facility during play.  It gives me a great opportunity to share a picture of the new indoor facility at SMU and also give you an opportunity to share your wisdom about tennis rules.

NOTE:  The following event did not occur at SMU but at a country club facility in Dallas.


In an unofficiated indoor ladies doubles match, team A hits a lob which goes extremely close to the roof and may or may not have hit the roof.  Both teams agree that the contested call happened as the ball was directly above the net so it was not at one end or the other.

Team A says their ball did not hit the roof and Team B says that it did.  

How would you rule and who has the authority to make this call?  Here are your choices:

A.  Team A has the authority to make the call since they hit it and the lob is good so they win the point since Team B stopped play to claim the point.

B.  Team B has the authority to make the call since the ball was coming toward them and they win the point since they say the ball hit the roof.

C.  Play a let since noone can be absolutely sure the ball hit the roof or who has the authority to make the call.

D.  Since both teams were mad and arguing with each other and disrupting play on adjoining courts, default both teams.

Let us know how you would rule...

Monday, November 02, 2015

Interesting Results From Fees Collected For Tournaments That Are Cancelled

We just finished our poll that asked the question about what should be done with entry fees when the tournament is cancelled due to weather.

Here are the results:

71% said that 75% of the entry fee should immediately be refunded to the participant.

21% said that there should be no refund.

7% said that the participant should receive a 50% discount for their entry into the next tournament.

Quite interesting don't you think?

Acupuncture During A Medical Time Out? Legal or not???

I was privileged to do some chairs at the Masters Tournament in Austin this past weekend and came across a scenario that I thought would be perfect for the blog...

Player A takes a medical timeout during his singles final.  During the MTO his wife did acupuncture on his elbow.  She then repeated the procedure during the 10 minute break between the second and third sets.

Here is the rule from the FAC:

Page 111 (E, 4):
4.  Non-treatable medical conditions.  Plays may not receive a medical timeout or treatment any time during a match or a warm-up for the following medical conditions:

c.  Any medication condition requiring injection (other than insulin injection), intravenous infusion, or supplemental oxygen.  A player who receives any injection, intravenous infusion, or supplemental oxygen, except under circumstances specifically authorized by USTA Regulations, shall be immediately defaulted.

The ruling at the tournament was that acupuncture is not an injection and is therefore permitted.

Do you agree or disagree?

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

What Do You Do With A "Same Gender" Doubles Draw???

Married or not, its still men's doubles.

The most recent news coming out of the USTA is that we must now allow "same gender" doubles in our tournaments.  That's all well and good and so politically correct that it is breathtaking.  After all, our goal is life is to always be politically correct isn't it???

With the advent of this new division there are all kinds of questions that come to mind.  Without sounding like an outright bigot, I thought we might want to explore some of these questions before we jump wholeheartedly into this fiasco.  Here are some of the questions:

*  If we are going to have same gender doubles why not call it what we have always called it and that is "men's doubles" and "women's doubles."

*  How are you going to tell same gender doubles entrants that they have to be gay or lesbian and be married to play in this division without being accused of sexual harassment or worse?  They can't be just dating or having sex together--they have to be married just like straight people.

*  Are we going to try to get "same sex married people" to play in the husband/wife divisions?  Can't you just see that happening?  No man/woman married couple is going to stand for having to play two men who are married to each other.

*  If you are going to have "same gender doubles" then you must specify "same gender women's doubles" and "same gender men's doubles" because you sure can't mix the two.

*  We are told not to ask for proof that the teams are married to each other since we don't ask heterosexual couples for proof of their marriage.  That's all well and good but I see some huge problems on the horizon...

*  What do you do with a transgendered person wanting to play same gender doubles with the women?  I guarantee you that two women, whether they be lesbians or straight, are not going to put up with a "former man" playing in their division.

*  There will be a shout of joy among the men when a transgendered person who was formerly a woman wants to play in the men's same gender doubles division.

Now that I have probably offended most of America, here is my suggestion for the whole issue:

Throw the term "same gender doubles" out the window and just play men's and women's doubles.  Noone cares whether you are straight or gay.  Just play the game...

Of course this comes with one special thought and warning:  what are you going to do with the transgendered and in which draw are you going to place them?

That's a question for another day but one that deserves our thought and consideration...

Monday, October 26, 2015

Tournament Get Rained Out? What Should Be Done With Your Entry Fee?

The infamous "vanishing entry fee" after a tournament is cancelled.

I just returned from attending the Texas Section Tournament Director/Referee workshop (which is required for all tournament directors and referees of tournaments where the TD has not attended) and we had an interesting discussion about a prevailing question around the state of Texas:  If a tournament gets cancelled because of weather, what happens to your entry fee?

There is nothing more frustrating to a player or a player's parents to be told after a tournament has been cancelled that the tournament will be keeping their entry fees and there will be no refunds.  To say the least, this is not good for customer relations and customer satisfaction...

The discussion today involved a bunch of TD's and a bunch of referees so it was enlightening to say the least.  Throughout the discussion it was pointed out that the TD/tournament shouldn't lose money but then neither should the entrants see their entry fee simply disappear into the TD's pockets.  Since there was obviously no agreement on what should be done, here are some factors to consider when deciding this issue:

*  How much did the TD pay for balls, awards, and officials.  Of course they can always use the balls and there is no expense for officials if the tournament is cancelled in advance of the start time.  Judging from some of the awards that are given there isn't a lot of money expended on awards these days.

*  How much did the TD pay for renting courts for different sites.  This is a non-issue if the tournament is cancelled because of inclement weather.

*  How much should the TD be reimbursed for his time.

*  What was the amount of the entry fee?  Fees vary greatly throughout the state of Texas.

Here were some of the suggested remedies:

*  The TD should refund 50% of the entry fee to the entrant.

*  The TD should let the entrant enter the next tournament for free.

*  There should be no refund at all.

*  There should be a percentage of the entry fee returned directly to the entrant.  If this happens it would be good if the percentage was the same throughout the state.

*  The entrant should get a 50% discount at the next tournament sponsored by the same TD.

To say there is FOOD FOR THOUGHT would be a vast understatement!  Be sure to take the poll on the upper right of this page so we can check out what people think.

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Welcome To The World Of UIL Tennis

Fall is the time for team tennis in the UIL and things are running fast and furious these days...

Consider the dual match from yesterday.  In UIL dual matches the teams play a total of 19 matches (6 boys singles, 6 girls singles, 3 boys doubles, 3 girls doubles, and 1 mixed doubles) with the first team to reach 10 declared the winner.  Yesterday's match began at 3:45 p.m. and concluded at 9:45 p.m. last night!  Seems that the match began at a site with no lights so when it got dark and they were only at 6-1 in the match, it was time to move to a lighted site--and that takes time!  Congratulations to the official and the site director that made the best of a lengthy situation...

At another match a parent met the official at the gate when he arrived and asked, "Have you measured the nets yet?  I have a great eye and can tell you from here that courts 1 and 2 and 3.5 inches too high and courts 3 and 4 are 2.5 inches too low."  The official graciously listened to the concerned parent and then said he would measure the nets.

In hindsight, I would say make the parent a "junior official" and then encourage the parent to get there early for every match and measure every net in sight...

UIL district tournaments continue this week and then there are area tournaments next week so the excitement and good tennis should continue.

Wednesday, October 07, 2015

Cat Fight City (aka Women's League Tennis)

CAT FIGHTS are a common sight in the feline world.

Sadly, cat fights are all too common on a tennis court.

There are a lot of valuable life experiences that we all have and we should try to learn as much from them as possible but there's one life experience everyone (especially tennis officials) should have before they die--and that is a WOMEN'S LEAGUE TENNIS MATCH!

Every Thursday morning in Dallas,  every court in town is booked for women's tennis and its quite a sight to see!  Arguments about everything under the sun abound on every hand so its no surprise that any experienced officials avoids women's league matches like the plague.  You can stand nearly anywhere in a tennis center and hear the arguments about the score, line calls, and whatever else they can think up.

I'm sure I will catch some heat for publishing this but its time for the women's leagues to clean up their act and quit fussing and feuding like the Hatfields and McCoys...

Monday, September 28, 2015

An Offer Too Good To Refuse

After a plane ride home in the bad weather and an hour long wait for my luggage, its good to be back home from the USTA Texas Sectionals Tournament in glorious Beaumont, Texas.  Our Dallas team had a great run and finished second to the Houston team.  Good luck to the Houston guys when they get to nationals.

After every tournament you can look back and enjoy some of the SPECIAL MOMENTS that you have experienced.  I had a couple that I thought might bring a little humor into our reader's lives...

In our semi-final match with the Beaumont team, we were up 6-1, and 4-1.  The Beaumont team obviously didn't like each other and you could tell there was much internal stress in their doubles relationship.  When the Beaumont player prepared to serve, he asked me the score and I said, "We're up 6-1, and 4-1."  He smiled and said, "Would you settle for 5-0?'  After this OFFER THAT WAS TOO GOOD TO REFUSE, I said "For sure!"  As he prepared to serve he called out the score:  love-five and then proceeded to hit four serves into the fence.  Game, set, and match...

After the match was over, he said, "I couldn't wait to get away from this stupid doubles partner of mine."  Perhaps there is a divorce on the horizon...

The second event was after we had defeated our opponents from Austin in the semi-finals.  We had defeated them 6-1, 6-0 and as I offered my hand to shake hands with one of the Austin players, he just slapped it away and walked off.  I asked his partner what was wrong with him, he said, "He's just mad that you are a referee and are playing in the tournament."  Not sure how he found out I was a referee but I guess some people think we're supposed to know all the rules of tennis but never play the game ourselves...

So much for an eventful weekend in Beaumont, Texas...

Saturday, September 19, 2015

Disgraceful Attack On Referee And Even Worse Defense Of Their Actions

Video of the physical assault on the football official.

Assistant coach, Mack Breed, who directed the players to assault the referee.

UPDATE (9-24-15)  The Dallas Morning News published an update this morning.  Notice that the coach said he "should have handled the referee himself."  Hopefully his suspension will be long.


Here's a follow-up story that came out on 9-23-15.  Obviously the coach was at fault along with the players.  The referee should file criminal charges against them all.


By now most of America has read about and seen the video of two San Antonio high school players physically assaulting a referee during their Friday night football game.  The players were suspended from the football team and placed in an alternative school "pending investigation."

Assault charges should have been filed...

Here is their defense from an article in today's (9-19-15) Dallas Morning News:



"A San Antonio football coach directed two players to strike a referee during a game because of missed calls that had hurt the team, players said Friday during a national broadcast.

During an appearance on ABC's Good Morning, America, Michael Moreno and Victor Rojas also repeated earlier claims that the ref had used racial slurs.

Moreno said he regrets hitting Robert Watts and wants to apologize.  Rojas said he was just doing what he was told.

They were suspended from the Jay High School football team in the aftermath of the game early this month at Marble Falls.  The Northside School District moved them to an alternative school as investigations into the incident continue.

Video from the September 4th game shows Rojas blindsiding Watts and Moreno diving on top of him.  Watts was the umpire on the defensive side watching a play along the line of scrimmage.

The players didn't name the coach Friday.  The school district has suspended assistant coach Mack Breed pending an investigation.  Attempts to reach Breed for comment were unsuccessful.

Rojas alleged at one point Watts told a Hispanic player to, "speak English, this is America."  The soft-spoken Rojas couldn't explain why he targeted Watts, only saying he was following instructions.

Moreno contends that the ref used a racial slur directed at a black player.  The teenager also said that at the last moment he realized the gravity of what he was about to do and softened his blow on Watts.

"That's not who I am" he said.  "Underneath the helmet and pads, I'm really a great kid."

Watts has denied using inappropriate language.

His attorney, New Jersey lawyer, Alan Goldberg told The Associated Press on Friday that the game video shows a crime was committed against Watts and now the perpetrators are blaming the victim for their actions.

Goldberg also said that civil action is being considered."


Since this is an obvious physical assault, do you wonder why criminal charges have not been filed and nothing has been done by the UIL?

Friday, September 18, 2015

Tennis Players Have Politicians Beat When It Comes To Hair

Much has been said politically about Carly Fiorina's hair.  She was greatly offended and deeply wounded by Trump's comments--yet, she was quick to criticize Barbara Boxer's awful hair.

Carly with the "liberated look."

Carly's comment about Barbara Boxer's hair was, "My God, have you seen that hair?"

Bjorn had a great look a long time ago.

Everybody thought Andre's hair was so cool--until we found out that it was fake...

Most women really don't care what Feliciano Lopez' hair looks like...

This hair hasn't moved in years.

We're glad James Blake shaved his head.

Not many women can even grow this much hair in one lifetime!

At least she's saving money by not having her hair done at all.

Just saving the best for last...  Pure class!

Monday, September 14, 2015

Have We Run Out Of Qualified American Officials At The US Open?

2015 Men's Champion--US Open

What an awesome tournament the US Open was this year!  From the drama of Serena's quest for a Grand Slam to the domination of the men's tour by Novak Djokovic, we saw it all.

That was until the men's final last night when we saw Eva Asderaki-Moore from GRE in the chair. The resounding question would have to be:  Have we run out of qualified American officials to chair our own men's national championship match?  Notwithstanding that she was a female doing the men's final (and actually did a good job according to the ever present John McEnroe), you can be sure something like this never would have happened at Wimbledon.  No foreign official (male or female) should ever chair the finals at the US Open.  Its our tournament so let's keep it that way...

It seemed like the only story coming out of the Open was Serena and more Serena--that was until she gave us perhaps the greatest choke in the history of women's tennis.  She won three of the four Grand Slam tournaments this year--but then, so did Novak Djokovic!  And he did it with major competition in every one of the slams and defeated top 5 players with regularity.  Serena couldn't even win against a bunch who never win and certainly aren't in the top 5 of anything.

Its time to give Novak his due.  He is a great champion!

Friday, September 11, 2015

Root Of The Problem--Where Does It Lie?

We've all seen collegiate football coaches screaming at officials--what kind of seed does this sow among fellow coaches, players, and fans?

A parent screaming at a defenseless child is probably the worst example of "out of control" behavior.

The Bible tells us that the love of money is the root of all evil (and that might even hold true in the problems with out of control coaches, players, and fans) but we might need to delve a little deeper to find out what is causing this huge problem...

In no way would I excuse the behavior of the out of control players on the football fields, soccer fields, and tennis courts, but I think we need to also realize that children will mimic the behavior they see when they are growing up.  A good strong example of integrity and honesty will usually yield the same in our children and likewise a bad example will produce bad fruit.

Kids today are taught by coaches that are out of control and sadly, sometimes by parents that are equally out of control.  If the problem is going to be solved it is going to take some very strong corrective action and that action needs to begin with the coaches and parents.  Sadly, we have all experienced the wrath of an offended coach or parent but sometimes we neglect our duties as officials in the face of this onslaught.  Officials who are verbally attacked usually go into a shell and do nothing or get overly officious and start coding everything in sight.  We have to learn to develop a calm attitude and deal with the issues at hand.

There is an age old truth about collegiate tennis teams and it is this:  A team will take on the personality of the coach.  Therein lies the problem in a lot of our collegiate matches today.  When a coach is totally out of control and screaming and ranting and raving at everyone in sight, what do you think their player is going to do?  Act just like his coach...

Here are some suggestions for what ails us:

*  As officials we have every right to be respected by players and coaches.  If they verbally attack us personally then we need to get the courage to immediately issue a coach's warning.  This warning will usually put an immediate end to those attacks.  If not, then give them a point penalty and remove them from the facility.

*  Coaches need to develop the integrity to treat officials fairly and with respect.  There are only a very few who attack officials on a regular basis and everyone in the tennis world knows who they are.  Its time for fellow coaches and conference offices to begin to demand integrity and good behavior from their coaches.  If they don't behave--then suspend them.  It is always a joy to go to a university where you know the coach has integrity and will behave like an adult so why not make that the norm and not the exception?

*  League offices are going to have to be supportive of their referees.  How many times have you seen a referee who did the right thing get hung out to dry by those above him because they are afraid of the coach, parents, or athletic director.  Umpires always know if their referee, coordinator, or league office has their back...

We have a very serious problem on our hands and its going to take some courageous steps to fix it.  Its time for those steps to be taken.

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Fans & Players Out Of Control--Its Time To Do Something!

Millions of Facebook readers watched with horror at the actions of two young football players as they physically assaulted a referee during their Friday night football game--and now, people are finally realizing that something needs to be done about fan and players' behavior in all sports--not just football.

It was just a couple of years ago that an irate player took a tennis official's cell phone and threw it over a two story building and we regularly hear of confrontations between parents, players, and officials in the tennis world.

Crazy fans and parents abound and the vast majority are there to have a good time and enjoy the sport they are watching--but there are a few that ruin everything for everyone.

Tennis officials frequently discuss the issue and wonder what to do...  The UIL in Texas is still debating about what to do with the two players who assaulted the referee, their coach, and their team so the decision is not an easy one to make.  Just because its a difficult decision doesn't mean we don't do anything at all!  The UIL has huge powers to penalize offenders but sadly, politics often take precedence.  We had an incident a couple of years ago in which we had a high school match in which parents were verbally abusing officials and police officers had to be called to remove the offending parents.   A player on one team verbally abused the opposing coach with obscenities and at the district meeting the offending coach said, "Nothing happened.   The referee made it all up"--and they believed it!  This is in spite of an assistant athletic director testifying that she was at the match and everything happened exactly as it had been reported...

So, what do we do?  Here are some suggestions for tennis officials:

*  Always maintain a calm demeanor when dealing with irate parents, players, and coaches.
*  Meet with coaches before matches and spell out how offensive actions will be handled.
*  Immediately report any incidents of unruly or disruptive behavior.
*  Check out the facility and know where the exits are.
*  Do not be afraid to call the police if a situation gets out of hand.
*  Be fair and unbiased in your decisions.
*  Do not let a parent, player, or coach abuse you in any way.  This is simply not permitted.

Check out the links below.  The first is a link to the video of the football game in which the referee was assaulted and the second is an article in today's Ft. Worth Star Telegram.



Saturday, August 15, 2015

Chair Training Opportunities Begin August 25th

There is only one way to becoming a good chair official and that is TRAINING and lots of it.  If you want to advance in USTA or ITA chair opportunities you need to avail yourself of as many training opportunities as possible.

Our annual CHAIR TRAINING begins on August 25th and is open to any certified official who would like to do chairs.  The training takes place at Highland Park High School during their dual matches and each trainee will be given individualized instruction by experienced chair officials while chairing a match during dual match competition.  The training program will also open the doors to doing chair officiating during the spring season at SMU and UTA and UNT.

Here are the requirements and facts of the training program:

*  Be a certified USTA official.  ITA certification helps but is not required.
*  No chair experience is required.
*  You will get to chair at least two (and sometimes three) complete matches during each dual match.
*  You do not need to commit to work every match.  You can choose those that best fit your personal schedule.
*  Must purchase a UIL officials' shirt to wear while chairing matches.  Your purchase can be made when you commit to the training program.
*  There is no pay for the training and no charge for enrolling in the training program.  The goal is to give you valuable training to enable you to work in the spring.

Listed below are the dates for training:

September 8 (3:30 p.m.)
September 11 (3:30 p.m.)
September 12 (1:00 p.m.)
September 18 (3:00 p.m.)
September 22 (3:30 p.m.)
September 25 (3:00 p.m.)
September 29 (3:30 p.m.)
October 16 (3:30 p.m.)
October 17 (9:30 a.m.)

For those who have excelled in the training program, you will also be given an opportunity to further your training at the following collegiate tournaments:

October 9-11  SMU Women's Tournament
November 6-8  SMU Women's Tournament

If you are interested in participating in the training program, contact Randy McDonald at 214 796 7402 or email at rmtennis@yahoo.com

Sunday, August 09, 2015

Ten Commandments For Blog Trolls

INTERNET TROLL:   A person who posts inflammatory or inappropriate messages or comments online for the purpose of upsetting other users and provoking a response.

Since we seem to have an abundance of blog trolls (see definition above) lately, I thought I would publish a list of the "Ten Commandments For Blog Trolls."  If you are one--pay attention or your comments will never be published.

Definition of a blog troll:  a person who posts inflammatory or inappropriate messages or comments online for the purpose of upsetting other users and provoking a response.


1.  Thou shalt not mention the predominant conference in Texas by name.

2.  Thou shalt not disparage another official by name if you are not willing to sign your own name.

3.  Thou shalt not insult the blog owner if you are not willing to sign your own name to your comment.

4.  Thou shalt not disparage any person who is not now the same sex to which they were born.

5.  Thou shalt not post comments that disparage Texas and/or Oklahoma officials since everyone knows they are the far superior officials in America today.

6.  Thou shalt not post comments that name certain female officials in Texas by name.

7.  Though shalt not make any comments that pertain to any university that comes into contact with the Brazos or Trinity rivers.

8.  Thou shalt love the USTA with all your heart and mind and soul.  

9.  Thou shalt not disparage any team in the SEC, Big 10, or Pac 12 conferences.  

10.  Thou shalt send a personal picture of yourself if you want to be sure that your blog comment is published.

News From The ITA

Much has been written and said about the ITA/USTA relationship.  Here is the latest from the ITA:

August 7, 2015

Dear Colleagues:

High level officiating is an important component of the success of college tennis. The ITA is most appreciative of your commitment to the sport that we all love.

I am writing to you as a follow-up to the e-mail dated August 4, 2015 that F. Skip Gilbert, USTA Managing Director of Professional Tennis Operations & US Open Tournament Manager, sent to you - to offer both some clarification as well as updates.

In mid-May, about six weeks prior to my July 1st start date as the new CEO of the ITA, David Benjamin and I were asked to join a phone call with the USTA's Skip Gilbert and Kurt Kamperman, the USTA's Chief Executive for Community Tennis. On that call Mr. Gilbert informed David and me of the USTA's decision "to no longer support the ITA officials program in the same manner that they had in the past." This was the first that the ITA had been told by the USTA that the USTA would no longer continue its longstanding certification program of ITA officials. 

On July 1st Erica Perkins Jasper (our new ITA Chief Operating Officer) and I committed to make the current and future direction of college tennis officiating an immediate top priority for the ITA. In this regard, a few updates:

(1)   On Wednesday July 8th, while in White Plains, NY to meet with senior leadership of the USTA, I also met briefly with Skip Gilbert - at which time we mutually agreed that it is critically important for all ITA officials to re-certify with the USTA by December 31st of this year, in order to be fully certified through 2016.
(2)   Erica is already working with Anthony Montero and Jane Goodman to establish an ITA Officials Task Force. This group will work on developing the officials' curriculum and the organization of the ITA certification/recertification process that will start in 2016. By later this Fall we will have a concrete and comprehensive action plan in place.
(3)   The ITA team is excited about the possibility of bringing new benefits to ITA tennis officials coupled with their future ITA certification.

Please let me close where I began, sharing the belief of the ITA that outstanding and highly committed college tennis officials are both part of the strong foundation of our sport as well as a key to a thriving future. Please be on the lookout for updates about the future, as our planning process evolves. We are committed to:  (1) creating and implementing a well-conceived and far-reaching plan that will lead to much success moving forward; and (2) keeping you informed throughout the process.

Yours sincerely,
Timothy Russell
Chief Executive Officer

Saturday, August 08, 2015

New Penalty For Bathroom Break--Default!

One of the joys of having a tennis officials blog is that I get emails from all over the country telling me about "strange and unusual" things that tennis officials are doing--and this weekend is no exception!

I got a call last night telling me about an official at a tournament here in Texas.  Seems that a 4.0 woman was going to take a bathroom break and was carrying her racket with her while she left the court.  The official quickly informed the woman that if she took her racket with her on a bathroom break that it is an IMMEDIATE DEFAULT!

Oh well, guess its time to go back to the drawing board...