Posts Tagged ‘Official’
In the past month, I’ve spent 17 days on court in some capacity as an official. This includes stints in Napa, Sacramento, and Tiburon; and ITA work in San Francisco and Berkeley. It’s been both exhilarating and exhausting… and I wouldn’t have it any other way.
As I continue to establish my officiating credentials, it’s clearer than ever that my previous work in media, in particular the coverage of pro events, needs to be put on the back burner for an indefinite period of time.
It’s one thing to write about my overall love for tournament officiating, particularly juniors, and sharing tips/observations that might help all players – young and old –improve their games. That’s an acceptable and uplifting way in which I can use my officiating work to the greater, and further spread my love for the game with others.
It’s quite another to write about college matches (or players) after having chaired those matches, or commenting on any particular win (or loss) of a pro match or player for which I worked on court as a line umpire. The level of contact is too intimate, and is completely inappropriate for any amount of writing reflection. That also includes any mentions or discussions on social media.
It’d be easy to assume that the information garnered from this vantage point is no different from that of a courtside journalist. However, that would be a wildly errant assumption. Someone sitting courtside might very well be privy to the same level of intimacy, but, barring bouts of courtside misbehavior, their actions will likely have no bearing on the match outcome.
An official’s action can and will, by the nature of their on-court role, affect the match outcome. That is a crucial difference between the two, and rightly precludes any post-match discussions by match personnel in a public forum. It’s inappropriate, to say the least, and potentially unethical.
At stake is the basic tenet of “integrity”: for the match, as well as for myself. Trust me, I’m not going to do anything to hurt either.
On a practical level, that means that I will continue to refrain from writing about any tournament that I’m work, any match that I’m work, or any player with whom I’ve ever been on court. This will hold true for all ITA, ITF, USTA, professional, and even some local events.
Going forward, you can probably expect more (and larger) chunks of radio silence from me, because I’m hoping to do even more pro and high-level events in 2015. You will, however, continue to see articles on tennis tips/techniques, equipment reviews, and larger discussions of the Slams, player development ideas, and other tennis-related stories. But that’s all for now.
I’d like to extend a huge Thank You to all who’ve supported me along this journey, and all those who will continue to support me even if with the current restraints. The nature of my site posts may change, but not my love for all aspects of the game. I hope you stick around to see how that will continue in the new season.
This past weekend was great, and not just because I avoided the Bay to Breakers masses running by my front door. I’ve mentioned before how much I enjoy officiating for juniors, and this past weekend at the 2nd Annual Silverado Resort and Spa Junior Open was no exception. I had a great time!
There’s something inspiring about junior tournaments that you don’t get with adult events. Yes they can sometimes be more work, but when you officiate for juniors you have an opportunity to educate them about the game. Hopefully, this will ensure that they’ll understand and enjoy it more as they get older.
As a tennis player, I’m also inspired by watching 12 and 14 year-olds with awesome technique hit the ball cleaner than most guys on my USTA team, myself included. Watching them hit deep shots with great topspin and control, you realize that size doesn’t matter, muscle doesn’t matter, but good technique DOES matter.
On top of their technique, it’s also great to see their competitive fire. One particular match featured 12 year-olds competing hard in a match featuring 10+ shots per rally, with many of them hitting the baseline and sidelines (with no calls for a line monitor either). Both players had strong serves, excellent returns, great groundstrokes, and tenacious defense. Interspersed with the excellent play were acknowledgements of “good shot” from both. I dare anyone to watch a match like that one and not “feel the love” for the game.
Far and away, one of the best things about officiating for juniors is the personal thanks you receive from the competitors and their parents. My personal horror aside at being called “Sir”, I’m touched every time a competitor shakes my hand and thanks me for helping them with whatever aspect of the match in which I assisted. Even parents are thankful, regardless of the win/loss, because they realize that your presence means that the match is fair and more fun for all.
The Silverado facility was great, and the staff was top-notch. Jacob Hansen ran a great tournament, and every parent I talked to had nothing but great things to say about the event. I might be a representative for the USTA, but a great staff makes my life a whole lot easier and way more enjoyable.
Last thing, I’m beginning to have a strong sense of what’s important to me as an official. It’s my duty/desire to help ensure a fair tournament for all because of my own love for the game of tennis. And I hope that’s evident, and contagious!