As a tennis writer, 2014 was an amazingly wonderful year! However, as a tennis writer AND tennis official, 2014 was amazingly conflicted… yet still wonderful! How could that be? I’ll explain both shortly, but let’s start first with my work as “tennis media”.
It started with renewed energy for a continued climb up the ranks of tennis media after a great 2013. I wrote a ton of pieces on the Australian Open (including this prescient piece about a line umpire getting pushed by a player); ending with my traditional “Final Thoughts“, as well as a reflection on “The Death of a Rivalry That Never Really Was“.
I also prepped for a busy March of live tennis coverage at Indian Wells and Miami with a trip to the Champions Shootout in Sacramento. I watched Blake, Courier, Sampras, and McEnroe battle for the night’s bragging rights, and had a wonderful chat with eventual winner Blake.
March was undeniably the high point of my media year, with press credentials for both the BNP Paribas Open and the Sony Open. It’s an incredibly tough double for players, but is almost equally as tough for members of the tennis press.
Many writers prefer to cover one event, and not the other. Since I never look a gift horse (or credential as the case may be) in the mouth, I covered both for Tennis Panorama News – and was rewarded handsomely with a ton of opportunities, content, pictures, and interviews. This happily included attendance at Charlie Pasarell’s Indian Wells ring ceremony/dinner, and presser questions after both men’s singles finals with back-to-back champion, Novak Djokovic.
However, it must be noted that my attention was not entirely on writing during the spring season, because I was also spending a ton of non-travel time on court as a tennis official. As many of you know, I deeply love my work as an official, and love helping players play their best by providing a fair playing environment. Most of my work in the spring was as a “roving official”, but that was soon going to change.
April and May saw a huge increase in equipment reviews, specifically Racquet Reviews. In my opinion, there’s always been a need for good objective equipment reviews. Yes, many of the big online retailers have reviews, but can you really trust a review on a site that’s trying to sell you the product? No.
I’m always going to give it to you straight with a clear recommendation. In fact, one of the things that has made me happiest about my 2014 reviews has been the knowledge that several people have trusted me enough to buy recommended racquets. I hope I can build on that trust for 2015.
My major conflict for this seemingly wonderful media year came in my unexpected climb up the ranks as a line umpire. After a positive stint at our west coast line umpire school, I spent some amazing time on court as line umpire with some terrific players. The highlight, of course, was my time elongated stint at the WTA tournament in New Haven.
So where’s the conflict? I wrote about it first in my 2013 piece Being Mohamed…, and alluded to it further in 2014 with My Officiating-Media Fork in the Road and More Officiating, More Radio Silence: A Career Update. As an on-court official, I can have no dealings with the media.
Since I have to talk to myself occasionally, this effectively means no writing/reporting on tournaments I’ve worked and players who have seen or will see on court, including discussions on social media. You may have noticed that this has been the case for many months already, but I just wanted to reiterate this very critical point to all.
The bottom line? My career in media writing about the pro tours is done. I love tennis, and loved writing/reporting/covering the many aspects of pro tennis. But I love officiating (in this case, being a line umpire) even more, and feel privileged to be able to channel my love for tennis in a much more useful and hands-on manner; and I don’t want to do anything to jeopardize that opportunity.
It’s a no-brainer.
No need to worry, though. I’m not going anywhere. I will continue to do equipment reviews, discussions of issues around “social tennis” (including Calling Foot Faults in Social Doubles), as well as other non-pro tour related pieces. But there will be no discussions of my work as a line umpire – though there might be an occasional smiling selfie of a gratitude-filled Kevin in an empty stadium.
So there you have it. 2014 was an incredible year. Even with its’ media-officiating conflict, it was still wonderful. For a guy who loves tennis, how could all of this NOT be wonderful? 🙂
Take care, and all the best for 2015.
Acknowledgements and Thanks
Thank you Karen P. and Tennis Panorama for your support, and David Sweet for photo backup (and great conversations) as needed through the spring season. Major thanks go to Marla Reid and City Racquet Shop for demo racquets, “Ask Marla” advice, and her continued friendship and support.
Thanks and continued gratitude to all of my friends and supporters in the San Francisco Gay and Lesbian Tennis Federation. The GLTF will always be my “home”. And an extra-special thanks to all my fellow USTA officials (too numerous to name) who’ve helped me along the way, and continue to do so as I make my course correction away from the ranks of tennis media. Hopefully you all know who you are, and know what you have meant to me and my officiating career.
Last, but certainly not least, I wouldn’t be able to do any of this without the unwavering support of my partner, Steve. Thanks for believing in me even when I had my own doubts about this crazy journey I decided to take.