Having Enough Refs – What’s It Worth To You?

usta shirtThere has been so much written about the prevalence of cheating in junior tennis. We all know there need to be more officials present at the tournaments. The question is: how much would you parents be willing to pay for this necessity? Please take a moment to answer the poll question below, and I’ll be submitting the results to USTA’s Junior Competition & Sportsmanship Committee as well as to the USTA Junior Competition staff. Your vote is anonymous.

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66 Comments on “Having Enough Refs – What’s It Worth To You?”

  1. I do feel tournament fees are quite high especially for this new tournament “Eastern Super Six” I wonder if one ref per 2 courts would curtail the cheating, I would prefer one per court

  2. Maybe it’s not more REFs that are needed but just LINESPEOPLE. Having an impartial person be the the line judge would stop most of the cheating because that’s where most of the cheating occurs. Anyone with a fresh set of eyes can be a linesman. So use kids from high school, doesn’t even matter if they’re tennis team or not. Kids in school need “service hours” usually. Recruit through the schools kids who will come out and be line judges. The few refs can still patrol as they always do, but line calls would be left up to the line judges. Cost: $0. Benefits: Less Cheating, More Happiness, Kids Get Service Hours/go to college/become attorneys then supreme court justices. And all is well with the world.

  3. The larger question is why do kids feel the need to cheat to win. Just my opinion – the job of the officials should be to merely monitor & answer tennis questions – but this is just one of zillion problems in junior tennis & there is no end in sight. No matter how much or little tennis parents are willing to pay for more or less officials – this is not a useful survey because the officials have no real authority & they cannot instill integrity in players. IMO.

    1. Julie, you’re absolutely right, but that’s a question for each family to solve within its own confines. I’m just trying to identify steps we can take to make the experience more fair and more enjoyable for those who choose to participate. And, good officials, well-trained ones, do have real authority and take it very seriously. That said, I think USTA needs to do a much better job in training them and making sure they’re prepared to stand up for what’s right when push comes to literal shove out there. I really like Patrick’s suggestion of using high school students as line judges. But, one issue I can see with that is who to use in the older kids’ matches? It would be tough to have peers judging peers, especially teens I think. How do others feel about this one???

  4. Lisa – Your question assumes that Ref’s will fix the problem. I’m not so sure. I’d like to say the USTA should have what I would call “Compliance Supervisors” (or whatever). They roam tournaments evaluating ref’s AND enforcing on the spot rules with Players/Parents/Coaches. These officials have the ability to Suspend/Forfeit/penalize everyone involved in the event. See a kid with questionable calls, after warnings etc, Suspension ON THE SPOT. Parents talking Russian/Spanish/Pig Latin, Suspended on the Spot.

    We don’t need more Refs we need enforcement, because it seems the same kids/parents/coaches time and again.

    its obvious when a kids walks over stares at a mark then makes a call the presumption that close calls are IN has been lost on todays players. Balls that are out should be OBVIOUS to everyone watching, and this is just not happening.

    Would I pay more for the same level of Ref’s NO, would I pay more for a Supervisor type YES.

    My Approach – If I see a match with my daughter or ANY other kid from her academy getting cheated, I say OUT LOUD, CLOSE CALLS ARE IN, GET A REF IF, IT SEEMS THAT IS NOT UNDERSTOOD.

    Yes this is interference on my part but time and agin Parents/Refs come to me and say thanks, XXXXXXX always does this. I Guess my MILITARY background will not let me sit and say nothing. If the officials would do there part, I’ll shut up, My question is

    “Well why are they not suspended!”

  5. I agree 100% with Patrick Barbanes. Train high school kids, college kids who need service hours, or even senior citizens.

    We live in southeast FL. like Mr. Barbanes and my daughter also plays in the 12s. She likes to play “big girl tennis”, hit hard, open the court, go for it. It is so frustrating how a cheater can take a great shot that is inside the line and call it out. She also goes for big serves, and cheaters take away aces all the time.

    This has a huge effect. The momentum would all be for the player who hit the great shot or serve. In an instant all that is changed over to an advantage for the opponent. It tells kids do not bother hitting big as it will be penalized. Just yesterday we played a tournament and this happened at least 15 times.

    I think we have a bigger problem down here than elsewhere. We have lots of tennis academies and schools and parents are paying so much money the kids feel the pressure. So it sure seems like we face more cheating in south east Florida than when we travel north to play.

    To answer Lisa’s question, heck yes I would pay $25 a tournament more. Because in the long run it is worth it that junior tennis be fair, not punish the kids that play fair and go for big shots, and not keep rewarding the cheaters week after week after week.

  6. Important to consider kids make mistakes. My daughter also in SE Fla has probably one of the hardest serves in the 12s. She dumbs it down because kids who are 5′ and shorter Can’t see the lines. Its not their fault. She also stays off the T, because its tough to see. Consider a kid running the baseline also cannot see balls struck with much pace and angles to the corner. I have personally stood on the lines and witness a honest girl make mistake after mistake and YOU KNOW if you got a cheater. Biggest hint they CALL THE BALL OUT, almost the same time it hits the ground or slightly before.

    I cannot see how you get Lines people for Jr tennis matches for Community service etc. or extra $25 X 32 draw = $800. Divide that by 31 Matches in the Front draw (no DBLS).

    How do you cure Rule breakers add more Cops? or Enforce the rules on the books?

    I bet if ONE kid got a 12 month ban and lost a years of points HE/SHE would never cheat again, anyone thinking of it wouldn’t and that would cost NOTHING!

    WE have pulled out when scheduled against a KNOWN cheater, we do call TD’s and tell them if you schedule us against XXXXXXX we will leave. WE haven’t had a cheater in a long time. I won’t waste my time, my daughters time or my money.

  7. seminoleG. I think the USTA could make an arrangement with schools and colleges to apply some sort of service hours that go on the transcript or PE credits to it. It would have to be a combination of things, USTA kicking in, some bartering for service hours, $25 entry fee addition.

    We played a L7 that had 109 entered. The orange ball 10s had court monitors there the entire time. There has to be some way to have monitors available for the 12s too. That way the kids can at least have some positive experiences in the 10s and 12s before they go on to the 14s.

  8. With over 30 years of coaching and tournament directing experience, I remain baffled by many of these comments. What your saying is I want someone to solve all of my child’s problems for them. Stop it and but out! Your function during a match is that of only a spectator. You are not a participant. If another parent is getting involved simply report it. You and the other parents are not playing your child is. Childrem must develop skills to stand on their own. Worry more about your child’s morals and sportsmanship and less about that of their opponents. If your child makes poor calls, it is your duty as their parent to correct it or default them. To often I witness parents who turn a blind eye to their own child’s cheating. The saying “what you sow you will reap” could never be truer. Remember, you are suppose to be teaching children how to compete with honor and dignity.

    There is a great scene in a movie that every parent of an athlete should see. The movie is searching for Bobby Fisher. It is auto pic about a top chess player as a young child. The boy “Joshua Waitzkin ” ironically, was a tennis player of some note. A great moment is when ttournament organizers lock parents out of the room because they cannot contain themselves. The result effect was the kids all cheered. All to often, parents and yes coaches are a root of cheating either because they don’t address the issue or are seeminglyunaware of the pressure they are creating on their child.

    Tournament directors and referees already have the rules in place to boot disruptors of play out. More officials are not the answer. Players that are deemed as cheating or being overruled repeatedly may and should be coded under the provision of unsportsmanlike conduct. What is utterly ridicous is parents who believe they have any right to question, comment, root, jeer, call out, yell lets’s go, speak in foreign languages, signal or intimidate during matches. The only act permissible is controlled polite applause. Anything else observed or heard by an official should be first met with a polite but public warning and then a code violation to the parent or coaches player upon a second offense. This would also trigger the removel of the offender from the tournament grounds for the remainder of the event by he tournament director.

    I hope the USTA is reading this. You here that folks, these parents want the rules enforced. I agree, It’s time. Just remember, no complaints when you get what you have asked for.

  9. Sorry Tom, I do not agree at all. Tennis already has many ways kids have to stand on their own. They have no coaches or teammates. They have to handle everything by themselves. It already is very tough and requires so much independence out there.

    Not having refs does not make any sense. Why do we have refs in basketball, football, soccer, and every other sport? Why do we have refs in professional tennis? If this honor system works so great than lets remove all scorekeepers and refs from every sport, including pro tennis.

    The current rules in place do not work. In the 12s kids are supposed to be developing their games. When you have half the kids cheating it ruins the development. They can not go for their big shots. It also means the rankings can not be trusted as cheating wins, it just does.

    We were at a tournament this weekend. 109 kids entered. The tournament director was overwhelmed. Our child was playing a cheater, the court to one side of her had 15 family and friends screaming on every point, the court to the other side dominated the ref as the girls started fighting the very first point. We are chasing kids away from tennis left and right. We made it this wild west for no reason. Why have we chosen only junior tennis to have no refs while every other sport does?

  10. By having more refs (my preference is 1 ref per court – willing to pay $20-$25 for that) you are also helping tennis matches become better because:

    1. Missed line calls are corrected whether they were honest mistakes or blatant cheating.
    2. Scores are correct.
    3. Other rules are enforced — foot faults, double bounce, touching the net, lets, ball on court, etc.
    4. Matches move along fluidly. No extra time in between changeovers, players tying and retying their shoe laces every time they need extra time, etc.

    And my favorites:

    5. Bullying tactics by older/bigger/more aggressive kids are kept in check.
    6. Meddling parents are kept in check.

    I’m sure there are other good reasons out there but those for me are what I want to see. So I respectfully disagree that we only need linesmen to help make the game better.

    To the comment that we are trying to solve all of our kids problems, I don’t think that’s the case here. All we want is a level playing field for each player, where kids concentrate on hitting good serves, returning the ball well, having a sound strategy to construct the best point possible and go for winners without having to worry about a blown call.

    Can you imagine basketball being played by 10-18 year old kids where they have to call their own fouls, enforce travelling violations, having to check if a player is out of bounds while trying to guard them, etc.? And don’t get me started with baseball not having umpires!

    Why do we have to resort to banning players if they misbehave or pulling our kids out of a tournament if they end up playing a known cheat? Let’s nip this in the bud by not putting all this pressure on their tiny shoulders and just have them play tennis. Tennis should be a game of skill and not gamesmanship.

  11. I agree newtennisdad. We are also new to this as our daughter is the first tennis player in the family and she just started tournaments a year ago. My background is in pretty much every other sport other than tennis.

    The very first tournament I must have looked like a fool. I was totally floored at the format, that the kids had to call lines, score, and enforce all the rules. And if there was an issue they had to go find one of the few refs trying to work the entire facility. Stop playing, then go find a ref, who may or may not be able to come over. It seemed so ridiculous that I ended up getting explanations from 3-4 different parents that first day. I imagine many first timers are surprised as well.

    It was such a shock to us that the USTA ever set such a system up in the first place. My only exposure to competitive tennis was on TV. I certainly understood there would not be multiple people on each court. But I did expect that there would be an adult on every court enforcing rules. As far as how it would be paid for, I guess in my naivete I just figured that was part of the USTA’s budget as they made so much on the US Open and dues. And boy was I sure naive!

  12. New Tennis Dad and Jim K – I FEEL YOUR PAIN!!!

    First off Level 7 Local events who cares, they just need play. Any day go up to Boca one of the many academies KIDS can call their on lines.

    Yes we were also new and didn’t like the format, BUT as we have now progressed to Level 1 events the issues you bring about decrease. As the kids get better they do officiate the matches and learn how to get a ref etc.

    As TOM said if you haven’t had a talk with your kids about the “RULES” of tennis then you need to.

    1. Missed line calls are corrected whether they were honest mistakes or blatant cheating.
    ****My daughter and many opponents at Level 1-2-3 events do correct themselves. BUT they still make mistakes, honest mistakes*****

    2. Scores are correct.
    **** YOUR KIDS FAULT, if they cannot keep track of the score they deserve what they get. My daughter called the score wrong serving was 40-15, said 15-40 girl won point took game. Daughter was upset but HER fault and she learned, Never had a score issue again******

    3. Other rules are enforced — foot faults, double bounce, touching the net, lets, ball on court, etc.
    ***Foot Faults only seen called at High Level events I’ve seen it called twice in 2 years. Its not a big deal 2-3 inches REALLY! If a Kid can see a servers FOOT they aren’t trying to play anyway. Tactic of a cheater to call foot fault on opponent.

    ***Double Bounce happens to Boys a lot they get close to many balls, ITs just missed many times. Once again your kid needs to express it was and hopefully the kid agrees if not ONE POINT play on.
    ****Lets called by returner, if they don’t call it be ready to play
    ****Lets during play called by either player (Stuff blows on court @ same time losing point call LET legal yes.)
    ****Ball on Court – if your kid plays with ball on their side well I KNOW A ER VISIST for a broken ankle isn’t fun. If the opponent does it well ……..

    4. Matches move along fluidly. No extra time in between changeovers, players tying and retying their shoe laces every time they need extra time, etc.

    ***Shoe lace tying, walking to the fence, wiping face all legal. BUT remember its SERVERs PACE. Yes my daughter will let her opponent stall just a bit, BUT will call servers PACE hit the serve and if the player is not ready she will get the REF. The REF will then explain 20sec to serve and it is SERVERs pace so returner GET READY. In the end if these are Tactics, and if your kid knows the rules they won’t do much and if the do, your kid will learn.

    And my favorites:

    5. Bullying tactics by older/bigger/more aggressive kids are kept in check.
    ***** My daughter played first 12s when she was almost 9. Know the rules, learn the rules is a great comfort BLANKET when on the court alone away from everyone. Suggest you spend most of your time explaining the game, gamesmanship, and rules.

    6. Meddling parents are kept in check.

    ***** EASIEST one of all get the TD and REF get a witness and WRITE the USTA. I’ve known 2 parents that got suspended 6mos/1 year, 2 that have been ejected. I know 2 players that have been warned on first missed call. If you do nothing nothing happens.

    If these folks are that bad they have a history, and it will catch up to them.

  13. My Daughter played a Hi Level Final with OFFICIALS!

    When you get to the Semi/Finals of Hi Level events, they use 1 or 2 officials, ONE in the CHAIR. They announce the players, they have a conference @ Net. Very Nice.

    So the match goes on, and the CHAIR Umpire is Messing up the SCORE and MISSING CALLS!!!!!!!!!!!!
    Are you kidding me! Both parents are “LET THE KIDS CALL THE MATCH” it was horrible, and my daughter was not happy.

    So if a USTA trained official can miss what do you think is going to happen to a HS, or college kid when they miss a call? We’ve been on the Tournament thing for little over 2 years, the kids get pretty good at it.

    I just think you are mixing Mistakes and Cheaters, they are very different.

    Lastly I would guess that your are wrong 70% of the time when you see the balls on the court. Having been a trained, marksman, and targeting: that moving object and YOUR moving head does not EQUAL I can see it.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Parallax

  14. I guess I am shocked that anyone likes the current system. SeminoleG, that ump might have not been very good but its a lot better than the current system.

    I totally disagree a Level 7 does not matter. That forms all the foundation. Thats when kids should be going for shots, trying new shots, concentrating on their game and having fun. Instead they learn from the very first tournament that cheating and bullying wins, that it is totally different than any other sport they play, that tapping the ball back safely 10 feet from the lines is rewarded.

    This goes on at all the higher levels then. We have gone with friends to the upper level tournaments, we even went to watch the Orange Bowl and saw the very top ranked girl’s 12 in the nation. She taps almost every ball back! The video of her at the Orange Bowl is on You Tube if anyone does not believe me. She taps every forehand and taps her serves, because she learned in level 7s that this is how you win.

    How can anyone not see that this is a total mess?? This is what just happened this weekend, and is typical of many tournaments. Start time was supposed to be 12:30. Did not get on court until 2:00. Why? Because the earlier matches were argue fests!! These matches are 3 hours of kids arguing, waiting for the 1 ref, taking long bathroom breaks, gamesmanship.

    Once the kids do get on court they are many times playing a cheater. Or they are playing a safe tap the ball back kid. Or they are next to a court of kids yelling about every call. Or family rimming the court coaching and yelling. You can spend all day waiting to try to get 2 matches in, many which are filled with playing safe and arguing.

    How on earth anyone can say this system works when all the college spots are going to overseas players, when the rankings are ridiculous because tapping and cheating is rewarded, is beyond me.

    I go to a kid’s basketball game. Start time 3:30, starts at 3:30 unless it is outdoors and weather interferes. But never delayed due to earlier games except very rarely for an over time. Tennis, we almost never start without waiting an hour or more for courts. Basketball, kids try all their stuff because adults enforce the rules. Tennis, better play it safe and be ready to argue for every call. How can we allow a system that is a worse experience than any other kids sport???

  15. Current refs need to do their job. USTA needs to send a message that NEVER AGAIN will you abuse an official. Officials walk by and do nothing as they observe bad things. Not long ago I was told that the USTA ‘wants the kids to play, rather than call codes, foot faults, etc’ I was being directed NOT to run such a tight tournament. Who loved my tournaments? Kids and Parents who wanted fair play.

  16. at lower levels 80% of bad calls are because calls are hard. 15% are because the player is wanting to win so bad, they are psyhologically blinded and sincerely call it out, wrongly. 5% are criminal, because its break point and lines are out, so I can win now. I have not seen the national level. Make some percentages, and give the kids the benefit of the doubt, making calls is harder when the ball is going faster.

  17. Jim – your mixing Apples and Oranges. Level 7 is just that BEGINNER Tournament tennis, the kids learn and most make mistakes or do not understand the basic premiss that close calls are IN. For some its the first time they see shots with REAL pace. It takes a while to adjust. Rules Rules Rules.

    I am against they system, BUT it does get better and improves with the Level of events. I suggest you attend the Florida State Closed in June you can see for yourself. BUT as you stated it is USUALLY the same kids involved in the arguments/calls/issues.

    Yes we have trained with Boy/Girl National Champs, and believe me they play TOURNAMENT tennis and those that Hit out usually end up in the back draw. Consistency with pace is difficult for young players.

    That said, suggest you take a trip to Macci, Saviano, Black, Blackman, Solomon, ISP, Les Academy all from Boca to Coral Springs you won’t see any of their Hi Performance kids Tapping the ball. So those players go away…….

    As for the Orange Bowl. I can say this since I know most of the TOP 20 Girls in the 12s.

    They haven’t learned to TAP the ball in Level 7’s she for example hits harder than the average DIV III College female player, what you saw this past year in the Orange Bowl was a TOP kid having a BAD day (lost 0-6) first set and she made a conscience decision to make her opponent beat her. But her goal was very different than 99.99999% of kids. TO BE #1 in the NATION which meant WINNING this particular event at all cost. Those low slice balls with spin and shape are harder than they look to hit and return.

    Most kids don’t feel/have/experience that kid of pressure. So to use this as an example is a bit of Apples and Oranges.

    I’d say to you that match is a BLUEPRINT on how the Desire to accomplish a goal at all cost and GET ER DONE has a place in sports. Kinda like the HACK A SHAK in NBA.

    BUT if thats all the player can do, then YES that is a PROBLEM! Pushers and Retrievers are like Tapeworms, No value at all but they still exist.

    My daughter was losing to a Pusher/Retriever in a Hi-Level team event, coach told her “She’s a Pusher and Retriever, OK ENJOY MAKING HER RUN.” Daughter won 12 straight games and SMILED doing it.

    Teach your kid to work within THIS CRAPPY system, and SMILE when you see her Perform!!!!

  18. Jim K Said – “I guess I am shocked that anyone likes the current system. SeminoleG, that ump might have not been very good but its a lot better than the current system.”

    Jim ***None of us like it****. Even if that UMP was “Bad” they have YEARs more experience than a HS or College kid.

    Bill Said – “Current refs need to do their job.” BINGO BINGO BINGO

    Once again if Kids/Parents got SUSPENDED Jim K this WOULD STOP!

  19. Bill Patton. I think those percentages are arbitrary at best. When a kid has waited 2 hours for a court, parents spent lots of money on lessons, its hot and humid and the score is 30-30, the entire system pushes them to take the next point if it is close. The system also greatly favors type A personalities, which may not be the best long term prospects.

    Defending this current system is a mystery to me. It is obviously ridiculous.

  20. seminoleG, I think we are not going to agree on this because I think Level 7s are the most important ones!! This is where kids are first exposed to tennis, same with new tennis parents. In the last year alone I know of 5 families that had really good athletes but were surprised at the bad set up of Level 7s. The waiting, the arguing, the gamesmanship, the ball tapping. They just stopped tennis and went back to other sports. I imagine this is very common.

    First impressions. The upper levels have refs like you said, pro tennis has them. So only upper levels matter and first impressions for new players are meaningless?

    And what if you have a good athlete who is an introverted kid? They can not yet handle the rigors of keeping score and calling lines and debating calls. What do you think all these great potential players do? They try Level 7s and then go back to other sports with adults supervising. So how many possible good tennis players is the current set up chasing off?

    If this current system is working then why are there so few Americans on college teams? We went to the Orange Bowl with some friends. We also toured almost all the tennis academies you mentioned while looking for a program for our child. I saw lots of playing safe at the academies and the Orange Bowl. And I also saw so much dink serving it was amazing.

  21. Also seminoleG, we also disagree on the levels of these tournaments. We have friends who play the upper level tournaments. I do not see such a huge difference over a level 6 and even some level 7s. The level 7s we go to in south east FL. have been full of players from overseas and the local academies. The level was hardly beginner past the first rounds.

    I do not see the kids playing the higher level tournaments being all that. Most seem like they were good at playing the ratings and points game. From what I saw most of the players at a higher level tournaments were no better than a level 6 in southeast FL.

    A few kids really stood out. But most of the field was not way better than the local academy kids or some of the overseas kids we run into at level 6 and some of the better 7s.

  22. I think Tom is right about junior tennis degenerating into something that is hardly recognizable to those of us who grew up playing it 30 years ago. Cheating is the result of the pressure to win from misguided parents and coaches. If you’ve read Andre Agassi’s book, you know it happened at high levels back then too, but there seems to be more of it now. Junior tennis is a metaphor for life and it is not always fair. Kids need to learn how to step up and handle it. My child played 10s with court monitors and it was NEVER a good thing. The monitors confuse the score, they don’t play attention and can’t remember the order of play. The worst thing that happens is the players don’t take responsibility for keeping the score when there is a monitor so when the monitor doesn’t know it it’s a huge mess, especially in tiebreakers. Personally, I’ll take the current system with all of its shortcomings in favor of a system that creates dependence and doesn’t not foster self-reliance. There could be more officials and parents and coaches should be kept in check.

  23. Well Jim- K take a ride up to Boca and visit, Some of the places I listed. Companies like Nike, UA, Babolat, Head, Wilson Athletic DNA I could go on and on. They sponsor the kids I’m talking about and NONE of them play Level 7’s or Level 6’s.

    This weekend, there will be a Level 4 in Pembroke pines 14s, and Level 4 @ Jimmy Everett in Ft. Lauderdale 12s these are the LOWEST level of tournaments I’m talking about. Even these events will not have the Top 5% of florida kids entered.

    *** Take a look at the Competitors list for these Level 4 events, I would guess you will not find any of them playing Level 7s —-maybe—- Level 6s in a higher age group******

    Drop in and see if you find the stuff your listing. I’d bet you wont see it. Yes missed calls but arguing on the scale you talk about don’t think you will see it.

    You would be amazed at the Silence in the facility.

    I was @ a Level 7 visiting a friend in Boca a few weeks back and was AMAZED at the cheering yelling coaching, cheating. For a LOCAL! Thought I was @ Wimbledon, so yes I see it from a far and its an EDUCATION issue. Parents and Players.

    I’m a bit surprised you dismiss Bill’s numbers and my claims having never been to Level 1-2-3-4 events throughout the US, other than the Orange Bowl which is a very different event.

    Hell they take anyone in the Orange Bowl Qualies, as long as you have the $$$$ fees!
    SO guess what you get Level 7 kids @ a national event with all the stuff you LIST.

    I was @ Level 1 in Arizona and with 25 courts 2nd round matches you could hear a pin DROP!

  24. Jim – I Agree with what your saying, Except my point is it does not continue @ the level you state for the Higher level (1-2-3-4) Events.

    What I did was 4 years ago, watched the Clay Court Nationals 12s/14s, I also watched the Spring Nationals several years back.

    As a Consumer I wanted to see what I was getting into. Yes bad calls, Yes Moon Balls, Pushers/Retrievers. BUT few and far in between. At these levels much of what you state is minimal barley noticeable.

    So would I pay for Refs for Level 7s, once again Education is key. No BUT I would pay for Enforcement Officials that have on the SPOT powers to Reprimand/Suspend.

  25. SeminoleG, we are new to this however have immersed ourselves in the junior tennis world in this area. We go down to various programs and now travel to work with some overseas families. These kids are amazingly skilled, better than many at the Level 1-4s. The pop into a tournament in Europe, and pop into Level 6s here. But they are not playing the rankings game, just working on their games at this age. So not every skilled kid is represented in USTAs by a long shot.

    Onto the other topic, the upper level tournaments. I agree with you that the behavior is better. But I disagree that the skill level is that much better. I have attended higher level tournaments in FL, GA, TX. Besides a small handful of kids, I do not see the skill level being better than a level 6 for most of the fields.

    I am big into basketball too. I go to an AAU game, better high school games, the kids look like younger versions of the pros. I then turn on the NBA and see some of the same moves just better and faster. But the pro game and the top junior games in basketball look very similar.

    I go to a state closed tennis or even the Orange Bowl and it looks nothing like the pros I see on the tennis channel. Its like 2 different games. The serves for example are terrible and look nothing like the pros. Kids are playing it safe.

    So the system just does not work. If junior USTAs are supposed to develop games, they are not working. It may be a combination of things, but chasing kids used to adult supervision out of the game early on, rewarding safer play, rewarding kids who develop extroverted personalities at age 10 and are outgoing enough to enforce the rules their way, all of those things contribute.

    Again, I just do not understand this defense like Joe Wurster’s below. Why is kid’s tennis the place where kids need to learn to step up and learn self reliance? Some kids are introverted. So they should just not play tennis because they are a little intimidated when having to keep scores and defend line calls?

    It is a totally indefensible system. Every single sport has someone to enforce the rules, every kid’s sport, every pro sport.

    Self reliance? Working alone many times practicing serves in the hot FL. sun. Thats not learning self reliance? Having no teammates and having to tough out a 2.5 hour match in the sun. Thats not self reliance? Having no coach no matter what style a opponent plays and having to do all the adjustments alone? Thats not self reliance.

    That argument is ridiculous. Tennis already has truck loads of self reliance built into it. Have adults there to keep score and give try to curb the more extroverted kids from working over the quieter kids for goodness sakes!! Defending this system is really bizarre to me.

  26. These “overseas” kids have a different system or are all extroverts? The best 10 year old I’ve personally seen was an introvert from Croatia that lost in the 2nd round of the 12s Orange Bowl main draw but that’s an anecdote like your entire argument. We can just agree to disagree. It’s the same system that developed Agassi, Sampras, Courier, Chang. Ever see an interview with Sampras? Extrovert he is not! I’d argue the sport of golf is even more independent on every level, juniors to pros. More adult involvement is not the answer. The parallel universe you are living in is foreign to me. Our juniors are talented and to use anecdotes to say otherwise is silly and more than a bit disrespectful. Your argument is essentially that to be successful in american junior tennis you are an extroverted cheater/pusher. I’m sorry your experience in junior tennis has not been as good as your experience in other junior sports. Me and my family have met far more good kids and good people than cheaters. It has been great experience so far. Personally, learning how to handle myself on a tennis court as a kid was a far more valuable than playing a team sport and that’s why I encouraged my daughter to play. That’s why I defend what you regard as “indefensible.” More officials wouldn’t hurt, one on every court is not remotely realistic and in my opinion counterproductive.

  27. I think if I can’t yell out in English, then parents shouldn’t be able to yell out in Russian…..

    This has got to stop…. juniors, coaches and parents are fed up with this and it happens at most tournaments.

  28. Good points.

    Same kids cheating over and over again.
    I would like to know at what point, we can have the same rules for the tournaments………

    You get over ruled 3 times in a row can mean different things at different tournaments. The refs don’t seem to have the same rule book.

    My son once had three different refs over a 4 hour match.
    The other kids got overruled:

    1st ref – once
    2nd ref – once
    3rd ref – twice.

    4 overules…………. Shouldn’t the kid have lost a game?

  29. Shawn -Put it to paper. Just found out today one of my daughters fathers got written up and most likely will get suspended.

    An official should consider cautioning a player if there have been two overrules during the same set. Once an official cautions a player that subsequent overrules will be penalized under the Point Penalty System, the official must penalize subsequent overrules.

    Any official, volunteer, player, or person associated with a player (in cluding, but not limited to, a parent or coach) who observes a violation of USTA Regulations, standards of conduct, fair play, or good sportsmanship may file a written grievance according to the grievance procedures of the Sectional Association where the tournament was held; except if the conduct arises out of any of the following tournaments, the grievance shall be filed with the Chairperson of the USTA Grievance Committee, c/o USTA Executive Director, 70 West Red Oak Lane, White Plains, New York 10604:

  30. Just curious. Do you guys defend the current system because you think its better or because you don’t want to pay the extra cost?

  31. NewTennisDad – We are about to get on a plane for a 1 week long tournament/Hotel/Rental Car/Airfare……… AN EXTRA $25,50,100 for Refs is not the issue.

    WE ARE NOT DEFENDING THE SYSTEM, we have found a peace @ Working in it.

    Read my first Post#35 in the Link below. THIS SYSTEM IS CRAZY!!!!!!

    http://parentingaces.com/usta-is-trying/#comments

    What I AM saying much of what you post is a commercial break of the real show. With the limited experience as a parent in the this sport Judgements are being made that ARE flat our wrong.

    Fact: Most Parents/Players do not know the rules and do not understand how to call the game
    – Level 1-2-3-4 events have issues but widespread coaching cheating isn’t one
    – Level 1-2 events are almost SILENT (cheating with signals/texting happens)
    – Level 1-2-3 events have very few player arguments, disagreements YES (expected)
    – Level 1-2-3 events players miss calls and YES their are some professional cheaters as stated before its less than 5%
    – Lower level events are Stepping stones to this, and this is the process.
    – Level 1-2-3 events players know most of the rules, and yes my daughter has won rule discussions with ref present. How did she do this by knowing the rules and expressing her points.

    I have seen her friends who knew very little english 2 years ago, not say a word who now speak up explain points to the refs etc.

    lastly I spend at least 3-4 hrs over the first year discussing Junior tennis with USTA Florida competitive Committee to understand the whole Machine. I had several conversations with Bobby Curtis explain Jr Tennis. Best initial Tips were GO TO every LEVEL event and watch the Tennis, Talk to each Tournament Director (They make $$$, you are the customer), when on break talk to the Ref’s. About rules about procedures. Learn Learn Learn.

    http://www.florida.usta.com/News/2009_09/Bobby_Curtis/

    You spend $$$ to join the USTA, you spend time $$$ to play tournaments, I honestly feel you are a consumer and would you buy a house without a ROOF inspection?

    So lets go get a roof inspection! Call your local USTA Jr. Office and TALK to them. Start with Explain Jr Tennis/Cheating/Refs/Parents. The calls they usually get are irate pissed off folks. I’m sure they’d love to talk to you. In Florida Ann Brown is so nice and always returns emails. Yes they could do more but they ALWAYS return emails calls.

    Read http://assets.usta.com/assets/1/15/2014FAC_final.2.pdf

    So having attended several USTA camps/Clinics/Seminars I understand the essence and what having an 8 year old on a court alone with nothing but an opponent does to a kids development.

    I’ve got an 11 year old (12 at end of year) that is pretty much on AUTO pilot around the house. She can pack her tennis bag/school bag/snacks for a 5 day travel event. She thinks out her day, and week. She plans events (Pain for me) with friends with her free time. Rarely sleeps past 8 and goes all day. Has a book and learning 20 Yoga poses, is a Class Leader and when given a choice to do a Paper or Presentation always will get in front of people. She played Lil Mo won the most Friendly by meeting over 50 kids and she makes friends fast as light. This was a girl that rarely talked and picked daises on the Soccer Field and went to playing up 2 years in Soccer as a striker and leading 12/13 year olds.

    Would she have done this on her own? MAYBE, but I can DAM sure tell you JR TENNIS has matured her up faster at a nice pace. She’s Talking about Stanford, Miami, Duke. I WENT TO a State school never even mentioned any college around her.

    So for all its pitfalls AND THERE ARE MANY, the system if you’d sit back and exhale has more benefits than you would ever believe.

    **** I’d ARGUE that the BEST leson learned is not from a GREAT Player beating you 6-0,6-0 but from a CHEATER you dispose of by moving the ball so far off the lines and STILL Kicking their BUTT ********** Once your kid does this all this will go away!

    Plus all the bad calls and bad parents make for great laughs over Pizza after a good day in the fresh outdoors. Some of our best laughs have been over Tournament Wierdo’s we call them.

    Had one kid on court next to my daughter say after every point
    “I hate my life”
    “You SU…”
    “What was that”
    “Just wasting away”

    AND HE WAS WINNING! Met him and his dad became good friends, IT was FUNNY! That’s how he dealt with his demons. Could my daughter have gotten upset, YES but she was laughing during her match. What she learn form that? Plenty

  32. SeminoleG, you are 100% correct that both parents and kids need to be intimately familiar with the rules of the game if they are going to compete. That’s why I have a direct link to Friend At Court on the Newbies page of this site. That’s why I’m constantly encouraging my tennis buddies to make sure they read it and understand it. That’s why I invited one of the writers of Friend At Court, Donna Bailey, to come on my radio show. Rule #1: Know the rules!

  33. Newtennisdad, I will take a stab at your last question. The system works for the defenders for the most part. Its as simple as that.

    I see it every tournament, at every level, but lets stick with the lower level 7s and 6s. These are the most important because this is where kids first get exposed to competitive tennis. Its where kids who play other sports but want to give tennis a try first get exposed to tennis.

    Kids fall into 2 categories for the most part. Introverts and extroverts. You see it on every playground or Gymboree class from the time they are toddlers. The current system GREATLY FAVORS extroverts and the parents of extroverts. On the other hand it is terrible for introverted kids.

    An introverted kid may be a great athlete. They know in tennis they have no teammates or coaching while competing. This is a lot to handle but parents want them to grow less introverted so they go to tennis. Just that alone is enough, a ton on the plate of an introverted kid.

    Then they go to Level 7s and 6s and they also have to call the lines, enforce every rule, and defend themselves vs more outgoing kids. This is a total nightmare and chases them out of tennis. This is why every one of these defending posts are beyond ridiculous. It makes no sense to chase a large percentage of potential players away from the game!!

    I am also into basketball. A winning basketball team always has some kids who are so introverted they can barely look at me in the eye. They never talk, classic introvert. But they become great players because the structure allows them some adult supervision. But junior tennis? I am still waiting for the day I meet a winner of a high level jr tournament that is not fairly outgoing. Sure there must be exceptions, but for the most part the current system chases the introverted kids back to other sports. It just does and that is a huge loss of potential tennis talent.

    But to be fair, unless you are a parent of an introvert or a teacher who sees the stark differences between kids that age, this is like hearing a foreign language. These people have no ability to relate to this.

    Every single tournament I see this happening. The introverted kids are overwhelmed. So its not even cheating, its just force of personality. Even an honest extrovert runs wild. Tennis has LOTS of close calls, the introverts play the close balls, they can not defend their calls. Week after week I see talented quiet kids lose over and over because of it.

    This system is nuts. Why in the world would we allow a sport unlike any other on the planet?? No way on earth kids should enforce their own rules. We are LOSING lots and lots of potentially good tennis players. They never MAKE IT to the upper level tournaments SeminoleG says are better. They are run out in the level 6 and 7s.

    Every tournament is the same. The winners are aggressive kids or at least fairly confident kids. But many times they are not the most talented kids. Its just wrong.

    But the defenders? I would bet almost every one of them has a kid that an independent observer would categorize as more extrovert than introvert. So the system works great for their kids and/or what I am saying makes no sense because they can not relate to it in any way, shape, or form.

    1. You keep bringing up the difference between introverts and extroverts. Shouldn’t tennis be accessible to ALL kids, regardless of personality type? Shouldn’t the rules of the game be enforced equally and consistently by those in charge? It seems to me that IF we had enough officials on the court and IF those officials were intimately familiar with The Code and Friend At Court and IF those officials then enforced the rules and penalties contained in those 2 governing documents, then a player’s personality type would be irrelevant.

  34. Jim K that’s ridiculous. My daughters DBLS partner is as introverted as a kid can be. Won’t argue, will give very close ball the benefit of doubt, plays out balls etc. She’s a Top 20 kid quiet serious and introverted. I’ve known her 2 years maybe heard 2 sentences from her. I argue the truly introverted ones call the best games against honest players or cheaters.

    Once again take a leap of faith come see the Level 4s this weekend put your theories to the test. See if you personality profile of Jr Tennis holds water. You have a live breathing test bed.

  35. The Jr Orange Bowl champ, and runner up to the Jr US Open both introverts. Google her interviews. Based on your statements they should have quit years ago.

  36. Where my son plays the extrovert kid is the biggest cheater, that much I know. He is cheating in matches, practice and the effect it has on an introvert is that he will start to fear playing that kid, mentally it is just too much. No kids should be exposed to cheating, no matter extrovert of introvert, but it is true that it might have more negative impact on the introvert child. One of the reasons so many kids in tennis are introvert is just that the sport is more suited, overall, to such kids where they don’t have to deal with peers. Having said all this, it is my experience that introvert kids who really love tennis and don’t give up, slowly learn to deal with cheaters. But it is certainly a problem that needs to be addressed, not just in US but around the world in junior tennis. In Europe, I know for sure, coaches teach their players how to cheat back. Before tournaments there is always a reminder from a coach about how to trace the ball, about making sure you know where on clay the mark is, and that is a lot for a kid to face before ever even starting to play, they need to worry about being cheated or being accused of cheating, as most of you know the worst cheaters are the ones that always accuse and question every ball of the honest kid.

  37. Lisa- You are absolutely correct. The “IFs” are where the rubber meets the road. Do the math on what it would take to have an official on every court not to mention the interested people just don’t exist. Even if you could get the numbers, having someone (a non-official) standing on the court that is not completely engaged and interested doesn’t work. I know because I’ve seen it. It only adds to the confusion. In a perfect world, we would have a chair umpire on every court, for every match but it is just not feasible. I know we could use more officials and I’d encourage everyone to at least go through USTA training to become one, but to think that it is in anyway doable to have 1 on every court, for every match is ludicrous. Additionally, for Jim K. to call into question the skills and character of SUCCESSFUL american juniors is wholly inappropriate. He can call me a “defender” (which you know not to be the case). He can make erroneous assumptions about my daughter’s personality type, but competitive junior tennis is a wonderful activity for me and my family and for us it is “unlike any other on the Planet.”

  38. Looks like almost 75% agree that more officials are needed. That’s a good first step. Hopefully, with this info the USTA will come up with a program where eventually there will be officials in every match to guarantee a better tennis experience for all kids involved. This way discussions about cheating, gamesmanship, introverts, extroverts will eventually be moot.

    1. I sent a link to this post to various people at USTA, both staff and committee members, in hopes of increasing the number of officials at our kids’ matches. I encouraged them to read through all of your comments. I was told that all tournaments on the National schedule are required to have one official for every four courts used; sections are allowed to set their own standard based on the needs of the section.

    1. One problem is that the USTA is having a hard time recruiting new officials. It’s a hard job, the training is tough, the level of appreciation is low, and when you stand up for what’s right, it’s 50/50 if you are going to get backing. When the USTA sees how vital this issue is for the growth and retention of players, then MAYBE they will do something about it. But maybe only if its FLAVOR of the WEEK.

    2. Part of the magic of having teenage court monitors is the peer pressure. When a kid looks over and sees another kid watching, standing still, seeing their bad call, the positive peer pressure kicks in hard. I also instruct the court monitor that if they feel like the call was on purpose and not a mistake, to look at the player, look at the place of the bad call, leave the court and go get one of the hired officials or the referee. 85% of communication is non-verbal.

      I have a list of psychological warfare tactics for coaches and parents to use, that are within the rules, but can be very powerful at ending cheating. 1. If an obvious bad call has occurred work very hard to get eye contact with the player, yes of course they will avoid it, but they will feel it. then stare at the spot of the call for a very long time. Do this every time. Who can stop you from doing that? 2. If the opponent is being coached, sit right next to the parents or coach doing the coaching. When the player looks up to receive coaching look at the player, then look at the coach. The player will cease from looking up, or will begin to look for where you are, now they are distracted from their own match because of their own cheating. Who can stop you from doing this? Once you have established that you are watching, then watch from different places, and enjoy as the player searches for you to see if you are looking before they receive coaching. The best part is that you don’t have to say a word. Anyone bothering you would be the initiator of bad behavior. Here is one more for fun. It’s like a Michael Moore stunt. Have a 5 year old on cue say “Mommy, didn’t that ball hit the line?” who can get mad at a 5 year old?

      if you really smart and good parents do what you can, you can clean this up. And be ok with some ugliness, there will be a time when you have to FIGHT for what is right. The only reason you have this fight, is because others did not.

  39. The tournament will not use the extra money for officials, they will use it for profit. If the section monitored the extra money it might work.

  40. GREAT BLOG!

    I have been a Tournament Director (20+ years) and an Official (30+ years) – I also have had the pleasure of having three kids go through the Texas Section tournaments – so – since this a good place to air my thoughts – I feel like I might be able to add to the conversation… I am now the Officials School Director for Texas.

    Money is ALWAYS an issue – even though a lot people in tennis can afford the $30+ fee + lodging + travel + food… there are still many that are finding it tougher and tougher to keep their kids involved – that is a fact based on ball and racquet sales…!

    Here is an idea:

    Make Referee’s More Responsible! Referee’s should be able to report the number of Officials they hired, which site they worked and the number of hours each Official worked. If Referees had to enter the work record for each Official that works for them during a tournament to their Section (and directly into the NUCULA site) – then the Referee could be held more responsible for hiring an adequate number of Officials for each tournament. The fact is – there are Referees that hire ONLY according to the budget the Tournament Director gives them! Therefore, in order for the Referee to “save” their job – they sometimes skimp on Officials! Referees need to stand up for their Officials and hire the right people AND the right amount of help. You would be amazed at the number of hours most officials work in a single day – they have to be tired at some point! Officials should also refuse to work such long hours – IF- shifts are available.

    Tournament Directors need to hire the right amount of people – most sections – I bet – do not know the number of Officials that are hired each tournament… Section Office’s only “react” to poor Officiating – they do not MAKE SURE ENOUGH OFFICIALS ARE HIRED!!!!

    The Officials that ACTUALLY do their job and walk the courts – SHOULD be tired at the end of the shift! The ones that sit on the bench and wait for a problem (or turn their head when one pops up) are not doing their job. Maybe because they know they will be there ALL DAY!!!

    When a tournament has lazy, incompetent and/or not enough Officials – the Referee is usually not effected that much – what happens is the Tournament Director will get a bad rap for his/her tournament and many times the participants just do not come back – the Tournament Director suffers.

    Section Offices can monitor the number of Officials better and the Tournaments Directors need to take a more active role in recruiting/retaining Officials that they have confidence in… They need to hire enough Officials and then EVERYONE wins!!!!

  41. We were cheated in this week final match ref refuse to address it and the parents were coaching to make matters too. It went on and on and go uglier and the ref refused to get involved and was very rude. Next time two loaded camcorders so Nick an take it to the lazy bones ref and force him to look at it instead of doing nothing as Nick lost 100 points of it.

  42. Paula – You owe it to your kid to send in a written complaint. If you don’t what happened to you will continue. I know a parent that sent video to their USTA section, Don’t show ref waste of your time. Parent was suspended.

  43. This is always the toughest call for junior tennis. In the long run the cream always rises to the top. All the cheating, coaching etc. only goes so far. Parents, coaches and children need to stay strong and persist. To be honest, if a match comes down to say 5 or fewer line calls then the player needs to be focused on the execution of his/her game rather than the line calls. Rarely, rarely (in junior tennis) is an entire match entirely decided by this few number of line calls. Obviously, as the level is increased the number of critical line calls decreases and so does the margin of error for calling the lines. In the end,..the best players prevail despite all of the bad line calls and coaching. Do not get me wrong….I am not giving a free pass to the line officials…..they need to up their game as well….make tough calls….give warnings….call foot faults….But i have a question……how are the line officials and referees held accountable?

  44. We just finished Level 4, and had a Chair Umpire for the match today. Rule for the Chair Umpire was to overrule BUT kids STILL call the lines. For DBLS there were NO MISSED calls! Kids did a great Job calling the lines. No Overrules, Not a word about a line call or score. For Singles however my Kids Opponent was OVER RULED 4 Times. NOW I have no doubt this kid was calling WHAT they thought were balls that were OUT. They were all overruled from the CHAIR @ the Baseline. No mark was inspected balls were not close to OUT,,,,,,,,,BUT BUT BUT…..

    Goes back to what I have been saying NOT CHEATING but LACK of KNOWLEDGE on how to call the game. CLOSE BALLS benefit GIVEN to BALL IN, NOT OUT.

    Kid was frazzled, and my kid peppers the baseline so when those calls are not made and the BENEFIT is given to BALLs being IN, my kid does very well.

    I have to say I was told with the pace some kids hit (mine included) THEY CANNOT SEE that line as they are moving to hit. She said she SWORE it was 7 inches past the line! (Maybe 2 inches in the court)

    I will say that my KID played more long serves than ever (plays lots out serves), and DIDN’T self overrule (does this 2-3 times a game). Did self OVERRULE in the Semi FInal on a ball that was actually OUT, Thats OK because it was CLOSE and the benefit goes to it CALLED IN.
    Parent told me “Kid needs to stop reversing the call to IN!” Are you kidding ONE point Two Points don’t make a difference plus playing honest isn’t difficult if you have skill.

    My position hasn’t changed BUT…..

    – Yes a Chair Umpire seem to make a substantial difference in the FAIRNESS and FLOW of the game. (Best Officials for Level 4 event also I might add)

    – Adding Officials without Player/Parent Education would make things worse. (kids not knowing rules may feel horrible at missing calls)

    At the TEAM ZONALs in July before every TEAM match the Umpire before the TEAMs get their opponent and court takes 1-2 Min to refresh the RULES to all the players. Haven’t heard this and maybe besides 5 min WU/Coin Toss that should be discussed with every kid.

    1. Great points! Sounds like you are doing the right thing in teaching sportsmanship and the old saying – TREAT OTHERS LIKE YOU WOULD LIKE TO BE TREATED!!!

      Here is a NOVEL idea – WHEN THERE IS A CHAIRED MATCH… the USTA should adapt one of the ITA rules (these kids will be playing under as college players) which is the players call all the lines and the Chair is just there as the third party – not involved on line calls UNLESS ASKED!!! If the player is over-ruled three times – they go into the code.

      I say this because the Chair is currently NOT asked and must get involved on clear errors before being asked! Here is a case in point – A service return was hit for a winner – but, the serve was CLEARLY long by two inches, three inches, four inches, maybe even eight inches… if the Chair does not over-rule this clear error – how does the server get justices? my point is – the chair needs to stay out of the match unless the players ASK – and in this case the SERVER CAN ASK before he/she makes a play on the ball!

      The Chairs are NOT TRAINING FOR THE PROS – they are calling junior matches. This way we are getting the kids ready for their College matches and what they can expect from College Officials…

      Make it about the KIDS – NOT the USTA CHAIR DEVELOPEMENT PROGRAM.

  45. Not needed. Other junior sports only have refs, no instant replay or prize money. I don’t think it’s too much to ask.

  46. To guarantee a better tennis (match) experience for all kids involved it would probably be best to leave all “grownups” home.

    You can buy footage of the match when it is over. That way in the privacy of your screening room you can blow off steam about your child’s loss and your hijacked entry fee by circling all bad line calls, identifying all missing refs, reporting on all foreign speaking cheats, timing kids to the bathroom and back, berating all forceful kids, weeping for all shy ones and if anything was left out it can be remedied too. Right there from the privacy of your screening room you can soothe your seething spirit with your handy dandy match tape…shouting down every dirty play by play, rising up against every unsportsmanship like below the belt blow.

    After all this is America. lol

  47. @ Candy —- see there you go, assuming we all can afford a screening room. If I could I’d pay someone to yell, berate, coach… Instead I’ve got to do it myself! (Haha).

  48. Great idea. And when your children come home, teach them to be meaner and tougher so they can survive out there. Teach them to cheat back to teach the other player a lesson. Eye for an eye! After all, this is what Sports is all about.

  49. Help has arrived…sportsmanship and the new USTA Junior Player Promise

    I recognize that tennis is a sport that places the responsibility for fair play on me. I promise to

    abide by the rules of the game, which require me to give the benefit of the doubt to my

    opponent. At all times, I shall strive to compete with the true spirit of sportsmanship,

    recognizing that my behavior on the court is a direct reflection of my character. Whether this

    match ends with my victory or defeat, I promise to conduct myself in a way that honors my

    opponents, my team, those who support me, and the game of tennis.

    http://tenniskalamazoo.blogspot.com/

  50. My son just finished a level 5 – 12 singles in Las Vegas – My son is from out of town and the other player was from Vegas – and plays/trains at the host site. Upon splitting the first two sets with no line call issues from either player, the roving umpire showed up to “officiate” the 10 point tie breaker. My son was coming back at 3-4 when my son called a second serve “out” for a double fault. It happened to be the add court close to all of us – parents and coaches. The local Vegas opponent did not challenge the call and I wrote double fault in my scoring notes – just then, the official over-ruled my son’s call – calling the ball in and giving the point to the Vegas player. My son got upset and challenged the official call – to no avail. Everyone (including opponent’s coach) agreed the ball was clearly out. Of course, one point does not make a match but now – instead of 4-4 it’s 3-5 and momentum shifted. My son lost. I used to be in favor of officials; however, now I see how this role can be mis-used.

  51. Great blog. I don’t know what the answer is really. I play low B high C ALTA tennis in Atlanta. If a ball is close we call it in. Of course we pay $25 a year and bring a couple of sandwiches to the match. My daughter attends an academy in Tampa since we had so many issues trying to home school, etc. here in GA. Level 6s and 7s are tough in FL since non-residents can only play those events. We have some GA players who take cheating to an art form. Worse thing for my daughter is she serves both serves about the same and the tend to hit near the back corner. They can nearly always grab a critical point when they need it. At least 75% of the opponents seem to be fair. We have 3-4 players whose parents coach in a foreign language. Several more who use hand signals. There is some much pressure on all involved since everyone involved in high level tourneys spends a lot of money to participate.

    The spin I want to put on this issue is the great level of difference in the ability of the officials. I don’t know what they pay them but most of them seem to be doing the least they can. I understand it is a crap job. About 20% of them seem to really care and be proactive. Most are in the middle somewhere. We had one last year who was snoring in the chair in the tennis center during the afternoon matches of the last day.My daughter called line judge a couple of weeks ago against the most well know drama queen in GA 12s. He overturned 3-4 of her calls and she said “you are an idiot if you think that was in.” No penalties or repercussions. I don’t think we have the budget to hire enough people who care about enforcing the rules. Most of them are making a modest wage and just want to make it through the day. I can somehow understand that. I just dream of the day when my daughter has a competent line judge and can rely on that.

    On the plus side I think most tennis kids are some of the finest young people I have met. To go through their rigorous schedule is amazing. Our family trips to tourneys have been wonderful. Just made zonals this year and can’t wait. I say keep the faith – the cheaters and pushers will fall away. Selah

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