Tennis is one-on-one, or two-on-two, and those on the court earn all of the credit — or all of the blame — for each result. There are no holding penalties or pass-interference calls. Unlike golfers, tennis players don’t battle trees, water and divots.
And that’s just the way the officials want it.
Whatever the tournament, tennis officials from all over the world hold the responsibility of guarding the rules of tennis and ensuring that each match is fair.
Officials don’t want you to notice them. If you do, that means things aren’t going as smooth as they should be. Tournament directors and officials, like Middle States’ Chairman of Officials Larry Mulligan-Gibbs, would prefer the crowd focus on the forehands and drop shots, cheering the action instead of wondering about the calls.
“We’re there to keep things fair,” he said. “We’re not there to be part of the show.”
The Middle States Connection
Even at the highest level of competition, the US Open, a number of USTA Middle States officials are the ones in charge.
“Middle States officials are represented often. Not just at the US Open, but all over the country,” Mulligan-Gibbs said. “It’s a great group that does great work.”
Some of those officials include Mulligan-Gibbs, Martha Gregg, Chris Zeak and Mark Raynes, among others. Each has a unique road to officiating, a different story to tell, and pages worth of unforgettable moments and matches on the court.
“It might be a US Open final or a junior tournament in California, but we all have plenty to share,” Mulligan-Gibbs added. “People just need to ask.”
Interested in being one of those well-dressed officials calling the lines?
Ever wonder how they got started? It’s not as hard as you might think. Most don’t realize that becoming an official is an option for anyone with a passion for the game. The USTA Officials Department oversees the certification of officials at all levels of tennis in the United States, from grassroots tournaments to professional events, and the USTA is looking for individuals ready for the challenge. To learn more about becoming a USTA Official, click here.