Melissa Jackson was already a USTA League Tennis player when she decided to become an official in 2001.
“I was tired of not knowing the rules and having people make them up as we were playing,” she said with a laugh. “A teammate of mine said she had just become an official. She told me to call Lois Huggins if I was interested. And that was it,”
Fifteen years later, Jackson is receiving the inaugural Middle States Tennis Official Award.
Becoming an official means learning the rule book, passing an exam and dedicating countless weekends to tennis events and tournaments. To a tennis fan, it’s nothing.
“I just love the sport,” Jackson said. “It’s a thinking person’s sport. All I want is for it to be played fairly. When I do the job, I do the best possible job that I can.”
This is the first year Middle States is acknowledging an official with a Middle States Award. The award is presented to a tennis official who resides within Middle States and provides consistent, exemplary work during tournaments and other organized play, while showing a clear and constant understanding for fairness and the rules of the game.
“It was so nice to receive this award,” Jackson said. “Everyone is so supportive of me. I had my husband, mom and friends at the awards ceremony and two more friends surprised me by showing up. I’m very overwhelmed by this whole thing.”