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-   -   Overruling Line Calls (http://tt.tennis-warehouse.com/showthread.php?t=444177)

ctoth666 10-27-2012 01:56 PM

Overruling Line Calls
 
I have just started to get into some officiating at the junior level. I have had a few assignments, and I'm still hung up on overruling line calls. I'm in a position where I would rather make no call at all than make the wrong call, but I've been presented with some difficult situations. I'm still learning and picking up on things, but line calls are always controversial to say the least. More than anything else, I just want to do justice by the players and avoid conflict.

The last event I did as a roving umpire had me standing at the net post for a boy's semifinal in a three set match-tiebreak format. I did not make an overrule until the match tiebreak, in which I ended up overruling two line calls on the same near sideline against the same player, who I did not suspect of foul play. His opponent hit two down-the-line point-ending shots that either landed on or very near to the sideline, and I ended up calling both in. At the time I felt that both shots had landed partially on the sideline, but after the match it occurred to me: how can I be sure? I could have very well gotten them both wrong, and it has nothing to do with incompetence. It's hard to call lines when you're standing on one side of the net post, and it's hard to be confident unless you're standing on the line in question. It would be like a chair umpire making calls without lines-people, except it's even harder because of the lower vantage point.

I'd appreciate any constructive feedback. Thanks.

coaching32yrs 10-27-2012 02:06 PM

Only overule when you are sure. You should be able to make a call on the near sideline.

BirdieLane 10-27-2012 09:35 PM

First, thanks for officiating. It's a tough, thankless job and at the same time, we need more quality officials at our events. Cheating is a huge issue in junior tennis and a savy umpire can go a long ways to make the events better.

For the situation described, I think you need to overrule clear errors - but honestly, I think that it's a very tough call on the near sideline to judge if a ball was partially on the line. Your angle is not good and the the line is behind the ball from your perspective, correct? You actually have a better angle on all other lines (baseline, service line, far sideline) because then the ball is bouncing behind the line (from your perspective).

And note that as you move up and start to 'chair'...yes, you will be responsible for making all calls at certain levels of matches. Its a tough job!!

But yes, roving is a tough situation that can be frustrating for everyone. So maybe you didn't specifically ask...but the forum has been slow ;) So, beyond your specific scenario, here are some other things that I'd throw out as making the difference between a good roving official and the ones that don't help much (and even hurt).

These thoughts are all from experience. My kids have played a lot of matches with very fair and honest opponents. But they've also played a lot of cheaters and I've seen cheaters at work on other courts.

First, I think as a rover, the best service you can provide is keep the cheaters at bay. Catching or correcting an 'honest' mistake is nice, but a distant second to your true purpose.

There's several different kinds of cheaters. There's the 'big point' cheaters; there's the 'line's are out' cheaters; there's the 'changing the score' cheaters; there's the cheaters that accuse honest opponents of cheaters. Us parents spend a lot of money getting to these tourneys and it's beyond frustrating losing to a player who got away with cheating - and it's happened multiple times to all of us. A close match is really decided by 8 or 10 points and so a players who is willing to cheat 4 or 5 times can insure that he will beat his 'tennis equal'.

So, here's my list. I'm sure you know some or maybe all of these, but be assured, not all officials know this stuff because all of my comments are from experience.
  1. Don't chat it up with other officials when roaming. Cheaters know when you are not paying attention and it's very frustrating to see them get away with their tricks right under the nose of a rover who wasn't paying attention.
  2. While cheaters can strike at any time, given your limited resources, look for matches late in sets, supertiebreaks, or third sets.
  3. Understand which matches are being played very fairly by 1) prior reputation; and 2) observation (i.e. you see BOTH players playing close balls and giving benefit of doubt)...Don't waste time on these courts.
  4. Know what players have a reputation. Some might think this isn't right, but I think it is. That's the cost of being a cheater and your reputation SHOULD proceed you...and yes, officials WILL have it out for you.
  5. If a player requests a line judge, please provide. Of course you may not see any issues while you are standing their because the cheater will stop while you are there. But they will start again the minute you turn your back. So don't leave!
  6. On a close out call, if you are not able to overrule, then quickly CONFIRM the call. This will really help the opposing player put it behind them versus you saying "too close to tell". Just quickly tell them "yes, it was out" even if you couldn't tell for sure. This might seem minor, but it will really help the players. I've had friendly arguments over this with a few officials...but without a doubt, the officials that command the most respect and keep both players the most calm are the ones that do not use the "too close to tell" line.
  7. On clay, be an expert on marks. I've seen officials accept the worse marks. Some players will even make a mark with their rackets and try to call it a ball mark (and officials fall for it). Cross court balls make different marks than down the line marks. Circling marks is a great habit for players to get into on close calls for two reasons...it shows the mark for you and the opponent. And..it makes it hard to use that mark again later!
  8. This all said, note that if you get called to a court and a player can't find a mark...that doesn't mean the player cheated...in fact, it could be the opposite. A cheater doesn't challenge a call at first, then once the player walks away from where the ball landed, the cheater asks for a mark...then when you can't find it for sure, he call the official. This has happened to my kid a few times and the official gave the cheater the point!
  9. Also, understand that when you get called to a court...the more confident player is not always right. In a score dispute, a cheater might have a 'story' for every point while the other player is struggling to remember. I watched my kid collapse in the finals of a national tournament because a terrible cheater completely fabricated a story and the result was the umpire thinking my kid was the liar...the cheater won every game after that.
  10. Another bit... Often cheaters will repeatedly challenge calls trying to bully an honest player. Habitual "Are you sure???" is a common way cheaters bully fair players. If you see an "Are you sure?" on a ball clearly out, I suggest you keep an eye on the accuser.

I could probably list another 20 but this got way too long. Good luck to you and thanks for your efforts to be a better official!!

coaching32yrs 10-28-2012 06:28 AM

[*]This all said, note that if you get called to a court and a player can't find a mark...that doesn't mean the player cheated...in fact, it could be the opposite. A cheater doesn't challenge a call at first, then once the player walks away from where the ball landed, the cheater asks for a mark...then when you can't find it for sure, he call the official. This has happened to my kid a few times and the official gave the cheater the point!

This is a great point. My player got overruled twice in a recent clay court match. The opponent protested the calls and asked my player to locate the mark. On both occasions he couldn't find the mark. The official came on the court, she had no idea where the mark was. The opponent pointed to a good mark. The official accepted that as the mark. It wasn't. The official has to locate the correct mark without input from either side to overrule.

SoCal10s 10-28-2012 07:43 AM

I've done this before... my hint is


1.. don't overrule unless the players ask...
2.. just look at their reactions /both the hitter and the line caller..


in the past few years that I have been watching JR. tournament I see a lot line call questioning ,especially from some top players.. sometimes they all think that their hits should all be in... I haven't figures out yet if they are doing this to slow down the play/gamesmanship or they are just freeking idiots..

...the other thing I've been noticing is that some player who really ''don't cheat'' just make bad calls ... most of those bad calls come from the fact that they stop paying attention to the ball 'in flight'.. they assume that the balls will sail out and take their eyes off the ball and just call it out..

one thing I can almost assure you.. girl tend to cheat more than boys ,, just because they are better actors..

I hope you can watch for one thing that is really bothering me .. the trend of coaching.. parents/coach are by the fence coaching their kid all the time and really getting into other parent's face outside while they are watching .. a real sneaky thing they do is talk or speak in a different language .. I would love to see more official take a bit of control of that stuff.. just walk up to the talker and tell them that if you have something to say USTA rule states that it "" must be said in English "" ..

Tennishacker 10-28-2012 12:34 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by SoCal10s (Post 6979517)
I've done this before... my hint is


1.. don't overrule unless the players ask...
2.. just look at their reactions /both the hitter and the line caller..


in the past few years that I have been watching JR. tournament I see a lot line call questioning ,especially from some top players.. sometimes they all think that their hits should all be in... I haven't figures out yet if they are doing this to slow down the play/gamesmanship or they are just freeking idiots..

...the other thing I've been noticing is that some player who really ''don't cheat'' just make bad calls ... most of those bad calls come from the fact that they stop paying attention to the ball 'in flight'.. they assume that the balls will sail out and take their eyes off the ball and just call it out..

one thing I can almost assure you.. girl tend to cheat more than boys ,, just because they are better actors..

I hope you can watch for one thing that is really bothering me .. the trend of coaching.. parents/coach are by the fence coaching their kid all the time and really getting into other parent's face outside while they are watching .. a real sneaky thing they do is talk or speak in a different language .. I would love to see more official take a bit of control of that stuff.. just walk up to the talker and tell them that if you have something to say USTA rule states that it "" must be said in English "" ..

Soo true, the majority of older boys are pretty good at being "MEN", and do the right thing.

The girls are another story, once they master the art of cheating, boy or boy, good luck to the USTA officials.

woodrow1029 10-28-2012 12:35 PM

Well, first of all, unless it is collegiate tennis, Socal's first advice is wrong. You can't overrule once a player asks.

To the OP, please send me an email. I enable email on here, so you can email me from here.

SoCal10s 10-29-2012 06:56 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by woodrow1029 (Post 6980218)
Well, first of all, unless it is collegiate tennis, Socal's first advice is wrong. You can't overrule once a player asks.

To the OP, please send me an email. I enable email on here, so you can email me from here.

OK you definitely better ask WOODROW..he's the expert .. I guess I've been watching too many college matches lately ..

coaching32yrs 10-29-2012 07:33 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by woodrow1029 (Post 6980218)
Well, first of all, unless it is collegiate tennis, Socal's first advice is wrong. You can't overrule once a player asks.

To the OP, please send me an email. I enable email on here, so you can email me from here.

True on a hard court. On a clay court the official can check the mark.


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