Karma at a junior tournament
(Posting here since this seems to be where the junior stuff gets posted now)
I have a story of tennis karma. And a question.
Last weekend, my son lost a match in the tiebreaker at a 10u tournament. Another day at the office, no biggie. But this one is really sticking with me.
It was tied 4 all when his opponent hit long. My son called it out. His opponent replied with the usual "Are you sure?" that you hear on every out call during a tiebreakers/high pressure points at junior tourneys. My son said he was sure. He even circled the ball mark in the clay to emphasize his point. The other kid, he was borderline "losing it" for the whole match, starts raising his voice and keeps going with "I thought it was in! It was definitely in!" etc. and then walks towards the court monitor and starts loudly pleading his case. She hesitates, looking clearly intimidated, and says "umm, yeah, uh, I think it was... in." and gives the point to his opponent. She ignores the ball mark completely--doesn't even look at it. My son is really crestfallen, loses his composure, double faults, then loses the next point and the match. All the time muttering "it was out" with a stunned look on his face.
"So what?" you're thinking. This stuff happens.
But... I swear the girl that was the "court monitor" wasn't a day over 12! Maybe not a day over 11. And I don't think she wasn't even watching the point when it happened. She was chatting with another "tween" court monitor who is watching the adjacent court. And she didn't know what she was doing at all. For instance, there were lots of random tennis balls from early matches lying around because kids had left them/she hadn't been picking them up, so when the match started, she started picking up these random balls and tossing them to the server like she was a ball girl, even though the boys had brought fresh game balls for the match. (As you probably know, people are fussy about using fresh game balls at tourneys). I thought this was odd when she was doing it, and the boys kept looking through the balls she was giving them trying to find the ball numbers for their game balls, but she kept doing this. I was actually kind of amused, and she was so young and behaving like a ball girl, so I assumed that was what she was, albeit a very poorly trained ball girl.
Later in the match, however, she suddenly called out "LET!" when a ball bounced through my son's court when he was about to hit an easy winner during a point. I was shocked for 2 reasons: I didn't realize she considered herself an umpire, and secondly, it is the player's call whether or not it is a let. If the ball doesn't bother them, they can play on, right? But unlike many tennis parents, I remained silent and stayed out of it, because that's the right thing to do. These things usually "work themselves out", with a bad call going the other way later.
So at any rate, she established herself as clueless about what her role was already. She made no line calls or overrules at all except that erroneous "let" call until that fateful point in the tiebreaker, after the other player started complaining at her. It was a clear case of "deer in the headlights, say something fast." She had no idea whether the ball was in or out.
This is karma, because I a few months ago I posted in response to another thread here that one solution to all the cheating on line calls in junior tennis would be to get high school students who need "community service hours" for their diplomas and train them to be court monitors. Others thought this was a bad idea. Now you can put me in that category, too! Although this girl didn't even look like a high school student, still, I can see now that it would take a special kid to be able to handle the stress/pressure of being a court monitor.
I'm not making excuses because honestly my son needs to learn not to let that stuff get to him in a match. Teachable moment. But when he finally got to a private space after that match, he began to cry and cry, repeating over and over that the ball was in. It took a lot from me to try to get him in the right place perspective-wise, but inside it was killing me. He was a victim of injustice for sure, but I had to act otherwise for the sake of the bigger lessons.
Now the question: What should I have done in that situation in the match?
Obviously I didn't want to argue or confront the girl, she was just a kid and parents really should never argue with line judges, no matter their age. What I did do was complain to the tournament director. His only response was "She's older than 10" when I asked why he had a girl practically the same age as the players adjudicating matches. That's all he had. And I understand that there isn't much he can do at that point to fix what already happened. But there needs to be some rule about basic knowledge and age/experience requirements for "court monitors."
And I will think twice before proposing suggestions for fixing line call cheating on here!