TENNIS OFFICIAL FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
What is a tennis official?
- A person who helps ensure that any given tennis match is conducted under the fairest possible conditions. So, ideally, the official is "a friend at court," helpful to the players and the spectators.
- USTA national officials website. CLICK HERE
Why should I be a tennis official?
- Love the game.
- Have a keen interest in seeing that the sport is played under the best conditions.
- Enjoy having first-hand contact with tennis, whereby you can make a useful contribution to the game, beyond what you may do or have done as a player.
How do I become a tennis official?
- Be an active USTA member. CLICK HERE
- Have a correctable 20-20 vision. A doctor must corroborate this every two years. Certification for even years (i.e. 2014 processed in 2012) requires vision verification by an eye doctor.
- Take and pass the Provisional or USTA exam. Print hard copy first and answer, then enter answers electronically .CLICK HERE
- Turn in your Data Card to your Section Chairman (Bruce Sampley, 1328 S. Lake St., Fort Worth, TX, 76104) by October 5 of each year. If you do not have a blank Data Card, contact Ryan Orner at the USTA in New York via e-mail at Orner@usta.com.
- Contact your area coordinator to learn about upcoming tournaments. CLICK HERE
What is the reference book for officials?
"Friend at Court (FAC)" is available for purchase from the USTA Bookstore at 888-832- 8291 or can be viewed online at FRIEND AT COURT. A copy may also be available from USTA Texas section office by calling (512) 443-1334 ext. 209 or by email at Officials@texas.usta.com.
Do I get paid, or is it volunteer work?
- Each tournament fee is determined independently.
- Your chief umpire or referee will know the fee schedule.
- Some tournaments are staffed with volunteers (i.e., a wheelchair tournament).
- While in training, you may be unpaid, or paid but at a lower rate than when fully qualified.
- Most officials have another income besides officiating.
Where do I get my uniform?
Some professional tournaments provide special uniforms. For all other tournaments, you should wear the approved Official's Shirt available at Honigs Whistlestop or view at http://assets.usta.com/assets/1/15/Honig%20Sale.pdf.
Enter "USTA" in the 'Search Merchandise' box to access the USTA Uniforms and Accessories.
Do I qualify to just work local tournaments?
You are eligible to work any tournament in the US. You must contact the chief umpire for each tournament.
How often must I work?
You may work as much or as little as your available time allows. Of course, to advance in your officiating capabilities, you should work as much as possible.
What should I bring to each match?
You should bring a stopwatch, tape measure, and a small notebook to keep notes. A stopwatch separate from the one available on your wristwatch is recommended.
What are my tax consequences?
You are an independent contractor. You will declare your income as self-employment income and you may need to pay federal income taxes as well as social security self employment tax.
How do I become eligible for college matches and tournaments?
Each year, several training sessions are held in the USTA/Texas Section. You should attend a session for Intercollegiate Tennis Association (ITA) training in addition to the regular Sectional training. If you pass the written test, you can start working ITA (college) matches.
How do I become eligible for professional tournaments?
To become a line umpire at a professional event, you must attend a line umpire clinic at specified Futures or Challenger tournaments throughout the country. The schedule of these tournaments is available on the USTA web site, http://www.usta.com/rules/default.sps?iType=923&icustompageid=1716
- Under Officials, go to "Official's Line Training Schedule".
- You must attend the clinic at your own expense.
- If the training session is successful, you may be asked to stay and work part of the qualifier or the main draw.
- By working this event, you will acquire work history that may allow you to apply for later events during the year.
How do I advance in the officiating ranks?
Each year officials are evaluated at various events when a Trainer/Evaluator is present. If your evaluation at the event is better than expected, then you are allowed to progress to the next level. So it behooves an official to make sure they work events with a trainer/evaluator present if he wishes to advance quickly in the officiating ranks. The levels and requirements are covered in detail in our reference book "Friend at Court".
How do I get to work at the US Open?
The officials who work the US Open are selected from a large pool of officials who apply. They all need to have prior experience working professional lines. The US Open staff list is selected from among the best-qualified applicants.