02
Jun
10

Tired of arguing with officials? Let the kids make the calls…believe it or not, it works…read on…

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1 Response to “Tired of arguing with officials? Let the kids make the calls…believe it or not, it works…read on…”


  1. June 2, 2010 at 3:40 PM

    High school tennis officials don’t wear stripes, protective gear or carry a whistle. They carry rackets and wear tennis shoes because the officials are, in fact, the players themselves.

    Naturally, an occasional dust-up comes with teenagers trying to balance a competitive nature and honesty. But tennis players and coaches agree that, for the most part, matches proceed with little confrontation.

    “It just comes down to respect for the game and just trying to keep the game as honest as you can,” said Reynoldsburg No. 1 singles player Austin Dresbach. “You want it to be a fair match. It’s always tempting, but in the end I just try to keep my calls fair and give the other player the respect he deserves. In turn, if I make good calls, I would assume that the other player would make good calls as well.”

    The onus lies with coaches to instill the value of fair play in their teams.

    “It’s a sport of integrity,” Groveport coach Doug Ewart said. “As a coach you are empowered with responsibility to teach your kids competition isn’t just about a ‘W’. Competition is about honesty, integrity, and best effort.”

    However, pressure can cause players to be less than honest with their calls. He or she then risks gaining a reputation as a cheater.

    “Many cases in tennis the parents have spent so much money,” Ewart said. “The player feels pressure to win at all costs. In their minds, the ends justify the means.”

    Reynoldsburg coach Mark Mathias identifies two types of players who miss calls.

    “One, because they want to win so badly and they’ll do it,” Mathias said. “In 28 years I haven’t seen very many of those.

    “There’s also some that don’t watch the ball real well and you’ll get balls that look like they’re going to go out and sometimes because of the wind or whatever the ball lands in. They make up their mind and they won’t track it all the way where it lands.”

    A player can ask a coach to serve as a line judge if he feels his opponent is making bad calls. The coach will make rulings only on appeals by the players. Outside officials don’t become involved at every court until the state tournament.

    Coaches said players rarely call for a line judge. Ewart said he teaches his players a “three-strike” rule to determine when to ask for a line judge. He says to let the first questionable call slide, ask the player about the second questionable call and make the request for outside help after a third disputed call.

    When a player asks whether the opponent is sure about a call, the opponent can change the call. Tennis courtesy says to give the opposing player the benefit of the doubt.

    Carlos Childs, a senior at Groveport, said he knows one younger player who doesn’t like to rule in an opponent’s favor.

    “I think he wants to win and he won’t give you the benefit of the doubt,” Childs said. “It’s not that I think he purposely makes bad calls. I just think if it’s close he wants to give himself the advantage.”

    And there are more blatant attempts at cheating. Watterson senior Ben Heigel recalls a match this year on the court next to him in which an opponent continually made poor calls. Fed up with the calls, Heigel’s teammate called for a line judge.

    “It went to a third set and later in the third set, he came in and had a volley that was six or seven inches in from both the baseline and the sideline and he called the ball out.” he said. “The line judge overturned it, but that was probably the worst call I’ve ever seen.”

    Coaches often step in when they see a player on their team making questionable calls.

    “The bottom line is you got to be competitive and you want to win, but you have to be fair,” Watterson coach Barb Woods said. “You have to set them straight and be upfront with them and talk with them.”

    Ewart said he hasn’t noticed a trend of cheating being any worse or better over the 31 years he’s been coaching, but he did say things tend to run more smoothly for boys than girls.

    “The boys are pretty much OK,” Ewart said. “They’ll question a call, and they’ll let it go. In some cases, they’ll make a blatant call back to try to even the scoring and then it either goes to get a judge or it levels off and you just go on with it.

    “The girls, they will call each other’s integrity into question. They’ll call each other’s mothers into question. They will go as close to the line as they can without being an actual infraction for unsportsmanlike behavior.”

    Ewart stresses to his players not to get caught up in the accuracy of another player’s calls. In the end, one point in one game is a small part of the match.

    “I’ve seen one player that probably did lose a match in a crucial situation because the opponent made some bad calls and we weren’t out as a judge,” Ewart said. “In every other situation, it really comes down to it wasn’t the bad call that cost you the match. It was how you behaved and how you played and how you let it bother you for the following points that affected the outcome of that match.”


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