Guam – Patience, confidence and a love for the game of tennis is a simple recipe for a good, tennis court line umpire and batches are needed for the upcoming Davis Cup tie matches between Thailand and Oceania in March.
On Sunday, Jan. 30, the Guam National Tennis Federation will be putting on a one-day only training session at Hilton Guam Resort & Spa’s tennis courts for potential line umpires for March’s Davis Cup matches. Japan’s Noriyuki Okamura will be returning to Guam to direct the training session. Okamura trained local residents to call lines for last year’s Guam Futures tennis tournament and oversaw both visiting and local line umpires at the tournament.
Professional level tournaments played in Guam are a rare, but great opportunity for local officials to be recognized and recommended for larger professional tennis tournament in the region, as seen with the selection of Guam’s Kenta Tanimoto and Adrian Calugay as line umpires for the 2010 Rakuten Japan Open. The Japan Open is one of only a handful of ATP 500 tier events and is one of the top 25 men’s professional tournaments in the world. Tanimoto and Calugay were selected based on their performance during the Guam Futures tennis tournament.
“Officials trained for the Guam Futures going to this level of tournament really says a lot about how much of an impression they made at the Futures level,” said Torgun Smith, Guam Futures tournament director. “It was very exciting to see our boys working on center court of such a prestigious event. They were actually calling lines for Grand Slam champions in a stadium in front of thousands of fans and hundreds of thousands of dollars at stake.”
The 2010 Rakuten Japan Open featured top ranked players including eventual champion and world No. 1-ranked Rafael Nadal, runner up Gael Monfils, Juan Martin del Potro, Andy Roddick and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga among other ATP heavy weights.
“It was terrifying and awesome at the same time,” Tanimoto, a junior at Father Duenas Memorial School, said about calling lines at the Japan Open. “I was so intimidated by the (world’s top players), but being on court and watching those players play just two feet away was amazing.”
While Tanimoto and Calugay’s peers were suiting up to participate as ball boys and girls, the two Guam residents were donning uniforms reserved solely for linesmen and other courtside officials. Tanimoto, in particular, was selected to call lines for Nadal in his semifinal match.
Although it may seem like an easy job determining if a ball landed inside the boundary lines or outside, some shots are clocked in over a hundred miles per hour. Calls that are challenged by players can incite verbal, and sometimes physical, abuse by players to linesmen.
Although players may be reprimanded and fined for their unsportsmanlike conduct, single incidents can be demoralizing for court officials.
“You need to have extreme patience,” Tanimoto says. “Right at the second the ball hits the ground, you have to make the call, and not when the ball still is in the air. If you call too early, you’ll probably be wrong.
“When calling lines, you also need to be loud and assertive, as you have to convince the player that you’re right. (Based on my experience), a good line umpire should be loud, patient and should love tennis,” Tanimoto added.
For more information about line umpire training on Sunday, Jan. 30, please contact GNTF’s Smith by calling 687-5483