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WTA Tennis




Cummings and Goings XIX by Jim Cummings

April 4, 2009 10:08 PM

For the first time in over 10 years or more, I attended the USTA Annual Meeting held in Palm Dessert, California and am glad I went. It is inspirational to see and talk with people from all over the country who have one common purpose; the promotion and preservation of our great game. Last Fall, When USTA asked for expressions of interest from anyone wanting to serve on a Committee, I threw my hat in the ring to serve on the Rules Committee. In December, I was pleasantly surprised to learn my application had been accepted. It had been about 25 years since I was last on the Rules Committee. My 10 year stint then started about 1974 when Jack Stahr, the author of The Friend At Court, was Chair. When Jack died in 1980, Nick Powel took over. Yup. the author of The Code. Then, as now, we had some pretty interesting discussions. But back then, there wasn't much advance preparation and what there was was done by snail mail. For this meeting, I spent many hours formulating and responding to agenda items via SharePoint, USTA's dedicated website setup specifically for use by the USTA Board and National Committees. I think there was only one bit of correspondence received in the mail. How times have changed.

President Lucy Garvin opened the meeting with a talk on Team Work and Team Building, the theme of her presidency. She recognized that given the present economy, there would be challenging times ahead, but gave every impression that USTA was fully prepared to meet them. Under her administration, she said, there would be an emphasis on building upon the programs already in place. No need to reinvent the wheel just because a new president was taking office. USTA has a good foundation and she intends to build on it. The collective sigh of relief I heard was from all the staff people who have had to face this problem in the past. Gordon Smith, Executive Director and Chief Operating Officer and Burt Kamperman, Chief Executive, Community Tennis, then addressed the assembly and when all was said and done, I came away with the feeling that we were in good hands for the next two years.

A Time To Tell

Code 22, "Calling balls on clay courts," says that a player should take a careful second look at any point-ending placement that is close to a line on a clay court. The shot is good if any part of the ball mark touches the line. If you can see only part of the mark outside the line, that means the missing part hit

the line. This is exactly what a friend of mine did during a league match at an indoor clay court facility. He took a careful second look at the ball mark near the base line of a shot he had let pass while playing net. The mark confirmed his out call. His opponent went ballistic saying that if my friend had to check the mark, he could not have been sure of his call and therefore, had to concede the point. Not so. All my friend was doing was following the Code. The opponent's hue and cry disrupted play on near-by courts and he went so far as to challenge my friend to "go outside." UFF DA!

I'm sorry to report that this incident was not reported to league authorities. Hopefully, none of you will have such a bad experience, but if you do, I strongly urge you to report it. I can give you two good reasons for doing so. For one, if he did it once, he probably is going to do it again. You owe it to your fellow league players to see that something like that does not happen again. The other is that a lot of clubs will not put up with such boorish behavior and may simply ban leagues from using their facilities, thus spoiling it for everybody. One bad apple can spoil the barrel.

Neat Rule Book

The USTA has a great little book available that every tennis player should have in their bag. It's the 2009 edition of the Rules of Tennis and it also includes The Code. It's available from the USTA Shop at usta.com or by calling  the shop at 1-800-677-0275. I went on-line and learned it cost $2.75 less a 10%

USTA member's discount plus S&H. The S&H was about a half dollar more than the book minus the discount. I did not look into quantity discounts, but they are available by calling the toll free number. Get your group or team together and order a bunch. The book contains everything you really need to know about the rules of tennis and the unwritten rules found in the Code. I distinctly remember when the Code was first published. Up to that time, every player has his or her own code that they played by. As you can imagine, there was a great variance between players. Some would give you any benefit of a doubt while others would not even give you the time of the day. Finally, there was the Code that we all were expected to play by; especially when USTA made it part of the tournament regulations applicable to all matches played without officials.

Conduct Yourself Accordingly  

In my  last column, I made an analogy between an orchestra conductor and a server; how both had to take time to ensure all was in readiness before starting play. I sent a copy to my friend, David Coombs who has been a member of the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra for 27 years. Besides being an excellent musician, Dave is also a pretty good tennis player. He wrote back the following: "Good  to  see you too.  The conductor is a good analogy. Every once in a while a conductor makes the same mistake and doesn't take that time.  It usually doesn't go well, and there is no second serve."

By:  Jim Cummings 4/3/2009

Jim Cummings Bio:
   Born in Marinette, WI
   Boyhood friend of the Cook family
   Played varsity tennis for UW-Madison in the 50s
   Officiated at over 25 US Opens as a chair and line umpire
   Served on USTA's Rules Committee when Jack Stahr and Nick Powel were Chairs
   Active senior player and Referee
   Presently helps edit the Friend At Court