The USTA recommends at least a certified Referee for every sanctioned event. In addition, the USTA suggests a minimum of 1 umpire for each 4 courts used and no more than 6 courts assigned to 1 official. While 6 courts per official is more the norm, more than that is a bad idea. If your event is competitive at all, one official simply cannot effectively cover more than six courts. You will find that more umpires means fewer problems, a better event and a more enjoyable experience for all. Should you decide to assign more than 6 courts to one umpire a $10 extra court fee will be charged for each court, each day. It's one fee we hope never to collect! Our officials are instructed not to cover more than 6 courts without prior authorization of the tournament director with the understanding that it costs extra. If you expect to use extra courts, please inform the Coordinator so this can be accommodated.
If it is not possible to obtain the recommended number of officials, volunteer court monitors can be used under direction of the Referee, but they are no substitute for a certified official.
Rates and fees for officiating services can be viewed by clicking the link below. It is advisable to consult with our assignment coordinators well in advance of your event to plan umpire requirements to obtain the best available officials. Coordinators are familiar with our rates and can recommend the best deployment strategy and to optimize your officiating budget.
Our fees are set by our local Board of Directors and your input is welcome. We do feel SDCTUA fees are in line with regional and national charges for similar work, though rates vary according to local conditions. If fees rise from year to year, we do our best to notify tournament directors with enough time to plan accordingly, get feedback from those affected, or make adjustments if necessary.
Umpires are scheduled for 4- or 8-hour shifts or individual matches. For 8-hour shifts, umpires arrive a half-hour early to set up courts but take a 30 minute lunch break at a convenient time off the clock. So, an 8-hour umpire is really on site 8 and half hours from start to finish.
If hours worked exceed a scheduled shift an hourly overtime fee of $20 is charged. Our officials are instructed not to work beyond scheduled hours without prior authorization of the tournament director with the understanding that it will cost extra. If you expect days to run long, please inform the Coordinator so this can be accommodated.
Common roles for tennis officials are that of Referee, Roving Umpire, Line Umpire and others. While most people are generally familiar with what each does there is some confusion as to who does what even among experienced tennis folks. Formal responsibilities of each type of official are described in detail in Part 2, USTA Regulations, of the USTA's, Friend At Court, which is the book of rules and regulations for American tennis. The role of each type of official is described briefly below:
Referee, Tournament or Site/Field
A Tournament Referee may assist in all phases of the conduct of a tournament, including prepare a tournament entry form, review completed entries, make substitutions in the draw, place byes, seed stronger players, assign and schedule courts and sites, determine number of courts, ball type and ball change pattern, establish appropriate warm-up and rest periods, among other things! Once play begins, the Referee exercises general supervision over all aspects of play, including, but not limited to, the conduct and actions of players, coaches, parents, officials, ball persons, groundskeepers, and the administrative crew. A major responsibility of the Referee is to hear and decide cases of tennis law. The Referee is also the one who defaults players for cause, such as lateness or inappropriate behavior. Review your requirements with the Coordinator so that the right assignment can be made. While the USTA recommends a Referee for all events, especially those they sanction, day to day responsibilities of the Referee are typically assigned based upon the individual needs of each tournament as appropriate.
A Site or Field Referee's qualifications are the same as those of a Tournament Referee's but the duties are different. A Site or Field Referee becomes involved only once play starts and is not involved in the draw, scheduling or other aspects of tournament administration, but rather starts work on the first day of play.
If tournament play will occur at more than one site it makes sense to hire a Field Referee to supervise play at the secondary site. Another scenario where Field Referee might be be hired would be when a tournament has a very strong tournament desk staff and requires only an individual to supervise play and deal with problems that come up once play starts. If your tournament staff already has experience setting up and running a tournament a Field Referee may be all you need since the set up and preparation work are already covered. Contact the Coordinator to determine what type of official you need.
A Roving Umpire is simply an umpire who is responsible for more than one court. While a Rover in direct observation of a court may call a foot fault, overrule a bad line call or penalize a player for inappropriate conduct, a Rover is mostly occupied with setting up courts for play, timing warm-ups, reporting open courts to the tournament desk, starting matches by tossing a coin and instructing the players as to the important points or rules in effect for for the match. If an incident occurs and a Rover is not at court, a player may stop play (after informing opponent) to get an Roving official. The USTA recommends that an umpire cover no more than 4 courts but typically the number is 6. The USTA strongly advises against using fewer than 1 official per 6 courts.
A Chair Umpire is responsible for a single match and sits in a tall chair or stands at the net during play. The Chair may delegate certain responsibilities to the players, such as calling their own lines, lets and other calls, but the Chair Umpire always has the say as to what the facts were, whether a ball was in or out, hit the net on the serve. If the Chair Umpire sees a clear mistake a player's call may be overruled and that player loses the point. In addition to making a pre-match announcement, introducing the players and calling the score, the Chair also calls foot faults and may assist with lets, touches, not-up's, through's, invasions, foul strokes... and other calls!
A Chief Umpire supervises other umpires and generally does not work on court. If you have a large event with more than 4 or 5 umpires on site at a time it is helpful to have a supervising official on hand to direct the work of the umpires, assigning personnel to specific matches based on ability or strength of experience, coordinating officials' schedules so that appropriate numbers of officials are present when needed and released when not, and instructing officials as to special procedures and rules that may be in effect for your event or as circumstances arise.
A Court Monitor is typically a volunteer who has been given some authority over a match by the Referee or other supervising official. Under the rules, a Court Monitor may be given the authority to overrule clear mistakes or call foot faults and other calls, but a Court Monitor may never issue a Code Violation or Default a player. Typically, a Court Monitor, as a neutral party, is asked to watch a match and call the score. Frequently the presence of an impartial adult or senior player has the affect of settling things down or moving along a match that for whatever reason has been difficult. Having the recommended number of officials usually minimizes these types of problems and certainly a Chair Umpire would solve most of them but lacking available officials, Court Monitors become essential in running a pleasant and trouble-free tournament. Monitors are particularly useful for matches involving inexperienced or novice players and their families and friends.
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