Photo Credit: Andy Kentla
Two of New South Wales’ top line umpires did just that at this year’s US Open at Flushing Meadows inNew York – adjudicating matches involving the biggest names in tennis.
Glenn Toland and Troy Deighton have 32 years officiating between them.
Both have umpired numerous ATP and WTA events, Australian Open finals, Davis and Fed Cup ties and overseas events, including the South Africa Open and Masters Cup Final in Shanghai.
However, both say nothing compares to the massive adrenalin rush to walking onto the sport’s biggest stage – the 23,000-seat Arthur Ashe Stadium.
Some say the best seat to watch tennis from is the grandstand however the best seat in the house is where the chair and line umpires sit on court.
“It was great to go to another Grand Slam and see how they did things,” Glenn Toland, who is also the President of Tennis Officials Australia’s NSW Division, said.
“It was an absolutely amazing experience. From the buzz of staying in the heart of Manhattan, just a stone’s throw from Times Square, to umpiring the Samantha Stosur v Victoria Azarenka match in front of a capacity stadium on Ashe, I loved every minute,” he said.
“The American tennis fans are very different those here at home,” Troy Deighton added.
“I don’t think they’re as knowledgeable about the rules of tennis but they definitely get involved in the matches – they are loud and boisterous and really generate a great atmosphere.”
While the concept of line umpiring– calling the ball in or out – might seem simple enough, the pressure of calling the shots on the big matches is immense.
“You definitely need to be able to concentrate for long periods, have perfect eyesight and be able to make a split-second decision in a pressure-cooker environment,” Glenn said.
“Your heart rate definitely increases from the moment you walk onto court” Troy said.
“When I started officiating 13 years ago, I could never have imagined the opportunities I have had. To have been on court with modern day sporting legends like Federer, Nadal, Djokovic and the Williams sisters, and their predecessors like Agassi, Sampras, Henin, Hingis and Navratilova has been simply amazing,” he said.
Glenn also plays a key role at the Apia International Sydney to be held at the Sydney Olympic Park Tennis Centre in January. He is the Co-Chief of Officials for the tournament and manages over 100 Chair and Line Umpires and to ensure they’re performing to the best of their ability.
Tennis Officials Australia – NSW Division in conjunction with Tennis Australia is now recruiting new officials in all officiating roles. Glenn’s number one tip for anyone thinking of becoming an official is to do your time and listen.
“You have to learn to crawl before you can walk; be prepared to work at it, only a few make it to the very top but you can get so much out of the experience. There are many opportunities out there; it’s up to you to take them” Toland explained.