Tennis Queensland has launched an Australian-first initiative to attract and train more tennis tournament officials.
A rebate scheme has been created to incentivise clubs to nominate volunteers to become accredited court supervisors at sanctioned tournaments.
Each club will receive a $500 rebate for every volunteer who completes the course and supervises for at least six days in 2020.
Tennis Queensland President, Warwick Nicol, says the rebate scheme is needed to address the critical shortage of officials in the state.
“The current number of officials across Queensland has been identified as alarming. There is a high risk that tournaments in this state will not be able to have accredited officials present in the near future if we do not act now.”
Currently there are 30 active accredited court supervisors and 10 active referees to oversee 150 sanctioned and JDS tournaments in the state. There are no qualified referees at all in the Sunshine Coast, South or West regions.
Mandy Mutch, a court supervisor from Berat in the South region, says officiating has provided many personal benefits.
“I became a court official to better understand the rules and expectations of tournament level tennis so I can help educate and support our children in their tennis journeys.
It was a great course with very supportive leaders, I learnt a lot and it gave me the confidence to further assist our club and help out at tournaments. So worth it!” Ms Mutch said.
Kate Caswell became an official in 2003 when she became the convenor of the Northern School Regional Tennis trials.
“At school sport level, I have bought skills that bring a professional standard to the trials.
I have helped out my own and other local clubs to run AMT, Age and Junior Development Series tournaments. Volunteering and working at events like this gives you a lot of satisfaction. I have made some friends with similar interests in Tennis Queensland that although I may only see once a year always make time to catch up,” Mrs Caswell said.
In another measure to create a pathway towards becoming a court supervisor and eventually a tournament referee, Tennis Australia has created a brand new level of official known as a “court monitor” to assist with the safe and fair running of competitions.
Court monitors will assist court supervisors in observing the conduct of players and spectators during matches and will then relay information to supervisors or referees to act.
A new online community officiating program is now available for club volunteers to enroll and complete remotely to learn the basics of officiating from the comfort of their own home and at their own pace.
Geoff Arnell, a level B tournament referee from Hervey Bay, is an advocate of the course.
“I encourage all members of the Regional Tennis Associations that are interested in learning and enforcing the rules of tennis and most of all become a court monitor to help keep regional tournaments viable, to take up the current offer by Tennis Queensland,” Mr Arnell said.
To register for the online course, visit www.tennis.com.au/officials