Annie Francis, 28, is now part of an elite group of international tennis officials. Not only has she risen to the challenge – literally – and become a chair umpire, she is now qualified to Chair Umpire Internationally, having earned a White Badge in Officiating. An achievement only a handful of Tasmanians have managed.
“The course was intense, I didn’t realise there was so much about tennis I didn’t already know after so many years on a court”
After some encouragement from a local official, Francis started out as a line umpire. She has since spent 11 years climbing the ranks of officiating, recently undertaking her biggest step yet. At the end of February, in Bendigo VIC, the International Tennis Federation (ITF) hosted a Level 2 Officiating School. Francis was fortunate enough to be part of this intake, and after the 5 days of intense learning, came away with a more in depth understanding of the game, and an exciting new qualification.
With this new qualification comes a world of opportunity, Francis can now travel the world and officiate professional events. That is, when her employer can spare her from work.
While there are a numerous career Chair Umpires that do it as their primary source of income, Francis says she still loves her day job and Officiating will stay a hobby for a little while longer. When asked about the experience in Bendigo, “I have been working towards this for a long time, it’s a relief to finally have the qualification, and be able to look forward to what’s next”
Not only is the achievement a great personal one, but Tennis in Tasmania generally feels the ripple effect. Darren Sturgess, General Manager of Tennis Tasmania, had this to say “There are more pathways in tennis than just the player pathway. Annie exemplifies this, and sets a fantastic example for young women and girls wanting to get involved.”