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OFFICIATING

The world of tennis officiating completed another busy year with schools being held in different regions around the world to qualify new White Badge and International Officials. The challenge to keep up with the demand for officials worldwide is ongoing and by the end of the year there were 94 new ITF White Badge Officials and 39 new International Officials.

Level 3 schools were held in New York and Cairo during the year, with Level 2 schools taking place in Belgium, Egypt, Ireland, Kazakhstan, Serbia and USA. At the end of 2009 there were 830 White Badge and 398 International Officials worldwide.

There has been an increased interest from National Associations in hosting schools as they understand the importance of developing officials as a part of the overall strategy for tennis in their country. Not only is it financially advantageous not to rely on overseas officials to run events, but the international knowledge that qualified officials can bring to the organisation of the sport can be hugely beneficial.

The end of year recertification meeting took place in December where the work records of all officials were considered together with their evaluations received throughout the year. Accordingly chair umpire Damien Dumusois (FRA), chief umpire Rogelio De Haro (ESP) and referee Roberto Ranieri (ITA) were upgraded to Gold Badge status, while chair umpires Felix Torralba (ESP), Julie Kjendlie (NOR) and Daniela Congia (ITA) were awarded Silver Badges.

Structural changes within officiating in 2009 saw Iain Smith and Ricardo Reis appointed to Africa and South America respectively as Officiating Regional Officers. Their role is to help source new officials and develop existing ones in these two important regions. Both men have extensive knowledge of the officials in their areas and their experience will prove of great value. Smith immediately introduced a series of courses for white badge officials to prepare them for the year- end Level 3 course in Cairo.

Recruitment is a major issue at all levels. The ITF is looking to stage Level 2 schools in each continent next year, but for developing regions it is important to have the structure that allows officials to progress to the Level 3 stage that qualifies international officials to work at the highest levels of the sport.

Future plans also include a revamped officiating website, online training, plus closer cooperation with the ITF’s counterparts at the ATP World Tour and Sony Ericsson WTA Tour.

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