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April 2015 USTA Update

posted Apr 29, 2015, 9:06 AM by Allan Thompson

DATE:          April 28, 2015  


TO:             USTA Certified Officials


FROM:         Skip Gilbert


SUBJECT:      April Update       


To All,


At the beginning of April, the Committees from all areas of the USTA came together for the 2015 USTA Annual Meeting and Conference. I am pleased to provide you with an update from both the Tennis Rules and Regulations Committee and the Officials Committee.


Tennis Rules and Regulations Committee

The Tennis Rules and Regulations Committee confirmed that the 2015 Friend at Court included a mistake in its rule change summary. They reviewed the issue and have offered the clarification below:


Updated April 23rd

Clarification about Rest Periods Before

Start of Third Set Junior Matches.

The summary of important changes in The 2015 Friend at Court and handouts at the Officials’ Schools contained an error. The error involved the rest periods in matches in which there is an interruption in play in the first set of a best-of-three set tiebreak junior match.

  1. The information correctly stated that if there was an interruption of 10 minutes or more in the second set of a best-of-three set tiebreak match, there was no 10-minute rest period and instead there was only the standard 2-minute Set Break.  This also means that there is no coaching before the start of the third set.
  2. The information correctly stated that if there was an interruption of 10 minutes or more in a best-of-three set match with a Match Tiebreak in lieu of the third set, there would be a 3-minute rest period during which coaching is allowed.
  3. Correction. The information incorrectly stated that if there was an interruption of 10 minutes or more in the first set of a best-of-three set tiebreak match, there was no 10-minute rest period.  In fact there is a 10-minute rest period when the interruption of play occurs during the first set.
  4. Clarification.  Table 12 applies the same to short sets and conventional tiebreak sets.
  • Rest periods for the best-of-three tiebreak short sets are the same as the best-of-three tiebreak sets. 
  • Rest periods for the best-of-three short sets with a Match Tiebreak are the same as the best-of-three tiebreak sets.

Separately, there has been some confusion on the proper penalties when a player returns late from the 3-minute rest period before a Match Tiebreak played in lieu of a full third set.  The Tennis Rules and Regulations Committee clarified that the first penalty imposed should be a Time Violation.  The player will then be penalized under the Point Penalty System for further lateness, meaning Code Violations should be issued.  Consecutive Time Violations are not currently permitted in any USTA competition.


If you have any questions regarding the clarifications, please feel free to contact our Community Pathway Manager, Andrew Walker, at


Officials Committee

At the Officials Committee meeting, our team outlined the progress we’ve made on creating the new core curriculum.  The working program calls for the following changes for 2016 to be recommended with more details to come throughout the year:



Each officiating discipline within the Community Pathway (Rover, Chair, Line, Referee, Chief, etc.) will have up to three levels of certification. Officials within the Pro Pathway will have two levels of certification per discipline.



Online and In-Person training modules will be developed for each discipline within the Community and Professional Pathways.  These modules will follow a progressive standard running from: novice, intermediate and advanced.  Given the feedback that some of our in-person schools teach the same curriculum year-after-year, we’ve designed many of these online trainings to replace the current school structure.  Below demonstrates our initial focus on module development:


Project Delivery Overview
Online Career Guide Online Online Description and Career overview for the 5 disciplines (Rover, Referee, Chair, Chief, Line)
Rules and Regulations Online Online overview of Rules and Regulations
L1 Rover Course Online Level One Course of Core Rover Material
L1 Referee Course Online Level One Course of Core Referee Material
L1 Chair Course Online Level One Course of Chair Material
L1 Line Course Online Level One Course of Line Material
Line Clinic In-person Instructional Materials of Line Umpire Techniques and Procedures
Chair Academy In-person Instructional Material of Chair Umpire Techniques and Procedures
Toolkit Online Guidelines for Sectional Chairman to conduct in-person training and additional requirements
Players Online Handbook
Spectators Online Handbook
Tournament Directors Online Handbook


This is just the tip of the course development iceberg, and is intended to give you all a sense of the magnitude of development being taken to create our new curriculum.  Our team is working around the clock to get it created.



The current system will be re-evaluated based on:

  1. Educational Goals
  2. Certification Structure
  3. Technology

Once we have our educational models set, we will then be able to design an effective evaluation program to support the goals of our educational offerings.



Our current technology provider is NUCULA.  While it has worked well for those within the Professional Pathway, it has not been a strong support mechanism for Community Pathway Officials.  We are looking at a number of technology providers to help us develop a National Database that will track every aspect of our education, evaluation and assignment processes.  Our goal is to ensure that every Official, regardless of whether they are Community or Professional Pathway, can see where they stand and have the confidence that tournament assignments will be handled through a fair and transparent process.



We have embarked on a very aggressive campaign to help the USTA best support Officials in the years ahead.  It can’t be completely built in a month, a quarter or even a year.  So illustrated below is a timeline of our plans for the rest of 2015 and into early 2016:


We have a very talented staff pulling all of this work together along with a very passionate group of volunteers.  It is a collective effort, but the roll-out will not begin in earnest until 2016.  We will see some introductions in late 2015 as we soft launch certain elements, and with that, we will be asking that you all look at what we offer and provide us feedback. 


Finally, my last comment today is to reiterate that the majority of all officiating happens within the Community Pathway at thousands of sanctioned events all over the country.  The opportunities to officiate at a Professional event are far fewer and are not available in every area of the country. If you aspire to move to the Professional Pathway, you must recognize that it will be inherently difficult if you are not located near an area with Professional events.


Our challenge is balancing both Professional and Community Pathway Officials, at all levels, to ensure they have the tools to become the best official they aspire to be. We are committed to creating a robust training environment and support system so that both Community and Professional events will be staffed by the highest quality officials in the world.


Thanks to all of you for what you do and for your commitment and dedication to the world of tennis officiating.