by Julie Wrege
Saturday, July 17, 2004
For the first time this year, the USTA Boys' 18-16 National Clay Court Tennis Championships plan to chair every match played in singles, consolations, and doubles. This is not a simple task when one considers that almost 1000 matches will be played in these Championships beginning on Sunday, July 18th.
"Only one other non-professional event even attempts this feat," The USTA Girls' 14 Nationals in Atlanta," said Jeffrey Szekely, the tournament director for the 7th year. "The US Open is the only event in the US that will chair more matches than we plan to this next week. I understand that Atlanta feels the intense effort organizing the officials is appreciated by the players who have played there in the past fifteen (15) years that they have chaired all their matches."
In order to get the 60+ certified chair umpires needed, the tournament is bringing in officials from across the country. "Their dedicated service will add professionalism to this event, and I feel certain that it will remove some of the pressure from the players," added David DeGrafft, the tournament referee.
There was a core of about 30 Mid-Atlantic officials headed up by David DeGrafft (the head referee) and Ernie Mosby (the chief umpire). Other locals included Betty Stange (Silver Spring, MD), Suzanne Sheridan (Rockville, MD), Nancy Hockett (Baltimore, MD, and Cliff Reid (Columbia, MD). Two more locals are quite notable -- Lamont Penry of Washington, DC and Vince Pierre of New York. LaMont has worked several grand slams, including Wimbledon, and was chosen to work the Olympics next month.
Besides this great Mid-Atlantic core of officials, many had to be brought in from other sections -- and even from across the US. The Clays drew Greg Howard (CT), Al Marshall and Kurt Wassen (SC), Turhan Wilbon (NY), Rebekah Willns and DeWitt Hazzard (FL), Bill Hopfer (OH), Andry Rocky and Aimee Johnson (LA) and Pua Johnson (CA).