Treated Like A Chump- The Perils Of A Tennis Chair Ump

Peril meaning – exposure to the risk of being injured, destroyed, or lost. Yep, that’s a tennis chair umpire all right.

This is supposed to be the game of lords. “Proper and civilized,” as a Brit might say. But add a sanctimonious American to the mix and all hell breaks loose. 

With high purses at stake with the Grand Slam tournaments, you’re most likely to see lots of tempers flair during these matches. Luckily, many of today’s champions train at these top tennis academies where proper manners are part of the curriculum.

John McEnroe-Anger Issues

Enter John Patrick McEnroe, the King of Cranky and someone who knows how to immortalize a tantrum.

Tennis was never supposed to be a contact sport, nor needing protective gear but he certainly brought to light how volatile the work of a tennis chair umpire can be.

Other Testy American Tennis Pros – Rhymes with Dorena

Other Americans have also brutalized the sport with a not-so-ladylike tirade from one of our other faves who I won’t mention by name (rhymes with Dorena). The takeaway here is that the fine for breaking your racket is $500.

There’s some trivia for you, although we don’t have the number you are fined if that racket was broken over someone’s head.

Matt Porz – Umpire Gladiator

There’s an old, fun interview with Matt Porsz, the ump giant who faced down McEnroe.

Armored tennis player with shield

He looks like a 14 years old kid in his dad’s over-size jacket which makes the story even more fun.

International Meanies

But let’s not blame all the tantrums on the Yanks. We have a fine example of Grigor Dimitrov doing a number on several of his finely crafted and perfectly balanced racket.

If you feel like trying your own patience with a quality racket that might be able to take quite a beating, check these recommendations out.

The chair umpires do have their own backup team of players including line umpires, court supervisors, and referees. I’m guessing some of them know Kung Fu.

Tennis chair umpire

The International Tennis Federation (ITF) has a rating system for the umps, and gold badge umpires typically officiate Grand Slam, ATP World Tour and WTA Tour matches. 

Is it worth it to be tormented on the international tennis stage?

If you’re a Gold Badge holder with Level 3 certification (Level 3 starts with a bronze badge AFTER achieving Level 1 and Level 2 certifications) then you’ll pull in about US$70-$80,000 annually + travel and expenses.

Casualties on the court

On Sept. 10, 1983, Dick Wertheim was struck in the groin by a serve off the racket of tennis great Stefan Edberg.

Sitting in a folding chair, Wertheim was knocked so hard by the serve that he fell backward off his chair and slammed his head into the hard court. The contact caused bleeding in his brain and after five days unconscious, he died. 

You cannot underestimate that these tennis players are professional athletes with great strength and mild to hot tempers. I’d rather be shot out of a cannon than do this job.

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