One Tree Hill teacher bound for Rio


‘‘You know your­self that you've made a right call and the play­ers have just seen it re­ally dif­fer­ent to you. ’’

There’s no time for dwelling in pro­fes­sional ten­nis of­fi­ci­at­ing, Chris­tine McKnight says.

The One Tree Hill Col­lege so­cial sciences teacher is set to be a ten­nis of­fi­cial at the Rio 2016 Par­a­lympics in Septem­ber.

The Auck­land mother-of-three has been in­volved with ten­nis um­pir­ing for 30 years and has ap­peared at ma­jor in­ter­na­tional ten­nis events in­clud­ing the Aus­tralian Open and Wim­ble­don.

It all be­gan at age 13 when she de­cided she wanted to be a ball kid.

‘‘They told me I was too tall and they said ‘go and join the line um­pires’ and so I did and it’s taken me ev­ery­where.’’

Pur­su­ing it se­ri­ously be­came a goal when she was aware she’d never be good enough to play at a pro­fes­sional level.

‘‘I just thought this was another way to keep my hand in the sport.’’

Mak­ing calls for some of the world’s best, in­clud­ing Roger Fed­erer and No­vak Djokovic, is about mak­ing split-sec­ond de­ci­sions in the mo­ment.

‘‘You call the ball how you see it…you’re on that line, that’s your line and you make a call. If it’s re­ally close you just hope that you’re right and that they don’t ar­gue with you or chal­lenge it.’’

The Greenlane res­i­dent says re­main­ing con­fi­dent with calls is para­mount, par­tic­u­larly if play­ers get abu­sive.

‘‘You know your­self that you’ve made a right call and the play­ers have just seen it re­ally dif­fer­ent to you. You have to let it wash over you and you just fo­cus on the next point, oth­er­wise you couldn’t do your job out there.

‘‘Oc­ca­sion­ally we do get one wrong and you’ve just got to live with that and move on.’’

But McKnight feels ten­nis um­pires don’t carry the same kind of ‘‘mana’’ as rugby ref­er­ees.

‘‘Most of the time peo­ple don’t know who we are, I like it that way.’’

The most in­tense player she’s dealt with was Aus­tralian Nick Kyr­gios, with favourites be­ing An­dre Agassi and the al­ways calm Roger Fed­erer.

Um­pir­ing Agassi and Pete Sam­pras was dis­tinc­tive be­cause you knew you were wrong if they ques­tioned any­thing, she says.

‘‘They were the sort of peo­ple who never ques­tioned any­thing un­less they knew that they were right.’’


Chris­tine McKnight will be sit­ting court­side at the Rio Par­a­lympics

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