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