Ten­nis um­pire’s life on the pro tour

Kapi-Mana News - - SPORT - By KRIS DANDO

David Ver­rinder is a busy man, but he al­ways finds time for ten­nis.

The Plim­mer­ton res­i­dent has just been ap­pointed pres­i­dent of the New Zealand Ten­nis Um­pires As­so­ci­a­tion. He has um­pired ex­ten­sively in New Zealand and over­seas at ev­ery level, in­clud­ing pro­fes­sional tour­na­ments and Davis Cup.

‘‘My work [as a re­cruit­ment con­sul­tant] takes me to the US and Sin­ga­pore, but these days you have email and Skype to get busi­ness done,’’ he said. ‘‘It leaves me more time for ten­nis.’’

A county level ten­nis player in his na­tive Eng­land in his younger days, he graced the grass at Wim­ble­don six times – just not at Grand Slam level. ‘‘I played a lot of tour­na­ments. ‘‘For a long time it was work, ten­nis and girls, al­though the lat­ter were more like wid­ows be­cause the game was so im­por­tant to us. From an early age I loved the spirit of the game and how it fo­cuses you.

‘‘Watch­ing McEn­roe, Becker and Con­nors – it was pure theatre.’’

These days Ver­rinder’s favourite is Rafael Nadal – his dog is named af­ter the Span­ish leg­end.

He has been a qual­i­fied um­pire since 1998. He um­pires tour­na­ments na­tion­ally and is a line judge for the two big pro tour­na­ments in Auck­land in Jan­uary.

Ver­rinder reck­ons he works nine weeks a year as a chair um­pire or line judge. He’s called in or out for the likes of Marcelo Rios and David Fer­rer.

You had to re­main calm un­der fire, he said. ‘‘You can’t en­gage, just make your call and keep cool. Philipp Kohlschreiber asked me if I was blind a cou­ple of years ago in Auck­land.

‘‘There’s a lot of pres­sure, but it’s also a team en­vi­ron­ment among the of­fi­cials. You bond to­gether. Most of us have other jobs, but we just have that love for ten­nis.’’

The worst con­duct came at ju­nior level, Ver­rinder said. Mis­be­haviour from the oc­ca­sional par­ent bor­dered on dis­grace­ful, with ac­cu­sa­tions of cheat­ing over dis­puted calls and other mis­con­duct.

Ver­rinder said up to eight New Zealand of­fi­cials worked the Grand Slam cir­cuit this year, with lit­tle fan­fare.

He said Dim­i­tar Tri­funovski was a young um­pire work­ing at his fifth Wim­ble­don and was last year voted world’s best line um­pire.

Ver­rinder’s mis­sion is to get more people in­volved in um­pir­ing. The New Zealand Ten­nis As­so­ci­a­tion had about 300 mem­bers, but could al­ways do with more, he said.

‘‘It’d be great to get our num­bers up and I’m glad I can be in­volved, driv­ing new guys com­ing through.’’

Photo: KRIS DANDO

The New Zealand Ten­nis Um­pires As­so­ci­a­tion an­nual meet­ing is on July 26 at the Re­nouf Cen­tre, Welling­ton, from 1.30pm. All wel­come. Serv­ing it up: David Ver­rinder and Rafa in the

‘‘tro­phy room’’ at his Plim­mer­ton home.

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