Tennis umpire’s life on the pro tour
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.’’
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.