Questions about my past…

From the obscure references I’ve made here and here, people have guessed that I was either a flight attendant or a hired assassin in my previous life. It was not my intention to be cryptic, I just didn’t want to distract from what the posts were really about.

Before I retired at the end of 2000, I was a professional tennis chair umpire.

In case you are not overly familiar with tennis, this is what I did:

A John McEnroe tirade of yore.

A John McEnroe tirade of yore.

This is, of course, not me in the chair.

Back when Mr. McEnroe was playing, there was actually a great deal to complain about. Fortunately by the time I started, tennis officiating involved a lot of training and the quality of international umpiring was very high.

Here is an interview with my friend Fergus Murphy, who is still on the tour. He does a great job explaining things – just replace Ireland with Canada and it’s pretty much my story.

My schedule varied a bit from year to year but this was the usual:
(ATP = men’s, WTA = women’s)

January
Home for the 1st week
Sydney, Australia – ATP and WTA
Melbourne – Australian Open (2 weeks)
February
Melbourne – Australian Open Wheelchair
Week off – stay in Australia
Memphis, Tennessee – ATP
Oklahoma City, Oklahoma – WTA
March
Indian Wells, California – ATP and WTA (2 weeks)
Miami, Florida – ATP and WTA (2 weeks)
Hilton Head, South Carolina – WTA
April
Federation cup/Davis cup (locations varied)
Two weeks off – home
May
Strasbourg, France – WTA
Paris – French Open (2 weeks)
Week off – stay in Europe
June
Week off – stay in Europe
London – Wimbledon qualifying
London – Wimbledon (2 weeks)
July
Newport, Rhode Island – ATP
Two weeks off – home
Stanford, California – WTA
August
San Diego, California – WTA
Montreal/Toronto, Canada – WTA
New York – US Open qualifying
New York – US Open
September
New York – US Open
Federation cup/Davis cup (locations varied)
Home
October
Off 
November
Quebec City, Canada – WTA
Hartford, Connecticut – ATP
Home
December
Off

After many years of doing this, I was tired. Going into 2000, I knew it would be my last year. My husband and I were seriously dating at that point and he was planning a move back to Halifax from Toronto. I knew I wanted to be there with him.

Only one person who was travelling the tour with me knew of my plans. She was a very close friend and was also quietly planning to hang it up. We didn’t tell people for two main reasons; we didn’t want any hoopla and we didn’t want any backlash. There were only a handful of female chair umpires at our level and the two of us leaving at the same time was going to cause some waves.

My final year was a dream. I chaired at all four of the Grand Slams – Australian Open, Rolland Garros, Wimbledon and US Open – and was also one of a handful selected for the Sydney Olympics and Paralympics. I went out on a high!

My final event was in early November, a small tier 3 woman’s tournament in Quebec City which I had worked since I was first starting out. I had made good friends there and I loved staying at the historic and beautiful Chateau Frontenac. It’s always breathtaking in Old Quebec at that time of year.

The tournament referee was a dear friend and just before the finals, as he walked me to the court, I told him it would be my last match. That night over dinner, I broke the news to my two friends who were the other chair umpires for the tournament (they are now married with two beautiful little girls). We had a celebratory drink and I went back to the hotel to pack for my last trip home.

I don’t miss the life, but I really miss the great people with whom I lived it.

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24 responses to “Questions about my past…

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  7. That’s a lot of travelling and socializing and sounds so exciting.

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  11. Wow, what an interesting and awesome job to have had! I once gave out free sunblock samples for $50 at a St. Louis Aces event and didn’t hate it completely! Also, my uncle once drove Anna Kournakove(sp?) from the airport to a match for the same team. That’s all the tennis I know, sorry. Still fascinating!

    • The grass is always greener… It was like a traveling circus – much more fun for the spectators.

      There was this one year I was working the Canadian Open and my boyfriend (now husband) was in Newfoundland for work. He flipped on the TV in his hotel room and an Anna Kournikova match that I was chairing happened to be on and Anna was arguing a point with me.

      He loves to tell this story because he says he turned off the volume and pretended we were fighting over him!

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  13. Katherine Erskine

    I am 100% impressed with! What an amazing career you have lived and still living. WOW (I am loving these blogs and getting to know the real you) Do you play tennis today?

    • Thanks for reading! I can play tennis, but I don’t. I never seem to have the time. I will eventually, I picture myself as one off those old ladies who plays every afternoon with “the girls”.
      (You already know the real me. Just another side.) 🙂

  14. My neighbour, the International Woman of Mystery…

  15. Yes you were, and you were totally awesome at it… I still think of Granby and smile…

    • Ah Grandy… I was so green. That tournament was the best thing thing for me. That’s where I met the two people I learned everything from. Including how to drink Southern Comfort! Stop making me miss you… 😉

  16. Cathy Wright Southey

    Oh those were the days – I remember doing our bronze together. You got in at the right time – i feel in love and left as well. I totally agree it is the friends I miss and a bit of the adventure too!

  17. Who knew! I would have never guessed tennis umpire in a million years

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