For Officials Appreciation Day, we caught up with Referee Mike Henry to talk about what it's like to officiate one of the biggest junior tournaments in the U.S.
Who are you?
I’m Mike Henry, Tournament Referee for this year’s Texas Slam.
What’s it like to work at an event of this size?
It’s one of the most rewarding jobs I do every year and it’s one of the toughest jobs because it’s so big. Somebody said it may be one of the biggest tournaments in the world. We have over 800 athletes this year and of all the officials we’ve hired this year, my job is probably the easiest. We do have the occasional problem that requires knowledge and experience and sometimes that means you’re not always going to make everybody happy.
What’s something that people don't know about officiating a tournament like this?
Probably what goes on behind the scenes: the making of draws and making sure all the facilities are ready before you get there that day, so that’s power washing courts, fixing nets, putting nets up. With an event like this where you have so many sites, just making sure everything is ready to go.
Making sure the draws are done correctly - you sometimes have parents that call and don't understand why their child was given a higher seed or why they’re where they are in this particular draw and you have to explain that to them.
What’s something new you’re doing this year?
We started off this year trying something new: we’re training half a dozen individuals who have never set foot on the court over the weekend. It’s about being in that teacher/trainer mode and hoping to share something they will remember in the future as officials.
How many officials are working this week?
About 37. Some of them are working all seven days and some are working just one day and they’ll be working at every site. We’re always looking for officials so if that’s something you’re interested in we can point you in the right direction to help you out.