TAMPA, FL — One can’t expect an athlete to be honourable if they control the officiating, especially with the game on the line.
University of South Florida tennis player Alessandra Bonte knows this too well, as referees are not always present to make calls, leaving the call and scores to the players.
The junior lost her doubles and singles match Wednesday against North Carolina State. Her singles match went three sets, with the final set coming down to the wire, losing 6-4.
“It’s hard because most of the time the opponents make an unfair call,” says Bonte with disdain. “Especially in the most important and crucial parts of the match where you need that point and you know it’s yours.”
If it’s not a professional game or an important NCAA tournament, there are no extra umpires, only the players make all of the crucial calls. Even with a referee present, players still make their own calls in which the official can overrule in rare cases that they see fit.
Knowing that both you and your opponent have this type of influence only adds another dynamic to the game. You aren’t only trying to win the actual tennis match, but you are trying to win over the favour of the referee.
“You have to be nice to them – you have to be respectful,” said Bonte. “My opponent was very disrespectful in one instance and the next point, he overruled her, so you have to really play with the refs.”
Bonte and her opponents aren’t only expected to make the rulings on each point, but they also have the responsibility of keeping score within each game as well.
Players at times “mistake” the score in their own favour, something she had to deal with during her matches Wednesday.
“I thought the score was switched a few times,” Bonte said. “In the singles game, as well as in the doubles game.”
She played a doubles match, followed by a hard fought singles match that went three sets, in brisk cold weather uncommon for Tampa. It’s also unfortunate that faulty calls have so much influence on the outcome, not just tennis.
Bonte, however, remains positive.
“Even though it might not go your way the first time, it may the second time.”
In the future, Bonte may be on the other end of the crucial calls, much to the disfavour of a subsequent opponent.