By Krista Bradley
Stories in this student-led and written Outlook series highlight the distinctive summer experiences of students and faculty from across the academic spectrum.
Chip, chop, lob, volley, dink – welcome to Greg Allensworth’s world. Not only does he know these tennis terms, but he understands and applies them well enough to have been an officiate for the 2009 U.S. Open Tennis Championship, held Aug. 31-Sept. 13 in New York.
“This was a big summer for me. I worked at the pro-circuit level across the Midwest and finished at one the biggest tennis championships in the world,” Allensworth said.
Allensworth’s journey in tennis officiating began about five years ago. A tennis player his whole life, Allensworth suffered from a torn ACL during his senior year of high school.
“I knew then that I wouldn’t be able to play in college, but I still wanted to stay involved with the sport,” he said.
He began officiating as an umpire for junior competitions in his hometown of North Canton, Ohio. By 2007, he was officiating at high school matches, which transitioned into his work to the college and pro-circuit levels.
Allensworth applied in April for an officiate position with the U.S. Open with the encouragement of his mentor of four years, Alan Steinhauser, the chairman of officials for the United States Tennis Association Midwest Section.
“Greg’s performance level from the beginning was above average, and it was easy to tell that he had the potential to work at the highest levels,” Steinhauser said.
Since the U.S. Open features the top tennis players in the world, Allensworth had to do more than just submit his application – this summer he worked professional circuit events in several Midwest states as a linesperson. While there, he was observed by national trainer evaluators.
“Working the professional-circuit events provided him with the experience he needed to work the U.S. Open,” Steinhauser explained. Based on his performance, Allensworth was selected to be a linesperson for the first two weeks of the U.S. Open and a chair umpire for the tournament’s junior qualifying competitions. Of the 1,000 tennis officials who applied for the coveted official positions at the U.S. Open, only about 200 were selected, Steinhauser said.
In late August, Allensworth embarked with Steinhauser to Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in Flushing, N.Y. His experience started like any other summer job, attending staff meetings and getting his uniforms. He was assigned to a different court each day and worked under the supervision of a crew chief.
“It didn’t hit me until the second day when I was actually on the lines,” Allensworth recalled. “It was a really contentious match. Players were yelling at the crowd, the crowd was yelling at the players. There was a lot of action, and it finally hit me that I was working at the U.S. Open.”
After the first two weeks, he was assigned to a chair umpire position for the juniors. To the tennis world, this is a sizeable promotion that extended Allensworth’s work until Labor Day. This gave him the chance to actually call on the play of the games, instead of only making calls about court boundaries.
During this time, he was even placed on the far sideline, a position that is usually only reserved for experienced officials, as it is hard to monitor.
The tournament ended, complete with a banquet for the umpires, and Allensworth returned to Athens to resume classes and his job as student director of officials within Ohio University’s intramural sports office, where he also officiates soccer, football and basketball.
The senior history major, also president of the Ohio University Student Official Association, will be graduating in the spring. He says he would like to pursue higher education or campus recreation in graduate school.
“I like to look at my experience as a very good summer job,” Allensworth laughed. “Maybe down the road I can make it a living.”