I accidentally found this article about Enric, so I thought I'd post it here.
(there's a video of him and a pic on the site, too)
Q&A: Making the calls at Wimbledon
One of the world's top tennis umpires explains how he handles the pressure
By Aude Lagorce, MarketWatch
LONDON (MarketWatch) -- As the Wimbledon tennis tournament nears its conclusion Sunday, MarketWatch talks to Enric Molina, one of the world's leading chair umpires, about staying at the top of his game.
This sounds like a dream job to many, how did you get there?
Tennis is sort of a family tradition. My father used play professionally and I played quite intensively until I was about 16, which is when you usually have to decide whether to give it a serious go or not. I decided to get a degree in advertising and worked for a couple of years in an agency. In parallel, from the age of about 14, I was calling lines at local tournaments. Then I applied for one of the schools that give you international certification and moved quickly up the ranks to obtain my gold badge in 2000.
What skills make a good umpire?
Obviously a good understanding of the game helps, even though not all umpires have played tennis. Communication skills are paramount, because you're often dealing with players when they're upset. So you have to remember that they're under intense pressure and adapt your communication to that. The ability to concentrate for long periods of time is also important. For me the worst feeling is when I'm in the chair and I'm feeling sleepy. So I try not to eat for a couple hours before a game. Lastly, experience, experience, experience. That's really what makes you a good umpire because you learn to handle the pressure. When I am stressed I try to block everything out and just focus on the ball.
What are the tools of the trade?
A five Swiss franc coin for the toss up, given to me by a friend and dating from the year I was born. It's got to be reasonably big so players can see it well. A stopwatch to take the time between the points and when players are resting, even though now we also have PDAs, and a tape measure to check the height of the net before the game.
What do you think of Hawkeye?
It's good because it puts extra pressure on us to be super vigilant at all times. And it's also helpful when there's a major disagreement because at the end of the day you want the right decision to be made. But some umpires felt a bit threatened when it was first introduced.
Is it tougher to chair a game on clay or grass?
It's very different. On clay you can look at the mark, but that also means you have to keep the mark in our head and often there are dozens of them. So you need to be sharp. On grass at the beginning of tournament you're helped by the fact that some chalk rises when a ball hits on the line. But later on there's dust everywhere, so you can't use that.
Do you ever develop relationships with players?
We try to keep it friendly but professional. Of course we run into each other often, after all we stay at the same hotels and eat at the same restaurants. So we meet often but we try to keep a distance. Any conflict of interest and you have to declare it.
How have you seen the game change in the 11 years since you chaired your first grand slam?
The game is faster because of the equipment, the rackets, the strings, the balls. The women's game has seen a big shift, mostly because of their physical condition and the training they undergo. Overall, the trend is for things to become more professional, partly because of the media attention. The facilities are better, for the players and the umpires as well as the public and the interaction with the players on court is more professional, as most young players have grown up playing with professional umpires.
What are the most memorable games you've chaired?
I remember my first semifinal at Wimbledon in 2002. It was Tim Henman (now retired British player known as Tiger Tim) against Lleyton Hewitt (ranked no. 1 at the time). That's a great memory.
For the quality of the tennis, I would say the Australian Open semifinal in 2005 between Marat Safin and Roger Federer.
And for the emotions Andre Agassi's last game at the U.S. Open when he retired.
Another memorable game was the longest in history, which I had the privilege to chair. It was a first round game at Paris' Roland Garros between Fabrice Santoro and Arnaud Clement and lasted six hours and 33 minutes.