US Open Ref speaks out about juggling the schedule
"Men's singles gets top priority, especially the bottom half"--yeah, RIGHT. Because, you know, we've seen a lot of that this week.
Also, he has the balls to criticize Wimbly's court covers. Jerkoff.
U.S. Open referee masters art of juggling
By HAL BOCK
AP Sports Writer
September 3, 2002
NEW YORK (AP)--Two days of rain at the U.S. Open have complicated Brian Earley's life. The tournament referee moves players and matches, juggling the schedule for the season's final Grand Slam.
When someone told him fourth-seeded Lindsay Davenport , would play on remote court No. 14 at the National Tennis Center rather than wait until 10 p.m. to play on one of the show courts, Earley jokingly made a note to himself.
"Like everybody else, she's a day behind,'' Earley said. "She wants to play. She's as flexible as anybody we've got. But we're not putting her on Court 14.''
Davenport was forced by the rain to play on three consecutive days and her match was the last one called off when the U.S. Tennis Association surrendered to the weather and postponed Sunday night's session. She was on center court Monday
"The players become very cooperative when stuff like this happens,'' Earley said. "All they want to do is play at this point.''
Earley's task is to fit in all the matches and arrive at next weekend with Saturday night's women's prime-time final and Sunday afternoon men's final intact. He is convinced he can accomplish that.
"The bad news is we're behind in matches, doing the best to make them up,'' he said. "Priority goes to singles. Priority goes, in this case, to men's singles because they play best-of-five, and the bottom half of the men's draw is obviously way behind, a round behind.''
So Earley scrambles, waiting for the weather to clear and then fitting players and matches into available slots.
The players understand. They sit around the lounge, some playing cards, some at video games, others sleeping peacefully, waiting for the call to get ready.
"We know it's a hardship,'' Earley said. "We know best-of-fives take a lot out of a guy. We know the bottom half of the draw, it's going to be a struggle for somebody. The U.S. Open is the U.S. Open. It's always been a struggle for the players, but it's a great struggle and one we like to watch.''
Earley, a music major at the University of Pittsburgh, joined the USTA staff in 1983 and has been watching this event as referee since 1993. Until this year, he has had an extraordinary record when it came to weather. The last time the Open had a full day washed out was Sept. 2, 1988, before he was in charge. The last time it lost a night session was Sept. 2, 1998. Then came 2002 and the rains.
This Open has reminded some people of Wimbledon, where rain is a frequent source of annoyance. The All England Club has tarps at the side of the courts to cover them in bad weather. The National Tennis Center waits until the rain stops and uses an army of workers with towels to dry the courts. Would the covers be an option?
"We have talked about that kind of ad nauseam,'' Earley said. "They take up room. They look bad on the side of the court.''
Then he caught himself.
"Don't get me wrong,'' he said. "I'm not making judgments how Wimbledon looks. But they look bad.''
Earley called the schedule situation fluid -- an appropriate description -- said the tournament has no limit on how late it might start a match. Men's matches have begun as late as 10 p.m. Earley broke that barrier Monday night, sending Wayne Ferreira and Youne El Aynaoui out for a fourth-rounder at 11 p.m.
Earley's task is to mix and match times, trying to give players as much rest as possible between appearances while, at the same time, catching up with a schedule that has been trashed by the weather.
"We're looking at not making a beautiful schedule for the next couple of days,'' he said. "The schedule is going to be dictated by when people get finished as much as where we want them to play and when we want them to play.
"It's this balancing act we play. We do it as best we can. In a situation like this, we're never right. You have lots of chances to be wrong; you don't have any chances to be right.''
The Tennis Refuge
You will be missed, Michel Kratochvil!