The 2020 season marks a milestone anniversary in the history of the WTA Development & Promotional Program for Officials.
Since 2010, this program has provided an opportunity for officials with white and bronze badges to gain experience at tour events and enters its 10th year at the start of the new decade.
The WTA Chair Umpire team is composed of men and women of different nationalities who hold gold badges and umpire at the top levels of professional tennis, while all three WTA teams, comprised of gold and silver badges, are assigned to follow new, up-and-coming officials who show good potential and commitment. These officials are given the possibility to have a mentor, to be evaluated at WTA events and gain experience internationally.
Each year, the WTA officiating department also selects a limited number of bronze badge umpires to be part of this program and be mentored by the WTA Chair Umpire team, with a focus on women in officiating.
The seven gold badges mentor the seven silver badges, who in turn mentor bronze badges throughout the year.
This structured evaluation and mentoring program has become very successful, and the chair umpires who started in it as white badges are now a part of the silver or gold badge teams.
Within the department, there is also a silver coordinator and a bronze coordinator who support, pass information to, and discuss cases with younger chair umpires on a regular basis, and organize meetings on-site at several events to train and educate.
These gatherings introduce up-and-coming officials to the WTA as an organization, and provide education about both the rules of tennis and WTA-specific rules and procedures.
Video review and discussion of cases also play an important role in these presentations, giving officials an opportunity to evaluate situations together, engage in discussions as a group and share their experiences, while getting feedback from those with more experience.
Last year, a total of 115 white badges and 54 bronze badges, representing 41 nations, attended workshops at WTA events in 16 different countries. 35 percent of the 2019 attendees — 43 white badges and 16 bronze badges — were female, and the support and development of female officials is an important area of emphasis of this program.
In 2020, the WTA will continue to organize these meetings at tour events in different part of the world. The first was held in Thailand at the GSB Thailand Open presented by E@ in Hua Hin last month, and the next are scheduled for events both in the Americas and in Europe.
The WTA chair umpires for 2020 are:
WTA Chair Umpires
WTA Elite Team
WTA Chair Umpire Team 2
Pier Bacchi (FRA)
Marija Cicak (CRO)
Julie Kjendlie (NOR)
Paula Vieira Souza (BRA)
Juan (Jennifer) Zhang (CHN)
Cecilia Alberti (ITA)
Miriam Bley (GER)
Kader Nouni (FRA)
Yamila Halle (ARG)
Morgane Lara (FRA)
Marta Mrozinska (POL)
Pablo Rodriguez (ESP)
Fabio Souza (BRA)
Tom Sweeney (AUS)
The promotional and development program includes five bronze badges, assigning them a mentor and a coordinator to support them in any question or doubt they might have about their schedule, how to plan the year, their applications, and, most importantly, the possibility to discuss and exchange opinions about matches, rules and procedures.
This group consists of the following officials from the following nations: Ana Carvalho (BRA), Miranda Nilhag (SWE), Nikola Srezec (CRO), Yulia Ignatchenko (KAZ) and Mira Kaukeyeva (KAZ).