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Thursday, August 28, 2008
Updated: September 3, 1:04 PM ET

By Norm Chryst, 24-year chair umpire (as told to Mark Pinto)

1. HAVING THE BEST SEAT MEANS NO PLACE TO HIDE. "My first Grand Slam final was the 1991 U.S. Open between Stefan Edberg and Jim Courier. I was excited to be working with the best line umpires in the world, but I was nervous about making a mistake in front of millions of TV viewers. I remained calm, concentrated on my job, trusted my line judges and survived."

2. THE KEY IS TO STAY CALM … "When you're confronted by an emotional player it's important to have empathy. Maybe the player is upset about a perceived bad call, crowd noise or movement by fans. Or maybe he or she is in a bad mood because they're sick or injured. I try to show I'm willing to listen."

3. … AND BE PREPARED. "You have to pack a lot of stuff: the PDA that keeps score and tracks stats, spare balls, tissues, a coin to toss, a tape measure, bandages. A visit to the restroom before going to work is essential; you never know how long a match will last."

4. THE ROAD GOES ON FOREVER. "Most full-time chair umpires do more than 225 matches a year. Sure, you get to travel the world and the ATP pays most of the expenses. But we work seven days a week at events. And we're away from home so much, flying from one tournament to the next. It's not fun managing your personal life from a suitcase."

5. TENNIS CROWDS ARE EASY. "Fans seldom get overly involved. Occasionally, when a call goes against a player they're rooting for, they boo. But I've never had to deal with a disruptive incident. A couple times fans have approached me to tell me they thought I made an incorrect call. I politely thank them for their input and walk away."

6. INSTANT REPLAY WORKS. "Best innovation since the tiebreak. It makes the game fairer and helps us get close ones right. Everyone—chair umps, line judges, players—makes mistakes. It's made some chair umps more conservative about overruling calls, and some players more willing to admit they don't always see the ball correctly. No one is perfect."