» Officials

  Becoming a USTA Tennis Official



USTA Tennis Officials enforce the rules of tennis to ensure fair play. There are different types of Officials with different responsibilities (listed below) – but the common goal for all Officials is to make sure that individual and/or Tournament matches are conducted under the fairest possible conditions. Make it Fair…Make it Fun…Make it about the Players.


In order to become a USTA Tennis Official you must put in a little work. The following steps will get you started toward becoming an Official.  Where the prompt indicates “Click Here” – put your curser over the words “Click Here” then hold down your “CTRL” button and left click with mouse.

1) You must first be a member of USTA. If you are not a member, you can join USTA online at United States Tennis Association Click here.

2) Contact the Southeast Michigan District Office (tennis@semich-usta.com) and let them know of your interest.  Because the USTA is so large – we assist with local recruitment, local training, learning materials and other needs of Officials. Stay in touch with your District Office – they are an important part of Officiating in Southeast Michigan.

3) Pass the USTA Officials Exam Click Here. Depending on the timing of this, it is also recommended that you attend a Certification School (see #9 below). The entry-level official is termed a "Provisional Umpire". You will want to be certified as a Provisional Umpire as soon as possible.

4) In an effort to protect all competitors, ALL OFFICIALS must watch a 30 minute “Play Safe” video.  This procedure is now mandatory in most sports for all officials and for all of those who assist the athletes in competition. Click here

5) Pass a Background Check Click Here – (This is paid for by the USTA and only takes a couple minutes to submit) all new Officials must take and pass the background check and ALL Officials must take and pass the background check every ‘odd’ year (I.E. to be certified in 2015 must submit the background check in 2014)

6) Register for a NUCULA account Click here. NUCULA is mandatory for ALL USTA Officials – including Provisional’s. NUCULA has MANY functions but the most important is that it is the place where an official records one’s work record. The work record must be submitted to USTA each year in order to continue officiating year to year. Other information provided via NUCULA include: educational materials, registry of all Officials across the U.S., tournaments/events list, evaluations and many other functions.

7) Get a Uniform… Now that you have finished the above steps, and have been added to the Southeast Michigan District website to get notifications from Tournament Directors and Event Referees about opportunities to work, you will want to get the appropriate uniform.  You must have the official shirt which you can purchase on-line from Sports-Choice.com, or at Honigs, 7136 Jackson Road, Ann Arbor (734) 761-2244 worn with khaki (tan) pants.  Until your uniform purchase arrives, you can wear a plain navy blue polo shirt with no logos. You can also wear a plain beige cap or visor with no logo.

8) New Southeast Michigan Officials must complete five hours of volunteer mentoring  (shadowing experienced officials at a District run event) before officiating on their own. 

9) In order to keep your status as an active certified official, you must attend an officiating class once a year - starting with your first one!  These classes are extremely beneficial to the new recruit and are offered 2-3 times per year starting in the Spring.  After three years of active officiating, you may pursue duties as a Referee, ITA (College) or Chair Umpire (see below).


10) NOW COMES THE FUN PART – STUDY! TRAIN! STUDY! TRAIN! You want to be hired – MAKE SURE YOU KNOW YOUR STUFF! Good Officials are always learning the rules. Read and re-read your FAC!

11) YOU’RE READY! You will want to WORK, WORK, WORK, to gain experience needed to expand your opportunities in Officiating. Work tournaments your Southeast Michigan Officials Chair feels you are ready for… you will gain experience by working different events including juniors, adults, and seniors. They are all different and bring varied challenges.

Do not hesitate to call if you have questions, suggestions or issues. We appreciate your time and commitment to making SOUTHEAST MICHIGAN TENNIS GREAT!



If you have been a Provisional and/or want to Certify (or re-certify) you will need to take the USTA Sectional Exam before attending the Officials Class. It is best to take the Certification Exam(s) with the appropriate "Friend at Court" (FAC) rule book Click Here. You will see on this web-site that there are three exams – USTA, Referee and ITA (descriptions below). You must take and pass the USTA test to take the Referee and/or ITA exam. All questions are based on the content of the FAC. Once you take the test, print out the answer sheet and bring it to your Certification School. Schools are taught 2-3 times each year in Southeast Michigan beginning in the Spring. You must take the USTA Sectional Exam and attend a Certification School each year to keep your Official's status.

Vision Forms

Vision forms are due for 2016 certification starting January 2015. 
TDM (Tournament Data Manager)

New for 2015, there will be a 10 question quiz about TDM.  All Referees will be required to submit proof of passing this quiz as well as the Referee test in order to attend Referee class. All the answers you would need to complete the quiz can be learned from watching webinar available here.  While this webinar was recorded during TDM on the web launch and some information has been updated, the answers to any questions are contained within the presentation.   

Officiating Website

Click here to check out the new USTA Officiating Website that was launched this year. 




Provisional Certified Official –If you have no experience as a Tennis Official – you must start as a Provisional Official. The entry-level official is termed a Provisional Umpire. You will want to be certified as a Provisional Official as soon as possible. Officials are allowed to be Provisional status until December 31st.

Sectional Certified Officials (Roving Officials) usually have less than one year’s experience at the Provisional level and five days of working on court. USTA Certified Officials will be required to take and pass the on-line USTA test each year. They must also attend a yearly certification school. Certified Officials cover multiple courts and may be asked to officiate on a single court when requested to do so by players or the referee. Certified Officials must have knowledge of the rules because they may be called upon to problem solve at a moment’s notice. Certified Officials may overrule clear mistakes when standing on the court WITHOUT a verbal appeal by the player. They are trained to solve on-court problems with specific procedures, may give code violations, and they must wear the official USTA uniform to signify they are Certified Officials

The Sectional Certified Referee has a minimum of three years’ experience at the Sectional certification level. Referees will be required to take and pass the on-line USTA and Referee test each year. They must also attend a yearly certification school. The Referee is a certified official who assist with: the making of USTA draws, schedule of play, court management, hires and oversees qualified officials, serves as the first person to whom a player may appeal when they believe an official has applied a rule incorrectly. The referee enforces all rules and regulations governing play, must be knowledgeable about the requirements for each age group or level of play, and may be called upon to go on court when necessary. The referee must be in USTA uniform so that they may be readily identified when necessary.

The ITA Certified Official’s will be required to take and pass the on-line USTA and ITA test each year. They must also attend a yearly certification school. An ITA Official is a certified official who has been trained to preside over College matches. Most Officials are trained to preside over one match at a time, if available the Official will conduct match procedures from an umpire chair. Most college matches using a chair umpire hire a "solo" chair, meaning no linesmen are used, and they usually work in the chair for dual matches and the semis and finals of college tournaments. ITA Officials may rove matches prior to finals. When serving as a Solo Chair umpire, they must have a very clear knowledge of the rules because they are called upon to make snap decisions that can affect the match. Many good chair umpires started out as a roving official, as a rover you will have a good grounding in overall rules and procedures.