Africa’s head of officiating, Iain Smith, has commended Nigerian officials for the performances during the ITF officiating course held at the start of April.

The Officiating Course, organized by the International Tennis Federation National Officiating School in Abuja, held from 4th – 7th April at the National Tennis Centre in Abuja.

Smith, who was also the lead instructor for the officiating school, lauded the performance of the students who participated in the 4-day training program, and urged the trainees to apply what they’ve learnt on court, stressing the importance of the practical application and on-court experience.

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South Africa’s Iain Smith walks around, supervising.

“Performance in the class was very good and encouraging,” said Smith, who hails from South Africa. “Now it comes down to experience. So it’s up to them [participants] to decide what they want to get out of the officiating and how they commit and contribute to local officiating here in Nigeria.”

“It’s one thing to be in the classroom and learn about things, it’s another thing to put into practice what you’ve been taught and to use the practical opportunities to start improving.”

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The students during one of the classes.

Smith was generally impressed with the eagerness of the officials to learn and share experiences during the period of training.

“We did a national school [April 4-7] for some of the officials, which is very exciting to see 25 officials really keen and we also had a refresher’s seminar for the last 2 days with officials that have previously attended the school last year and as well as some of the current certified officials and national officials that are here at the tournament,” said Smith.

“It’s always encouraging to see a group of officials that are ready to learn and where we can share some experience, not only share our experience, but also learn from their experience and just discuss different situations.”

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Iain Smith looks on during the unveiling of the new uniforms for the Nigeria Tennis Umpire Association in Abuja last week.

The 4-day training program was open to participants from state tennis associations and tennis clubs affiliated to the Nigeria Tennis Federation. The Chief Referee, Saidu Musa, speaking about the officiating school, revealed how the selection process went.

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Chief Referee explaining the scorecard to the students.

“It’s a class of 25, already we have 36 states plus the FCT, that’s 37. If there’s an entry from every state we have to screen the list down to 25.”

“There were 6 participants from Abuja because some states didn’t send their representatives. While some states were shortlisted but they also they did not show. There were some states that also sent entries of applicants that are over-age, but we rejected it because the age range is ages 21-35.”

Certificates will be awarded to the trainees who participated in the national school in due course.