Earlier today, I stumbled upon the USTA Chair Umpire Handbook, a document printed by the USTA for "officials who chair matches at all levels of events where the chair umpire is making the calls on court." The handbook is a nine-page primer that covers everything an ump should expect at a match.
As a guide, it's probably pretty effective. As casual reading, it's hilarious. Here are the seven best lines from the guide:
1. "Approximately 30 minutes before a match, you should stop thinking about everything except what is about to happen."
2. Among the 23 items an umpire is supposed bring on the court: aspirin, Chapstick (product placement!), a silver dollar and a Swiss Army Knife ("the big one," it says).
3. "Once you are in the chair and your card is prepared, begin warming up like the players. Loosen up your eyes and sharpen your concentration. Follow the ball and mentally make a few calls. Make eye contact with your line umpires and give them a nod. (You are subtly establishing a team feeling.)"
4. "Play has begun. What are your responsibilities? Everything!"
5. "Announce the score in a conversational tone." [I don't know why, but this one made me laugh the most. Conversational, eh? "Hey, Frank. How's it goin? Yeah, it is pretty hot outside. 30-40. No, we're actually going to a wedding that weekend."]
6. "Eye contact with a line umpire who has made a particularly close call is good to reinforce the team feeling. It is also helpful to glance around occasionally at your team during each changeover. But do not become like the little dog in the back window of a car. Eye contact is one thing; constant head bobbing is quite another, and it looks silly.
If there has been a discussion on a close call, wait until the point-losing player is not watching before making eye contact."
7. "Do not cross your legs. It looks very unprofessional."