Friday, September 01, 2006

The Story Behind Blue Cheese Wedges at the US Open

In 2001, when we started using CHUMP at the US Open, the USTA had 15 custom umpire chairs manufactured, with swing-arms to hold the CHUMP cradle and the microphone.

On the 3 main US Open stadiums (Ashe, Armstrong, Grandstand), the nets and posts are actually changed to setups of different widths for singles and doubles. This year, USTA had three additional custom chairs made, for those three courts, with custom, articulating bases on rails so that the chairs, which are extremely heavy, can be easily moved forward or back a few feet when the netposts are changed to accomodate singles or doubles.

Unfortunately, the guys who built the chairs tilted the trays down about 30 degrees, not realizing that US Open umpires no longer write on paper scorecards. Due to the awkward angle, umpires could no longer see the screens of their CHUMP palms.

USTA Ops came to the rescue, using a chop saw to cut small "cheese wedges" out of a 2 x 6, and spray-painting them blue.

Richard Kaufmann (Chief of Umpires) and I went out to Ashe, Armstrong, and Grandstand and re-mounted the CHUMP cradles on top of the cheese wedges, which are now secured to the trays.

A low-tech but effective solution.