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Midwest / Chicago

Official Spotlight: Chuck Cunningham

February 26, 2021

From countless US Opens to creating his own research project to better understand youth development in tennis, Chuck is a key part of making Midwest tennis the best it can be. Read on to learn more about Cunningham. 

Q: How did you become involved in tennis and what do you do in addition to officiating? 


A: I took a tennis class as an undergrad that was taught by the school’s tennis coach. I developed enough skill that he invited me to join the team. After three years of competing at the college level and giving lessons part-time, through a set of circumstances, I was hired to coach men’s and women’s tennis at the U of Illinois at Chicago (UIC) in 1976, a position I held for 25 years (retired in 2001). 


I began graduate study in education at UIC in 2010 and used junior competitive tennis as the organized youth sports model required for my studies (earned Master’s Degree in Education in 2016). This led to my current research interest.


Currently work as a game clock operator for college and professional basketball.   

Q: How did you get into officiating?


A: I started officiating in 1977 as a volunteer at the NCAA Tennis Championships and became USTA certified in 1982.

Q: What is the most rewarding part for you?


A: Working with juniors, especially at the entry level.

Q: What are some of the major tournaments you have officiated?


A: US Open (12); Davis Cup (3)

Q: What is the most challenging part?


A: Performing my roving officiating duties during junior tournament play, while at the same time being an unbiased supportive influence with competitors at the early to middle adolescent developmental stage.

Q: Why would you encourage someone to look into officiating?


A: It is a way to contribute to the game in a meaningful way. With respect to junior tennis at the community level, it is a way to contribute to positive youth development.

Q: What are some common misconceptions?


A: That officiating, particularly roving, is easy.  

Q: What is your favorite memory from officiating?


A: Professionally, my first US Open which, as a relatively new professional official, came as a total surprise. At the community level, however, my favorite memory is the positive impact my youth development research appears to be having on my roving officiating performance with juniors.   


Q: Any additional information?


A: Professional experiences aside, I consider my current COVID-19 and on-going youth development research of greater significance than anything else I’ve done.


Find Cunningham's latest research here



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