Officials Chair Steve England is recipient of USTA Iowa President’s Award
After spending 34 years as an air traffic controller, Steve England recognized that his experiences working in a stressful, demanding job would line up with the skills needed to be a tennis official.
“I realized that being an umpire was similar to being an air traffic controller: you have to ensure fairness, balance the interests of all parties, and deal with difficult situations calmly and professionally,” England said.
England decided to become a tennis official because he enjoys being part of the tennis community and contributing to a sport he loves. Though he has faced some challenges and conflicts, he always tries to handle them with integrity and diplomacy.
“Sometimes, there are disputes about the score, the rules, or the procedures,” he explained. “As officials, we have the responsibility and the authority to handle these situations in a fair and respectful manner. We can use our knowledge, skills, and judgment to make the best decisions possible, and to communicate them clearly and calmly to the players, coaches, and spectators.”
He and the other local officials help each other out when needed, share feedback, tips, and advice, and learn from each other's experiences. They also have fun and celebrate their achievements, but he does acknowledge that officiating isn’t always easy. It takes a lot of dedication and will often pressure and criticism from others.
“I think we need to improve the working conditions and the recognition of officials in our district,” he said. “I believe we should increase the number of officials available, so that we can reduce the workload of each individual.”
USTA Iowa President Brenton Kuchera said he appreciates England’s ideas of growing the number of tennis officials throughout the state, and that is one of many reasons he nominated him for the USTA President’s Award for 2023.
“Steve is a chair that listens and responds, but he also speaks up when he sees an opportunity, I am excited to see the gains we make in year one and continue to build on that in the future,” Kuchera said. “People are drawn to his sincerity and authenticity, Steve and his passion bring people to the game and bring people to this important role of officiating.”
Originally from Indiana, England has lived in Des Moines for most of his adult life. He received the President’s Award at this year’s district ceremony in December.