On Call

By Hannah Wallace August 31, 2005

Banker Richard Moore will watch the U.S. Open at home this month, uncustomarily, since for the past four years he's been front and center as a line judge at the Grand Slam tennis extravaganza in Flushing Meadow, N.Y.

"It's disappointing not to be up there," Moore, 40, a certified United States Tennis Association umpire, admits about the two-week tournament the U.S.T.A. calls the highest annually attended sports event in the world. (Last year it boasted 625,000 attendees and 86 million American TV viewers; plus, it was broadcast to 199 countries.) "Umpiring is a place where you never make a good decision, and it's exciting to be among thousands of people-getting booed."

This fall, Moore instead is busy managing the Bank of Commerce's newly opened Cattlemen Banking Center. He joined the Bank of Commerce when it opened in September 2000, but missed its opening because he was umping at the U.S. Open. "For eight years, I used every week of vacation for umpiring," he says.

Moore, who played on his high school tennis team, got into umpiring while working for Barnett Bank in Amelia Island, where the Bausch & Lomb championships have been held for nearly 30 years. He umpired there from 1986 to 2004, and also for 10 years at the NASDAQ 100 (formerly Lipton) Championship in Key Biscayne.

"The umpires have a definite grade system," he explains. "You're evaluated on court by your accuracy and your attention. And at the Lipton I was seen and evaluated by enough people that I was invited to go to the U.S. Open."

Moore says his most exciting moment there was line umpiring a Pete Sampras fourth-round match in either 1999 or 2000. His ugliest? "It was at an exhibition in March 2004 with John McEnroe and John Currier. I made a few calls on serves that weren't to McEnroe's liking, and I joined a long list of umpires who experienced his displeasure."

Moore doesn't play much tennis anymore because he'd rather spend his free time with his children, but he teaches cycle classes at the Lakewood Ranch YMCA and at Lifestyle Family Fitness on S.R. 70. ("I get to pick the music," he says.)

Umpiring, he says, requires "intense focus for brief amounts of time, for 15 to 20 seconds at a time for each point." He says honing such intense scrutiny helped him overcome any fear of being criticized. "You're never given an 'atta boy' or a 'great job'" when you're umpiring, he says. "That kind of pressure makes the day-to-day stresses of working that much less."

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