The story of Carlos Bernardes: between highs and lows, how happy is an umpire´s life?



by   |  VIEW 18505

The story of Carlos Bernardes: between highs and lows, how happy is an umpire´s life?

Carlos Bernardes started to play tennis in Sao Caetano di Sul, Brazil, where he was born and raised. He was a mischievous guy who was looking for some thrills in his hometown and his friends and he would often climb a wall of an old multisports complex named Lauro Gomes.

They played there on the weekends and would sneak in during the times the center was closed. The nets of the court were put away for the day and the only way he and his pals could play was by placing a track and field banner in the middle of the court to serve as a make believe net.

They would play for hours like this and quite often they would then leave, never discovered or seen at all. But one day the lady in charge of the center waited for them to climb that wall and she surprised them by inviting the bunch to play by going finally through the main entrance.

At 16, Carlos' father died and he started tennis training and teaching tennis to get money for him and the family. But playing rereationally was what Carlos and his buddies enjoyed. The aspect he liked was the teaching of the locals in Brazil and on that great day when the Federation Cup came to San Paulo, he'd gotten a chance to watch the tennis but glancing at a local newspaper noticed the ad saying that umpires were needed immediately.

He hurriedly signed up and began but doing it so well, the Federation supervisors asked him if he'd do it on a permanent basis. Carlos was torn between teaching the townspeople of Brazil or going on tour for over half the year and not seeing is locals, family or friends.

In return though he knew he'd be able to travel the world, get paid much more and see different environments and cultures he would never see otherwise. He chose to be an official for the ATP/ITF of professional tennis. He had went through the ranks of becoming an official, the bronze, white and green badges to start as well as the silver, but the highest was the gold badge, of which only 25 people worldwide hold and which eventually included Carlos.

The first pro tournament as umpire was at the Federation Cup at Pinheiros Club at the end of the 1980's. During that time he also worked as a linesman when situations were shorthanded. He admits that tennis has changed his life and he worked also at the 2002 finals in Shanghai, China when Lleyton Hewitt faced Juan Carlos Ferrero and was honored to work the 2004 Olympics in Athens, Greece.

Two years later he was deemed the 1st South American to work a grand slam -- The French Open, another dream come true and a milestone for Carlos and his heritage. One of the most special moments came when one day before the quarterfinals, the chief umpire called him into his office saying he would have the chance to work the Finals.

The 2011 Wimbledon also brought excitement along with the 2012 London Olympics. The progression of technologies in tennis from the time he first started as a chair ump over 20 years ago still amazes him along with how the speed of the ball, the endurance and the fitness training players go through and "The Hawkeye" development.

But there will be incidents and the 2015 year brought many. It was the Rio Open that Nadal and Bernardes clashed heads when Nadal requested a change of clothes break during the heat in Rio. He was granted it and when he came back onto the court found out that hurriedly dressing his shorts was on backwards.

Nadal wanted another break which wasn't granted and he was embarrassingly changing his shorts with a towel wrapped around his waist. He was furious and later demanded to see the chief supervisor to ban Carlos from any of his matches.

The ATP later did ban him . The incident of match fixing was at the helm when it was found out that a linesman and not a player was being investigated for giving out details of a player's physical ability and an account on betting was found.

The Croatian linesman Denis Pitner was on the hot seat at the US Open 2015 and was banned for a year, but obviously this information wasn't told to the USTA at the appropriate time and in July he had went and picked up his credentials.

The "DO NOT CREDENTIAL" list was never found or updated and he also worked at this January 2016 ATP Qatar Open at Doha. But this year 2016 started off with Carlos Bernardes being accepted again to officiate Nadal's matches and things at this point are carrrying along as planned.

The official's life is filled with honors, laughs, excitement and well as misappropriateness and disrespectful times. This is what the officials bought into when they took on the job, the career that they get paid for.

If any official would be asked to quit the job and go to another they might say without hesitation "NO". They may not see their friends and family for half of the year but they are doing the job not only for the money, but for the love of the game.

Also Read: Boris Becker: the recipient of Davis Cup Committment Award