By Te Karere

The ASB Tennis Open tournament is underway with rankings and big prize money on the line, a lot of pressure is placed on sideline officials to perform, and a number of those umpires are Māori.

Chris Temu is one of them and says it’s all for the love of tennis, “I love it and I still keep coming back.”

 Every year Māori umpires are fortunate to be officials at the ASB classic, this year there are four in total who according to Alan Clarke, support each other on the court, “Having four on court and being in the same team with all of them is really supportive and they tautoko your calls whether they be right or wrong.”

They also get to umpire a game with athletes of the likes of Serena and Venus Williams. Desrae Garratt says, “We see a lot of these top players and to us, they're just another person. We're here to do a job and look after them.”

 There are more than 50 official umpires at the ASB classic and these Māori officials are urging for more Māori to come through. Temu adds, “We'd love to encourage them to take part. It might not be for them, but in the end, we just keep on encouraging them, and that's why I'm still here.”

So what do official umpires look out for?

Clarke jokes, “Looking out for fine weather - that way we don’t have to stay late at night. But whoever makes the final, make it a good final. Not just for themselves for the spectators and fans.”

Women’s finals will take place over the weekend followed by round one for the men’s.