Terrell native Dessie Samuels was awarded the United States Tennis Association Texas Section Ray Delcastillo official of the year award on Feb. 20.
Samuels was presented the award at the joint USTA Texas and USPTA Texas Division awards banquet in Horseshoe Bay.
She works as a tennis official, and the award recognizes a person’s contributions by working to strengthen officiating in the Texas Section.
The Ray Delcastillo official of the year award has been given out since 1982. Delcastillo worked as a tennis official for more than 30 years and he died in August 2012.
Samuels has been a tennis official since 1982 after playing on the first women’s tennis team at Texas A&M. She works as a supervisor for USTA’s women’s tennis tournaments.
Samuels previously was a chair umpire until she retired from that position in 2002.
She was selected to officiate at Wimbledon, the Australian Open where she chaired one final, and the US Open where she chaired the final four times.
Her milestones include attaining status as an ITF White, Bronze, Silver, and Gold Badged official.
Samuels also had the opportunity to represent the United States as a certified official at the Davis Cup, the Olympics, Fed Cup and many WTA Tour events.
More recently, she was hired as a Women's Pro Circuit Supervisor, a full-time position that keeps her flying throughout the United States running tournaments for the USTA Pro Circuit.
Samuels will be working at the U.S. Open Tennis Championships in August in New York. Samuels has worked at that tournament since 1986.
“The U.S. Open is always exciting,” Samuels said. “There’s always a lot of hustle and bustle going on in New York. Sometimes that’s too much for this Texas kid.
“I can spend three weeks up there,” she said. “It’s a nice place to visit, but I wouldn’t want to live up there around New York.”
Before that tournament, Samuels will be working at eight or 10 USTA Pro Circuit level events.
“I enjoy working all of those,” Samuels said.
She said the most memorable match she saw as a chair umpire was the women’s single final at the U.S. Open between Lindsay Davenport and Martina Hingis.
“It was pretty special to be able to do that,” Samuels said.
She said the most memorable match working as a supervisor was at a pro-circuit event in South Carolina watching Sloane Stephens play in a match that lasted four hours and 45 minutes.
“It was unbelievable,” Samuels said. “All the coaches, parents and spectators were watching this match and could not believe the level of play that these two players maintained from start to finish over four hours and 45 minutes during the summer time in the hot sun. It was absolutely amazing.”
Stephens was 16 at the time and now ranks in the top 30 in the Women’s Tennis Association singles rankings.
“I’ve been a supervisor for 17 years now and I have never seen a match like that one. It was four hours and 45 minutes of unbelievable tennis between two 16-year-old girls that were just battling it out. It was impressive,” Samuels said.
Travis Detherage may be reached at email@example.com.