RAPHAEL Harper Jr will be the first Jamaican to officiate at the United States Open Tennis Championships scheduled to begin next Monday at the US Tennis Centre, Flushing Meadows in New York.
The Jamaican said he is proud and delighted to have received this opportunity to officiate at one of the world's biggest tennis championships.
"Being able to officiate amongst some of the world's leading tennis officials who have worked for many years in Grand Slam Tennis Championships over the years is a great honour and opportunity," Harper said.
"I'm very excited to be selected from Jamaica and look forward to the task at hand," said Harper, who officiated as Tournament Referee at the week-long Hi-Pro Open Tennis Championships held at Liguanea Club in New Kingston recently.
According to Harper, this shows Jamaicans are capable of reaching far internationally in what they do and have proved they have achieved a world standard.
Harper became the first local White Badge umpire in 1994.
He served the Jamaica Tennis Association for many years and was vice-chairman of the Council. He continued for many more years thereafter before leaving for the United States.
He migrated to the South Florida in 1998 and though he formed his own business, continued serving the sport of tennis as an ardent believer in development through sports.
The Jamaican also worked at many professional events and has officiated in matches involving the brilliant but controversial John McEnroe of the United States, Mark Philippoussis of Australia and Ryan Harrison of the USA.
Harper also officiated in matches involving Tomas Berdych of the Czech Republic, Gilles Simon of France, Robin Soderling of Sweden and other well-known players who became world-class professionals.
He has worked as a line umpire in tournaments such as the Sony Ericsson Open and recalls three challenges from Lindsay Davenport of the USA in a match against Ana Ivanovic.
Hawk-Eye — tennis's ball-tracking system — showed that all three calls were correct. Ivanovic is from Belgrade, SFR, Yugoslavia and is a former world No 1 player.
Harper flew out of the island on Monday for the US Open.