Community Spotlight: Teri Cohn
Tennis fans in Southern California who attend local college and USTA Pro Circuit matches would most undoubtedly recognize Teri Cohn by sight as she has been calling lines at area clubs and tennis facilities for the past 13 years.
The Upland resident Cohn has been a USTA linesperson since 2005, and stays busy working the numerous local junior, college and pro matches that take place in the Southland and beyond.
“It really has turned into a full-time job,” said Cohn, who grew up playing tennis in Missouri and got back in the game after a 15-year hiatus when she lived in Atlanta before relocating to California in the early 2000s.
When asked which events she enjoys officiating the most – be it Pro Circuit, juniors, college or ATP and WTA – Cohn paused and said that’s like asking to pick which child is your favorite. “But I love, love college tennis,” said Cohn, who holds a national chair designation from the USTA. “I love the excitement and the atmosphere. And I also love the professional events. I think it’s whatever I happen to be doing that day.”
Cohn achieved a goal she had long sought after last September when she became a linesperson for the main draw of the US Open, after working one other year at the qualifying event.
“It’s crazy just being at the Open,” she said. “It’s a huge facility and there are courts everywhere. Just being in New York and the crowds. You can just feed off the energy.”
Cohn joined the Claremont Club shortly after her move to California, and says she fell into the officiating gig after longtime official Jim Flood encouraged one of her friends to attend a training session, and invited Cohn to come along.
“Next thing you know I’m taking classes and I’m shadowing other officials for five straight days and I started applying for some jobs,” she said.
Cohn grew up outside of St. Louis in the suburb of Webster Groves where “everyone played tennis” during the tennis boom of the 1970s. “We’d all jump on our bikes and ride to the courts and play and swim all day. I had just a fabulous idyllic childhood.”
One of Cohn’s sons Andrew played at Pomona-Pitzer and is now the head women’s coach at Haverford College in Philadelphia.
With an empty nest at home , Cohn said she’s enjoyed being able to pick and choose the events she does. In January she stayed busy from the first of year at the USC Pro Futures, followed by the Long Beach Pro Futures, and then a day working in the desert for the Henry Talbert Memorial Junior event. Cohn then finished the month strong at the new ATP/WTA Newport Beach Oracle Challenger.
Cohn has worked with the Special Olympics for the past four years. In 2015 in L.A., she worked the Special Olympics World Games. She has chaired events for the Wheelchair Professional Masters and says working Special Olympics and wheelchair tournaments is at the top of her list of events to work.
Her travels have led her to work in places like New Haven, Conn., New York, Phoenix, Las Vegas, South Carolina, Portland, the Easter Bowl in the desert and the Carson ITF Spring Internationals.
“Watching these kids when they are 8 or 9 and working their matches and seeing their progression is just amazing,” Cohn said. “I remember players I called lines for in the juniors who are now on the pro circuit. They come up and say, ‘You chaired my Easter Bowl final.’ If you are around long enough, the kids remember you.”
Cohn is in love with what she calls her main vocation these days. “I love the people I do it with,” she said. “It’s such a crazy cast of characters. We have doctors and veterans and warehouse workers and lawyers and teachers. People from all walks of life. To me, that’s the fun part is the camaraderie and the people you get to meet.”
Cohn is the current president of the umpires’ association (SCTUA). If you are interested in becoming a USTA official, you can go to USTA.com for more information.The USTA Southern California Section, which was founded in 1887, is one of the 17 sections of the United States Tennis Association. The USTA is a not-for-profit organization committed to promoting the game of tennis by offering quality recreational and competitive programs for people of all ages and abilities. Comprising Imperial, Kern, Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino, San Diego, San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara, and Ventura Counties, the SCTA is one of the smallest in area of the USTA’s 17 sections. However, the Southern California section is one of the largest contributors of tennis talent and innovative programming.