Long-standing New Zealand tennis official David Smith was recently honoured by the ITF at the AGM in Zagreb, Croatia for services to tennis.
Smith who grew up playing tennis in Wellington, but now lives in Auckland was given the award in front of the tennis presidents of all of the nations represented as well as a large number of former players and the Board of the ITF.
At the AGM Smith was the only official to receive an award. Others recipients of awards included Judy Murray, the mother of Andy and Jamie Murray along with two players who had been involved in over 50 Davis Cup and Fed Cup ties and two administrators.
"It was one of the proudest moments of my tennis career to be invited on to the stage in front of all of those people including all of the presidents, the board, ex-players. It was a huge honour," said Smith who owns a tourism business in Auckland when he's not officiating and is also the Executive Officer of the Oceania Tennis Federation
Smith started officiating in 1983 as a lines person and has had many highlights such as his first Davis Cup Tie being one of the two chair umpires in the Davis Cup at Kooyong in Melbourne between Australia and the USA, again being the chair for the Australian Open Mixed Doubles final in 1993.
He also officiated at the Sydney Olympics and the Paralympics and was the chair umpire for the Gold Medal Men's Singles match in the latter. As a chair umpire he officiated some 500-600 matches. He's also had an extensive involvement in Pacific Tennis since 1990 being the Referee for nine Pacific Games (the Olympics of the Pacific) and four Micronesian Games and has had extensive involvement in the development and officiating of Oceania Tennis.
Without his tennis officiating Smith believes he wouldn't have travelled to so many different locations around the world.
"I've been to almost every country in Asia and the Pacific Islands officiating tennis including some off the beat countries like Guam, Pohnpei ,Brunei and many more. Great places, all of them. I was the referee for the first ever men's professional tennis event in Hanoi. Without being an official I probably wouldn't have been to most of them."
Smith will officiate at the Davis Cup tie between the Philippines and Chinese Taipei in a couple of weeks in the Philippines.