Raphael Harper Junior will make history at the US Open this year as he becomes the first Jamaican umpire to officiate at the last Grand Slam event of the year, held in Flushing Meadows in New York City.
An experienced and renowned umpire, who has served the Jamaica Tennis Association for a considerable number of years, particularly during his time as the vice-chairman of the Council, Harper had this to say about his historical opportunity – “Being able to officiate amongst some of the world’s leading tennis officials who have worked for many years in Grand Slam Tennis Championships is a great honour…I’m very excited to be selected from Jamaica and look forward to the task at hand.”
Harper became the first White Badge umpire in Jamaica in 1994 before moving to South Florida to form his own business. Although his professional duties have kept him busy since 1998, he has continued to support and serve the sport of tennis officiating in matches featuring Ryan Harris, Mark Philippoussis and the legendary John McEnroe. Most recently Harper has umpired matches involving top ATP and WTA players Tomas Berdych, Robin Soderling, Ana Ivanovic and Lindsey Davenport.
In the year when the world woke up to the brilliance of the Jamaican athletics team following their dominance in three key events at the London 2012 Olympics – the Men’s 100m, 200m and 400m relay – Harper believes that his appointment to serve at this major event is proof that Jamaicans have the capability to reach world standard levels in their chosen sports and professions.
The US Open commences on Monday 27th August, Harper flew from the island on Monday to begin preparations for the tournament.