© Aaron M. Sprecher/ROCC

Mark Darby, center with the hat, will retire from his work as an ATP supervisor.

Long-Time ATP Supervisor Mark Darby Retires

Darby has served the tour for nearly three decades

The ATP World Tour hasn't existed without Mark Darby. Literally. Darby has been an ATP supervisor since 1990, the first season of the tour.

But after more than 27 years of traveling the globe and making sure tournaments and players follow the rules, Darby will retire from the ATP World Tour to spend more time with his family, including his wife and his 14-year-old triplets. The Fayez Sarofim & Co. U.S. Men’s Clay Court Championship in Houston was his final tournament. Darby was honoured on Saturday during an on-court ceremony.

Asked what he'll miss the most, Darby said the countless number of good people he's worked with during his career. “As in a lot of jobs, I think it's more the people you meet than it is necessarily the job itself,” Darby told ATPWorldTour.com on Sunday evening.

Gayle Bradshaw, ATP Executive Vice President, Rules and Competition, said: "For over 30 years I have had the pleasure of having Darbs as a friend and colleague. As an official, Mark has always conducted himself in the most professional manner and thus has earned the respect of the officials, tournament directors, ATP Staff and the players.  His time as an ATP supervisor has come to an end but he will always be part of the ATP family. His was a career well played and he will be missed.”

Houston was the latest tournament in what has been a lifetime of tennis for Darby. As a kid growing up outside of Pittsburgh, he became interested in the sport because his mother played. She dragged him to the tennis court with her, and pretty soon Darby was playing as well. He turned out to be pretty good.

Darby was a talented junior player in Pennsylvania and went on to play at Penn State University, eventually representing the Nittany Lions in the NCAA singles tournament. Darby remains in seventh place on the school's all-time match wins list.

You May Also Like: Johnson Fights Off Cramps, Bellucci For Houston Title

He worked as an official for the U.S. Tennis Association before joining the ATP World Tour. Darby is also a member of the USTA Middle States Hall of Fame. After decades of traveling, he has accumulated quite a few stories and some favourites along the way.

Favourite tournament?
“Newport, Rhode Island. It's a 250-level event... The atmosphere at Newport I think is so good for the spectators and I think the players enjoy going there,” Darby said. “I think it had a certain charm to it. There are a lot of events around the globe that do such a wonderful job.

“The other tournament that stands out for me is Acapulco. I was there when they broke ground on the site and feel a part of that event with Raul Zurutuza as tournament director.”

Most unusual incident you had to rule on?
In 1994, centre court at the New Haven, Connecticut, tournament had received so much rain that it started to crumble. The tournament had to resurface centre court on Tuesday night and let it dry all night before play resumed on it on Wednesday morning,” Darby said. “We even brought in a helicopter to help blow the lines... That's probably as unusual of a case as I've ever had... I'm glad we didn't ever top that one.”

What are you looking forward to most about retired life?
“The thing I'm most looking forward to is being at home every day with my kids and not going somewhere and maybe missing some activity that they're involved in.”

Darby won't be completely out of tennis, though. As of now, he still plans to work as the referee at the Miami Open presented by Itau.

More stories like this in: