When Lynn Welch first began hitting tennis balls as a youngster in her hometown of South Portland, Maine, she imagined herself playing on the fabled grass courts of Wimbledon or at the prestigious U.S. Open championships. Although Welch never had the opportunity to vie for one of these coveted titles, she has nevertheless emerged as a critical figure in each of these major tournaments. From atop her perch as a chair umpire at some of the world's major tennis events, Maine's own Lynn Welch has enjoyed the best seat in the house.
Welch started playing tennis in the recreation program offered each summer by the South Portland Recreation Department. By the time that she entered South Portland High School in 1970, she had earned the #1 ranking of all junior and women's players in the state. At South Portland Welch played both first singles and first doubles for the Red Riots. Between 1972 and 1974 she won three consecutive Maine interscholastic singles titles and three more doubles championships.
After graduating from Rollins College, she returned to Maine where she continued playing singles and mixed doubles. For a number of years she played for the top-ranked mixed doubles team in Maine. As a result of her prowess, the Maine Tennis Association named Welch as Player of the Decade from 1972-1981. The highlight of her playing career occurred in 1989 when she won a share of the United States Tennis Association's National Women's 30 Clay Court doubles championship.
Welch also attended the Dennis Van Der Meer Tennis Teaching University in 1979 and became a certified professional with the United States Professional Tennis Registry. Four years later she completed the United States Professional Tennis Association teaching pro school and earned a P1 certification, the highest level awarded by that organization.
After successfully completing line umpire school in 1991, Welch began her rise to prominence in tennis officiating circles. She worked at professional tournaments in both the ATP and WTA circuits and at major Grand Slam events. Welch was the line umpire at the women's finals at Wimbledon from 1996-1998 and officiated at the 1996 Olympic Games in Atlanta.
In December 1997 Welch was promoted by the International Tennis Federation (ITF) and awarded the Silver Badge. In 2003 the ITF awarded Welch with the Gold Badge, the highest umpire designation awarded in the world. Currently she is one of only 25 Gold Badge chair umpires in the world and one of only four females to hold this certification.
Welch's prominence in the sport has led her to serve as chair umpire at some of the world's most famous tennis venues. She has officiated championship finals events at the U.S. Open on nine occasions, including five women's singles finals. In 2006 she officiated at two women's semifinals events at Wimbledon. Welch also served as a chair umpire at both the 2000 and 2004 Olympic Games.
Today Welch resides in Hilton Head, South Carolina, but her busy schedule puts her on the road for approximately thirty weeks each year. She has served as a chair umpire with the Sony Ericsson Women's Tennis Association tour since 2007.
Maine Sports Hall of Fame
P.O. Box 2
Cumberland, ME 04021
Phone (207) 807-7666
The Maine Sports Hall of Fame was established in 1972 for the purpose of: 1) appointing and bestowing recognition awards and scholarships to outstanding Maine high school scholar-athletes; and, 2) to formally honor and memorialize Maine athletes and sports figures who have brought distinction and honor to the state of Maine.