From Redcliffe to world's greatest sporting stages

Published 5:00pm 16 December 2021

From Redcliffe to world's greatest sporting stages
Words by Nick Crockford

Cheryl Jenkins will spend two weeks at the Australian Open next month - with “no time to watch the tennis”.

The former Redcliffe resident will be in Melbourne as Chief Umpire of the first Grand Slam tournament of 2022.

Mrs Jenkins handles the administration and appointments of match officials, which has reached 400 for an event which dates back to 1905.

Then, each day from January 17-30, she will be in the Chief Umpire’s room at Melbourne Park monitoring matches.


“We look at them on screens, but there’s no time to actually watch the tennis,” Mrs Jenkins said. “we’re actually watching the officials.”

It will be her third year in the role having been appointed in 2019 as the Australian Open’s first female Chief Umpire.

At the time, Mrs Jenkins told Tennis Australia she was “honoured and privileged” to be given the role, saying what started as a hobby has had a “great impact” on her life.

It all began at Redcliffe Tennis Centre on Oxley Ave, which then had eight courts, playing with her parents, brothers, friends and relatives.

Sporting family

Mrs Jenkins comes from a tennis family. Her mum Annette Herbener has run the Friday social sessions at Redcliffe for 21 years and father Ed was president of the club.

“I still have a scar on my left arm from the old fencing there!” Mrs Jenkins joked. “I was just a club player, playing fixtures. I knew I wasn’t going to be world number one.”

However, she was Redcliffe State High School girls’ tennis champion and brother Bryan the boys’ winner. It is believed to be the only time siblings have won both titles in the same year.

“Mum and Dad were involved with tennis and when I was too young to be a ball kid, I’d go with mum to the airport to collect players arriving for tournaments,” Mrs Jenkins said.

Official role

“Then, when I started getting too old to be ball kid, I was looking for a part-time job and started being an (tennis) official seemed the best option.”

Starting as a line umpire, Mrs Jenkins worked her way up to travelling the world as an international chair umpire.

She has officiated at Wimbledon, the French Open at Roland Garros, US Open, Olympic Games in Sydney and Beijing and Commonwealth Games in Dehli.

This year Mrs Jenkins was one of the top officials at the Tokyo Olympics and the Queensland Sport Official of the Year at the 2021 Queensland Sport Awards.

Wonderful memories

Mrs Jenkins clocked-up 27 years as a tennis official - 25 with the Australian Open team - and is now in her 13th year on the tournament’s Chief Umpire team.

“I’ve been to great cities in the world and have so many wonderful memories, but it is a lot of travel, hotels and time away from family,” she said.

However, Mrs Jenkins has not forgotten her sporting roots and was recently at Redcliffe Tennis Centre helping umpires during a tournament.


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