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Alvin "Al" Penelton honed his game on many local courts ranging from Lincoln and Jones Parks to various St. Louis racquet clubs; he amassed eighty first-place trophies.  His greatest moment came playing Arthur Ashe in an exhibition game.


As an employee at Anheuser-Busch St. Louis Brewery, he became not just their local tennis champ, but also a three-year champion of the company's Olympics a competition of all the breweries.  It would be during a St. Louis match where someone suggested he consider becoming an umpire.   


Penelton was influential in the United States Tennis Association (USTA) providing support to build state-of-the-art tennis courts in East St. Louis for area youth.  "Without Alvin Penelton, there would not be new courts to introduce a new generation to tennis," said 40 Days of Nonviolence Coordinator Joe Lewis, Jr..


Joan Vormbaum (ATP Scheduler of Officials for North American Tournaments) stated, "Al was an extraordinary official and an extraordinary human being. Of the 1000+ officials who have worked ATP events in the last 25 years, not one single official in my records could match his consistent line-calling or his exemplary conduct off court.  He was an inspiration to me both professionally and personally, as a fellow line official, as a line umpire when I was a chair umpire, and as a Chief of Officials.  He was the original Hawk-Eye line-calling machine, the standard against which everyone else was measured.  I never heard him complain.  I never heard him say anything unkind to or about anyone.  Wherever he was, he gave 100% - on court, off court, dressing up to go out, dancing at the umpire party.  He radiated joie de vivre.  Seeing his smile, the way he looked up and out at the world, will always make my day."


Professional Resume (on court): 

  • Thirty-Seven consecutive US Opens (1982-2019)

  • Five consecutive Wimbledons, 1997-2001

  • First pro tournament at 1978 WCT Classic at the Checkerdome

  • Six Australian Opens

  • Countless appearances at ATP events such as Indian Wells, Newport Hall of Fame, Cincinnati, Montreal, Quebec, Lipton/Miami, ...

  • Numerous Davis Cups

  • Numerous Fed Cups

  • Olympics in Atlanta and Australia


Credentials/Positions: Arguably the "Goat" of all line umpires world-wide. Considered the best service line umpire of all times.  Consistently, in the top ten world-wide for ATP/ITF/USTA Linesmen for over 35 years.

Significant Assignments:  ATP Championships Hartford 1996-1999, Olympic Games 1996 Atlanta, and 2000 Sydney Australia.

Significant Awards:  1996 John T. McGovern Award "the USTA's highest recognition given to umpires. 


Al's Famous Saying:  "It's All Good"


Mr. Penelton died on May 23, 2020 at 79 years of age.


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