Denise Parnell - Refereeing the AEGON Classic


It’s been a challenging week for ITF gold badge certified referee Denis Parnell at the AEGON classic. As predicted the changeable weather has plagued the week with rain showers making conditions tough for players and officials.

However Denise is never without a smile and her positivity and determination is key to success of the WTA international event.

"I don't tend to worry about the rain. The covers are very good so we always know with confidence that when the covers come the courts will be dry underneath."

Denise’s experience on grasscourts was invaluable this week as she made continual discussions on when to cover courts and when courts were safe for play. 

In 2011 Denise was awarded the LTA's Official of the Year, an honour bestowed on very few officials in their career. Although the clouds on Birmingham look set to hold for the next few days, our referee is optimistic the tournament will finish.

Miss Parnell is part of the referee’s team for the forthcoming Championships, Wimbledon, and is junior referee for the second week. We wish her all the best.


As the grass court season gets under way we check in with ITF Gold Badge certified official Denise Parnell, who takes up her post this week as referee at the AEGON Classic event being held at the Edgbaston Priory Club, Birmingham.

Denise has been involved with tennis from a young age and during the ten year period from 1980 to 1990 she was consistently in the top 12 players in Great Britain. In 1990 she hung up her professional racket for the final time and opted down the path of officiating. After many years refereeing across the UK Miss Parnell gained her Silver Badge in 2000 and was finally awarded her Gold badge in officiating in 2006.

Astoundingly this is the 12th year that Denise has worked at the popular WTA pre-Wimbledon event and she is excited by new changes to the site this year:

"The LTA have made a massive investment to the reconstruction of the site," said Parnell, "and the improvements are fantastic.

"The biggest challenge we face at Edgbaston are the adverse weather conditions, so the discussion to rebuild four of the match courts installing proper drainage around and under the courts was essential. Work got underway in the autumn of last year and the courts had to be built up from scratch."

The All England Lawn Tennis Club (AELTC) have been working closely with the Priory club, lending them necessary equipment and offering them invaluable advice right from the beginning of the project.

"It's brilliant the All England Club have been involved in the reconstruction, the aim being to get the courts to be as good as at Wimbledon. The new Centre Court is due to open for the 2013 championships and the design is based on the new Court 2 at Wimbledon." 

Refereeing can be a tough job but Denise really enjoys the diversity and flexibility the job gives her:

"I work about 20 weeks a year as an official. Predominantly I’m a referee however I do work occasionally as a Hawkeye official at some of the overseas grand slams. I really enjoy the variation in the roles. Working with different organisations under different employers keeps me on my toes and means every week is different."

In addition to her officiating work, Denise also works at the AELTC between Easter and May each year training the Data Entry Personnel for the Wimbledon Championships.

"I have done this since 1990 and really enjoy it. All the people we train must have a background in tennis. We train four people a day for around 8 to 10 weeks." 

Manchester based Denise is a keen all round sports person, enjoying skiing, hill walking and outdoor pursuits. However her first love will always be tennis, she has been a member of the AELTC club since 2007 and really enjoys the opportunity to pick up a racket and get back to her playing roots.

We wish Denise the best of luck with the WTA international event and look forward to catching up with her at the end of the week to see how it’s all gone.

Denise Parnell
Denise Parnell