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Serving — on the court and in the classroom

Beverly Kristenson Jaeger, a faculty member and certified tennis official, channels her inner filmmaker in recalling her most memorable moments as a chair umpire and line judge.

“It’s like a movie montage,” says Jaeger, who chaired 10 matches for the US Open in New York City, the men’s final for which is set for this afternoon.

Some of the stories she tells resemble sight gags in offbeat comedies. In one match in Puerto Rico, for example, Jaeger recalls, “We had three cats on my court and needed to hold up play until they could be herded off.”

But many other moments, she explains, will be remembered for their sheer pomp and circumstance. Jaeger officiated the women’s gold medal match at the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing, for instance, and can’t shake the memory of the opening ceremonies of the 2000 Summer Olympics in Sydney, which included more than 12,500 dancers, acrobats and fire breathers. She has also served as a line judge in four Wimbledon finals, where she has been greeted by the Duchess of Kent.

The most rewarding aspect of officiating a tennis match, says Jaeger? “Having a meaningful role in conducting it smoothly and meeting the challenge in an inconspicuous way.”

Jaeger, a senior academic specialist in the department of mechanical and industrial engineering, finds parallels between officiating and teaching. “Working to develop better observational and listening skills has served well in each of these roles,” she says, adding that having a level of fluency in French and Spanish has improved her rapport with professional athletes. “It is something I am continually trying to improve.”

Tennis has long played a central role in Jaeger’s life. At 11, she picked up a racket and began playing with her dad. “I just kept hitting the ball back,” Jaeger recalls. No finesse, no style, no game.”

In high school, however, she played the No. 1 singles position, and later spent time as a teaching pro while pursuing both a masters and a PhD through Northeastern’s department of mechanical and industrial engineering.

“The sport has enhanced my life in countless ways through learning, playing, competing, teaching and officiating,” Jaeger says. “It can be simultaneous challenging, humbling and enriching.”