A Rudeness Grievance?

Discussion in 'Adult League & Tournament Talk' started by Cindysphinx, Jun 18, 2010.

  1. Cindysphinx

    Cindysphinx G.O.A.T.

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    OK, this story is just plain weird. I will tell you that up front.

    I have a friend I see in fitness class. She is a member of a posh club, but this year she decided to play 3.5 USTA night league for the first time.

    Anyway, the other day I asked her how it was going. She said she probably wasn't going to play USTA anymore, especially given how a recent match had gone. She said that her opponent was really not nice and was very rude. I asked for details, but she was kind of vague. One thing she said was that the lady got upset when they questioned her line calls. I got the impression that the lady was impatient, aloof, curt, and according to my friend just kind of nasty.

    Then she told me the lady's name. It turns out the lady is one of my doubles partners. I played one 4.0 match with her, and when we were both 3.0s we played 2-3 3.5 matches together. Now, I wouldn't necessarily say her tennis style is to my liking (kind of a power player who struggles with consistency), but I had no problems at all with her personality toward me or her opponents. Two other TT posters have partnered with her, and so far as I know they didn't have problems either. Another TT poster played against her and mentioned the match on the board, but I can't for the life of me remember whether there were any rudeness issues.

    Well, get this. My friend filed a grievance against this lady! For rudeness, I guess. My friend said that the lady filed a response to the grievance, and in it she said something like, "I wonder if Serena Williams has grievances filed against her for being focused and hitting the ball hard."

    And get this: The league issued a reprimand to this lady!

    I don't get it. I have run across many opponents who played in a style I didn't appreciate. Everything from raining balls down on us rather than handing them to us, not making small talk, being sore losers, being argumentative, whatever. Never once did I consider filing a grievance. Maybe this lady's style wouldn't fly at a posh country club, but I'd be shocked to hear that it was truly inappropriate. Then again, maybe this is not the first grievance so the league is finally addressing it with her?

    Weird. So weird. I mean, if there was anything truly grievance-worthy, wouldn't my friend have come right out with it (like "She swore at us and hit balls at us whenever she disagreed with a call"). Should a grievance have to involve something a bit more concrete than this? Or should the league figure that if something is serious enough to make someone bother to file a grievance perhaps there is something to it?
     
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  2. larry10s

    larry10s Hall of Fame

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    without knowing the details of what happened you cant draw any conclusions.
    im always amazed how you get involved in drama situations
     
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  3. Cindysphinx

    Cindysphinx G.O.A.T.

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    Hey, I wasn't involved! I am totally innocent of any and all Drama in this one.
     
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  4. ksteph

    ksteph New User

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    Hi Cindy,

    I had a match this year where may opponent was terrible, but I never thought of filing a grievance against her. I'm surprised that the USTA reprimanded the opponent. She may have had other grievances filed against her.
     
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  5. Cindysphinx

    Cindysphinx G.O.A.T.

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    Ksteph, you're one of the TT posters who has partnered with this lady! Small world, eh?
     
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  6. BustedString

    BustedString Rookie

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    That is bizarre. Can the USTA even issue reprimands? I guess they can but does it mean anything? I'm sure if the player appealed, it would be dismissed. We had a 4.0M in the 7.0MX league here who was given a "warning" by the LLC and he appealed that and it was scrubbed. The grievance committee is supposed to evaluate actual USTA regulations and politeness isn't anywhere in them. Unsportsmanlike conduct is but it doesn't sound like anything unsportsmanlike happened here.

    There's a guy in my leagues who is just a total DB and often gets kicked off teams or not asked back. I've had to play him 6 times and he keeps losing it because he's convinced he's better than me. Our last meeting was last fall at Combo and he got so frustrated that he started throwing the balls away from me, onto other courts, instead of handing or passing them to me. That would have been a good rudeness grievance but alas, it just isn't worth it.
     
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  7. sureshs

    sureshs Bionic Poster

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    How exactly was she rude?

    I think this is an issue for a lawsuit. While it is true that organizations can enforce their rules, there is also such a thing as fairness and non-arbitrary treatment.

    And the USTA is also a government-supported organization.
     
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  8. BustedString

    BustedString Rookie

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    I'm sure if the "rude" person would appeal to something higher than a local committee, that the "reprimand" would get tossed out unless her behavior was clearly unsportsmanlike.

    I guess that begs the question. What is the difference between unsportsmanlike and rude?
     
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  9. Cindysphinx

    Cindysphinx G.O.A.T.

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    Our local rules require sportsmanlike behavior and adherence to the Code and suchlike, of course.

    What surprises me is that I thought grievances were reserved for objective things, not subjective things. Like, you could have a grievance that a captain refused to adhere to a rule (insisting on defaulting line 1 instead of line 3). Or a player stalled to run out the clock in a timed match. Or a player lied about her experience for self-rating.

    I do recall some years back being at a captain's meeting where we were told that we *should* file grievances. They said that this is the only way the league has to pick up on patterns of inappropriate behavior -- if no one ever reports the behavior it will never be addressed.

    I've heard people toss around the threat of a grievance, but I've only heard of one actual grievance being filed before this one. That grievance was when one team allegedly violated an agreement they had made with the other team. Again, that's objective (although the proof may be difficult), not subjective.
     
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  10. beernutz

    beernutz Hall of Fame

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    What are the consequences of getting a rudeness grievance upheld? Do you have to take etiquette lessons?
     
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  11. tennis tom

    tennis tom Hall of Fame

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    You have to open balls for six months.
     
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  12. decades

    decades Guest

    She wasn't rude. She was just bein sassy....
     
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  13. Steady Eddy

    Steady Eddy Hall of Fame

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    I'm closest to this POV. Sounds like there's more to this than her getting a reprimand just because she hits hard. And even if she hasn't been a problem in other matches, doesn't mean that she could not have been a problem in this match.

    Unless you know otherwise, I wouldn't second guess the USTA. People leave things out in the re-telling. Recently, "a girl got punched in the face by a cop for jaywalking". No, it started with jaywalking, but she got punched for assaulting an officer, but that's not as much of an attention getter. Likewise her troubles might have started with her power play, which led to something else happening, (something she doesn't like to admit to). So she just said, "Well, they don't like it that I hit hard, and I got reprimanded by the USTA for it!" Whatever it truly is, it's 99.9% likely she deserved it so you'd do best by just letting it go.
     
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  14. dizzlmcwizzl

    dizzlmcwizzl Hall of Fame

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    To be honest ... I think I would like a repremand from the USTA for something so pedestrian as rudeness. If there is no penalty or consequence it seems to me a formal letter of repremand would make for an excellent story to be told over beers after a match for many years to come.
     
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  15. Cindysphinx

    Cindysphinx G.O.A.T.

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    You're right, of course.

    I guess I'm just kind of surprised that someone with relatively little experience with USTA play -- having spent all of her tennis time in the country club league -- would avail herself of the grievance process so readily, you know? I mean, most of us just shrug this stuff off, no matter how bad it is.

    And come here and tell all on the Internet. :)

    I think (but don't know for sure) that only captains can file a grievance. I'm not sure what I would say if my player wanted me to spend time on a rudeness grievance . . .
     
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  16. Topaz

    Topaz Legend

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    *eh hem*

    Um, I think I know who you're talking about. Had to look back to be sure. And I vaguely remember the match. Don't remember anything being an issue, actually. She hits hard, yes, I remember that...but absolutely nothing grievance worthy.
     
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  17. kendall22

    kendall22 Rookie

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    Grievance policies are enacted at the sectional and district levels. In mine, I think a "Communications Misconduct Policy" showed up some time ago. If done locally, I'm sure the policies and execution of said procedures vary wildly.
     
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  18. robyn

    robyn New User

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    i didn't know you could get grievances for rudeness. seems like it could be abused alot.
     
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  19. Cruzer

    Cruzer Professional

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    Good suggestion. A hefty dollar judgement against her and maybe a few years in prison if she is found guilty. Let's clog up the legal system with more idiotic lawsuits.


    People playing USTA tennis should know that there is a small percentage of jerks playing USTA tennis and the more you play the greater the chances you will eventually play against them. If someone is that appalled by what they encounter in USTA matches then stick to social tennis at the club.
     
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  20. gameboy

    gameboy Hall of Fame

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    Give me a friggin' break. "Assaulting and officer"??? Are you kidding me? She pushed him back when he tried to grab her friend. There was absolutely no reason for the officer to punch a GIRL IN THE FACE!

    If a cop cannot arrest a 17 year old girl without punching her in the face, he should not be a cop.
     
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  21. sureshs

    sureshs Bionic Poster

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    You can think what you want, but if someone is being arbitrarily punished for rudeness, there is a need to take a stance. People who don't like lawsuits are the first one to run to a lawyer when they are affected. There is huge hypocrisy involved.
     
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  22. sureshs

    sureshs Bionic Poster

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    These things are not decided by someone who thinks it is 99.9% likely. That is why the legal system exists. If your daughter was involved, your views would be quite different. I have seen many examples. Legal system for oneself, while for others it is "frivolous" or "99.9% certain."
     
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  23. amarone

    amarone Semi-Pro

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    How do you know it was arbitrary? If a grievance was raised (which can be done by asserting that the behavior broke the USTA rule requiring good conduct and sportsmanlike behavior), then the grievance committee is responsible for hearing both sides of the story and calling on other "witnesses" to try establish what happened. Nowhere in the OP do we have any indication that this process was not followed or that the decision was arbitrary.

    And as for the bizarre assertion that this merits a lawsuit, what are the damages that were incurred? Emotional distress at being told not to be a naughty girl by the local USTA grievance committee? It should be easy to find a lawyer willing to pursue the case for 40% of those damages. Not. Which leaves you laying out five figures in legal fees to achieve what?

    There is a grievance process with appeals. If you disagree with the decision, appeal - to the local league grievance appeal committee.
     
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  24. amarone

    amarone Semi-Pro

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    The league coordinator can also.
     
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  25. amarone

    amarone Semi-Pro

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    The National Rules require it (emphasis mine):

    Here in Atlanta I have seen many grievances raised under that rule.

    Yes, they are subjective, but that is the grievance committee's responsibility - does the behavior contravene the rule to the extent that some action is warranted? I see no problem with wanting to reduce the number of jerks and unpleasant behavior in USTA tennis. Now, I am not saying that the woman in question was a jerk - I have not seen the evidence that the grievance committee collected.

    Exactly.
     
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  26. amarone

    amarone Semi-Pro

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    I don't know the form of the reprimand in this case, but one approach is to issue a warning that if there is further bad behavior, then the player will be suspended from USTA play for a while.

    Why are you sure? Which of the evidence that the grievance committee collected (and you almost certainly have not seen) was incorrectly judged upon? I have no idea whether the grievance would be dismissed on appeal - and I have served on both grievance committees and grievance appeal committees - because I have not seen the evidence.

    None of us posting in this thread knows the full story, so coming to any sort of judgment is hasty. Hearing one partial account of events is not enough. In this type of grievance you get different answers depending on who you speak to - usually getting one story from the teammates of the grievance-raiser, and another from the teammates of the accused.
     
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  27. Steady Eddy

    Steady Eddy Hall of Fame

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    My 99.9% applies to what Cindy, (and the rest of us), know. We don't know the whole story. Here's what a deeper investigation will reveal: she did something she's ashamed of, she didn't admit this part to Cindy, just said, "I got the reprimand for hitting too hard", (not!). The woman isn't going to get a lawyer because she was in the wrong, and a lawyer is too expensive, and a reprimand is no big deal anyway.

    Maybe this reminds you of something you got into personally? Care to discuss?
     
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  28. BustedString

    BustedString Rookie

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    I'm going by what Cindy said...that it was rudeness which I interpreted to not rise to the level of unsportsmanlike conduct. It appears there is more to this but we don't know. If it was just rudeness, I have no doubt that a committee would toss out any warning. If it was beyond that, then who knows. We had a player here who was given a reprimand/warning by the LLC for hitting too hard at/near women in a mixed league. He appealed it to the District Grievance Committee and the warning was tossed out. They HAVE to violate a USTA regulation to get a valid warning or reprimand. I'm also not sure a warning or reprimand is ever really a valid outcome. There are sanctions or there are not.
     
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  29. amarone

    amarone Semi-Pro

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    Do you know the reason stated by the District Grievance Committee? I ask because based on what you told me, I would throw it out also - because the LLC is not empowered to mete out disciplinary actions. The LLC can raise a local league grievance to be investigated and adjudicated upon by the local grievance committee. Was that done?

    With respect to "They HAVE to violate a USTA regulation", it is a USTA regulation that players must behave with good conduct and sportsmanship. I quoted the specific national regulation upthread.
     
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  30. Cindysphinx

    Cindysphinx G.O.A.T.

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    Is there any form of hitting that could conceivably violate the requirement of good conduct and sportsmanship?

    I would think you could fire your hardest overhead at point blank range at someone's head and it still shouldn't result in a violation. Am I wrong?
     
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  31. amarone

    amarone Semi-Pro

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    My first reaction was that no, there is no form of hitting that could violate good conduct and sportsmanship - it is within the rules. On the other hand, even the pro doubles players get annoyed if a short ball is hit at them when it is totally unnecessary (if unaware of this, go to youtube and search for Paes and Kendrick). Overall, though, I would think it extremely unlikely that a grievance would be upheld purely for hitting at an opponent.

    However, I suspect it is entirely possible that the hitting at an opponent is not the whole story and some parts are being glossed over. For example, if a player repeatedly hit hard at an opponent while yelling "take that you mother@#$%^&", I would view that as being poor conduct and likely warranting a warning.

    Again, I would say that we do not know all the information that the grievance committee used to come up with their ruling. I would not regard a statement by someone that they were reprimanded for hitting at an opponent as being very reliable -there is almost always more to it than the "accused" is prepared to admit.
     
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  32. AndrewD

    AndrewD Legend

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    Of course it can violate the bounds of 'good conduct' and 'sportsmanship'. That's not to say it would draw an official sanction or reprimand BUT, as people should be fully aware, sportsmanship relates to those unwritten rules which dictate the way in which you are supposed to behave. In 'The Code' (which you have because of matters to do with sportsmanship and behaviour), Powel wrote that "there are a number of things not specifically set forth in the rules that are covered by custom & tradition only." One of those things is sportsmanship.
     
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  33. Cindysphinx

    Cindysphinx G.O.A.T.

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    ^But which is it?

    If something violates good conduct and sportsmanship and someone complains, then an official sanction/reprimand etc. is appropriate, right?

    I have to say, I don't think intentionally hitting an overhead at an elderly female opponent in mixed -- each ball bouncing directly off of her skull, mind you -- would be something sanctionable. Does anyone think it would be?
     
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  34. Islandtennis

    Islandtennis Rookie

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    Hitting hard or at a person does not, in and of itself, constitute unsportsmanlike conduct. If the intent is to injure or even intimidate as opposed to winning the point or as Amarone pointed out accompanied by other actions then it could be unsportsmanlike conduct.

    That said, intent is the hardest thing to prove. If the grievance committee acts properly, they would question several people who are present to draw the most accurate picture.

    If it is a local grievance, then the next step is the local appeals committee. That decision is the last step unless one of the parties feels that the local administration violated USTA (or local) rules.
     
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  35. catfish

    catfish Semi-Pro

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    I was on a grievance committee that handled one of these grievances. I’ll try to keep this short, because a lot was involved. The incident was in a mixed doubles match. I think it was a 7.0 level. The players got into an argument on the court over a loose ball let. I don’t remember the exact details, but there was a minor confrontation. One of the women on the court made a sarcastic remark to the male opponent about the incident. For whatever reason, that male opponent got very angry, and told the opponents (both the man and the women) that he was going to hit them with overhead any chance he got. Apparently, he was a pretty big man, so the woman opponent felt very threatened and afraid during the match. She told her captain after the match, so her captain filed a grievance against the male opponent for unsportsmanlike conduct. The grievance committee got statements from all 4 players on the court. No one else witnessed anything. All 4 players (of course) skewed the facts to their benefit, as they always do. The man who threatened to hit the opponents did admit that he said that, but he said he was “joking”. The grievance committee didn’t feel he was joking, and our grievance decision said that all players exhibited some poor conduct and contributed to the situation. However, the man that threatened to hit his opponents was told that he would be suspended from the league if he did that again and a complaint or grievance was filed. The decision was not appealed, btw. A grievance committee can suspend a player from the league if they have a good reason to do so.
     
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  36. Cindysphinx

    Cindysphinx G.O.A.T.

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    I would have agreed with that decision under the circumstances you describe, but perhaps for different reasons.

    The problem I have with the guy's behavior is that he said what he planned to do. That is intimidation/gamesmanship/threatening. It is calculated to make the other team afraid, and that's not cool.

    Say you change the facts, though. Say the guy hadn't said anything, but he kept firing his hardest overheads at the net player. Say the net player asked him to stop doing this. Say he said nothing but continued doing it.

    In that case, I would not believe the grievance would be appropriate. He has every right to play whatever legal shot he wants, and he wouldn't have engaged in gamesmanship/intimidation. What do you think, Catfish?
     
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  37. ChipNCharge

    ChipNCharge Professional

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    Or, say he actually was joking, like he said he was. Catfish's story doesn't indicate whether he did, in fact, direct his overheads at the opponents after his "threat".
     
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  38. catfish

    catfish Semi-Pro

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    Yes, I agree with you. I wish I could remember all of the facts better, but it's been a few years since this happened. We felt like the guy saying he was going to hit them in a non-joking way was a physical threat and affected the opponents play. Which is gamesmanship and intimidation, just like you said. The guy's partner confirmed that he said that, and she said he didn't sound like he was joking. But the grievance committee would have had a hard time if the guy never said a word and just hit hard overheads at the opponents. I don't think there would have been grounds for a grievance, and a grievance might have been dismissed.

    Grievances regarding player conduct are always tough unless you have some impartial witnesses, or if the player accused of bad conduct admits to it and apologizes for his/her conduct. (I've only seen that happen one time, and I've served on several committees.) Most of the time, everyone involved plays the innocent victim and you get a he said / she said scenario that can't be resolved. So committees often hand out decisions that don't say much of anything other than everyone needs to "mind their manners in the future", or something along those lines.
     
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  39. catfish

    catfish Semi-Pro

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    I don't remember. I do remember that the statements from the other 3 players, including the guy's partner, didn't seem to feel he was joking. Based on what was said, we felt like he was just trying to squirm out of it. And the fact that he didn't appeal the decision does seem like he probably knew we didn't fall for it.
     
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  40. amarone

    amarone Semi-Pro

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    I know this thread has died down, but I came across something that clearly answers the question that has been raised as to whether grievances can be raised for subjective things like rudeness. In the USTA National Regulations it states (my emphasis):

    So clearly grievances can be raised for subjective matters such as contravening good conduct, fair play and good sportsmanship.
     
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