Can a roving umpire call a let on a late call he did not see?

Discussion in 'Adult League & Tournament Talk' started by rgc10s, Sep 11, 2013.

  1. rgc10s

    rgc10s New User

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    The 2013 Friend at Court states the following regarding a roving umpire’s authority to overrule a line call:

    "Overrule a player’s line call only when in direct observation of that one court. When a Roving Umpire overrules a player’s out call, that player loses the point. The Roving Umpire may not overrule as a result of a player appeal."

    This states very clearly that a roving umpire can only overrule a call if he is in direct observation of the point. In other words, if Player A calls a ball out and Player B (the opponent) disagrees with the call, a roving umpire cannot overturn the call if he did not see the play. Does this apply to a case where a player claims a call was made too late and appeals to a roving umpire who did not see the play?

    Let’s say that Player A makes an out call and Player B claims that the call was made “too late”. There could be a variety of reasons why Player B thought the call was made late. For the sake of argument let’s assume Player A lets a ball bounce a few inches long at the baseline, hits a half volley, then immediately calls the ball out. Maybe Player B either didn’t hear the call and/or didn’t see the out signal. So Player A reiterates the call, but by this time Player A’s half volley has hit the net. Player B only hearing the second (same) call, insists the call was made late. The roving umpire who was on another court and did not see the play is called over to settle the dispute. The umpire states that since he didn’t see the play, he could not determine definitively whether the out call was made in a timely manner or not, thus he calls a let and makes them replay the point. Was this the correct ruling, or should Player A’s original call have stood, based on the fact that the umpire did not see the play?
     
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  2. woodrow1029

    woodrow1029 Hall of Fame

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    Player A's call should have stood. The roving umpire should tell Player B that Player A is responsible for line calls on his side of the court, and since he was not there to see it, the call would stand. Then the roving umpire should reiterate to both players that calls need to be made immediately, and then he should observe that court for a little while, if possible.
     
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  3. rgc10s

    rgc10s New User

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    That's what I thought. This happened to my daughter in a tournament this past weekend. The kicker was she had just won the second set to split, and the point in question occurred when she had break point in the first game of the 3rd. So she thought she had won the game, but her opponent claimed her out call was too late and calls the ref over who makes the ruling I described.

    Our section officials actually agreed with the ref's ruling. Does anyone know of any rules, regulations or precedents, other than what I referenced from Friend at Court, which would prove the ref's ruling was wrong?
     
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  4. woodrow1029

    woodrow1029 Hall of Fame

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    What section?
     
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  5. woodrow1029

    woodrow1029 Hall of Fame

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    The rule you quoted does not cover this though. He wasn't overruling the call of out to good. He was making them replay it because of the timing issue, which is a different issue, but if he didn't see it, he really should not have ruled that way.
     
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  6. rgc10s

    rgc10s New User

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    New England section.

    Yeah, I wasn't sure how well if at all that rule did cover this scenario. He did overturn the call by making them play a let. He did not change the call, so he technically did not overrule it. Still seems like it should apply to this scenario in the absence of anything more specific though, which I've been unable to find.
     
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  7. rgc10s

    rgc10s New User

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    So thinking about this a little more, I'm really not sure why the regulation I quoted does not apply here. To repeat:

    "Overrule a player's line call only when in direct observation of that one court. When a Roving Umpire overrules a player's out call, that player loses the point. The Roving Umpire may not overrule as a result of a player appeal."

    Note that it does not give any exception to LATE line calls nor does it give an option to playing lets. It simply states that umpires cannot overrule a call they did not see based solely on a player’s appeal, which is exactly what happened in this case. It may come down to an interpretation of "overrule" vs "overturn", but to me those are really synonyms.

    Thoughts?
     
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  8. Cindysphinx

    Cindysphinx G.O.A.T.

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    My thought is that your daughter was the victim of a well-intentioned mistake by the roving official. I think she should have called for the tournament referee, who would have likely said playing a let is not appropriate.

    Next time, tell daughter that if a roving official makes an error she should call for the tournament referee. That's what they are there for.
     
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  9. asimple

    asimple Semi-Pro

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    This wasn't really a line call dispute. It was a dispute over when a call was made and given both sides had an equal argument, I believe the ref made a fair decision.

    This should actually be a good lesson for your daughter to clearly make line calls on close shots as well as making sure the opponent is aware.
     
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  10. rgc10s

    rgc10s New User

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    The problem is that she did make a quick line call and what she thought was a clear one. The opponent just didn't see or hear it (or worse). It is possible the opponent mistook the out call for a grunt too, since it was a hard hit ball that was half volleyed just past the baseline. I'm trying to give the opponent the benefit of the doubt, but they did change their objection very quickly from "it wasn't out" to "I didn't see the call" to "it was late" before settling on "it was late" when the official came over. So if you have one player insisting the call was late, and the other insisting it wasn't, and an umpire that doesn't see the play, how is this any different from an argument over whether the ball was in or not. Clearly the player arguing the call was late disagrees with the call as well or why would they be arguing?
     
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  11. Bdarb

    Bdarb Hall of Fame

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    ^ I think what your describing pertains more to the opponents sportsmanship than the referees call. If she said the ball was out, then the ref could have made an informed decision but it sounds like your daughters opponent changed her grievance to get the desired outcome.
     
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  12. Cindysphinx

    Cindysphinx G.O.A.T.

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    I disagree. It was not a fair decision. It was wrong and unfair.

    There was a disagreement of fact (whether the call was late). The ref didn't witness. Therefore the ref cannot overturn the call and the call must stand because the player making the call is entitled to make it.

    Same result if the argument is whether the ball was in or out. It's a question of fact, ref didn't witness, call stands.
     
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  13. asimple

    asimple Semi-Pro

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    I don't know that I would argue, but it is a completely valid point to argue a late call even if you think the ball was actually out. A player does not get to look at his shot and then determine whether they want to call it out or not.

    In terms of the dispute, if it was about line calls then your daughter was completely right, but if it was about the timing of the call then it is unclear. The rules don't give you authority over judging the timing of your call. For this reason I think the let was the only fair solution.
     
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  14. rgc10s

    rgc10s New User

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    Yes, you could make an argument to that effect. This was also a player after all who would consistently move real close to the service line on returns then run back right after the toss. Or on long first serves would slowly walk over to the corner where the ball had settled on its own, well out of the way, to move it a couple of inches before slowly walking back to receive the second serve. While I don't believe the first action is technically illegal, when it is done just about every point it is not hard to interpret the intention. I believe the second action is illegal though.

    In any case, that still should really be irrelevant to the core issue. Regardless of whether the opponent's argument was in good faith or not, why would they be entitled to a let when they disagree with the call AND argue it was late verses just disagreeing with the call, which does not entitle them to a let? Again, keeping in mind that the official did not see the play, and the player who made the call is adamant they did make the call quickly.
     
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  15. rgc10s

    rgc10s New User

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    Yeah, valid maybe, but I'm not sure why someone would argue about a ball they knew they hit out. Unless they were just trying to be difficult.

    Actually, they do on clay courts... but this wasn't on a clay court, and that's not what happened in this case anyway.
     
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  16. asimple

    asimple Semi-Pro

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    You are supposed to make an immediate call if the ball is out not after returning the shot. I have had far more cases where someone has decided to call it out after hitting it than the other way around. I don't argue, but do see the point of an argument in this case whether I see the ball in or out. It actually bothers me more when someone makes a call after hitting it than just hooking me.

    They check marks on clay but not after a shot is attempted. At this point it doesn't matter.


    As a parent who is about to start their kids in tennis I do see your point though. I have played a handful of juniors this year. The good ones behaved well, but the borderline ones not only cheated but tried some really annoying tactics. Worse yet, I played one "friendly" match where the kid was blatantly cheating in front of his mom who didn't even care.
     
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  17. rgc10s

    rgc10s New User

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    Correct, you are supposed to make a "quick" call. On close plays though, you are taught to hit the ball then make the call if it is out. For obvious reasons.

    I believe on clay courts you are allowed to stop play and take a few moments to check a mark before making a call. Of course, if you are wrong, you lose the point.

    The opinions on how serious a problem cheating is in junior tennis run the gamut. Needless to say, it really comes down to what you (or your child) has experienced first-hand. Personally I feel it is a pretty big issue, but honestly I feel that poor sportsmanship is an even bigger issue in junior tennis than cheating. Although admittedly it can be a fine line between poor sportsmanship and cheating. But I too take exception to the parents who allow it to happen (or worse teach it).
     
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  18. woodrow1029

    woodrow1029 Hall of Fame

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    Who teaches that?
     
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  19. rgc10s

    rgc10s New User

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    I do for one... in certain situations. I guess maybe I should have been more specific:

    If your opponent hits a hard ball that is going to land close to the baseline, and you are close to the baseline (maybe trying to take an aggressive position and hit on the rise), then you should hit the ball and then call it out if it is out. Because obviously in that case you don't have time to determine whether the ball is in or not while trying to make a quality return shot if it is in. What you can't do of course is let the quality of your return shot influence your call.
     
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  20. Bdarb

    Bdarb Hall of Fame

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    I see what your saying here. Taking a ball on the rise like you described I would be swinging and as I see it out I call it, the result is me hitting a return while simultaneously calling it out. I don't think waiting much longer would be appropriate or could be a late call.

    I think the short version of all of this is your daughter got a bad call. It happens, even from officials. I don't think there's anything wrong with the actual rule.
     
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  21. tdhawks

    tdhawks Semi-Pro

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    My experience -

    I had a roving umpire call a foot fault on me a few weekends back in a tournament. This guy was 2 courts down from where we were playing.

    A lot of them are older guys in my area, older retired men.

    I asked him to come here after he called me out and we had a brief chat.

    I asked him how bad I was foot faulting and he wouldn't answer, except that I was doing it. I then asked him to tell my opponent to hurry up during change-overs since he was taking his sweet time. Umpire told me he had 90 seconds. This was at least 2 minutes into our convo. I asked where his watch was and if he was even paying attention to the times like he was my foot faults. He then told the player to hustle up and change ends. He left our court and never came back.

    I felt bad as I was a little ticked off and probably came off as a jerk, but some of these umpires are ridiculous.
     
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  22. rgc10s

    rgc10s New User

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    I hear you. I try not to be too critical of these umpires myself, who in my experience are also often retirees who have good intentions. I've seen some pretty basic and common sense mistakes that make it real hard not to be critical at times though. Of course, there have definitely been times where these umpires have been legitimately helpful too!
     
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  23. woodrow1029

    woodrow1029 Hall of Fame

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    Well don't hesitate to ask questions on here when you have one. There's some very experienced officials on this forum including JLyon and myself.
     
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  24. rgc10s

    rgc10s New User

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    Thanks, I will. And thanks for your help! :)
     
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  25. Govnor

    Govnor Professional

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    I'm no expert, but by what you've described OP, I can't see it as anything other than your daughter getting a bad call. How does the official rule/overule on something they don't see? It's she said - she said. Follow the rules and watch them for a bit.
     
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  26. coloskier

    coloskier Legend

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    I see some league players who literally foot fault on every serve. And I call it every time. All they have to do is step back 6 inches on their serve and they won't do it. So, I force them to abide by the rules of the game. I also will set my watch because some guys will take over a minute between points after I ran them all over the court. I will actually start counting out seconds after the point has ended because I will not let them willfully thwart the rules. Some people will think I am a jerk, but I don't care. If you want to play like a rabbit and run everything down and then expect to get a rest between points, don't play me in a league or tournament match.
     
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  27. mikeler

    mikeler G.O.A.T.

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    This is clearly Rabbit abuse!
     
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  28. gameboy

    gameboy Hall of Fame

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    There are PLENTY of players that I see everyday whose foot fault can be observed from two courts away. Perhaps you should have heeded the call and stop foot faulting.
     
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  29. tdhawks

    tdhawks Semi-Pro

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    I took what he said with a grain of salt. I did move back and paid more attention when serving. It was more or less the fact he wasn't around whatsoever and out of the blue yelled it out from 2 courts away.

    The thing that bothered me was when I asked him how bad I was foot faulting all he said was it doesn't matter. In all honesty, he guess he didn't have to tell me but thought at least he would since he clearly saw it from 2 courts away.
     
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  30. oest10

    oest10 Semi-Pro

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    Are you one of those parents that take their offspring's tennis much too serious and kills their fun in the game? If you're this wound up about a call made by a ref in your daughters game, I'm inclined to think that you are. Tell your daughter (if she even asks about it!! Otherwise don't even go there..) that the referee makes the call and it is as simple as that. It might not have been by the rules stated but one can see the logic behind playing a let. To kids minds, this is usually fair too.
     
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  31. gameboy

    gameboy Hall of Fame

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    Your foot fault was bad enough to observe from two courts away. What more do you need to know?

    Step back foot or two and play. It is not like it is going to make huge difference on your serve.
     
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  32. rgc10s

    rgc10s New User

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    My daughter actually has a pretty good grasp on the rules of the game, including the rules of conduct. She was actually the one who called the ref over to try and settle the dispute, because she was confident he would rule in her favor, given he didn't see the play. She was rightfully tired of her opponent questioning calls that were clearly out (as this one was). It constantly amazes me the crap the honest kids have to put up with, of which this is just one example. (And that is what really gets me "wound up" by the way!)

    Anyway, she was absolutely crushed when the ref ruled a let on the play, because she felt he had no right to do that (again, given he didn't see it). It didn't even occur to her that the fact her opponent was questioning the timing of the call would make any difference. Possibly because she never had that happen to her before. She tried to question the ref, insisting it was her call, but it didn't matter.

    One of my primary reasons for posting this was to hopefully be able to go back to her and tell her with confidence that she was right, if that appeared to be the consensus, as it does. Because I see a very valuable lesson here for her, that goes well beyond tennis. Which is that life often times isn't fair, but you should never stop sticking up for yourself.

    Maybe there is a valuable lesson in this for you too. Like maybe you shouldn't assume something you know nothing about.
     
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  33. dcdoorknob

    dcdoorknob Hall of Fame

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    This is the problem though. I don't think this is true.

    An official can't call a let based solely on a claim one player makes that is disputed by the opponent, when (s)he wasn't there to witness it. Otherwise all a player ever has to do if they lose a really important point they didn't want to lose is call over an official, make up something, and get that official to tell them to play a let.

    Logically, this was a clearly a bad call imo.
     
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  34. asimple

    asimple Semi-Pro

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    If this was a line call then clearly this was a bad call, but it was a dispute about when the call occurred. I don't believe the caller is (or should be) the sole judge related to when/if they made the call. If so when is too late, after the ball hits the net, after the opponent hits a winner, 5 shots later.

    I really am curious about the rule related to this. Apparently this forum seems to think it was a bad call, but given the section backed up the referee on the call, I am not sure it is so clear cut.
     
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  35. Tar Heel Tennis

    Tar Heel Tennis Semi-Pro

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    USTA Comment 11.2: Must an out call on a player’s shot to the
    opponent’s court be made before the opponent’s return has either gone out
    of play or been hit? Yes.
     
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  36. Cindysphinx

    Cindysphinx G.O.A.T.

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    She got it wrong.

    Her error was in failing to call for the tournament referee. If you do not explain to her how that works, you have done her a disservice.

    Roving umpires can and do make mistakes. Young players should learn the rules of the sport they are playing so they are not cheated out of points they won fair and square.
     
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  37. dcdoorknob

    dcdoorknob Hall of Fame

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    To me if the official didn't see the call, he has no proof it was late (two opponent's disagreeing over this is certainly not proof) and thus he has no authority to do anything other than let the call stand.

    Again, any ruling that opens the door to some player just lying for the sake of trying to get a point replayed that they'd rather not have just lost, and being successful, is a very suspect ruling imo.
     
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  38. asimple

    asimple Semi-Pro

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    I understand everyone's opinion, I would just like to see the rule regarding it. This is not about a line call but a dispute about when the line call was made. If it was late the caller loses the point if on time the caller wins the point. Where do the rules define the caller as the judge in this situation?

    The opposite to this is true as well. There are many players who change their mind about the call after seeing they missed it. I have to admit I have wanted to do this on occasion myself especially in the cases where the ball was actually out and I was making a nice call.
     
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  39. Cindysphinx

    Cindysphinx G.O.A.T.

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    #39
  40. asimple

    asimple Semi-Pro

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  41. Cindysphinx

    Cindysphinx G.O.A.T.

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    You are asking us to prove a negative.

    Nowhere in the rules does it say that the person who hits a shot gets to decide if the out call was timely enough. Absent such a provision, then we default to "You call your side of the net and I call mine, no matter how bogus you think my call was."

    There are other Code provisions where the Code gives a directive but does not give a remedy if it is violated. Whether an out call is prompt is one example. Other examples are whether someone is returning Obviously Out Serves and server's obligation to announce the score. These things can be addressed by a roving official who witnesses the infraction.

    So no. The person who hits a shot does not get to decide that the call came too late and demand a let or demand the point. IMHO.
     
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  42. asimple

    asimple Semi-Pro

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    I'm not asking you to prove anything. I don't have a clue what the rule should be and could see it go either way. I can see your point in general about defaulting to the caller's side, but then that should be explicitly stated in the rules.

    There are remedies to the cases you mentioned which are in the rules.

    1. If someone plays obviously out balls the call stands
    2. I believe the score is reset to the last agreed up on score in this case

    I think the key point here is IMHO. As I have said before I believe your opinion makes sense but without it being based on the rules it is just an opinion no matter how adamant it is.
     
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  43. Tar Heel Tennis

    Tar Heel Tennis Semi-Pro

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    A gift for asimple

    asimple, the answer to your question lies within this document. If you'll read it, you will have a much better understanding of why the roving official was wrong by instructing the players to play a let.

    http://assets.usta.com/assets/1/15/2013_Friend_at_Court.pdf

    and no, I will not direct you to any particular page. You should read this document in its (almost) entirety.

    You're welcome
     
    #43
  44. asimple

    asimple Semi-Pro

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    Thanks for the gift.

    I did just waste 10 minutes reading this and found nothing related to this topic which was obvious since you (and no one else) here has supplied any evidence to back up why the official was wrong.

    In truth, I could really care less. I am just a bit surprised at how strong people's opinions are on this topic without having any rules to back it up other than a If you read the original post it was not only the roaming official, but was also backed up by the section when the complaint went to that level. I guess the section must have made a mistake as well.
     
    Last edited: Sep 14, 2013
    #44
  45. Cindysphinx

    Cindysphinx G.O.A.T.

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    Woodrow explained to you in his first couple of posts, remember? The rule that governs this situation is that each player makes calls on her side of the net unless an official observes a bad call or late call. Done and done.

    As far as whether the Section backed something up, we would need to know what exactly the Section was told. If the Section received bad information, that would explain why they would get it wrong. Garbage in, garbage out.
     
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  46. asimple

    asimple Semi-Pro

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    Woodrow might be the most knowledgable official in the world, but I would really like to see the written rule which backs up his decision. In his comment he even specifically said timing of line calls were different than line calls. If it is "done and done" there really should be something written down. I read the "friends of the court" and didn't find anything other than a section on how late calls were illegal.

    I now have now posted 7 times asking for the "written rule" which seems to be obvious to everyone except me so I guess I will now give up an accept that I must be wrong.
     
    Last edited: Sep 14, 2013
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  47. Cindysphinx

    Cindysphinx G.O.A.T.

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    From the Code:

    "Player makes calls on own side of net. A player calls all shots landing on, or aimed at, the player’s side of the net."

    OP already quoted the rule that an official should not overrule unless he witnessed a problem with a player's call, such as wrong or late.

    Why do you keep asking for a more specific rule than that?
     
    #47
  48. asimple

    asimple Semi-Pro

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    By the way, your expert Woodrow disagreed with this being the appropriate rule as well.

    "The rule you quoted does not cover this though. He wasn't overruling the call of out to good. He was making them replay it because of the timing issue, which is a different issue, but if he didn't see it, he really should not have ruled that way."

    In any case, your right and I give up. I won't post again. A person should be the judge of the timing of their own call since it is on their side of the court. It is completely obvious...
     
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  49. JLyon

    JLyon Hall of Fame

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    I feel the official was wrong in this case. It is heresay and in this case I would be inclined to go with the player making the call. Then tell the players to make sure they verbalize the call loud enough for the opponent to here the call. This would only be if it was the immediate point played.
    Now if more pts had been played and the players did not agree on the outcome then you get into scoring issues which are different.
    Timing of calls always seems to be an issue, but in reality many times from my experience the player is making a call, sometimes it is a finger in the air and the opponent just does not hear the call or see the gesture. Having an official around helps in most cases, but again I disagree with the official's ruling in this case. No let should have been called.
     
    Last edited: Sep 16, 2013
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