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Verbal Hindrance

Question:

Has the rule re: a player may not talk once the ball has left their racket (I.e., the ball is heading toward the opponent) been changed? In two different matches recently, as my partner was preparing to hit high volleys, an opponent said to her partner (fairly loudly), “Get back” and “short, watch out” .. which, of course, distracted my partner. When I mentioned that the opponent couldn’t do that, both times the answer was it was okay because the ball was still on their side of the net. (One even said, “ my pro told me it was okay.”) No where in the 2018 USTA rules or Code does it qualify the rule by mentioning which side of the net the ball is on. Just wondering if WTTA has its own interpretation? Thanks for some clarification.

Answer:

We follow the USTA rules on this and, to my knowledge, they have not changed. However this is a tricky area. From my research, the rule basically says that it is a hindrance if you talk when the ball is moving toward your opponents. It does not matter which side of the net the ball is on. HOWEVER, the hindrance must be called immediately. So, for example, if my partner hits a short lob and yells "watch out" or "short" while the ball is moving toward the opponent, then the opponent can call a verbal hindrance. However, they must do that before playing the ball. In other words, they must stop play immediately when the hindrance occurs. If they hit the ball and miss it, they cannot then come back and call a hindrance. (Basically the same as calling a let, which must be done before you continue play). The recommendation is to warn your opponents about this the first time it happens, and then after that it could be a point, providing you call a hindrance immediately, before continuing the play the ball.

2 person(s) had a similar situation.


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