Talking During the Point (again)

If you watched the US Open Women’s finals, you saw a very controversial call at the start of the first set … which almost changed the course of the match (two different ways).

Aussie Sam Stosur was playing very well, had won the first set 6-2 and had a break point on Serena’s first service game of the second set. At the end of the rally, Serena hit a hard inside out forehand to Sam’s backhand corner and BEFORE SAM HAD STRUCK THE BALL, exclaimed loudly “Come on!”

Stosur missed the ball (which she probably would have anyway); but the referee immediately called “Intentional hindrance” and awarded the point (and thusly the service break to the Aussie).

Serena complained to the chair about the call and (altho they never reported it on TV) said to the chair umpire, “You screwed me over last year. Don’t do it again.”

The crowd then strongly got behind Serena, while Stosur seemed lost out there. Serena came charging back, winning something like eight of the next ten points to get back on serve. But Stosur righted herself and regained the momentum.

But the call was one we had just been discussing in a doubles match during last week… my partner hit a very short lob and said, “Oh, it’s short. I’m sorry,” as our opponent was hitting (missing) the easy putaway.

Our opponent, Tom Diehl, who is a super nice guy, said the talking didn’t bother him and gave us the point. But the discussion followed anyway … could he have taken the point or played a let or neither?

This call tends to indicate it should have been his point.

But what talking between partners IS allowed after the ball leaves your racquet and before the opponents hit it? Can’t you say things like, “Watch your alley,” “Backup,” etc?

18 thoughts on “Talking During the Point (again)

  1. George – I believe in our un-officiated matches, If Tom had pulled up & not tried to hit (and therefore missing the short overhead) and declared a “distraction” and taken the point. It is a tennis axiom “you can’t have two chances to win the point”
    Professional matches, I believe the Official makes the call if it was a distraction or not.

  2. If Tom plays the shot, it counts. If he stops play, he may ask for the point or a let. By the rules, he is entitled to the point, just as Stosur was. (It would also stand to reason that even if Serena yelled after the ball hit Stosur’s racquet but hadn’t bounced out of play yet, it would be Stosur’s point.)
    Why didn’t anyone comment on how Serena wouldn’t shake hands or even look at the umpire after the match1?
    I sure love how Mary Carillo calls it! Although I wish she had asked Serena why she didn’t shake hands with the umpire!!!

  3. Spike – i agree… Serena was very gracious after the match; but acted like “Serena” on the court. The announcers treat Serena like the main stream media guys treat Obama (oops, political viewpoint is showing).

  4. Jeff – you and Spike have the same fine line on “not hitting the ball”; but the words were said AS HE WAS HITTING THE BALL, thus impossible to stop his swing. Make a difference?

  5. Timing is everything, Serena’s comment was one second too early and was unintentional. Stosur could have asked for a let but probably wouldn’t have.
    The umpire should not have said anything unless Stosur complained about it.
    If it were intentional a call should have been made.

  6. Stan… i just had an email conversation with another friend on the “intentional vs unintentional” issue; and i think his interpretation may be correct. He thinks “intentional” means that the person knows they did something on purpose (said something, jumped up and down, etc), regardless if whether it was “intended” to bother the other person … while “unintentional” could be your hat flying off — which carries with it a LET as the penalty on the first offense (and then point penalty if it happens again).

  7. George – I think you got it right, it’s the act was intentional not that the distraction was. And the fine line of in the act of hitting the ball when the distraction occurred, I guess you could say “whoa” or something as you hit the ball to make it apparent you were distracted (I have done this on a couple of occasions – but always give a let) one player would throw the second ball in his hand to the back of the court after he got his first serve in..drove me crazy, but I can’t play with two balls at the same time!

  8. Hi George, We should all know the rule on talking. It is clear in the code. If you talk in any manner that distracts the other team after the ball has left your racket a distraction may be called and the point is lost. The call is made by stopping play before hitting the ball(if possible) and the point is taken. The ball cannot be played and then called a distraction – there is no double jeopardy. Talking at the same time of the hit can be called immediately after the hit if a distraction was caused. Even a directional call to a partner can be deemed an intentional hinder. There is no talking legally allowed of any kind.

  9. George, under that interpretation I think that every time a player makes a sound
    when they hit the ball it should be a hindrance , which would be almost every point on the women’s tour and most points on the men’s tour. I never have that problem because nobody that I play with makes a sound when the hit the ball including myself.

  10. Stan – one guy i play with grunts loudly as he returns serve and frequently sounds like “oooooout”. He knows it and will play a let anytime someone challenges his noise.

  11. You should do the same thing and claim that he double faults every time because you called it ooooout every time.


    Here is the code read and find pout mine is not an version of the rule. I have run into this very problem at 2 national Championships in our age group and this is enforced by referees and is enforceable by players. Loud grunting that is a distraction can be requested to tone it down. The problem with the rule is the talking after you have hit the ball vs while you hit the ball. There are not versions of rules.

  13. 32. Talking during point. A player shall not talk while a ball is moving toward an
    opponent’s side of the court. If a player’s talking interferes with an opponent’s ability to play a ball, the player loses the point
    34. Let due to unintentional hindrance. A player who is hindered by an
    opponent’s unintentional act or by something else outside the player’s control is
    entitled to a let only if the player could have made the shot had the player not been hindered.
    I believe that rule 34 applies to Serena because her “come on” comment is directed to herself and not to intentionally disturb Stosur. Rule 32 could apply also because Stosur had no play on the ball sound or no sound.
    That being said I wish they would apply the “no grunting” rule on all points to allow the players to use the sound of the ball hitting the racquet as an aid to determine the likely trajectory of the ball.

  14. George it was a distraction whether intended or not,it got the crowd behind her who where totally rude in my opinion! Stosur did loose it for a short time but totally outplayed Serena !! and I was so glad she won.
    Spike you are so right about Mary Carillo she really pulled Johny Mac about his actions too there are not many people who will stand up to him and I praise her and I think she was very happy Stosur won,she deserved it.

  15. Gail – if i read Spike’s comment correctly, he was not praising Carillo for her interview, but criticizing her.

  16. George I just read that again and still don’t think he was criticizing her but maybe i’m wrong????

  17. he criticized her for not asking a particular question about the umpire but I still think he was praising her too ???

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