More on Talking

big mouthWe have talked a lot about when and how doubles teams are allowed to communicate with each other; but here is a new one concerning communicating with your opponents.

“Oh, no… can’t get it!”

During a friendly doubles match, we were playing a good point with all four of us at the net and I hit a good lob-volley over my opponent’s head. He starts to back pedal and loudly says, “Oh, no, George!”

But he does reach up and hit the ball for a winner down my ally.

Drop Shot Talking

A similar thing happened to me during a tournament singles match… I hit a good drop shot and my opponent starts running for it; but loudly exclaims, “Oh, no. I can’t get it!”

He then proceeds to get there in plenty of time and hits a return drop shot winner; as I am standing on the baseline watching.

The Rule is…

The Talking/Hindrance rule clearly states that your opponent(s) cannot talk while the ball is coming in YOUR direction; but they can talk while the ball is coming in THEIR direction (“Mine.” “Yours.” “Let it bounce.” Etc).

But how about words that tend to (or are intended to) distract the opponent… is that a hindrance? What do you think?

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6 thoughts on “More on Talking

  1. Often distraction is a matter of opinion. I played dubs against a teaching pro who stood in the service box on his partner’s side when his partner was receiving serve and then deftly stepped out as I tossed to serve. He claimed he could stand wherever he wanted. I always thought this was a cheap trick. Additionally, when he was receiving serve he would step into the service box and then retreat as I tossed for serve, another cheapy. What do you think?

    Ralph, i think any action (other than fake poaching at the net) that has at its prime purpose distraction of your opponent, if not outright illegal, is bush league. I believe the NCAA has put in a rule against players returning serve stomping their feet as their opponent is serving, which was being done solely as a distracting move. Back to your example, playing dubs against one of the top players in the country in a tournament, he stood INSIDE the service box while i was serving to him. (i happily aced him at his feet). thanks, george

  2. George, It was a clear and distinct hindrance, no question about it. A statement made to make you to stop your reaction to playing the point. Anthony Rasile

    Anthony, that is my opinion too. Thanks, George

  3. I have encountered the situation of the opponent talking while running hundreds of times. Some people are just talkative on the court and cannot help themselves. I doubt very strongly it is intentional, and if it WERE intentional, you would surely know it. I would say that if your concentration level is appropriately high, it should not distract you and you should let it go. If you are not capable of letting it go, then you need to focus harder on getting into “the zone.”

    As for receivers standing in the service box while the opponent is serving, if they just stand there I don’t view it as a hindrance. The rules state they can stand wherever they want. Again, just let it go. However, I have a friend who tries to do this to me in singles, even on first serves, and I often just hit the ball as flat and hard as I can and aim right at his groin. That usually moves him back, even if I don’t get to score a cheap contact point, which has also happened and which generally moves him back off the service line on the next serve. I have never taken him out of the match entirely with a well aimed serve — so far — but it is bound to happen sooner or later if he keeps doing this. 🙂

    But if the receiver moves out of the box at the last second while I am in the middle of my service motion, then I believe it is an obviously deliberate hindrance and I will stop serving, call it my point, and move to the other side to serve the next point. I have had guys argue with me that it was not a hindrance because that is how they like to receive, but I have never backed down that it is a hindrance. In the one and only time this issue occurred in an officiated USTA match — which was a sectionals league playoff match some years back — the referee who saw my opponent do this DID agree with me that it was a deliberate hindrance and awarded me the point. That stopped my opponent from doing it further and, “surprisingly,” he actually received better for the rest of the match (although I still won).

    Marty – good stuff! thanks, george

  4. George, On the comment of being in the zone, we are never in the zone to the extent that we do not hear what an opponent says, such as a let, everyone hears it and stops playing. Anthony Rasile

    Anthony –

  5. I want to clarify my comment regarding Phil Ludwig looking better in his photograph than he does in real life. Although I admire the way Phil uses the extra length on the stick of his Big Bubba racket and the lethal spin he puts on his balls, there is nothing going on between us other than mutual admiration.

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