If a cell phone rings during a point, can you call a hindrance? Marty Judge had that happen and here is his story…
In a USTA league mixed doubles match that I was playing, my partner and I won a long point, that would have put us up break point on our opponents’ serve. Apparently, my cell phone went off in my bag near the court at some time during the point. (I had stupidly forgotten to switch it to silent mode before the match began; clearly my mistake.) However, our opponents did not stop play, they did not call a let, and in fact they played on as if for all appearances they did not even hear it.
It was only after the point was over — after they had lost the point — that our opponent complained about the phone ringing, saying that it had distracted her during the point. From an adjacent court, our opponents’ team captain gratuitously shouted out “Loss of point,” which then became our opponents’ mantra.
I argued that it was neither a loss of point nor should we play the point over because, even if it was otherwise a hindrance, our opponents had not called it immediately and they continued to play the point to conclusion. But I did not have a rule book in my possession to support this position and, ultimately, my partner and I acceded to the male opponent’s suggestion to replay the point simply to stop the argument.
We did, we lost the replayed point, then we lost the game and also lost the match. Had we won the game in which this point occurred, we would probably have won the second set after losing the first and we would have pushed the match into a third set. It turns out in hindsight this was a pivotal point in the match.
After the match was over, I found the following Q&A on the USTA’s web site:
Q. We were in the middle of a USTA match, 30-40 our opponents’ serve. The opponent’s cell phone rings in the middle of me returning serve which I missed due to distraction. What is the rule?
A. In a sanctioned event, the referee may ban cell phones. If posted no cell phones, then the opponent may claim the point due to hindrance.
Otherwise, if a cell phone goes off, the player whose phone is ringing cannot call a let. A player cannot hinder himself. If the opponent stops immediately and calls a hindrance, the point should be replayed. If the opponent asks the player to turn off the phone and then the phone goes off again during a point, it could be deemed intentional hindrance, loss of point.
I believe this supports my position that the point should not have even been replayed because our opponents did not stop the point “immediately” nor did they call a hindrance until the point was over. (Also, this was a USTA league match, not a sanctioned tournament. Nor was there a referee. Nor did the club hosting the match or the league or the captains have any known policy prohibiting cell phones on the court.)
We cannot turn back the past, but what do you and your readers think about this. Was I right or wrong?
Marty, in my opinion it is clear: you were wrong to leave your cell phone on; but they did not stop play to call a Let or Hindrance… so the point should have stood.
Tonidandels win National Clay, complete sweep
Congrats to Jeff and Ron Tonidandel who won the 2016 USTA Nat’l Ultra Sr. Father-Son Clay Court Championship Nov 18 at The Landings in Sarasota, FL to complete a sweep of all three 2016 Nat’l Ultra Sr. Father-Son Championships– Hard Court in June, Grass Court in Sept and Clay Court in Nov.
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