Called “OUT!”

What happens if the shot is called OUT — by a fan?

During a Davis Cup singles match this season, Croatia vs. Spain, it was the fifth set, match point, and a groundstroke hit the baseline; but there was a loud, official-sounding call of “OUT” … and the players stopped playing.

And when young Australian Krygios was playing The Fed in the great 7-6, 6-7, 7-6 match this year, the same thing happened.

Trouble was, in both cases the ball was called Out by fan.  What should the ruling have been?

According to the USTA,

USTA Comment 26.6: Is an out call or other noise from a spectator a
hindrance that allows a point to be replayed?
No. The actions of a spectator
in an area designated for spectators is not the basis for replaying a point

But for whatever reason, in the Davis Cup case, they replayed point.  As it turned out the player who was “victimized” ended up winning.

P.S. Did you also know that you cannot ask a spectator to “help” in making a line call?

Your thoughts or similar experiences?

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4 thoughts on “Called “OUT!”

  1. Possibly because in a match that is not officiated the players are used to calling our own lines and accepting the line-calls of our opponents. In an officiated match the line calls are not made by the players, but by the officials. The players are used to stopping play when they hear an OUT call by someone other than their opponent. It doesn’t surprise me that the point was replayed. Seems to me I can vaguely remember a similar kind of thing during a basketball game where spectators had whistles and were unofficially stopping play.

    And true, you cannot ask a spectator for help with a line-call but you can ask your opponent for help.

    Terry, i agree… how can a player know when it is an official or a fan behind the official yelling OUT? thanks, george

  2. I do not know if there is a different rule in an officiated match than an unofficiated one, but there should be. USTA Comment 26.6 makes SOME sense in an unofficiated match because the player on the side near the ball is expecting to make the call himself, and the opponent on the side away from the ball is expecting the line call to be coming from the opposing player. So neither player would or should be expecting a call to be coming from the audience, and they both should be capable of disregarding the external call and play on. In a way it is kind of in the same category as someone in the audience sneezing or coughing loudly, or even talking, during a point. Yes, it is distracting, but that’s life and the players should be able to concetntrate well enough to disregard it.

    But I do see a difference in an officiated match, like Davis Cup or an ATP match (or even a fully officiated USTA match, which is rare). In such a match, both players reasonably expect that the call is going to be coming from a lines person and it is easy to understand that a call coming from the audience could be confused with an official lines person call, thus disrupting play for either or both players. In such a situation, rule or no rule, fairness would seem to dictate that the point should be replayed. Maybe that is what happened in the Davis Cup match.

    Finally, the reason why I capitalized the word “SOME” above regarding the sensibleness of the USTA rule is I can easily see a situation where the rule should not apply. That is, if someone in the audience – say, a friend of the opposing player – has taken it upon him or her self to disrupt one of the players by calling balls “out” when they are really in, etc. I would put this in the same category as intentional interference by the opposing player himself because, otherwise, it would be an easy way for an unscrupulous player to cheat in a match just by enlisting help from the audience. I would assume the USTA probably already has a rule for this, but I confess that I have never heard of it.

    Marty, i agree with you and Terry… an officiated match has a different feel to it. thanks, george

  3. I think in senior play, if a spectator calls “OUT” loudly and distinctly, the player should realize that is not his opponent – no hindrance. But if it is a call “OUT” from behind or near the opponent, then the player might think it was his opponent who called “OUT” – then it seems to me to be a hindrance.

    Nick, it may hinder you, but legally not a “hindrance.” PS where in the world are you now? george

  4. Paul Scarpa told me of a story about Vitas Geralitis playing in the National Jr. Clay courts in Louisville. Vitas’s opponent accused him of cheating. On the next point, Vitas played every ball hit, in or out, definitely throwing his opponent off guard. And if you remember how quick Vitas was, that point lasted a long time wearing his opponent to a frazzle.

    Chuck, good story! thanks, george

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