Super SW Seniors

Hank and Evert

As we move into the semi-finals of the NSMTA doubles tournament, there are a great number of SW Florida senior tennis players in the mix … me included!

Zero Sum Game

Yesterday, Noble Hendrix and I had to win our third round robin match in straight sets over Marco Island’s Rick Eichmann and Ray Jean … and we did 6-4, 6-3.

But that “accomplishment” gains us the entry to the final four in the 75s; and puts us against (today at 2:30) the solid team of Hank Irvine (my February tournament partner) and Evert Jonsson.  Those two completed their impressive run with their THIRD STRAIGHT 6-0, 6-0 victory of the week.

To see all our fellow SW Florida seniors still in the mix, click HERE

Calling “Out!” Revisited

In our Wednesday match vs. Parker/Travis, we had some “discussions” on the court about calling “Out!” to your partner as the ball is still in play.

Jimmy and Chip were near the baseline as one of our shots came to them; and Jimmy yelled “Out!” to his partner, who still hit the ball for a shot past Noble and me.

I said to them, “I am not going to challenge the play; but for your future reference, you cannot yell ‘Out’ to your partner.  You can yell, ‘Bounce it,’ or ‘No,’ or similar words.”  Jimmy vehemently disagreed, saying he could say anything he wanted as long as the ball was traveling in their direction.

I told him we had covered this topic on this website and that was not true.  But he insisted and called over a roaming official.

The official confirmed that once a player calls “OUT” the point is over (but did not award us the point).

Any comments?

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11 thoughts on “Super SW Seniors

  1. Can you “post” the wording on that rule?

    Dave, i do not have the wording; but two ref’s have said you cannot use the word “Out” when giving guidance to your partner. george

  2. You argued with Jimmy Parker??!!

    Have enjoyed meeting and playing against a bunch of your SW Florida boys. You guys have it *great* over here.

    Kevin, i didn’t argue… just “discussed with passion”. 🙂

  3. I agree 100% with your interpretation. An out call immediately stops the point. If the ball subsequently lands in, it’s your point. If they hit it, it’s also your point since the ball never landed out! This is a problem for many veteran players who, for the last 30 years have called “out” to their partner. They are the ones that need to adjust to changing their verbiage. Great post!

    Steve, yes, amazing how many vets don’t know all the rules. thanks. george

  4. George, I know we have debated this issue below — in fact, recently. But I don’t care how many refs take this position, I think Mr. Parker was right and you were wrong — especially as I remain unaware of any published rulings or examples that are specific to using the exact word “out” in the situation that you describe. In other words, if you and those refs cannot cite to an actual rule or an official interpretation of a rule that specifically addresses use of the word “out” to support your argument, in the situation that you describe, then it is solely an issue of your and those officials’ personal INTERPRETATION of what the rules say, and on that topic I think that reasonable minds could differ.

    Marty, let me stop you right here. The rule I found reads: “Any talking that interferes with an opponent’s ability to play the ball is a hindrance.”

    Noble and I stopped playing when he called “Out.” End of story! Thanks, George

    Of course, if you can cite to something in the actual rules or the Code or examples of situations that are described in the rules or the Code that addresses the specific use of the word “out” and that says what you suggest it would say, then I will concede that you are right and I (and Mr. Parker and many others) would be wrong on this. But absent that, I think you (and the two refs) are over reading and/or misinterpreting both the letter and the intent of the rules of tennis.

    I would agree that if the ball had already bounced AND the Parker team had just returned it by playing it as good AND a member of that team had said the word “out” AFTER the return was or while the return was being hit, then you (and the refs) might have a valid argument because the ball would be traveling back to your team when the confusing word “out” was spoken and it could indeed be viewed as a hindrance by the time the ball reaches your side of the net.

    But it logically cannot be a hindrance unless and until the Parker team had FIRST decided that the ball was really in or not AND had hit the ball back to you if the team decision was to play the ball as good. In the situation that you describe, the ONLY person who might have been possibly hindered by Mr. Parker’s premature “out” call was his own partner who needed to make a last millisecond decision to effectively overrule his own partner and play the ball as good and then hit it back to your team because he either actually saw the ball land in, or he thought it was too close to be certain and he was giving your team the benefit of doubt after Mr. Parker’s premature “out” call had been made — just as the rules of tennis REQUIRE him to do whenever there is such doubt.

    If you were paying attention that the “out” call PRECEDED the bounce and did not occur AFTER the bounce, as you have described what occurred and thus concede to be the case, then you COULD NOT POSSIBLY CLAIM to have been hindered by anything Mr. Parker said or his partner did because, from your perspective, the only logical interpretation that your team could draw from the situation was that the Parker/ Travis team was trying to decide how to call a ball that was close to the line before determining at the last millisecond that it was really in and, thus, was still playable.

    What else would you have them do? Disregard the fact that Mr. Parker’s partner apparently saw the ball good or thought there was reasonable doubt that it might be good after Mr. Parker’s premature “out” call and just defer to Mr. Parker’s original (and premature) call that the ball was out, thereby depriving your team of a favorable call and the opportunity to continue playing the point as your team deserved (more on this below)? Screw themselves out of the point by stopping play and instantly award the point to your team after Mr. Parker’s partner ascertained in the last millisecond after Mr. Parker’s “out” call that the ball was really in or was too close to call out, even though that player obviously was in a position to return the ball to you and could continue to play the point, as he did, but he was not allowed to do so because, by that moment, any shot that he hit would be claimed by you and your teammate to be a hindrance?

    How is either of these two outcomes fair to either team, or consistent with the goals of tennis? In the first option, outright cheating is encouraged by your position. In the second option, a team is “rewarded” by instant loss of a point for doing the right thing, even though they could validly continue to play the point and possibly win the point by their strokes and playing ability and not by virtue of a rules “technicality.”

    In fact, were the rule as you suggest, the logical effect of taking the position that you take is that, in future matches, you can expect that whenever the ball is going to be close to the line and one member of the doubles team reflexively shouts the word “out,” the team together is then going to automatically take the position that the first call of “out” by the first player who says it stands as originally called, without possible last millisecond overrule by the other player even if the other player might have some personal doubts about the accuracy of the premature “out” call. In other words, the teammates are just going to decide between themselves that there will be no overrules of each other’s calls in close situations where the ball is near the line because they will not want to run the risk that, by a mere slip of the tongue when one of them reflexively uses the word “out” before a ball bounces instead of another phrase like “bounce it” or “leave it,” etc., the opposing team will then claim a hindrance and take the point automatically anyway even though there might actually be reasonable doubt as to whether a close ball was really good and the more proper outcome under the rules is the ball should be played as good and hit back to the opposing team to continue the point because of that last millisecond reasonable doubt.

    In that sense, your position actually DISCOURAGES doubles players from adhering to the ACTUAL and PROPER rules and doing the right thing by applying the overarching principle that, in tennis, whenever there may be disagreement between the two members of a doubles team as to whether a ball is good or not, one should always give the benefit of doubt to the opposing team and play the ball as if it was in. In that case, how does this promote fair play and courtesy among players on the court? Stated differently, your position is inconsistent with the overarching goal of tennis as a sport where cheating is discouraged and players are encouraged to be courteous to opposing teams and players and to always give the benefit of any doubt to the opposing player or team.

    Again, I am not aware of anything in the rules that specifically supports the position that you take. And I rather doubt that it would exist because of my analysis above. But if there is actual language that says what you claim it says, and you can find it and cite to it, then I would re-quote Mr. Bumble’s oft-cited comment in response: “If the law supposes that, the law is a ass — a idiot. If that’s the eye of the law, the law is a bachelor; and the worst I wish the law is, that his eye may be opened by experience — by experience.”

  5. So I googled this topic and found this rule cited:

    12. Out calls reversed. A player who calls a ball out shall reverse the call if the player becomes uncertain or realizes that the ball was good. The point goes to the opponent and is not replayed.

    Wouldn’t this cover the situation also? Would this apply to balls hit out of the air? I think so!

    Mike, i don’t know. george

  6. George, the hindrance rule you state is the most difficult rule I know of in tennis. A few years ago in a USTA finals playoff match to see who would advance to sectionals….myself and my partner were in a tough back and forth match… a key point late in the second set….the opposing team returned a “floater” right to me while I was close to the net….as I was swinging ( easy overhead) the opposing player made a loud disgruntle noise (pissed that he left me that sitter) well I end up hitting it into the bottom of the net. His noise and my hitting in my opinion was simultaneous… I called a hindrance and after some debate, I took the point. The opposing Captain after the match pointed out that I could only call a hindrance if I stopped play and did not attempt to hit the shot.

    After reviewing the rule…I guess he is technically correct. Yet, I know I was still hindered in my ability to make the shot as it occurred simultaneously.

    So, like I say….sometimes beauty is in the eye of the beholder when it comes to the hindrance call.

    Dave, i am with you … if they talk as you are swinging, it is impossible to stop. george

  7. “Any talking that interferes with an opponent’s ability to play the ball is a hindrance.”

    Seems to leave a fair bit of room for interpretation. For example, faking at the net destroys me. 🙂

    Kevin,strange, but that is the one “hindrance” that is allowed! thanks, george

  8. A ball that is in the air obviously cannot correctly be called out as it has not landed. My interpretation of one opponent saying “out” to his partner as the ball is in the air is 100% that the partner is advising his partner not to hit it, let it bounce. He is not making a call to you but giving advise to his partner. Whether he says “Out” or “bounce it” or “let it go” or no!”, it is the same communication to me. It is my responsibility to be ready for the opponent who is deciding whether to strike the ball or not to ignore his partner’s “advice” and hit it. He has the right to do that and it you need to be prepared to play the shot.
    My opinion is just that – unless there is a specific prohibition of “out” while the ball is still in the air, your distraction was your technical error not being ready for a reasonable option, not a distraction, loss of point or even discussion of same. I can say whatever I want when it is legitimate communication with my partner once the ball is struck towards us up and until we strike it back. A verbalization that is intended to distract the opponent rather than communicate with partner is different story. Nothing in this incident tells me Jimmy Parker was doing anything other than appropriately advising his partner not to hit the ball as he (Jimmy) thought it was landing out. The substance is correct – the form of saying out versus other word(s) to me is not significant.

    Winder, i spoke with the ref again today and he INSISTS that is the rule. He said the old rule book used to give several example situations for each rule; and this one was clearly spelled out as stoppage of play. thanks, george

  9. Good question to ask the Tennis Magazine column… “Court of appeals”…Resolving your rules questions and quarrels…

    When each issue is published…for whatever reason that is the 1st page I seek out.

    When a legend like Jimmy Parker disagrees with a ruling…how are us mere mortals suppose to enforce a ruling?

    Dave, do it! george

  10. George, not to belabor the point (although I admit I am), but what Winder Bill wrote above, that you continue to disagree with, is EXACTLY my point as well.

    You wrote earlier that the rule is as follows: “Any talking that interferes with an opponent’s ability to play the ball is a hindrance.”

    Ok, so that is the rule. It is no different than what I previously understood it to be, by the way.

    Now show me where the rule says, specifically, that when a ball is in the air and has NOT YET BOUNCED and one of the opposing players happens to use the particular word “OUT” to warn his partner that he believes the ball may be about to land outside the court area — in other words, as a substitute to saying something different like “bounce it” or “let it go” or “don’t hit it” or etc. — operates as a hindrance.

    Clearly, that is not what the rule says. The rule does not ban the specific word “out.” It does not say that some words are ok to use on the court while other words are somehow taboo or forbidden to be used. What if Mr. Parker spoke French and decided to use the phrase “Pas bon” or the word “Attention” in French instead of the English word “Out”? Are you saying he cannot do that? That is not what I am hearing. What I am hearing is that you believe there is something about the particular word “Out” that is forbidden under the rules of tennis in this situation, yet you cannot cite to any specific rule or even an example to show that this is disallowed.

    Nor could this situation EVER be a hindrance no matter what word was used by Mr. Parker, based on your own description of what happened — that the word “Out” was used BEFORE the Parker team even attempted to hit the ball back to you. So, in order for it even to possibly be a hindrance, the ball had to have FIRST (1) bounced on the Parker team’s side of the court and THEN (2) they would have had to return the ball back to your team and THEN (3) they would have had to have say or do something, AFTER steps (1) and (2) had already occurred, to interfere with your and your partner’s ability to play the ball.

    But this is not what happened. According to your own description, what happened was that you tried to claim a hindrance when step (1) happened, BEFORE steps (2) and (3) even occurred. Under the very same rule that you cite, this could not possibly have been a hindrance to you or your partner because it was NOT “Any talking that interferes with an opponent’s ability to play the ball . . . .” You were not interfered with in the least. The ball had not even reached your side of the court for you and your partner to try to play it, so you could not have been hindered or interfered with at all.

    What REALLY happened is you just made a mistake. You misinterpreted Mr. Parker’s warning to his own partner, that you were not even intended to hear and that had nothing to do with what you and your partner should have been doing on the other side of the court, as somehow hindering you a second or two LATER when the ball really WAS on your side of the court and you and your partner were then in a position to hit it.

    But there is no such thing as a future hindrance. It just does not exist in concept or in wording under the tennis rules. If there were, what would stop you from claiming right after you missed a high sitter forehand into the net in the middle of a match that the reason you missed the shot and therefore should still take the point is because your opponent had previously pointed out to you an hour earlier in the locker room before the match even started that a weakness in your game is you tend to hit high floating forehand sitters into the net? After all, doesn’t that also facially meet the rule proscription of “Any talking that interferes with an opponent’s ability to play the ball . . . . ?” Now clearly I am engaged in a little reductio ad absurdum here to illustrate my point. But I think it should be fairly obvious.

    As for your comment that a referee has several times told you he thinks this is a hindrance, all that I can say is even referees can make mistakes. What is controlling is what ACTUALLY happened on the court juxtaposed against what the rule that you are relying on ACTUALLY says. The referee is entitled to his opinion. And like all of us, he has a 50/50 chance of being right or wrong. But nothing you have told me refutes the fundamental point that I am making.

    Finally, you mention that the same referee said “the old rule book used to give several example situations for each rule; and this one was clearly spelled out as stoppage of play.” Let’s assume that is so. It still does not resolve the precise issue that we are debating.

    First, you do not write that it was the use of the word “Out” that was the specific example at issue in the old rule book. Maybe it was some other word.

    Second, I am skeptical, in fact VERY skeptical, about the reason WHY this example is no longer in the rule book even though the referee says it “was clearly spelled out as stoppage of play” in a prior example. We have to ask ourselves WHY the example is not there any more. To me, the fact that the example was found to be confusing and/or inconsistent with the intent and purpose of the hindrance rule for all of the reasons that I have previously given (and that Winder Bill also apparently agrees with) is the most logical reason why this example was dropped.

    That is, if you think about it rationally, banning use of the particular word “Out” in the same circumstances of this case just makes no sense. What if the opposing players on the court happen to be Polish and speak no English but are playing a USTA sanctioned tournament match against me and my partner? Am I still banned from using the particular word “Out” in this situation? If so why?

    And what about the common understanding and consensus that it is a GOOD thing — in fact something to be encouraged — that doubles players should be communicating with each other when they are playing matches. Communications like “Up” (to signal to your partner to move toward the net with you) or “Yours” (to signal you cannot reach the ball so your partner needs to get it) to “Lob” (to signal watch out for a ball that is about to go over your partner’s head) etc. are universally commonplace in doubles matches, yet nobody ever calls these as hindrances. So long as this communication does not occur when the ball is across the net and your opponents are about to hit the ball, it is never properly understood to be a callable hindrance. So why pick on the word “Out” when it occurs in the same way???

    Marty, a website reader sent this issue to the Tennis Magazine’s author of “Court of Appeals,” Rebel Good, who is a member of the usta’s Tennis Rules and Regulations committee and has taught the rules to officials for more than 20 years. While you, Winder and others have written hundreds of words on this subject, he has just 19 words to settle the issue: “‘Out’ is a call. If it caused the opponents to stop play they can claim the point for hindrance.” Rebel Good. Good Rebel and thanks! george

  11. There are clearly some strong feelings on both sides of this issue. I think sometimes the idea of a hindrance is in the mind of the beholder. I have always thought that the rule about a player’s hat falling off is a strange one because I think it is more of a hindrance to that player than it is to the opponent. We are, after all, supposed to be watching the ball. In fact, I would use their hat as a target for my next shot. Either way, one of the things I like most about the Super Senior tournaments is the camaraderie. I hope this issue doesn’t fester in people’s minds and cause hard feelings.

    Next, I have had correspondence with Rebel Good in the past regarding a player’s use of a particular type of wrist brace, supposedly for an injury. But this brace appeared to be more of a device that allowed the player to position his wrist in the ideal position for hitting a forehand. I had previously seen rulings that considered such a device as a “training aid”, which those rulings said are not permitted. Rebel did not agree and said there were no such ruling before, even though I had read it in Tennis magazine. The point is there still appears to be a lot of room for interpretation on things that happen during a match. I think most people know which players are truly bothered by them and which ones are using it as an opportunity to get into their opponent’s heads.

    Finally, to highlight how extreme some of these arguments can become, my wife was playing in a summer league match in NJ. Two of her teammates are Chinese and play as partners. They communicate in Chinese while playing. The other team tried to claim that they were not allowed to speak any language but English. How crazy is that? Mr. Judge may be onto something, though. Perhaps we should each pick a language or a word, other than “out”, that tells our partner to let the ball bounce. (I, for one, can never seem to get the words “bounce it” out of my mouth, so I just say “hup”.)

    Congratulations to all the winners and to the NSMTA for running such a fun event. I hope to meet more of your followers this week at WTC.

    Jim, thanks for your perspective. I was just over at WTC picking up my nice, black shirt. george

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