The Final Word: Hindrances

April 1, 2011 03:04 PM
Richard Kaufman, USTA Director of Officials, answers your questions.
Have you ever had a dispute with a fellow player over a call on the court that you couldn’t settle? Or have you ever wondered why a certain ruling was made during a match you were watching? Maybe you’re just curious about how some scenarios, from the common to the ridiculous, are resolved.
USTA Director of Officials, Richard Kaufman, is here to answer your questions. Each week, he will select a few submissions and supply the definitive rulings through a Q&A.
Have a question of your own? Click here to submit your question to The Final Word.
* Please note, due to the volume of emails Rich receives, he is not able to answer every email.

Subject: Is noise from a spectator a reason to replay a point?
I attended the singles final at HP Pavilion in San Jose for the SAP Open, an ATP World Tour 250 event. Milos Raonic, a fairly new player to the tour, won the match in straight sets, 7-6, 7-6. As the match went along into the second set, in between points, more and more fans were calling out encouragement and so forth to their favorite player. We got to match point in the second set' tiebreaker. Raonic was serving to Fernando Verdasco in the ad court. In between the serve and the return, in the sideline section right next to Verdasco, a devious fan lets out a *huge* scream. I'm sure he was hoping to rattle Fernando, and he did. Verdasco misplayed his service return, and then looked up to the chair umpire for help. I'm certain that he was hindered in playing the service return, because I was sitting in a section on the other side of the court, across from the fan who let out the scream. My hearing isn't the greatest, but I could plainly hear it. I'm sure Verdasco could also hear it. Does the rule book have a rule which allows the chair umpire the flexibility to replay a point in a case like this? I certainly hope so. Verdasco was probably going to lose the match anyway, but to have something like this happen on match point seems awfully wrong.
KAUFMAN: USTA Comment 26.5: "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."
If that is happening during a match sometimes the referee will get security to remove the person creating the problem.
Subject: Is tapping the net a hindrance?
I was playing a doubles match and before my serve the player at the net on the other team would tap the net with his racket. Is that allowed?
KAUFMAN: The player should not be doing this. It could be deemed as a hindrance to the server.
Subject: Can a player stand anywhere he/she wishes to receive a serve?
During a match tiebreaker at 6-6, my partner was getting ready to serve when the receiver's partner stepped into the receiving service box near the T. My partner quietly told me before her serve that she noticed our opponent’s partner standing in the service box. Since I knew that our opponent's court position was hindering my partner's serve, I asked her to step out of the service box. She said that she could stand anywhere she wanted as long as she was set and not moving. Was it right for us to call a hindrance before the point began and wait to begin the point until she moved? Or was our opponent correct?
KAUFMAN: Your opponents were correct. The receiver's partner may stand anywhere he or she wishes.