Wednesday, June 7, 2023

US Open: You the ref


Thanks to Jamie Davis for sending through this video clip from the US Open clash between Alison Waters and Donna Urquhart.

The Australian gets a No Let. The decision is upheld by the Video Review.

What do you think?


I agree with the decision.

It’s 10-10 in the fifth game of a titanic battle.

Look at the previous shot. Donna Urquhart plays a poor-length drive that lands inside the left-hand service box (poor width; poor length).

Alison Waters jumps on it and drives it to a good width, with the ball bouncing in the front half of the court.

It isn’t an outright kill, but because of Urquhart’s poor shot, she is trapped behind Waters (whereas a better-length shot would have moved her opponent off the T and allowed her to get in front).

Maybe Urquhart is tired, but Waters does nothing wrong here. The only person at fault is Urquhart.

SQUASH MAD VERDICT: Urquhart is out of position because of her own poor shot and her own poor positioning, and the ball has bounced at least twice before she reaches it.

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  1. Video review clearly shows she would have “quite easily” got to the ball except for the tripping (racquet reached wall even with the stumble – the stumble forced her directly across instead of a diagonal – her swipe missed “deep”). She made EVERY effort, even after the stumble. I don’t believe the rules say that playing a “bad shot” (are the words “bad shot” even mentioned?) merits disregarding the rules (i.e., concepts of full effort and “could have reached ball” do not change (suddenly) their meaning. LET (no discussion on this single incident – obviously there is the context of prior calls – in a perfect world there wouldn’t be). I’ll have to replay to see if striking player recovered “back” a tiny bit, instead of focussing recovery to T efforts a bit more “forward” in an “every” effort to clear – knowing her opponent was behind and to right…

  2. Sorry Alan, I have to disagree with you here. Guideline 11 of the Rules couldn’t be clearer. Quoting the bits that are relevant to this clip:
    At all times an opponent must allow the player unobstructed direct access to play the ball…..Secondly, if a player [Urquhart here] plays a poor return that gives the opponent [Waters] a position of advantage, the Referee
    shall allow the player a let only if, in taking the direct line to the ball for the next return, the Referee
    determines that, but for the interference, that player would have been able to get to and play the ball.

    By your own admission, Waters’ shot is not a winner. Urquhart cannot be punished by the Referee for an earlier poor shot, because Interference has to be judged based on the capabilities of the incoming Striker, the degree of effort shown and the quality of the shot played by Waters. On all these counts, Urquhart qualifies for a Yes-Let.

    • Thanks guys. I kind of guessed those responses would ensue, but I am happy to have sparked the debate.
      Wearing my coaching hat, this incident reinforces the view that you get punished for poor shots (and quite rightly so).
      Whether that punishment should involve the referee’s involvement is another matter.
      I know a lot of referees are coaches also, and that probably influences their decision-making process on occasions like this rather than sticking to the letter of the law.
      This mini-drama also highlights the point that poor length and width actually cause such incidents in the first place.
      Suddenly I find myself thinking like Joe McManus and wondering how this incident would have played out using the PST No-Let rules.

      • You’re right that poor shots get punished but that punishment has to be meted out by Waters, not the refs.At the end of the day, Waters’ punishment was not severe enough to warrant a no-let by the refs. The Video Ref compounded the error by messing up his deux ex machina intervention 🙂

  3. The biggest howler is the clear stroke given to [Urquhart] at 7-7 in the 5th [55:10 on SQTV replays] and reviewed by [Walters] and overturned to a LET!! by the 4th official.

  4. Email from Joe McManus of PST:
    I like your reasoning and decision. With PST it is a no let.

    For WSA, there was contact that prevented Donna from getting to a playable ball. Though she was pushed out of position from her own previous shot, she was going directly to the ball. It was her opponent’s leg that interfered with Donna’s ability to hit a return.

    I would have thought under WSA (WSF) Rules, it could be a let.

    Obviously, Alison did nothing wrong here.

  5. There’s good discussion on this ruling on YouTube and Facebook already today.

    I agree with Seshadri’s interpretation of G11 for this incident – it’s a very clearly written guideline, and one that more players should be acquainted with.

  6. Two things I think haven’t been addressed here: first, the minimal interference rule isn’t observed nearly enough, in my opinion. I can’t quite tell whether it’s applicable here, as it looked like there was only brushing contact, but I think leg-to-leg contact like that can be enough to allow for a let.
    The other thing is Urquhart’s path to the ball. The second bounce was just beyond the service box (the referee’s explanation that “the ball was in the back” is crap…), but Urquhart, who was standing deep to begin with, moved straight laterally, instead of trying to go through Waters. By the path, it looks to me like she did not choose the right line to the ball, and wouldn’t have picked it up cleanly.
    I like the call, even though it was a bit harsh. I could have seen this one going either way.

    • Actually… never mind that. After watching this about five times, I’ve amended my decision. Yes let, I was wrong about whether Urquhart would have gotten to the ball, and also about how severe the interference was. I’m a bit embarrassed about that one.

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