June 24-30, 2024

“What’s the Call?” – May Edition

Author: Hannah Johns | July 11, 2023

How to address cheating?

I know it’s a touchy topic, but I want to talk/ask about how to deal with cheating. Over the course of my time on the pickleball court (13 years!), I have been cheated numerous times, sometimes to the point where it changed the result of the match. At tournaments, there are usually roving referees, but few of them actually overrule calls unless they’re absolutely certain, which is frustrating for players getting cheated because they feel helpless. What is the protocol and what should I do when being cheated by someone repeatedly? I’ve gotten to the point where I want to start cheating them back out of revenge or asking them to meet me in the parking lot after the match! -Bobby Carson, Boca Raton, FL


Wow. I wish you wouldn’t have had so many of these bad experiences. I know it is frustrating. The direct response I can strongly give is that the moment you feel (for sure) you are being cheated, ask for a referee. Yes, that is no doubt the quick answer, but it is the only recourse you may have at times. Rather than becoming overly frustrated in the match, which could lead to less than desirable actions by you and others, immediately ask for a referee to be assigned to your match after a rally is completed. I wish I had more to offer you in the way of advice, but without the insertion of an unbiased official, the negative actions by your opponent(s) may continue. I hope this helps. -Don S.

What are the rules on adverse weather conditions during play?

What are the rules on adverse weather conditions during play? At my club, people are so crazy about pickleball that they will play into the dark without lights or even while it’s raining which is often quite hazardous. Where do you draw the line during tournaments about when play should be stopped and begun again? -Kathy Hardinger, Austin, TX


To answer your question specifically, there are no written rules on adverse weather conditions. One of the Tournament Director’s main responsibilities is the safety of everyone involved. As a player, I would suggest that the instant you believe playing conditions are unsafe, stop the match or ask the referee to stop the match. Player safety is paramount. When I referee a match and the weather starts to turn bad, I tell the players that the moment they feel unsafe, I will stop the match. When it comes to safety, I truly believe most people will comply with a player’s request to pause the match. I hope this helps. -Don S.

Can a hat cause a let?

I was playing mixed doubles in a tournament recently against a husband/wife team whose young children were watching from the sidelines. For some reason, one of their boys thought it was funny to scream or yell loudly right when I was hitting a ball. It happened three times and the third time I called a let. Our opponents were very angry and said that the kids were playing peacefully and that I was just coming up with excuses to do over the point. Can I call a let on something like this? I know the kids weren’t on the court, but they were highly distracting and annoying. -Dave Ruthers, Colorado Springs, CO


By your question I assume, there was no referee for your match. If a referee were present, hopefully, they would handle the situation appropriately. In your situation with no referee, I would start by acting on the assumed kindness of your opponent and plead your case that the children’s actions are starting to impact your play. If that “adult” approach did not prove successful, I would escalate it to the next level of asking for a referee to be assigned to your match. If no referees are available, you still have the option of bringing it to the attention of the Tournament Director. Hopefully, the situation can be resolved amicably. From a rules perspective, you may have a case to claim a hindrance since this “outside influence not under your control” impacted your play. I don’t think you would have success in claiming a distraction fault because that would now involve the opponents losing the rally; which would probably be met with resistance. I hope these suggestions help if the situation arises again. -Don S.

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