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Disturbing the Conditions of Play

by Alastair
(Christchurch, New Zealand)

Table tennis questions


I was playing the other night and my opponent wore glasses.

In the middle of a rally (at quite a crucial point in the game) my opponent's glasses flew off and on to the floor.

We continued playing and about 3 shots later I won the point.

At no point did the umpire call a let or my opponent call for a let.

However, upon losing the point they then requested a let from the umpire.

The umpire initially said no, then upon reflection changed his mind.

I did eventually win the set but what would be the correct ruling in that situation?

Personally, not meaning to be mean but, glasses are part of your attire and so you should have a strap or something to stop them flying off if it may be a possibility.

I mean, if my shoe flew off in the middle of a rally then it would be my fault as I had not tied it tight enough. My fault and nothing to do with my opponent. It may impair me during that rally but it would be fixed for the next point.

Your thoughts?

Also, against the same opponent they played a shot that I think hit the net and flew up in the air and to the side (wasn't going to land on my side of the table).

My opponent tried to run around the side of the table and hit the ball again!

They didn't make it but were adamant that this was legal.

Surely this can't be correct or else you would be having people hitting the ball up high and then smashing on the opponent's side. A bit like spiking the ball in volleyball ready for the attack shot.


----- Martin's Reply -----


Alastair,

Thanks for your question.

I agree with you.

A let cannot be claimed after a point has finished (Unless it's the final stroke which is being disputed).

The rules say that...
"Play may be interrupted because the conditions of play are disturbed in a way which could affect the outcome of the rally."

An example would be where a ball from another table comes into the playing area or a sudden noise which is sufficiently loud to startle the players.

The umpire should declare a let immediately if there is a risk of an interruption rather than wait until the rally has ended and then decide whether or not the disturbance was significant.

However, the advice given to umpires is also that a let should not normally be declared for occurrences due to hazards which were present at the start of a rally.

For example, a player who fails to make a good return because he collides with his doubles partner or trips over a surround is not entitled to a let, but one may be allowed if the incident disturbs the conditions of play in a way which could be disadvantageous to an opponent.

So if the opponent (you, in this case) was disadvantaged by his flying glasses, you could claim a let, but not him because (as you said) that was a foreseeable problem.

With regard to hitting the ball twice, that is not allowed. Your comparison to a volleyball spike is a good comparison.

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