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spiceboy
Sep 13th, 2009, 06:26 PM
http://straightsets.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/09/13/the-thinking-behind-calling-foot-faults/

September 13, 2009, 10:05 am
The Thinking Behind Calling Foot Faults

By Geoff Macdonald (http://straightsets.blogs.nytimes.com/author/geoff-macdonald/) For Sharon Wright, a veteran ATP and WTA official, Saturday night’s foot-fault controversy (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lpV3LmktrjQ) by Serena Williams at the United States Open reminded her of a match between Martina Hingis and Serena’s sister Venus nine years ago. As the lineswoman on the baseline, her responsiblities were to call the line and also foot faults. Williams was called for a foot fault early on.

As the match went on, Wright found herself privately imploring Williams to not cross the line. “Please don’t step on that line,” she recalls saying to herself. But, as Williams arched up to hit a serve, Wright’s trained eye saw a foot fault, and she called it.

“We are trained and experienced, and we make the calls,” she said.
Williams did not react — she rarely stares down officials — but Wright still did not like having to make the call.

“It’s the call I hate the worst,” she said. “It’s the call everybody hates the most to make. It can affect the match at any point.”

A foot fault occurs when the server touches the baseline or the court with either foot (http://news.bbc.co.uk/sport2/hi/tennis/rules_and_equipment/4223088.stm). Sometimes a player’s foot slides forward and touches the line inadvertently, and, because the player can’t see the rule violation, the foot fault call provokes a lot of anger. Often it is frustration with themselves that is then directed at the linesman. For Serena Williams, who has been called for foot faults throughout her career, the call came at a critical moment in the match. Down by a set and serving at 5-6, 15-30, the call on her second serve gave Kim Clijsters two match points.


Carol Cox, a veteran tennis official who evaluates linesmen and referees for the United States Tennis Association, said that there were two schools of thought on making a foot-fault call at a critical juncture in the match.

“One philosophy is that it is a rule, and you call it when you see it,” Cox said. “The second way of thinking is more in line with a good N.B.A. official: you don’t make a call that can decide a match unless it’s flagrant.”

John McEnroe had a similar view to the N.B.A. comparison when he was commenting on the CBS broadcast on Saturday night, “You can’t call that there.”

Because Serena Williams had received a warning for a code violation after smashing her racket after the first set, her next offense would result in a point penalty. The lineswoman, whose name the United States Tennis Association has not released, is trained to report such abuse immediately to the chair umpire.

In the end, her outburst decided the game, the set and the match.
Serena Williams is not the first player to become enraged at being called for a foot fault. Marat Safin, at the Cincinnati Masters in 2008, had an extended stand-off with the chair umpire, Louise Engzell of Sweden, over a foot fault. He went on to lose the game to Dmitry Tursunov, prompting him to send his racket skidding across the court and resume his argument with the umpire:

Donny
Sep 13th, 2009, 06:29 PM
"“One philosophy is that it is a rule, and you call it when you see it,” Cox said. “The second way of thinking is more in line with a good N.B.A. official: you don’t make a call that can decide a match unless it’s flagrant.”

John McEnroe had a similar view to the N.B.A. comparison when he was commenting on the CBS broadcast on Saturday night, “You can’t call that there.”"

I've been arguing this EXACT same thing since it happened. Feels good to be vindicated.

Joana
Sep 13th, 2009, 06:31 PM
OMG. You cannot compare tennis to basketball. In basketball, the line between a foul and good defending is often very blurry. In tennis, it's not. The foot either touches the line or it doesn't.
It's precisely this line of thought that's causing situations like this. 98% of the linesjudges may not call foot faults, but the other 2% will. And since players are not used to it, they get upset.
It's a call like any else. No need to mystify it.

Donny
Sep 13th, 2009, 06:34 PM
OMG. You cannot compare tennis to basketball. In basketball, the line between a foul and good defending is often very blurry. In tennis, it's not. The foot either touches the line or it doesn't.
It's precisely this line of thought that's causing situations like this. 98% of the linesjudges may not call foot faults, but the other 2% will. And since players are not used to it, they get upset.
It's a call like any else. No need to mystify it.

No it isn't. If the player with the ball has their arms touched by the opponents hand, it's a foul per the rules of the game.

manu
Sep 13th, 2009, 06:38 PM
Carol Cox, a veteran tennis official who evaluates linesmen and referees for the United States Tennis Association, said that there were two schools of thought on making a foot-fault call at a critical juncture in the match.

“One philosophy is that it is a rule, and you call it when you see it,” Cox said. “The second way of thinking is more in line with a good N.B.A. official: you don’t make a call that can decide a match unless it’s flagrant.”

John McEnroe had a similar view to the N.B.A. comparison when he was commenting on the CBS broadcast on Saturday night, “You can’t call that there.”

I'm following McEnroe here.

I do not question the honesty and integrity of the lineswoman. It's almost certain there WAS a foot fault. But it really was a minor one. And if I were her, I would've kept the bigger picture in the back of my mind and not call it. In the end, I think the lineswoman was just a little bit stupid to call it there. But nobody can really accuse her of doing anything wrong. She didn't do anything wrong, but maybe she let the strictness of the rules prevail over the bigger picture and the philosophy of letting the players decide who wins the match.

Again, this still doesn't change anything about the unsportsmanlike behaviour of Serena.

BlameSerena
Sep 13th, 2009, 06:41 PM
I'm following McEnroe here.

I do not question the honesty and integrity of the lineswoman. It's almost certain there WAS a foot fault. But it really was a minor one. And if I were her, I would've kept the bigger picture in the back of my mind and not call it. In the end, I think the lineswoman was just a little bit stupid to call it there. But nobody can really accuse her of doing anything wrong. She didn't do anything wrong, but maybe she let the strictness of the rules prevail over the bigger picture and the philosophy of letting the players decide who wins the match.

Again, this still doesn't change anything about the unsportsmanlike behaviour of Serena.

There's an investigation happening now to determine if indeed it was a foot fault, so that is not a given right now.

supergrunt
Sep 13th, 2009, 06:42 PM
is sharon wright the woman who made the call?

youizahoe
Sep 13th, 2009, 06:46 PM
OMG. You cannot compare tennis to basketball. In basketball, the line between a foul and good defending is often very blurry. In tennis, it's not. The foot either touches the line or it doesn't.
It's precisely this line of thought that's causing situations like this. 98% of the linesjudges may not call foot faults, but the other 2% will. And since players are not used to it, they get upset.
It's a call like any else. No need to mystify it.

The point is not about comparing sports, it's about the essence not to make a call like that at a crucial point in the match.

youizahoe
Sep 13th, 2009, 06:47 PM
I'm following McEnroe here.

I do not question the honesty and integrity of the lineswoman. It's almost certain there WAS a foot fault. But it really was a minor one. And if I were her, I would've kept the bigger picture in the back of my mind and not call it. In the end, I think the lineswoman was just a little bit stupid to call it there. But nobody can really accuse her of doing anything wrong. She didn't do anything wrong, but maybe she let the strictness of the rules prevail over the bigger picture and the philosophy of letting the players decide who wins the match.

Again, this still doesn't change anything about the unsportsmanlike behaviour of Serena.

McEnroe said : If it was a foot fault, it would have been a very close one. He didn't say it was one.

manu
Sep 13th, 2009, 06:52 PM
McEnroe said : If it was a foot fault, it would have been a very close one. He didn't say it was one.

I'm just saying I'm following McEnroe's reasoning/logic here. I'm not basing myself on his information to determine whether it was a foot fault or not. I don't know either. At that point McEnroe also could not know whether it was a foot fault or not, because he also only saw the images we were all looking at and at that angle nothing could be determined. One thing is for sure: if it was a fault, it was a minor fault.

I'm only assuming it was a foot fault because the lineswoman called it. To make that call at such a point in the match you've got to be pretty sure of your decision. But I'm not saying there actually WAS a foot fault 100% certain. I'm just assuming. Until we know the results of the investigation, we can indeed not make any foregone conclusions.

Matt01
Sep 13th, 2009, 06:58 PM
"“One philosophy is that it is a rule, and you call it when you see it,” Cox said. “The second way of thinking is more in line with a good N.B.A. official: you don’t make a call that can decide a match unless it’s flagrant.”

John McEnroe had a similar view to the N.B.A. comparison when he was commenting on the CBS broadcast on Saturday night, “You can’t call that there.”"

I've been arguing this EXACT same thing since it happened. Feels good to be vindicated.


As far as I could see, you only argued for the 2nd philosophy and neglected the 1st one.

gentenaire
Sep 13th, 2009, 06:58 PM
"“One philosophy is that it is a rule, and you call it when you see it,” Cox said. “The second way of thinking is more in line with a good N.B.A. official: you don’t make a call that can decide a match unless it’s flagrant.”

John McEnroe had a similar view to the N.B.A. comparison when he was commenting on the CBS broadcast on Saturday night, “You can’t call that there.”"

I've been arguing this EXACT same thing since it happened. Feels good to be vindicated.

That's what the Belgian commentators were saying as well. They also couldn't believe it when a foot fault was called.

Donny
Sep 13th, 2009, 07:01 PM
As far as I could see, you only argued for the 2nd philosophy and neglected the 1st one.

If you're going to be super strict or relatively lax with calls, do it consistently. That's my philosophy. Otherwise, there's no point in having rules at all.

manu
Sep 13th, 2009, 07:03 PM
As far as I could see, you only argued for the 2nd philosophy and neglected the 1st one.
Well, that's personal. Of course the 1st philosophy is always the right one, no matter what. But personnally, I feel that, at such a huge point in the match, where you know that the match can be decided by 1 point (it WAS decided by 1 point), I think the 2nd philosophy outweighs the 1st one.

Of course you can't say that the lineswoman was wrong. Technically, she probably didn't do anything wrong (well, I will reserve that conclusion until we know that it was a foot fault, but let's assume it was). But I feel that, philosophically, she could have done better. If it had been a huge and obvious foot fault, I would have defended her, but this is a different case.

Thanx4nothin
Sep 13th, 2009, 07:05 PM
The investigation, if done by the people who made the decision will obviously come back as being positive for the footfault...bias much?

manu
Sep 13th, 2009, 07:06 PM
If you're going to be super strict or relatively lax with calls, do it consistently. That's my philosophy. Otherwise, there's no point in having rules at all.

Well, in the defense of the lineswoman: one poster here said that she had apparently called a foot fault against Serena in the first set. I don't remember if that is true though. Does anyone else remember?

Matt01
Sep 13th, 2009, 07:08 PM
If you're going to be super strict or relatively lax with calls, do it consistently. That's my philosophy. Otherwise, there's no point in having rules at all.


There are several and different linesmen during one match so I guess it would be difficult to enforce such an attitude.

belzebub
Sep 13th, 2009, 07:08 PM
That's what the Belgian commentators were saying as well. They also couldn't believe it when a foot fault was called.

Belgian commentators ? who gives a damn ?

Rules are Rules

gentenaire
Sep 13th, 2009, 07:12 PM
Belgian commentators ? who gives a damn ?

Rules are Rules

says someone who only watches when Belgians are playing...

I mentioned the above because I generally find our commentators to be way too biased. Not in this case.

This is like giving someone a heavy fine for driving 51km/h in a 50km/h zone. It's nit picking.

Donny
Sep 13th, 2009, 07:13 PM
There are several and different linesmen during one match so I guess it would be difficult to enforce such an attitude.

There were far too many foot faults at this USO for it to have been coincidence. It must've been a tournament decision to go hard on foot faults this year, imo. I can NEVER recall so many foot faults during a major.

If that's the case, then ok, but I'd rather them use discretion when calling it. Still makes no sense to have one major out of four go trigger happy when the others don't.

BlameSerena
Sep 13th, 2009, 07:14 PM
Espn is reporting that that foot fault was the first of the entire match.

manu
Sep 13th, 2009, 07:17 PM
Espn is reporting that that foot fault was the first of the entire match.
Okay, then I take my words back. But once again, there's no valid argument against the lineswoman. Apart from the fact that she was just a little stupid to keep following the strict tournament guidelines (I think that the line judges were very much encouraged to call foot faults during this US Open) on such an important point in the match.

AnnaK_4ever
Sep 13th, 2009, 07:18 PM
In the end, her outburst decided the game, the set and the match.
Serena Williams is not the first player to become enraged at being called for a foot fault. Marat Safin, at the Cincinnati Masters in 2008, had an extended stand-off with the chair umpire, Louise Engzell of Sweden, over a foot fault. He went on to lose the game to Dmitry Tursunov, prompting him to send his racket skidding across the court and resume his argument with the umpire:

:help:

manu32
Sep 13th, 2009, 08:58 PM
lineswoman with glasses is a bad thing.
last check up when??
foot faults need electronic ,one woman can't decide the result of a match without any control or proof....

Sean.
Sep 13th, 2009, 09:04 PM
Rules are Rules

This.

I'd say the same whatever the rule, whomever the player.