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07/11/2022
RULE INTERPRETATION CHANGE CALLED FOR

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RULE INTERPRETATION CHANGE CALLED FOR

 
 

Look at the picture above. Is this a ‘no let’? That was the decision given at a crucial stage in the British Open semi-final clash between the very fair Joelle King and Hania El Hammany.

A very similar incident then occurred in June’s CIB PSA World Tour Finals semi-final when Nouran Gohar, having been denied a let earlier in the match in a similar situation, opted to hit off the back wall from a central position and drilled the ball into El Hammamy’s leg, leaving her with a deep welt in the calf (pictured below). The incident sparked hot debate on social media.

 


In squash, a player is obliged to make every effort to get out of an opponent’s way (Rule 8.1) and provide:
- direct access to the ball
- room to swing
- freedom to hit to any part of the front wall

A particular issue arises when a player (A) plays a wide crosscourt (typically rebounding off the side wall, floor and back wall). Player (B) lines it up to play it to the front wall, finds (A) in their line of sight and stops. ‘Let’ says the PSA referee, as standard.

(A) has had plenty of time to stand to one side and out of the way (and thus leave a gap for their opponent to hit into), but they know the policy is generally to give lets, so they stroll onto the T and are rewarded with a replay. No wonder they keep doing it!

This issue is not complex. Player (A) is not getting out of the way. They are, in fact, deliberately in the way. This should be a stroke.

The alternative, of course, is for (B) to hit the ball at them and win the point (Rule 9.1.2). This was something that King, on reflection, felt she had no alternative but to do at 2/2 and 12-12 in her Manchester Open semi-final – much to the chagrin of her opponent Nele Gilis.

This brings us back to the case in question, the semi-final in Hull between King and El Hammamy. It was a high-quality encounter with 30 decisions, seven of them off the back wall concerning ‘front wall freedom.’ King appealed twice on these and was given lets. The third time she was awarded a stroke, which was reviewed and upheld.

The crisis came in the fourth game with King 2/1 up and 3-5. The ball rebounded off the side wall, floor and back wall and came to around the half court line. King lined it up again and stopped. ‘No let’ said the referee. King was, to put it mildly, furious. So disrupted was her focus that she forgot to appeal and went on to lose the match.

Please can we sort this out! Ideally we should follow the rules rather than undermine them. Let’s stop rewarding players for deliberate interference.