Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

A Little out of Line Error Affects Early Match

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

A Little out of Line Error Affects Early Match

Article excerpt

Byline: Jeff Elliott, Times-Union sports writer

The Bausch & Lomb Championships began yesterday with an embarrassing misstep: The stadium court at the Amelia Island Plantation had been mis-lined and the error was not discovered until after Jennifer Hopkins had lost in three sets to Anne Kremer in the tournament's opening match.

The service line had mistakenly been placed three feet closer to the net than it should have been.

"I screwed up," an embarrassed Bert Evatt, head of court maintenance at Amelia Island Plantation said. "I've been lining these courts for 22 years, have done it hundreds of times and have never messed it up like this before.

"I flip-flopped the distances, it's suppose to be 21 feet from the net to the service line and then 18 feet to the baseline. I made it 18 and 21. Both sides were the same because when you measure the first service court, you take that exact distance to the other side. Thus service courts on both sides were three feet short."

The error and its fallout overshadowed a first day that saw 11th-seeded Amanda Coetzer, a finalist last year, lose in straight sets to Iva Majoli, 6-2, 6-1, last night. The other three seeds in action, ninth-seeded Daniela Hantuchova, 10th-seeded Elena Dementieva and 16th-seeded Francesca Schiavone advanced with straight-set victories.

The court-lining error was discovered when WTA officials, acting in response to the players' complaints and the high number of double faults, measured the court. Kremer and Hopkins had combined for 29 double faults in the two-hour match before Kremer won 5-7, 6-4, 6-2.

"To have 29 double faults in a match is really unusual," Kremer said. "Both Jenn and I questioned the distance during the match, and I thought Jenn asked [the chair umpire] to check it, but he said it was OK, go ahead and play.

"It definitely had an affect on both of our games. That was not a pretty match out there today with all the double-fault calls and the low percentages of first serves going in."

Hopkins issued a "no comment" when asked about the situation.

WTA officials met throughout the afternoon to discuss how to respond to the error, which is unprecedented in the 23 years that the event has been held at Amelia Island.

"I've never heard of something like that happening in all my years of playing tennis," tour veteran Mary Pierce said.

The first indication of the WTA's decision on the match came when today's schedule, which listed Kremer playing defending champion Amelie Mauresmo in a second-round match, was released in late afternoon. In a statement released later, the WTA said: ". . . an umpire's decision on matters such as court measurements shall be final, unless it is a matter permissibly appealed to the umpire, in which case the referee's decision shall be final. Here, the chair umpire deemed the court to be playable and the referee deferred to that decision. …

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