World Finals Controversy causes call
for rule change Discussions
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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