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  • Writer's pictureBen Lacy

Better Late Than Never

Question: I'm really mad!!!! At a recent USAP sanctioned tournament, we were doing really well and had advanced to the semi-finals. We at least had a chance at winning a bronze medal. Before our medal match started, my partner needed to go out to her car to retrieve dry clothes and take her medication. The venue was huge, so it took her a while to get back. While she was gone, our names were called to begin the match and to make our way to the court. We had 5 minutes to start according to the local rule set by the Tournament Director. I sent my partner a text, even though the system does it automatically, just to make sure she understood where to go. Because the venue was so big, my partner became disoriented and couldn't find the proper court before the five minutes were up. The referee asked me where my partner was and said we could forfeit the first game if she didn't show soon. I called her and found she had somehow wound up on the opposite side of the venue and would take at least five minutes to get back with us. I pleaded with the referee to delay the start but he said he had no authority to delay. I even offered to use all our timeouts (we had three because it was a 15-point game). He said NO, and after another 5 minutes, announced that the game had been forfeited and that our opponents had won 15-0 AND because it was a 1-game match, we lost the match.

I think the referee was wrong, but I didn't know what to do and we had to go home without a medal.


Answer: Well, that was a long-winded way of explaining why, if your team is still in contention, it's important to stay in and around the venue while matches are being played. Unfortunately, the referee was correct and was required by rule 13.H.4.


13.H.4. For a match format that is two-out-of-three or three-out-of-five games, a referee may impose a game forfeit when a player/team fails to report to play 10 minutes after the match has been called to play. A match forfeit will be imposed when a player/team fails to report to play 15 minutes after the match has been called to play. If the match format is a one game to 15 or 21, the match forfeit occurs when the player/team fails to report to play 10 minutes after the match has been called to play. The Tournament Director may permit a longer delay if circumstances warrant such a decision.


As technology continues to improve our abilities to communicate (via smart phones), especially during a huge (and sometimes frantic) tournament setting, it becomes more important that all players stay in touch with their smart devices so as not to miss out on important information.

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