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ITTF: Rule change is an improvement

ITTF comments on the new service rule

Lausanne, Switzerland, 1 October 2002. Having come into effect a little over a month ago the new service rule has now been used at several international events.
It seems like the majority of players agree with the intention of the change, but it also seems that there are still some doubts about the rule – and that some players are still trying to see how far they can go.

The service rule changed on the 1st of September in order to force players not to hide the ball with parts of their body at the moment the ball is struck.
Until now points could be decided directly on the service because the server could hide the ball and obstruct the view so that the receiver was not able to judge the spin.

The idea with the new rule is to make it easier for the receiver to see what kind of spin is put on the ball – in order to make the rallies longer and the game more spectacular.

Opinions on the new service rule:

Zoran PRIMORAC(CRO): “I think that returning services has become easier. Before you just had to take a chance trying to figure out the rotation by looking at the mark on the ball. Now instead you get the opportunity to look a the very service itself”.

KIM Kyung Ah (KOR): “For me it is an improvement. Now I see the ball all the way. However some players are still not serving correctly, it could be because they are tense and nervous”.

Umpire Maurie POOLE (AUS): “Players and umpires still have to get used to it, but I think services have been improved, even though some players still don’t remove their arm as they are supposed to. However nobody tries anymore to hide the ball with the body”.

“During the Japan Open I saw a lot of illegal services which were not called”, says umpire Piet van EGMOND (NED).

Not very clear

“I think the new rule is not very clear. Some players remove their arm very late – I am afraid that we will soon be back to where we were”, says Jorgen PERSSON (SWE).

“I am not winning so many points anymore directly on my own service. I think that some players are still going close to the limit or over the limits and violating the new rule”, says Mihaela STEFF (ROM).

Tamara BOROS (CRO): “Now I can see the ball when my opponent strikes it, and that is an improvement. However the question is also the impact on your own service. At the Women’s World Cup the Chinese went right to the limit. In my opinion they are challenging the new rule by removing the arm only immediately before they strike it. That gives them a better coordination in the service, but then the limit between a legal and an illegal service is not clear”.

“You will always find players who, especially at the end of the game, start serving illegally, players who are actually cheating”, says Kalinikos KREANGA (GRE).

World Cup winner ZHANG Yining (CHN) did not like the rule from the very beginning: “It has been difficult for me, but slowly I am getting used to it. Whether it has any impact on the game? I would like to wait a little before I say anything about that”.

Chinese national coach NI Xiao Dong: “We have followed the new rule for a few months in the Chinese league, and the interpretation differs from match to match and umpire to umpire. We will have to wait and see – but for sure some players will suffer more than others”, says NI. “Every time we make a change of rules, some specific players will be “sacrificed”.


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