Officials: Spanish can be spoken on the tennis court

Posted at: 05/10/2013 6:07 PM
Updated at: 05/10/2013 6:23 PM
By: Nikki Ibarra, KOB Eyewitness News 4

A New Mexico high school student was penalized for speaking Spanish during the tennis state championship. The referee also ended up docking a point from that student’s score. The referee said he was just following the rules.

A spokesperson with the New Mexico Activities Association told KOB Eyewitness News 4 the referee warned the student twice to stop speaking Spanish at Thursday’s match. When he didn’t stop, the referee took action.

Like any sport, there are rules as stated in the United States Tennis Association handbook

“You can speak the language of which the official understands,” said Dusty Young with NMAA.

In Thursday’s case, it was English. The player was speaking Spanish. Under the national rules, a referee can penalize a player.

There are hundreds of rules in the game, but some spectators and players KOB 4 spoke to didn’t even know about this one rule.

Dylan Bfeiff is actually playing in the tournament.

“I think it’s just kind of weird," Bfeiff said. "It depends on what he was saying, too."

At the tennis court where it all happened, people were definitely still talking about it.

“Rules are rules,” said Pat Maki, whose grandson is competing in the tournament.

“It depends on what words were being used,” said John Villescas of Las Cruces.

Thea Hand’s son is competing in the tournament. Hand said a lot goes on those courts during a match and if a player’s talking in their native language let them.

“If they’re muttering under their breath in English or in Spanish, I really don’t think they should be penalized unless you absolutely hear exactly what they say,” said Hand.

The New Mexico Activities Association, which hosts the tournament, has since decided they won’t follow the rule any longer.

“We definitely always, you know, celebrate the fact that New Mexico is diverse and they can speak whatever language they want,” added Young.

Young also told KOB 4 the referees have been told to adhere by the new law, saying any language can be spoken during NMAA tennis matches.