Last updated 9 years ago
I have deferred to Graeme Ireland an International Referee and authority on rules. Here is his response.
This is a perennial question and unfortunately there is no definitive answer. ITTF Laws are written for international competition where it is assumed that there will be an umpire and assistant umpire in place for all matches. Your answer was correct in that the umpire does not have to be able to see the ball, just be satisfied that the service action is correct. The implication of this is that if the umpire observes a service from one end and is satisfied that it is correct, then if the player serves from the other end with the same action(s) the umpire should reasonably be satisfied that it is still correct, whether or not he can actually see that all service requirements are complied with. Gerard is correct in that an umpire can’t change sides during a game, and it is not really practical to change between games because the umpire will still see the same service from the same angle as before. The only real solution is for there to be an assistant umpire (for one or two games at least) so that either can be satisfied that the service is correct. If this is not possible, and the umpire cannot be satisfied that a service is correct, then he should initially warn the player and explain his reasons for doing so. The onus is then on the player to satisfy the umpire, but if the player is sure he is serving correctly, although the single umpire can’t be satisfied, he can request an assistant umpire. It may be beneficial if the club were to invite a qualified umpire trainer to come to the club and give an overview of umpiring, and it would be even better if those with an interest in rules and umpiring became qualified umpires.
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