“She leads 2-1, somehow, in set number three.”
That was the call behind the mic Tuesday in Bogota during a first-round match between Giulia Gatto-Monticone and Astra Sharma at the Copa Colsanitas. It wasn’t a commentator’s reaction to a competitor surviving a tough stretch of games, but rather, a competitor obtaining a lead that wasn’t hers in the first place.
Here’s how the scoring should have gone, with Gatto-Monticone serving at 1-1 in the third set:
Double fault, 0-15.
Gatto-Monticone nets forehand, 0-30.
Gatto-Monticone forehand lands long, 0-40.
Sharma nets backhand, 15-40.
Gatto-Monticone forehand lands long, game. Sharma leads 2-1.
Seems simple, right? The first two points were called correctly. At 0-30, after the Italian’s forehand was called out by a linesperson, chair umpire Luis David Armenta Castro went to check the mark and confirmed it. But then, somehow, called the score 30-15 in favor of Gatto-Monticone.
Sharma didn’t react at the time, and after losing her first point of the game, Armenta Castro’s blunder was all but confirmed when he called 40-15. Two points later, Gatto-Monticone sat for the changeover with a 2-1 lead. Sharma stood at the net to discuss the scoring situation with both Armenta Castro and Gatto-Monticone, but was unable to make her case.
The Australian would go on to lose the final five games of the match, as Gatto-Monticone advanced, 4-6, 7-5, 6-1. On Wednesday, Sharma explained her version of events in a Twitter thread.
“To people saying I should have known the score, here is what happened for me: At 40-15, I thought I had won the game, but when I asked the umpire he said no. I thought I miscounted since I do sometimes lose track of the score when I’m so focused, so I usually trust the ump,” she tweeted.
“I was disoriented and confused, trying to remember what points I had won, so I mistakenly thought he was saying it was 40-30 to me, which I thought was OK, I probably miscounted one point. After he called game to my opponent the next point, I knew something was wrong. I knew I hadn’t lost that many points. I tried to argue with him and he said that he couldn’t remember how the points went but neither could I, so there’s nothing he could do. I could only recall that she missed twice long.”
To people saying I should have known the score, here is what happened for me:— Astra Sharma (@astrasharma) April 7, 2021
1) at 40-15 I thought I had won the game but when I asked the umpire he said no. I thought I miscounted since I do sometimes lose track of the score when I’m so focused, so I usually trust the ump 1/6
The 25-year-old has taken ownership in her inability to recollect how she actually won the game when challenging the way it played out. But what about Gatto-Monticone? Does a player suddenly forget beginning a game with a double fault just prior to making two unforced errors? Only she can answer that.
“Both he and my opponent then said I had supposedly missed two backhand returns and a forehand miss. I couldn’t defend myself because I want able to tell them how I won the rest of my points,” Sharma continued.
“I knew something was wrong so I asked for video replay, he said there was none. I asked to speak to the linesumpire who had called my opponents misses. He said they had rotated out and he couldn’t get them back. He pressured me saying I cannot delay play if I had no proof. I was starting to feel crazy and doubt myself because both of them seemed to recall things I could not. I didn’t know what to do, all I could tell a supervisor was that I thought I won the game but my proof was she missed long twice.”
Armenta Castro's egregious error is the No. 1 offender here, but this unfortunate type of gaffe occurs more often than it should. (who could forget 2004 Wimbledon, Karolina Sprem-Venus Williams?) What happened to Sharma served her a harsh lesson in the importance of self-awareness, and assertive advocacy. For the person across the net in the heat of the moment may not remember the score either, or, is unabashed in exploiting human error.