NM high school tennis player penalized for Spanish

May 10, 2013 • State News

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — A New Mexico high school tennis player was penalized Thursday for speaking Spanish during a state championship singles match.

The Albuquerque Journal reports ( ) that New Mexico Military Institute’s Jose Gonzales was penalized a point for speaking Spanish after an on-court official warned him twice to speak only English.

NMAA executive director Sally Marquez identified the official as Brian Bingham, of Albuquerque

“English only, please,” Bingham said to Gonzales late in the second set of Gonzales’ 6-4, 6-3 loss to Sandia Prep’s [auth] Michael Atkin.

Bingham later told the Journal that he had twice warned Gonzales against speaking Spanish during the match.

And when Gonzales muttered something in Spanish after the second warning — with Atkin leading 5-3 in the second set — Bingham penalized him a point, and Gonzales began the service game already down 0-15.

Bingham told the Journal he does not speak Spanish, so he doesn’t know what Gonzales had said.

Last month, an umpire accused of trying to ban New Mexico high school baseball players from speaking Spanish during a game resigned. The resignation came after district officials filed a complaint with NMAA accusing the umpire of telling a first baseman not to speak Spanish during a game in Alamogordo.

But unlike the baseball game, officials said it was within Bingham’s discretion to penalize Gonzales, since the NMAA is following the United States Tennis Association rule book this week.

NMAA assistant director of sports Joe Butler said he spoke to Bingham late Thursday night.

“The crux of what he told me is, the USTA code requires a player to basically speak in a language that the official can understand,” Butler said. “And that in a situation where there’s an emotional outburst . if the official cannot understand what’s being said, then it will be subject to a penalty.”

Marquez, however, said it is within her authority to override any rule.

“We will not abide by that rule,” she added.

Marquez said Bingham “has been officially warned” not to repeat that action.

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