Doesn’t it feel like some of the wackiest things happen on the Challenger circuit?
Two weeks ago, it was Thanasi Kokkinakis who got a game penalty on a series of time violations at the Tiburon Challenger because he … took about a minute too long to come back after a second (and therefore not permitted) toilet break during the match.
On Monday, in the first round of the ATP Challenger in Mouilleron-le-Captif, France, it was the case of the “indecent” tennis shorts.
Spaniard Bernabe Zapata Miralles had just been broken for the second time in his match against Spanish-Canadian player Steven Diez.
He was down 2-6, 1-4. And after sitting down for about 15 seconds, he got up and roamed the back of the court until time was called.
But when Diez was about to serve the first point, the chair umpire told Zapata Miralles that he had to change his shorts, which had somehow developed what must have been a pretty serious rip, in perhaps a sensitive location.
(We couldn’t tell if he’d done it during the changeover, but it didn’t seem so. Perhaps the umpire had just noticed it. Either that, or it had gotten bigger).
“You cannot play like this. You have a big hole in your shorts,” the umpire said.
Anybody have an extra pair of shorts? Anybody?
Zapata Miralles didn’t seem overly nonplussed by this development.
He returned to his chair, briefly went through his bag, and announced that he didn’t have another pair. He then asked for the “court official” to come on court.
The Spaniard briefly called out to someone who might have been with him, perhaps his coach.
But there seemed to be little interest in actually coming up with another pair. The official, who was trying to help the guy, even asked him if he had a friend who could lend him a pair.
Diez, meanwhile, didn’t come to his countryman’s rescue. He merely asked how this whole thing was going to work.
The supervisor came out, and told him his shorts were “not decent”. Meanwhile, Zapata Miralles had been called for a time violation for delay of game.
There was no further progress on the quest for replacement shorts.
(UPDATE: New shorts information that just came to my attention.
Had a fleeting thought at the time that Diez might offer up a spare pair to his countryman. Well, maybe he would have. But he couldn’t!
Turns out the airline lost Diez’s bag on the way to France. And he, himself, was playing with borrowed shorts!
You can’t make that up)
Indecent shorts default
It was quickly determined that Zapata Miralles then was going to be defaulted for a “dress code violation”.
Did you know? There actually is such a thing (although there’s no mention of how big the hole has to be).
And so, that’s what happened. Zapata Miralles was defaulted with barely a word of protestation, as Diez moved into the second round. He asked the supervisor if he could avoid the fine by simply retiring from the match.
That was a “no”.
According to a report in FranceBleu, tournament supervisor Stéphane Crétois said this.
“The Spanish player, who was a little edgy, pulled on the pocket of his shorts, which tore the shorts. The umpire asked him to change them. Because shorts with a gaping hole with the underwear showing through is not professional attire. But he didn’t have any other shorts.”
Zapata Miralles isn’t exactly some schlub who walked in off the public park courts to play a $100,000 Challenger.
He beat the likes of Stefanos Tsitsipas and Hubert Hurkacz during his junior days.
He’s only 22 years old and ranked close to his career high at No. 232, with eight Futures titles won over the last three years.
With a couple of exceptions (including travelling to Flushing Meadows to play the US Open qualifying), he has spent his season playing clay-court Challengers in Europe.
From the various photos available, it looks like he has a Lotto clothing deal. So there’s no earthly reason he wouldn’t have another pair of shorts either in his bag – or in the locker room, which his coach could have run to fetch.
Zapata Miralles seemed thoroughly unconcerned with this state of affairs. As the officials tried to figure exactly what he had been defaulted for – they ruled out “visible obscenity” and it sounded like they ended up with “unspecified” – he packed his bag for what seemed to be the longest time considering how clearly it was missing a fairly key item, and trudged off the court.
You think you’ve seen it all. And then you see something new!
If you want to see how it all shook out, it’s at the end of this stream.