The Ukrainian father of an eight-year-old tennis player disqualified from a Canterbury tournament for receiving instructions through a secret ear-piece has defended his daughter, saying he was only helping her keep score.
Anastasiya Korzh was kicked out of the under-10 girls grade of the Canterbury Junior Winter Tournament at Wilding Park last week after referees were alerted to her wearing a receiver concealed under a thick headband.
Her father, Demetri Korzh, an international wrestling coach, was helping her through a transmitter from the sideline.
Players in the under-10 grade are supposed to keep their own score and referee their own games but Korzh said he turned to technology on the third day of the tournament after noticing a number of suspicious calls and realising his daughter was having trouble keeping score.
"It was obvious girls were taking advantage of Ana because she was playing for the first time," he said.
Tournament referee and Canterbury Tennis manager of tennis operations Rob Wilkinson said it was brought to his attention when it was noticed Ana's game had a "heightened degree of questioned calls".
It was discovered the girl had a receiver similar to a rugby referee's earpiece with a box at the base of the back and a cord under the shirt up to the earpiece and headband.
Korzh said after he was approached by officials he took the receiver off his daughter but, after officials consulted with tennis's ruling body, Ana was disqualified from the tournament.
Ana said she liked wearing the earpiece while playing tennis. Korzh rejected the earpiece was in some way cheating.
If anything, the receiver was a disadvantage because it affected co-ordination to have one ear covered, he said.
"It was her first tournament. I said to her 'Are you sure you will be comfortable?' (with the earpiece). She said yes. Sometimes she says, 'Dad please don't say anything', because she gets confused."
Korzh said he asked officials if he could make a paper scoreboard to keep track of the games but he was dumbfounded when they said no as it would be communicating with the players which was against the rules.
"They said if she's too young to keep score she shouldn't be playing."
Wilkinson said Korzh was "a bit frustrated, but he kept it together".
Korz, an Oceania freestyle-wrestling development coach, said he was "disappointed" Ana was disqualified after she had been warned.
"I was trying to help my child and there was a miscommunication. It was as like she was punished twice."
- © Fairfax NZ News
Pals and playmates (pictures)
Reacting to a sudden cancellation
New Zealand's best deck built yesterday
Appreciating Tony Allen
The meaning of blogging