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Watch: Harriet Dart rages at ‘embarrassing’ umpire calls

Harriet Dart - Watch: Harriet Dart rages at 'embarrassing' umpire calls
Harriet Dart, who is back in the world's top 100 was unhappy with the line judging - BBC

The grass court season swung into action in Nottingham but it was far from genteel on Centre Court at the Rothesay Open, where a furious Harriet Dart accused the chair umpire of “embarrassing herself” over perceived bad calls and even offered to bet her £50,000 that a ball called in was actually out.

Dart eventually lost an epic, and highly entertaining, 3hr 13min first round clash with British No 1 Katie Boulter 7-6 (7-5), 4-6,5-7. But the match will undoubtedly be remembered for Dart’s running spat with the chair umpire Kelly Rask from around the midpoint of the second set.

At one point, Dart demanded to speak to the tournament referee, saying she had been “threatened” by the umpire.

Tempers began to fray when Boulter held serve with an ace to go 4-2 up in the second set. Dart felt the serve was out and had a word with Rask. But with no Hawk-Eye in Nottingham to settle the dispute – the event uses traditional line umpires – the decision was final.

In the next game, Rask called another Boulter shot on the baseline in, overruling the line umpire and ordering the point be replayed. “How!” Dart screamed, before turning to the umpire and adding: “The ball is so far out. This is embarrassing, you’re embarrassing yourself.”

Rask told Dart to “watch it”, to which Dart responded again: “You should be embarrassed.”

Dart continued to chunter away, even placing a ball down on the ground at one stage to make her point. “It was here, no joke, everyone here knows it.”

Rask replied: “Harriet stop now or you’re going to get a code, I’ve had enough now. That’s it.”

After holding to make it 4-3, Dart was still unhappy at the change of ends, saying to the umpire: “If we watch that back I can promise you, I would back £50,000 that ball is out, I’d shake your hand now. It’s a joke how far out that was. The whole crowd said ‘out’. Chalk dust. You know I’m right.”

Dart also asked to speak to the tournament referee, who arrived at the next changeover, allowing the world No 114 to vent her spleen once again. “We’ve had some bad calls, also she [the umpire] told me there’s no chalk,” Dart said. “I said a call was ‘embarrassing’. I’m not sure how you can get a code violation from that. Ninety-five percent I’m right on Hawkeye, you should check my record.”

A topsy-turvy final set, in which Boulter went a break up before Dart broke back, eventually ended when Boulter broke again at 5-5 and then held serve for victory. To her credit, Dart shook hands with both Boulter and the chair umpire.

Asked whether she was happy to have banked the time on court, Boulter joked: “I would have taken a much easier win that’s for sure. I’m not sure I’ve seen a three hour 13 minute grass-court match. I’m not sure that’s possible.

“Full credit to her that was an absolute battle. She’s an incredible grass-court player. I tried to do the best I could because she was playing seriously good stuff.”

Dart, speaking later, described the standard of umpiring in the match as “pretty appalling” and called for the introduction of electronic line-calling “everywhere for everyone’s sake”.

“A few points here or there can really change a match,” she said. “You then end up having to alter how you play because you’re worried the ball is going to be called out. Even the crowd, who were mainly for Katie – which is fine – knew the one on the baseline was out.”

Boulter, who is defending her title from last year, said it had been “difficult” to stay focused at times during the match. “I tried not to get involved,” she said, adding it was “never easy” playing a friend. “Look, there are always tough calls but they go both ways. I can sit here and say I’m very proud of how I kept my cool.”

Asked whether she agreed with the umpire’s calls, Boulter replied: “I mean I never know. Especially if it’s at the other end, My eyes are as bad as everyone else’s. There’s a reason I’m not an umpire.”

Earlier, Heather Watson also made the second round, beating American Kayla Day 4-6,6-0, 6-4.