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View Full Version : Server calling a let for not clearing a ball


mikeler
02-09-2009, 06:46 AM
This happened to me a few years ago once. I let it go at the time because I was much better than the guy and he was the type that might freak out about me not letting him have a first serve. It recently happened again, so I'm wondering if somebody can quote the rule on this situation.

My opponent hit a first serve that was out but was close so I played a return. The ball hit the fence behind the server and he proceeded to hit his 2nd serve which was in and I returned it. The ball from the first serve went under his feet and he called a let giving himself a first serve. :mad:

Sleepstream
02-09-2009, 06:57 AM
That ball is his responsibility. He should have made sure the ball was cleared from the court before serving. I do not believe he could call a let in this situation.

princemidplus
02-09-2009, 07:12 AM
if a let is to be called then it must be called as soon as the hinderance/distraction to play occurs.

when i am playing i usually ensure the ball is out of the way if I am serving a second serve after someone returned my first serve fault.

i also usually tell the server (when I am the receiver as in your case) to watch out for the ball if it approaches them or the court. that way they have the chance to move it before hitting a second serve. if they choose to leave it then they cannot call a let because of it.

rainman007
02-09-2009, 07:23 AM
i don't think there should be a let but its just an opinion ihavent looked at the rule book but its aggrivating if i just miss a first serve its nice to be able to stand in the same spot to make a minor adjustment if i need to for your second serve without having to move 10 feet to move a ball that you and your opponent knew was out on the first serve and they were just getting return practice on your serve.. if the 1st serve was close though and you werent sure til after you went through your follow through thats another thing.. i guess the best way to counter this is just to practice your returns on all your opponents faults during a match..

mikeler
02-09-2009, 07:53 AM
I also try to warn the server if I see the ball, but if it is directly behind him, then I can't see it. I'm assuming most of us would agree that no let should be called in this situation, just wondering what the rule book says.

I had that return issue come up with a guy I started playing last year. I used to always try and hit an out first serve back to my opponent just so we don't have to chase down that ball later. He was having a bad serving day getting no first serves in and asked me rather sternly to hit those out serves in the net. Since I'd never done that before, it was tough, but after a few matches I got the hang of it. I have accidentally hit good serves into the net because of this, but that has not happened in a while. All in all, it does speed the match up a little bit so I don't have a problem with it.

woodrow1029
02-09-2009, 08:05 AM
This is the closest wording I can find in the FAC that says the point can't be replayed.

Case 4: During a point, a ball or other object that was lying on the player’s
side of the net when the point started hinders the player. Is this a hindrance?
Decision: No.

mikeler
02-09-2009, 08:13 AM
Cool, thanks Woodrow.

cak
02-09-2009, 08:17 AM
It's good to warn the server if the ball could be a problem for them before they serve. And if you really want to be a good sport, if you returned an out serve such that they have to take a few steps to retrieve it, you should offer them two serves, since you caused the interruption.

And yeah, hitting errant serves into the net in a manner that doesn't have them bouncing all over the court is a skill I just have not mastered.

mikeler
02-09-2009, 08:22 AM
It's good to warn the server if the ball could be a problem for them before they serve. And if you really want to be a good sport, if you returned an out serve such that they have to take a few steps to retrieve it, you should offer them two serves, since you caused the interruption.

And yeah, hitting errant serves into the net in a manner that doesn't have them bouncing all over the court is a skill I just have not mastered.


If I cause the server to have to walk a number of steps to swat a ball away, I usually offer a let.

jefferson
02-09-2009, 09:19 AM
When the serve is close you have to be in position to play it, and some times play it then call it out. THere is no excuse for letting a ball go because you think/hope its going out. Gotta play it and make the call during the stroke. To get to the question, I always notify the player of a ball that might be a danger for him. If he in turns chooses not to move the ball then he cant call a let. IMO

I m not so sure two serves is needed. Its not like we have ball boys, we are constantly removing balls from the area of play. If it was a serve that was clearly out and I shouldve played it then yes a two serves is something that i would offer. There is a code violation for playing clearly out balls, i think code 27ish.

JavierLW
02-09-2009, 09:37 AM
This happened to me a few years ago once. I let it go at the time because I was much better than the guy and he was the type that might freak out about me not letting him have a first serve. It recently happened again, so I'm wondering if somebody can quote the rule on this situation.

My opponent hit a first serve that was out but was close so I played a return. The ball hit the fence behind the server and he proceeded to hit his 2nd serve which was in and I returned it. The ball from the first serve went under his feet and he called a let giving himself a first serve. :mad:

Nothing personal, but you should of called let if there was a ball bouncing around behind him that could of gotten under his feet. Maybe he doesnt know it's back there?

Im not sure if he can call let or not. When the ball is just lying there I know he cant (it's part of the court) but when it's flying around that's debatable.

But if he's about the trip on it, I think anyone is going to call let, it's hard to argue that he should have to fall down and kill himself rules or no rules.

In the future if you play this guy and he is trying to quick serve you on the second serve, just call let on him right away and make him take care of that ball so it's not an issue. You can request to make him remove any ball that is either on the court or moving around distracting you.

kylebarendrick
02-09-2009, 09:45 AM
The time required to simply clear a loose ball (even from an adjacent court) is not sufficient to warrant a first serve. That is per the Friend at Court.

If you had warned the other player about the ball by his feet, then he could have cleared it and proceeded to hit his 2nd serve. No need to give him a first serve in that situation. I agree that he can't call a let himself because he failed to clear a ball, but we can all try to protect each other's safety.

woodrow1029
02-09-2009, 10:08 AM
Nothing personal, but you should of called let if there was a ball bouncing around behind him that could of gotten under his feet. Maybe he doesnt know it's back there?

Im not sure if he can call let or not. When the ball is just lying there I know he cant (it's part of the court) but when it's flying around that's debatable.

But if he's about the trip on it, I think anyone is going to call let, it's hard to argue that he should have to fall down and kill himself rules or no rules.

In the future if you play this guy and he is trying to quick serve you on the second serve, just call let on him right away and make him take care of that ball so it's not an issue. You can request to make him remove any ball that is either on the court or moving around distracting you.
I think he already said that he usually does try to warn the player.

However, we all know that occasionally, the way the ball is, the server may be blocking you from seeing how close the ball is, or that it is coming back at all. So, there are times when it is not possible for the receiver to notice and say something.

Now here's a question, what do you think. What if the receiver noticed it during the server's second serve and said something during the server's second serve motion. Should he get a first or second serve?

PimpMyGame
02-09-2009, 10:13 AM
I think he already said that he usually does try to warn the player.

However, we all know that occasionally, the way the ball is, the server may be blocking you from seeing how close the ball is, or that it is coming back at all. So, there are times when it is not possible for the receiver to notice and say something.

Now here's a question, what do you think. What if the receiver noticed it during the server's second serve and said something during the server's second serve motion. Should he get a first or second serve?

Don't know what the rule book says but in that instance I'd let him have a first serve. Heck, life's too short.

PimpMyGame
02-09-2009, 10:16 AM
This is the closest wording I can find in the FAC that says the point can't be replayed.

Case 4: During a point, a ball or other object that was lying on the player’s
side of the net when the point started hinders the player. Is this a hindrance?
Decision: No.


Hmmm...If I were to take the literal meaning of that rule I'd say a ball bouncing or rolling to the court wasn't "lying" on the court so that rule may not apply. There may be a counter argument if someone who knows more about the rulebook were to tell me that the spirit of this rule is for anything on that player's side of the court, moving or stationery. But to me it seems that in this instance the quoted rule doesn't apply.

GPB
02-09-2009, 10:26 AM
Now here's a question, what do you think. What if the receiver noticed it during the server's second serve and said something during the server's second serve motion. Should he get a first or second serve?

Second! I don't really understand why people should get 2 serves if one already went out. Sometimes in doubles when I'm on the return team, the three people not serving are all talking and carrying on. If the server serves anyways, and faults, I'll give him both serves. Never in any other situation (that I've ever been in). Is this incorrect?

JavierLW
02-09-2009, 10:31 AM
I think he already said that he usually does try to warn the player.

However, we all know that occasionally, the way the ball is, the server may be blocking you from seeing how close the ball is, or that it is coming back at all. So, there are times when it is not possible for the receiver to notice and say something.

Now here's a question, what do you think. What if the receiver noticed it during the server's second serve and said something during the server's second serve motion. Should he get a first or second serve?

If he hasnt served it yet then "I THINK" he should not get a first serve.

What do you KNOW about that one? :-)

(I admit Im not that clear on it but Im assuming until the ball is struck you still have a right to hold up the server, but it would be rude of you do purposely wait until that long if you could help it)

woodrow1029
02-09-2009, 10:37 AM
If he hasnt served it yet then "I THINK" he should not get a first serve.

What do you KNOW about that one? :-)

(I admit Im not that clear on it but Im assuming until the ball is struck you still have a right to hold up the server, but it would be rude of you do purposely wait until that long if you could help it)
I would say 99% of the time, the server would get a second serve. The exception would be if it were absolutely clear that the receiver DELIBERATELY waited till the service motion started.

JavierLW
02-09-2009, 11:02 AM
I would say 99% of the time, the server would get a second serve. The exception would be if it were absolutely clear that the receiver DELIBERATELY waited till the service motion started.

Right but in an unofficiated match with just you, your opponent and maybe others who have no say in it, it would be hard to argue it was deliberate. (or I could better say that it would be an argument)

woodrow1029
02-09-2009, 11:07 AM
Right but in an unofficiated match with just you, your opponent and maybe others who have no say in it, it would be hard to argue it was deliberate. (or I could better say that it would be an argument)
Agreed. So, 2nd serve.

mikeler
02-09-2009, 11:18 AM
Just so everyone is clear, this happened twice to me 8 days ago against a guy I've played probably 30 times before. He is a friend and a neighbor. This never came up before which is what made it unusual. Both times it happened, the ball was directly behind him otherwise I always warn my opponents about balls around their area. The last thing I want is for my opponent to get a serious injury and for a match to end early.

What aggravated me was that we are very equally matched, so every point counts. The first time it happened, I was expecting a 2nd serve. I was going to chip and charge as a surprise tactic when he rifled a first serve right at me which I could not return. The next time it happened, was on a break point for me late in the 3rd set. I asked him after that time to make sure balls are always cleared when hitting a 2nd serve. He ended up winning in a 3rd set tiebreak. Had I gotten a look at a 2nd serve on that break point who knows what would have happened in the match.

JavierLW
02-09-2009, 11:47 AM
Just so everyone is clear, this happened twice to me 8 days ago against a guy I've played probably 30 times before. He is a friend and a neighbor. This never came up before which is what made it unusual. Both times it happened, the ball was directly behind him otherwise I always warn my opponents about balls around their area. The last thing I want is for my opponent to get a serious injury and for a match to end early.

What aggravated me was that we are very equally matched, so every point counts. The first time it happened, I was expecting a 2nd serve. I was going to chip and charge as a surprise tactic when he rifled a first serve right at me which I could not return. The next time it happened, was on a break point for me late in the 3rd set. I asked him after that time to make sure balls are always cleared when hitting a 2nd serve. He ended up winning in a 3rd set tiebreak. Had I gotten a look at a 2nd serve on that break point who knows what would have happened in the match.

All the more reason for you to hold your opponent up from serving that second serve if the ball is still moving around back there.

Sure, maybe it's his responsibility to clear that ball, but if he doesnt then you will just have to take some responsibility yourself and make him do it.

Ultimately it may of benefited you then because there is no doubt he's still serving 2nd serve then.

This (and of course safety) is why I will never let my opponent serve when a ball is either on the court or moving around.

I will stop them every single time, sometimes to their annoyance because some of them feel they have a right to serve anyway.

mikeler
02-09-2009, 12:10 PM
All the more reason for you to hold your opponent up from serving that second serve if the ball is still moving around back there.



I've done a poor job of communicating this, so hopefully this clears things up without looking too rude:

I could not see the ball in either case I talked about.

The ball may have been just behind his foot or 15 feet behind my opponent at the fence. The ball was stationary both times. I never allow an opponent to serve if a ball is at their feet. I have tripped over a ball before and sprained my ankle. Not fun.

JavierLW
02-09-2009, 12:50 PM
I've done a poor job of communicating this, so hopefully this clears things up without looking too rude:

I could not see the ball in either case I talked about.

The ball may have been just behind his foot or 15 feet behind my opponent at the fence. The ball was stationary both times. I never allow an opponent to serve if a ball is at their feet. I have tripped over a ball before and sprained my ankle. Not fun.

I did see you say this but something seemed strange about it.

If it was stationary and you are insisting that he knew it was right there next to him sitting there as he served, then it's not really a let, the ball is part of the court. Then I see your complaint because that would be sort of a ******** annoying thing to do.

In that case not granting him the let might be good in only one way, you can make it clear to him that he cant just leave balls laying where he can trip on them and expect that he gets to replay the point.

I think that's the miscommunicated part. You mentioned how you returned it, so we all imagined that it was flying around back there where it could go almost anywhere. And then if you picture that it's somewhat unbelievable that you wouldnt of noticed it.

But if it's just laying there really close to him outside of your view then I think the simple answer is that it's not really a let. (not anymore then leaving it in the court somewhere)

Although we still dont know if really saw it or not either. I would think that would have a TON to do with the ruling, maybe he wasnt paying attention to where it went. Hard to say that he should have to trip on it in that case.

What importance it has on the match really paints a good picture of how frustrating it might of been, Ive been there, but as Im sure you know that stuff doesnt matter when it comes to safety and following the rules.

mikeler
02-09-2009, 01:07 PM
Although we still dont know if really saw it or not either. I would think that would have a TON to do with the ruling, maybe he wasnt paying attention to where it went. Hard to say that he should have to trip on it in that case.



Thanks for the explanation. Now I see that I did leave out a few critical details. My whole point is that he could have very easily turned around to make sure the ball had not rolled back behind his feet. Anytime I serve and a return hits the back of the fence, I always turn around and check to see where it is going before I hit my 2nd serve.

JavierLW
02-09-2009, 01:22 PM
Thanks for the explanation. Now I see that I did leave out a few critical details. My whole point is that he could have very easily turned around to make sure the ball had not rolled back behind his feet. Anytime I serve and a return hits the back of the fence, I always turn around and check to see where it is going before I hit my 2nd serve.

I do that as well.

Was he trying to quick serve you on the 2nd serve, or was he just possibly just unaware or negligent about the other ball?

(not that it matters, but I could see where someone who wants to get that 2nd serve off quickly may not bother to look around for the first ball, my service routine/motion is SLOWWWWW, so I dont have that issue)

mikeler
02-09-2009, 04:01 PM
I do that as well.

Was he trying to quick serve you on the 2nd serve, or was he just possibly just unaware or negligent about the other ball?

(not that it matters, but I could see where someone who wants to get that 2nd serve off quickly may not bother to look around for the first ball, my service routine/motion is SLOWWWWW, so I dont have that issue)

He was just unaware. The guy is a good sport which made it more awkward to bring to his attention.

Navy Gator
03-27-2009, 04:51 AM
I would have to double check the rules but i seem to remember reading that if the ball was from another court, he takes two. If he caused the ball to get in the way (this case) he only gets the second serve.

mikeler
03-27-2009, 06:08 AM
I would have to double check the rules but i seem to remember reading that if the ball was from another court, he takes two. If he caused the ball to get in the way (this case) he only gets the second serve.


Nice avatar.

GeoffB
03-27-2009, 06:33 AM
This one is actually a tough call for me...

Was this a situation where the server hit his serve and set up for the first ground stroke, only to discover that a ball that he thought was clear had bounced off the back fence and rolled under his feet? In that case, I'd have no problem offering a let. And because the point had begun, I'd give him a first serve.

However, if he started his serve well aware that a ball was rolling onto the court, I don't think he'd be entitled to a let and a first serve, because he would be calling a let on something under his control. In this case, I'd say he's gaming the system.

Another poster mentioned the "quick serve" possibility - that the dude failed to make a reasonable effort to verify that the court was clear of balls in order to get the serve off as quickly as possible, and that the briefest of glances would indicate that a call would be rolling under his feet. Again, this would be gaming the system.

While I can't cite the rules exactly here, I think the general approach to a let on the serve is that a *substantial* disruption between first and second serve is required to award a new first serve. Clearing a ball briefly would not count. Disruption of a point in play would.

Unfortunately, judgement calls are always toughest in tennis, because there are plenty of players are out to game the system as much as possible, and it is *very* difficult to create a set of rule tight enough to manage someone who is working to undermine them.

blakesq
03-27-2009, 07:08 AM
easy smeasy. each player is responsible for the balls on his own side. if a server hits a serve that is out, and the opponent hits it back to server's side, its UP TO THE SERVER to make sure that the ball is cleared. If the opponent being a nice guy, warns the server that the ball may cause a hazard, I see NO REASON for a let, since it is UP TO THE SERVER to make sure the ball is cleared.

mikeler
03-27-2009, 07:16 AM
easy smeasy. each player is responsible for the balls on his own side. if a server hits a serve that is out, and the opponent hits it back to server's side, its UP TO THE SERVER to make sure that the ball is cleared. If the opponent being a nice guy, warns the server that the ball may cause a hazard, I see NO REASON for a let, since it is UP TO THE SERVER to make sure the ball is cleared.


That is how I feel.

blakesq
03-27-2009, 07:41 AM
I guess you are worried about coming off like an *** by saying "hey you can't call a let!". Maybe after the match, you should say something like this, "The way I understand the rules is, everyone is responsible for the balls on their own side of the court. If I hit an out serve back to your side, you are responsible for clearing that ball, and cannot claim a let if you decide that that ball is in your way. I will try to warn you that the ball may cause a hazard, but if you serve while the first ball is still rolling around, my understanding is that you can NOT call a let based on that first ball." Then you may have to dig out your "friend at court" or do some research on the rules of tennis to prove your point.

I often get into rules debates with people I play with, and it almost always is good natured AFTER the match. during the match, on the other hand, it can get heated, but we normally relax after a few minutes.


This happened to me a few years ago once. I let it go at the time because I was much better than the guy and he was the type that might freak out about me not letting him have a first serve. It recently happened again, so I'm wondering if somebody can quote the rule on this situation.

My opponent hit a first serve that was out but was close so I played a return. The ball hit the fence behind the server and he proceeded to hit his 2nd serve which was in and I returned it. The ball from the first serve went under his feet and he called a let giving himself a first serve. :mad: