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View Full Version : Is it Okay to Hit Back a Fault?


lordmanji
04-19-2009, 02:55 PM
in a match, ive pretty much always hit back a fault. usually i try to hit it back to the server or sometimes im not sure it is a fault until after i hit it and it feels weird to just pull ack on the swing once ive set up. i didnt pay any attention to this until this very old usta player told me it's bad manners to do that. what do you guys think?

tangoll
04-19-2009, 03:02 PM
Generally it's bad manners, but if you are committed to the stroke already and hit the serve back, you need to yell out loudly, "Fault, out, or long" at the time you strike the ball. If your return lands before you yell out, then you are committed to play out the point as if the serve had been good. Worst is if the server has to run hard to chase down your ball or your return sails out or into the net, you then meekly say, "Oh, by the way, your serve was a fault..." As a server, that is the absolute pits.

Cindysphinx
04-19-2009, 03:14 PM
The Code says you are not to put obvious faults into play. It disrupts the server's rhythm.

It also marks you as a complete and total noob. The cool thing to do is grab the ball and shove it up your skirt. Or in your pocket, if you lack a skirt.

rainman007
04-19-2009, 03:22 PM
yeah i agree people shouldnt return an obvious fault; unless its close and you are mostly already through your return. a guy i play singles with returns most of my faults then i have to wait turn around and make sure the ball is clear then hit my second serve.. its not good for my rythm. i don't quick serve people but i feel comfortable hitting my 2nd serve in the same spot i hit my first without having to move around alot.

saram
04-19-2009, 03:23 PM
I personally can't stand it when people do this in competitive play. I prefer they dump it back into the net or let it pass by them. Disrupts the server and their concentration.

J011yroger
04-19-2009, 07:04 PM
When they are coming fast, you are swinging before they land out.

J

Slicendicer
04-19-2009, 07:16 PM
The Code says you are not to put obvious faults into play. It disrupts the server's rhythm.

It also marks you as a complete and total noob. The cool thing to do is grab the ball and shove it up your skirt. Or in your pocket, if you lack a skirt.

I beg to differ, but how exactly does that mark you as a "complete and total noob"? Almost every player I've known returns any serve in immediate strike zone and extended reach, and ascertains fault or no fault after the fact (unless it is a blatent fault)... and I've known some very un-noob players. What is obvious to you may not be obvious to someone else. I could likely hit you a serve that you couldn't possibly call fault/no fault before the serve is far past you.

The Code is a list of suggestions.

ferocious4hand
04-19-2009, 07:49 PM
the pros do it all the time...I don't see what the problem is

lordmanji
04-19-2009, 07:58 PM
I personally can't stand it when people do this in competitive play. I prefer they dump it back into the net or let it pass by them. Disrupts the server and their concentration.

when i serve it doesnt bother me at all. ive never heard any complaint in all my years of playing until last wk actually.

lordmanji
04-19-2009, 08:05 PM
I beg to differ, but how exactly does that mark you as a "complete and total noob"? Almost every player I've known returns any serve in immediate strike zone and extended reach, and ascertains fault or no fault after the fact (unless it is a blatent fault)... and I've known some very un-noob players. What is obvious to you may not be obvious to someone else. I could likely hit you a serve that you couldn't possibly call fault/no fault before the serve is far past you.

The Code is a list of suggestions.

i love how cindy's gone from miss innocent "please give me advice on tennis" to "you're a complete and total noob!" in the span of one year :)

himynameisminh
04-19-2009, 08:17 PM
I hit it back as a way to take a practice swing since technically they're getting practice in the serve even though they're faulting. Every match I've ever played, the ball is always hit back regardless. I don't really pay much attention to it and don't mind when it happens.

drake
04-19-2009, 10:04 PM
For 3.5 level and lower, men's and women's, they probably think it's uncool to return out serves, however 4.0 and above, including the pros', the serve speed and reaction time dictates the receiver to return all serves while calling if it is out.

Babo
04-19-2009, 10:11 PM
Why exactly would it be bad to return a fault? I'd rather some of the people I have played hit it back and call it out, than not try for one out of reach and call it a fault.

Cindysphinx
04-20-2009, 04:14 AM
The Code says you are not to return OBVIOUS faults. The definition of "obvious" will vary depending on the serve. For a 2.5, the serve speed is so slow that a ball 2 inches out could be obviously a fault. For a 4.0, perhaps the ball has to be 2 feet out.

I say if you are returning balls that *you* know before you strike them are obviously out, then you are blowing off the Code and are therefore behaving like a noob who doesn't abide by the Code.

And if I'm playing you and if you habitually return my serve that lands 2 feet deep, I will ask you at the next changeover to knock it off.

Cindysphinx
04-20-2009, 04:17 AM
Why exactly would it be bad to return a fault? I'd rather some of the people I have played hit it back and call it out, than not try for one out of reach and call it a fault.

Babo, the reason for the rule (I would guess) is that your returning a ball you know is obviously out is this practice: (1) is a waste of time, (2) is disruptive to the server's rhythm as he/she must then go secure the ball you struck, (3) is dangerous because balls may be left on the court when the receiver could have pocketed the ball instead, and (4) is dangerous to the two net players who may drop their guard once they see the serve is obviously out.

mikeler
04-20-2009, 04:30 AM
the pros do it all the time...I don't see what the problem is


They also have ball boys :) The only problem I have is that sometimes I'll tap a serve that lands in into the net thinking it is going out. This is rare though and it does speed up the game which I like.

blakesq
04-20-2009, 07:02 AM
It is not bad manners to hit a ball back if it is not an "obvious fault". These are usually very fast flat serves, or serves with so much spin that you can't tell where they land until they actually land due to the curve of the flight of the ball.

Obvious faults, you should tap gently into the net (so it stays close to the net), or let the ball hit the fence behind you.

If you hit back EVERY FAULT, even soft second serve faults, then you are being a bit rude, and slowing down play.


in a match, ive pretty much always hit back a fault. usually i try to hit it back to the server or sometimes im not sure it is a fault until after i hit it and it feels weird to just pull ack on the swing once ive set up. i didnt pay any attention to this until this very old usta player told me it's bad manners to do that. what do you guys think?

TenniseaWilliams
04-20-2009, 08:03 AM
The Code says you are not to put obvious faults into play. It disrupts the server's rhythm.

It also marks you as a complete and total noob. The cool thing to do is grab the ball and shove it up your skirt. Or in your pocket, if you lack a skirt.

Ouch. Cindy is much cooler, and much tougher than me.

I try to pocket the ball after knocking it down, unless it is safely into the net or a corner. I will block it back to the server or server's partner if I can do so gently. Putting it into play hard can be annoying.

Cindysphinx
04-20-2009, 08:10 AM
Ouch. Cindy is much cooler, and much tougher than me.

I try to pocket the ball after knocking it down, unless it is safely into the net or a corner. I will block it back to the server or server's partner if I can do so gently. Putting it into play hard can be annoying.

Darn skippy. On account of how I wear a skirt! :)

innoVAShaun
04-20-2009, 08:30 AM
So then, what do people do when it's the second serve and he/she double faults?

I don't tap them into the net. I don't let them pass by me and hit the fence. Unless that's Game, I send it back to the other side.

Steady Eddy
04-20-2009, 08:40 AM
So then, what do people do when it's the second serve and he/she double faults?

I don't tap them into the net. I don't let them pass by me and hit the fence. Unless that's Game, I send it back to the other side.
The second serve is an entirely different matter. The issue is disrupting the servers rythm between serves, doesn't matter in the case of a double fault.

Also, we're talking about a match where there are no ball girls or ball boys. If you have the good fortune of having ball retrievers, then hit that serve. The ball boy will retrieve it so the server doesn't get interupted. (Also, ball boys aren't only for the pros, in some clubs where labor is cheap, they are around for club player matches). This is where the confusion comes in. People notice pros returning out serves and think that's how it's done. Sometimes a pro will think a serve is out, not return it and lose the point. Then the announcer says, "Always return the serve. Never assume it's out." That's good advice for a match with ball girl/boys and umpires. But in a match where YOU make the in or out call, don't hit one you know you're going to call out. It just disrupts the play. Don't always think that you can incorporate into your matches what you hear on TV.

blakesq
04-20-2009, 08:41 AM
Hit it nice a slow back to the server.

So then, what do people do when it's the second serve and he/she double faults?

I don't tap them into the net. I don't let them pass by me and hit the fence. Unless that's Game, I send it back to the other side.

mikeler
04-20-2009, 09:25 AM
The second serve is an entirely different matter. The issue is disrupting the servers rythm between serves, doesn't matter in the case of a double fault.

Also, we're talking about a match where there are no ball girls or ball boys. If you have the good fortune of having ball retrievers, then hit that serve. The ball boy will retrieve it so the server doesn't get interupted. (Also, ball boys aren't only for the pros, in some clubs where labor is cheap, they are around for club player matches). This is where the confusion comes in. People notice pros returning out serves and think that's how it's done. Sometimes a pro will think a serve is out, not return it and lose the point. Then the announcer says, "Always return the serve. Never assume it's out." That's good advice for a match with ball girl/boys and umpires. But in a match where YOU make the in or out call, don't hit one you know you're going to call out. It just disrupts the play. Don't always think that you can incorporate into your matches what you hear on TV.


Good point. I used to always hit the serve back to the server until one of my opponents complained. Then I got educated about what the code says here on the forums.

Mada
04-20-2009, 11:25 AM
Depends..

If it's a fast 1st serve that's out, I react on my own and will usually instinctively return it(or attempt to return it). If it's a slowish 1st serve that is out and not too far from me, I will either hit it back to the server or just dump it into the net on my side.

If it's a second serve that's out, well, obviously I just loft it back to the server.

Personally, when I serve, I don't really care what my opponent does with my serves that are out.

autumn_leaf
04-20-2009, 11:31 AM
i think it's okay. but if you have the tendency to go all out like trying to hit a return ace then don't. it's a real pain when you see people wind up on an obvious fault and then the ball goes flying.

sometimes you have to react on a fast serve and that's completely understandable also.

abbeytxs
04-20-2009, 12:15 PM
We play a lot of matches where there are no barriers between courts. Just letting the ball go more often than not will end up causing a let for the court next to you.
I have gotten in the habit of catching an out serve if I can, or trying to lob it gently back to the server. I would rather cause the server to interrupt their rhythm a little than be a total pain in the butt to the courts on either side of us.
So far, I have never had anyone say anything about it.

However, winding up and taking a full on cut on the ball when it is obviously out is just a jerk thing to do.

sureshs
04-20-2009, 12:25 PM
the pros do it all the time...I don't see what the problem is

Someone else picks up the ball for the server in pro play. In recreational play, the server has to possibly deal with the returned ball before the second serve.

mikeler
04-20-2009, 12:27 PM
We play a lot of matches where there are no barriers between courts. Just letting the ball go more often than not will end up causing a let for the court next to you.
I have gotten in the habit of catching an out serve if I can, or trying to lob it gently back to the server. I would rather cause the server to interrupt their rhythm a little than be a total pain in the butt to the courts on either side of us.
So far, I have never had anyone say anything about it.

However, winding up and taking a full on cut on the ball when it is obviously out is just a jerk thing to do.


Yep, if you just let a serve out wide continue on its way, you will definitely annoy the people on the court next to you.

rainman007
04-20-2009, 02:21 PM
For 3.5 level and lower, men's and women's, they probably think it's uncool to return out serves, however 4.0 and above, including the pros', the serve speed and reaction time dictates the receiver to return all serves while calling if it is out.

the pros serve so hard they to be prepared to return serve. .they might not know its going to be out because most of their serves are so close. i've never seen a pro try to hit a crosscourt winner on an obvious fault...Plus they have line judges and ball boys/girls.. so saying the pros do this and the pros do that does not matter on an adult league forum.. All i know is its aggravating for the opponent to hit back an obvious fault and i'm not necessarily talking about hitting back an easy serve right at me that i can catch or let pass by i'm talking about trying to hammer a cross court return into the corner.. then i have to turn around wait, make sure the ball doesn't roll off the fence and get behind my feet move back into service position and get ready to serve.. It is bad manners and unnecessary period.. it makes me want to do that to them but i cant bring myself to do that..

MAX PLY
04-20-2009, 02:32 PM
Put it in your pocket (or your skirt, where applicable) or place it behind you--it should not be hit back and really should not be on the court, even if against the net.

jmjmkim
04-20-2009, 02:39 PM
I like to let the ball pass by and let it hit the fence behind me. If I catch it, it kind of implies that the server has "wimpy" serves since I can catch it with ease, so I avoid doing this to not hurt their feelings. Blocking it to my side of the net is not too distracting for both players, but makes me, the returner, have to walk to the net ant retrieve it after the point. That's no good either.

Either letting it pass by, or blocking it soft and over to the opponent's corner seems okay, since it implies efficiency for both players.

The worst thing is to smack a flat, hard return back to the server, while calling "OUT". Now , that's rude, unless you guys are good friends and playing for beer.

darkhorse
04-20-2009, 06:40 PM
I've done this throughout my entire tennis career and nobody has ever asked me to stop. I don't hit it like a normal shot, though, usually it's right back to the server and he'll either pocket it or use that same ball. If anything it speeds up the game because then I don't have to go chasing the ball that he missed before and the one he missed to end the point.

kylebarendrick
04-21-2009, 05:57 AM
If you return an obvious fault serve and you shank the ball into the next court, then you just became responsible for delaying play and may owe the server a first serve. Better to let the ball go untouched making any delays the server's problem.

blakesq
04-21-2009, 07:59 AM
I do not put the ball in my pocket, because there have been a number of occasions where I have swung at a ball (usually a ball close to my body, one that jams you up) and the ball in my pocket has interfered with my attempt to hit the ball in play. Probably i am just paranoid! :shock:


Put it in your pocket (or your skirt, where applicable) or place it behind you--it should not be hit back and really should not be on the court, even if against the net.

Babo
04-21-2009, 08:36 AM
Babo, the reason for the rule (I would guess) is that your returning a ball you know is obviously out is this practice: (1) is a waste of time, (2) is disruptive to the server's rhythm as he/she must then go secure the ball you struck, (3) is dangerous because balls may be left on the court when the receiver could have pocketed the ball instead, and (4) is dangerous to the two net players who may drop their guard once they see the serve is obviously out.

Thanks for that, really! But I think its better if someone gets ready for the ball (especially a serve over 90) and accidentally hits it as they are looking for if its in than just assume its going out, especially a kick serve, and cheat when they are wrong about their assumptions and call it out. I say hit it back, you're not going to disrupt a 4.0's rhythm because they wait for a ball to bounce in their court and hit the fence.

If you're opponent specifically asks you not to do that (which I've never come across) then you can change what you're doing. Hitting it back when it doubt and saying "fault" as you hit it is honest and doing your best to be fair to both yourself and the other player.

tennisdad65
04-21-2009, 10:26 AM
I try to let it go to the back fence.
But against big servers, it is very difficult since you are already committed.

We have an unwritten rule when we play. If someone returns an out 1st serve , and the ball wanders for a decent amount of time, and still requires the server to go and pick up the ball, then the receiver says 'take 2' :)

heninfan99
04-22-2009, 06:00 AM
I don't see a problem with this as long as you don't try to hit an Agassi-like return and then call a fault when you realize your return sailed a little long.

Delayed reaction calls are highly suspect.

blakesq
04-22-2009, 06:10 AM
If an opponent asks me not to hit back his 90+ mph serves that are faults, then I ask him to slow down his serves first.


Thanks for that, really! But I think its better if someone gets ready for the ball (especially a serve over 90) and accidentally hits it as they are looking for if its in than just assume its going out, especially a kick serve, and cheat when they are wrong about their assumptions and call it out. I say hit it back, you're not going to disrupt a 4.0's rhythm because they wait for a ball to bounce in their court and hit the fence.

If you're opponent specifically asks you not to do that (which I've never come across) then you can change what you're doing. Hitting it back when it doubt and saying "fault" as you hit it is honest and doing your best to be fair to both yourself and the other player.

amarone
04-22-2009, 05:44 PM
We have an unwritten rule when we play. If someone returns an out 1st serve , and the ball wanders for a decent amount of time, and still requires the server to go and pick up the ball, then the receiver says 'take 2' :) Good for you. That is actually what you are supposed to do, although I have never seen it happen in practice. From The Code:
When there is a delay between the first and second serves:
the server gets one serve if the server was the cause of the delay;
the server gets two serves if the delay was caused by the
Receiver or if there was outside interference.

WBF
04-25-2009, 01:20 PM
Depends what level you are and on the serve, as others have noted.

I rarely see a serve that is easy to tell. I also get ****ed off when balls are rolling around or roll onto other courts... so if there is a hard, obviously out serve that could bounce elsewhere if I let it go, and i'm not in the position to catch it or stop it without potentially losing control of the ball, I simply slice, lob, or chip it back to the server so that they can either put it behind them or hold onto it. I have never had any attitude, remarks, looks, or other signs of annoyance.

AndrewD
04-26-2009, 02:58 AM
in a match, ive pretty much always hit back a fault. usually i try to hit it back to the server or sometimes im not sure it is a fault until after i hit it and it feels weird to just pull ack on the swing once ive set up. i didnt pay any attention to this until this very old usta player told me it's bad manners to do that. what do you guys think?

I was brought up to believe that it was bad manners to hit faults. The main reason being that, invariably, the server has to either wait for the ball to come to a stop or has to clear the ball off the court before he can deliver his second serve.

Steady Eddy
04-26-2009, 06:14 AM
Lotta people say they just let is pass to the back fence. But don't those often hit the fence and come rolling back? This also interupts the server, often the returner is unaware because he's facing the other way. The server says something like, "You wanna get rid of that ball behind you?" This is very necessary because a ball the returner is unaware of can especially be hazardous. For these reasons 'just letting it pass' seems a poor choice. Blocking it back into the net, or returning it to the server seems to be a better idea. BTW, we're all agreed that ripping a big return accompanied by an "Out!" call is the worst choice.

ttbrowne
04-27-2009, 07:54 PM
I've seen this at a higher level, on good courts that slope at the corners...the returner will aim for one of the corners if it's a medium fast obvious out serve.

raiden031
04-28-2009, 03:29 AM
Man I'm bad about this one. I almost always strike the return on the service fault. I can't get myself to alter my stroke once I see the ball out because there just isn't enough time most of the time for me to do it. I feel like if I worry about that too much, I won't be able to return the ball when it is IN.

Cindysphinx
04-28-2009, 03:51 AM
Good for you. That is actually what you are supposed to do, although I have never seen it happen in practice. From The Code:

I think it would be difficult to try to get two serves based on the returner's hitting a fault.

I have a lady on my team who hates any delay between her first and second serve. Gets visibly angry, is more likely to double-fault. She was playing a couple of players who apparently didn't know you aren't supposed to return obvious faults. So she would miss her first serve, and they would cheerfully lob it back over the net.

She asked them to stop this, and they said it was a habit. They kept doing it. So she said she was entitled to two serves whenever they returned a fault.

They said no way, no how was she getting two serves. And they kept right on returning her faults.

Actually, I think they were correct, not my teammate. I think you can ask for two serves, of course. But there is no definition of "obviously" out. Nor does that section of the Code specify that the remedy is two serves.

I think "a delay caused by the returner" is when the returner does something like tie her shoe, turn off her cell phone, have a conference with her partner. That's how I've always interpreted it, anyway, but reasonable minds can differ.

Lefty78
04-28-2009, 01:01 PM
When they are coming fast, you are swinging before they land out.

J

F%#@ING EXACTLY!
Once you reach a certain level of play the ball often comes too fast to stop swinging.
Moreover, I think it's bad manners for a server to miss the box by large and obvious amount. Don't hit the ball at my feet, then yell at me because I hit it back.
Also, if it's a second serve that's faulted, I will always hit the ball back, unless it was a break point.

jms007
04-28-2009, 01:12 PM
Lotta people say they just let is pass to the back fence. But don't those often hit the fence and come rolling back? This also interupts the server, often the returner is unaware because he's facing the other way. The server says something like, "You wanna get rid of that ball behind you?" This is very necessary because a ball the returner is unaware of can especially be hazardous. For these reasons 'just letting it pass' seems a poor choice. Blocking it back into the net, or returning it to the server seems to be a better idea. BTW, we're all agreed that ripping a big return accompanied by an "Out!" call is the worst choice.

Yeah ripping a big one might be bad manners...but sometimes its hard to avoid, when you get a pretty hard serve and the only thing you need for big return is a short, reflexive backswing/block.