Calling a Foot Fault

Discussion in 'Adult League & Tournament Talk' started by kenshireen, Oct 30, 2013.

  1. kenshireen

    kenshireen Professional

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    I play in ALTA... doubles league in Atlanta.
    We are playing a big playoff match this week and I know the players well.
    Their line 1 guy flagrantly footfaults... He's a 4.5 usta rated player.
    His first step in smack on the line and his second foot comes down in the blue before he makes contact.... He also follows his serve in.

    Question.
    Should we call him on this and how/when should this be done... during warmups?
     
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  2. spot

    spot Hall of Fame

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    Has it been your lifelong dream to win a playoff match on a clutch footfault call? Are you sure that none of your players footfault at the other lines?
     
    Last edited: Oct 30, 2013
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  3. paul500w

    paul500w Rookie

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    I would mention it after warmups. I would say something like. "Hey, BTW I saw you were footfaulting and wanted to give you a heads up so we won't have to worry about it during the match" Even if they continue to do it during the match, I don't think there are any ALTA rules that prevent it.

    I never call footfaulting because I never pay attention to it.
     
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  4. IA-SteveB

    IA-SteveB Professional

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    The cool thing to do would be to play your game. Spend less time thinking about things like this and more on real match strategy. :)
     
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  5. GBplayer

    GBplayer Semi-Pro

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    It is a fault and should be picked up.

    At what point would it bother you? When the player is 1 foot, 2 foot, 3 foot inside the line, or is it okay until they get to the service line, or is this still nothing to mention? :-?

    Rules are rules!
     
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  6. LuckyR

    LuckyR Legend

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    To be sure there are two sides to this issue. The desire to not let a cheater take advantage on one hand and to appear "cool and laid back" and not care about small trivialities on the other.

    This advice seems to walk the line between the two pretty well. Though I probably wouldn't use it myself (because I am cool and laid back...)
     
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  7. JackB1

    JackB1 G.O.A.T.

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    how about guys that have their back foot accross the middle line? Isn't that also a "foot fault"? Don't BOTH feet need to be on the correct side of the middle line?
     
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  8. tennis_ocd

    tennis_ocd Hall of Fame

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    When I'm playing for money and biased line ump ignores his ffs and calls mine. That would bother me. I imagine I'd complain to chair... maybe post to a message board if really incensed and I thought it cost me tour points.
     
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  9. paul500w

    paul500w Rookie

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    Ah the truth comes out, this guy also foot faults so that is why...
     
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  10. newpball

    newpball Legend

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    Yes.

    And yes, if you play a match a foot fault is a foot fault.
     
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  11. JackB1

    JackB1 G.O.A.T.

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    This one is very easy to point out also....just tell the server to wait and not move his feet. Walk towards him and point out his back foot.
     
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  12. RetroSpin

    RetroSpin Hall of Fame

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    Don't FFs have to be called by officials? IOW, you have to summon an official if you plan to challenge it.

    Another approach would be to wait until he is down on his serve, then start complaining about it. When he tells you to F off, then you can job him on a couple of crucial points and feel justified.
     
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  13. JackB1

    JackB1 G.O.A.T.

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    I would never call one myself. I just "point it out" to my opponent and let him worry about it :). Could be considered "gamesmanship", but it's still a rule.

    For the record, I have only pointed this one out to an opponent one time in 4 years of playing tennis. His back foot was so far past the middle line, I had to point it out. Plus I was losing, so
    I was hoping it might throw him off a little. It didn't :)
     
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  14. tennis tom

    tennis tom Hall of Fame

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    Mention it to him in the warm-up. If he does it during the match, mention it again. If he continues, call an official, at play-offs they should be around. Get a copy of the rules of tennis, "FRIEND AT COURT" and study-up on the rules for calling ff's in officiated and un-officiated matches. Be prepared to do mental and verbal battle and talk to your partner to make sure you're both on the same page about it--a leopard doesn't change it's spots overnight. FF'ing is so easy to fix but if no one points it out, the perp will not be aware of it or be happy to be getting away with it and the advantage it will gain them. It really can get into a player's head when they get called on it.

    G'luck!
     
    Last edited: Oct 30, 2013
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  15. spot

    spot Hall of Fame

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    In ALTA there are no officials. Even in city finals when there are coordinators all over the place they will not call footfaults.
     
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  16. TimeSpiral

    TimeSpiral Professional

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    Calling a foot fault is considered socially unacceptable, even though it is legal (and expected of you, according to The Code) to call one in unofficiated match play, however ...

    You described the match as "a big playoff [league] match." This as competitive match play. In competitive match play, I play by the rules and expect my opponents to as well. This is a reasonable expectation.

    Since you "know the players well," it is also reasonable to approach them prior to the warm-up and say, "Look, guys. This is an important match, and one we've worked hard to get to--as have you both. I intend to call your foot faults, [PLAYER]. We have let them slide in past matches, but will not this time. Sorry! Just wanted to give you and your partner a heads up."

    What can their response be?
    • Them: You can't call a foot fault on me! That's against the rules.
    • You: You're wrong. Me or my partner can call a foot fault if we see one. Foot faulting is against the rules.
    • Them: You never called it before. That's BS that you're going to start calling it in the playoffs.
    • You: I wish I had called it in the past, but I didn't. I apologize for that. I'm correcting my error now. It would be similarly BS if you won the playoff match foot faulting without penalty.
    • Them: I don't foot fault. What the hizzle are you talking about?
    • You: Then there should be no issues. Good luck!
    If what you say is true, they have no response that justifies foot faulting. Whether intentional or not, it is cheating. Sure, it might ruin the social mood of the match, but who cares? It's a playoff match. I would imagine your mood would be similarly ruined if you witnessed your opponents' cheating going unchecked.



    Call it. And call it every time. First offense: warning. Second offense and beyond: fault.
     
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  17. spot

    spot Hall of Fame

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    If someone wants to be the person who calls footfaults then I think you should be consistent and start calling them in practice and in social matches with friends.
     
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  18. TimeSpiral

    TimeSpiral Professional

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    I completely disagree.

    Your language alone suggests a sort of "type casting," that I referred to when I said "socially acceptable." Thanks for providing that example for everyone.

    When I'm out there playing with buddies, in non-ranked play, we're just having fun, exercising, or practicing. Sure we all want to win, and there's a competitive spirit, but it's so much better to let certain things go in this instance. If we're explicitly practicing for league play, sometimes we will make calls like this.

    Story time!
    I play with a buddy--a family member--just for fun and exercise. We have a great time, get to play tennis, and get a work out. He quick-serves like you wouldn't believe! Sometimes I'm not even facing in the right direction, I'll turn around and have to play the return with the wrong grip from the wrong position. Luls. In league play, I would never allow that, for sure, but in this case I just roll with it. No biggie.

    Moral:
    In ranked, or otherwise competitive match play, the goal is competition, not necessarily maintaining a friendly or social environment. Call the rules like you expect them to be called on you.
     
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  19. Don't Let It Bounce

    Don't Let It Bounce Hall of Fame

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    OP, don't spend too much time dancing around the issue and giving him extra chances. I've seen before what you describe, and it is not someone who doesn't realize what he is doing. It will already have been pointed out to him by angry opponents; he won't be shaken by your bringing it up. Unless you're mistaken in your description, he's cheating.

    For those who haven't experienced it, try hitting hard, flat serves from 6" to 8" inside the baseline and see what happens to your serve percentages. It makes an amazing difference.

    (OP, that experiment may also give you an idea for a Plan C, if neither requesting a competent linesman nor asking the guy to play by the rules works. Obviously, doing what he does is not a desirable way to play a match – but there is no real match without a single set of rules that both sides play by.)
     
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  20. tennis tom

    tennis tom Hall of Fame

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    #20
  21. r2473

    r2473 Legend

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    Improve your game:

    http://www.usta.com/Improve-Your-Game/Rules/Rules-and-Line-Calls/Foot_Faulting/


    Foot Faulting


    Q. Can your opponent call foot fault on you when there is no referee?

    A. The Code states that “compliance with the foot fault rule is very much a function of the player’s personal honor system.” If a player is committing flagrant foot faults, then an opponent CAN call him/her on it. But it is a pretty bold move to do so. He/she had better be certain that you have stepped on or over the line prior to contact before making this call.

    For the record, habitual foot faulting is as bad as intentionally cheating on line calls. That said, I always urge players to focus on their side of the net, and executing their returns of serve, instead of worrying about whether an opponent has or has not stepped on or over the baseline during the serve.
     
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  22. beernutz

    beernutz Hall of Fame

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    After over 9 years of playing on dozens of USTA and local league teams at the 3.5 and 4.0 levels and having played many unofficial matches before and during that time I have never called a foot fault, never had a foot fault called on me, never seen a foot fault called on a court I was on, or even heard of a foot fault being called by any other player on any other court in a match I was playing in, and yet there are three threads on foot faults on the first page of the Adult forum.
     
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  23. spot

    spot Hall of Fame

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    TimeSpiral- every time I have everyone seen someone call a footfault it is because they are losing a match and are upset about it. They are irritated and are trying to do anything they can to get back at the person. Selectively enforcing the rules is what leads to this kind of behavior.

    If you want to avoid this then by all means start calling footfaults all the time. If you think it is such an important rule then I'm sure your friends will appreciate knowing every time they do it and then they can learn to adjust accordingly.
     
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  24. TimeSpiral

    TimeSpiral Professional

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    That's because personal experience does not describe general reality. I've never called or seen a foot fault called either. But believe it or not--the reality is that it's a rules of tennis! I have seen foot faults called in pro matches. Many times, actually.

    As I said to Beernutz (above), your experience doesn't describe reality. They're just anecdotes.

    It's fine that we disagree. Reasonable people disagree all the time. The OP asked for advice here, probably because he respects the members and wants to see what we have to say (or maybe he's looking for support, who knows!). He probably wishes he lived in your reality where your opponents never flagrantly and repeatedly foot fault.

    I've explained why I have different standards for casual matches than I do competitive ranked matches. My explanation either satisfies you or it doesn't. *shrugs*

    This issue is clearly bothering the OP, so I stand behind my advice.
     
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  25. tennis_ocd

    tennis_ocd Hall of Fame

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    I've worked harder on my serve than any other aspect of my game but wouldn't be surprised to learn I occasionally chase poor tosses and tweak my feet. FFing is simply a non-issue. Those that do so horribly with big steps and foot movement never have a serve worth getting uptight over. Those with good serves that may touch the line or swing a heel over centerline... I sure one could capture fast video in an attempt at gamesmanship.

    I do enjoy and thank those who take it on as a RL crusade. If one is anal-retentive, I'm sure they see an epidemic.
     
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  26. sureshs

    sureshs Bionic Poster

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    Call the footfaults and watch his level of play drop from 4.5 to 3.0 due to the nervousness. That is the real reason FFers should be held accountable, not for any unfair speed advantage which is just not significant at the 4.5 level.

    But expect lots of unpleasantness. These guys have big egos while having flouted the rules all these years. They are so grooved into their rhythm that if they know FFs will be called, their game will collapse. Then they will get even more angry. So be it. You take your win and walk away.
     
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  27. Cindysphinx

    Cindysphinx G.O.A.T.

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    You missed one:

    You: Hey, before we get started, let's all observe the rules about FFs.

    Them: Sorry, don't know what you're talking about.

    You: Greg FFs a lot. He was doing it in warm-up, he has done it every time we have played.

    Them: Oh, so it's like that, huh? That's how you want to be? Well, you and your partner had better watch yourselves, 'cause if you come anywhere close to the line you will be the ones eating a FF call. I've seen you guys FF plenty, so pot meet kettle. Not only that, you'd better not make a sound when we're about to play the ball 'cause I will call a hindrance. And heaven help you if you return an Obviously Out Fault. As for balls rolling on court, I hope your insurance is paid up because I am not going to protect your sorry arses from stepping on a ball.

    YOU CAN TAKE YOUR FF CALLS TO YOUR MOTHER'S HOUSE FOR ALL I CARE!!!

    ******

    Or words to that effect.
     
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  28. rh310

    rh310 Professional

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    I've only played against two foot faulters: one S&V doubles player who consistently stepped about 1 ft inside the court. Very noticeable and unfair advantage. I asked him to stop it, and he seemed to try. No problem.

    Recently played singles with someone whose "bring feet together" consistently put his back foot a few inches inside the line. Baseliner, so no real advantage gained. Mentioned it the coach that was evaluating this practice match, and afterwards he talked with the player about it. No problem.
     
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  29. GBplayer

    GBplayer Semi-Pro

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    I have umpired matches, and will call foot faults. One player I have umpired 3 times has a big serve from 1 1/2 to 2 foot inside the line. I am not talking a couple of inches. Not so big from behind the line. I will not tolerate it. It is cheating.
     
    Last edited: Oct 31, 2013
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  30. joemanblues

    joemanblues New User

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    I would appreciate people calling my foot faulting, if I serve a ball and its out by a few inches I don't call it an ace, if the tip of my racquet touches a ball I tried to let go then I lose the point, in social play you can let it go and just point it so as to better the people you are playing with; but in a competitive match you call it
     
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  31. TimeSpiral

    TimeSpiral Professional

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    You: Okay, cool. So you agree we should play by the rules?

    Lulz.
     
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  32. illzoni

    illzoni Rookie

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    This hits a bit close to home...

    My son was playing in a youth sectional mixed doubles. During the round-robins, the weaker of the opponent players was consistently STANDING on the line when starting her service motion. Eventually my son had enough and, while she served to his partner on a second serve, he called the foot fault/double fault.

    The opponents' coach came forward rather hastily proclaiming he couldn't do that. They called the roving official over. He sustained that my son could not do that. He refused to watch at all, claiming he could NOT make any calls. Asked how we could address it, he said our only option was to ask the offender to stop doing it. [period] Zero recourse.

    Tennis is a game of ins/outs. The ball is either in or out. The server's foot is either in or out.
     
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  33. TimeSpiral

    TimeSpiral Professional

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    That's awful officiating. Sorry to hear it. You could probably have stopped play and filed a grievance, but at that point, why bother?

    The code states that a player can call flagrant foot faults if an official is not present. Obviously, it is expected than an official would handle the situation in accordance with the rules. Sad that this didn't happen here.
     
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  34. RetroSpin

    RetroSpin Hall of Fame

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    Did your son say anything to her before calling a FF? How did she and her coach justify standing on the line?

    I doubt she was getting much of an advantage from it, but still. What I would have said to the official is OK, then I am going to stand INSIDE the line when I serve, since you don't have a problem with cheating.
     
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  35. tennis_ocd

    tennis_ocd Hall of Fame

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    So sad. No doubt the kid let it go until his team was winning handily at which time suddenly decided to be kind enough to take the time and effort to spread a better understanding of the game to his opponents.
     
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  36. TimeSpiral

    TimeSpiral Professional

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    Can't tell if this is sarcasm or not : /
     
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  37. The_Question

    The_Question Hall of Fame

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    This is the reason why I stop playing on the league.
     
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  38. illzoni

    illzoni Rookie

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    Research after-the-fact revealed my son did not comply with:
    "USTA Comment 18.6:When may the receiver or the receiver’s partner call
    foot faults? The receiver or the receiver’s partner may call foot faults only after all reasonable efforts such as warning the server and attempting to get an official to the court have failed and the foot faulting is so flagrant as to be clearly perceptible from the receiver’s side."

    I believe he/we would have been satisfied if the official had explained the quoted to him. They instead gave no recourse.

    PS - This wasn't the only problem with officiating at that tournament.

    PPS - My son is not the kid that always ends up with officials involved. He's very gracious.
     
    #38
  39. schmke

    schmke Professional

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    Was this a USTA sanctioned match and so did the quoted USTA comment apply? If so, shame on the official. If not, we don't know what the standing rule/guidance is for opponents calling foot faults and perhaps the official was correct?
     
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  40. beernutz

    beernutz Hall of Fame

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    From The Code:

    24. Calling foot faults. The receiver or the receiver’s partner may call foot faults only after all reasonable efforts, such as warning the server and attempting to get an official to the court, have failed and the foot fault is so flagrant as to be clearly perceptible from the receiver’s side.

    Was the server warned before the foot fault was called or was an official asked to come to the court to watch prior to your son calling the foot fault?
     
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  41. Taxvictim

    Taxvictim Semi-Pro

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    Which is probably why this 4.5 player thinks he can get away with cheating. The fact that there are three threads about it here shows it's something that bothers people, but nobody wants to make the call.

    I did warn a player once, but it was because he started his serving motion with his back foot across the center line. He fixed it. No big deal.
     
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  42. Cindysphinx

    Cindysphinx G.O.A.T.

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    I'm not on board with the bold part.

    It is your son's responsibility to know the rules of the sport he is playing. He got it wrong -- he can't just up and call a FF out of the blue. He has to warn and/or call an official. Your son was mistaken.

    Are you sure your son accurately reported what the official said? If the roving official actually said the roving official could not call a FF at all ever, then your son should know to call the tournament referee immediately and refuse to play until the referee arrives.

    Which, again, means your son (delightful though he may be) ought to learn the rules of the sport he is playing.
     
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  43. TimeSpiral

    TimeSpiral Professional

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    Yep. It's only wrong if you get caught by someone following the exact procedures required to prove that you're wrong :twisted:

    Hilarious logic, really, but you're technically right.

    The other guy can cheat--flagrantly--and unless his child knew the exact procedure to properly call his cheating, he can break the rules unfettered.
     
    #43
  44. Cindysphinx

    Cindysphinx G.O.A.T.

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    How strange.

    On the one hand, you say people should follow the rules and not FF. They should follow the rule, because rules are rules.

    On the other hand, you blow off the rule that you can't call a FF without a warning and/or getting an official.

    So . . . do we have a problem with consistency? It seems like we do.
     
    #44
  45. rh310

    rh310 Professional

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    Nonsensical. How are you going to see if you're foot-faulting if you're watching the ball during the service ?
     
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  46. Matchball

    Matchball Semi-Pro

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    Thank you, I really do not understand why this has become a taboo.
     
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  47. illzoni

    illzoni Rookie

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    My son is 11. He doesn't know all of the rules. Heck, we don't know all of the rules. We do our best.

    Yes, it was USTA.

    No, my son did not ask the server prior to correct the foot faults. Yes, he should have--even without knowing the rules. And we, as parents, would've told him so if he'd been allowed to ask. However, rules prohibit such communication during the match.

    I believe the official's role includes educating the players on rules they're not familiar with. This particular official not only failed to do that, but provided false information.

    My angst is with the official's (mis)handling of things.
     
    #47
  48. tennis tom

    tennis tom Hall of Fame

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    I think it started with Serena's infamous melt-down at the USO where she threatened to kill a diminutive Asian lines lady by shoving a ball down her throat. She forfeited the match and was fined $92,000 that her handlers spun into the $92,000 charitable foundation with numerous commercials for it and a Nike commercial making fun of the incident. I think that's where and when the FF'ing issue entered the public eye at a big level.

    In this age of moral relativism, the tennis media and general public consensus has been, what's the big deal it's only a dumb little rule. I've yet to see a public apology to the poor lines lady who Serena verbally assaulted and threatened with physical harm publicly in front of the world--but maybe I missed it and Serena sent her flowers and chocolates and they're all good with it now. If dumb little lines are no longer important, why bother having title searches when buying property or defending our borders?
     
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  49. TimeSpiral

    TimeSpiral Professional

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    Huh? 10 chars.
     
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  50. CMcD

    CMcD New User

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    If you absolutely have to call someone out who is foot faulting, do it on the first serve. Calling a foot fault on a second serve is a low blow.
     
    #50

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