Calling footfaults is important

Discussion in 'Adult League & Tournament Talk' started by sureshs, Nov 19, 2012.

  1. sureshs

    sureshs Bionic Poster

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    I noticed that a 4.5-ish guy had a nice serve. Then I noticed he used a pinpoint stance. When I started focusing on that, I noticed that he had a complicated footwork pattern and his right foot was smack on the baseline and even perpendicular to it, as he served. Once when he served into the net, he said that he lost his footwork rhythm. That told me that he would have trouble if asked not to footfault.

    Then I had a revelation. It is not about whether a few more inches forward makes any difference on the serve. It is really about whether the server can cope with the additional pressure of having a footfault called on him.

    The best analogy I can give is say, you are allowed to serve long, but you will be highly appreciated if you serve within the service line. Most players would be very relaxed and actually get their serves in. Then tell them that the rule is now being enforced, and they will start faulting.

    Footfaulting is cheating. I have sometimes watched doubles and jokingly threatened that I would act like an umpire and call footfaults. Usually, the serves went south after that, and I had to move on before my "friends" became hostile.

    Please ensure that footfaulters are not allowed to get away with what they are doing. Watch their serves breakdown when the rule is enforced and have a good laugh. Watch 4.5s end up with worse serves than a 3.5, and get mighty angry in the process.
     
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  2. OrangePower

    OrangePower Hall of Fame

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    1. The type of footfaults you describe (and most footfaults in fact) can be easily avoided by starting the service motion with the feet a few inches behind the line. So I don't think your strategy is going to work.

    2. If you can consistently spot that kind of footfault from across the court, then your eyes are much better than mine.
     
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  3. woodrow1029

    woodrow1029 Hall of Fame

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    I played in a tournament this weekend in NorCal, and there was a guy on the court next to me that would start with his front foot about an inch behind the baseline. He would take one decent sized step with his front foot and slide his back foot in so that before he hit the ball, he was actually foot faulting with BOTH feet (front foot about4-6 inches inside the baseline).
     
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  4. North

    North Professional

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    Once someone is that far inside the baseline, it is pretty noticeable when receiving serve. I usually notice it first as the server somehow being in a different serve position, and then it is clear that they look different across the net because they are a half foot (or nearly so) inside the baseline.
     
    Last edited: Nov 19, 2012
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  5. sureshs

    sureshs Bionic Poster

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    (1) is what I do.

    It is not a matter of easy or hard. It is a matter of their state of mind when the fear of footfaulting creeps in. When I have called FF (as a spectator of social matches), I have seen the server throw in fault after fault, even as he tried to keep his feet more back. The rhythm is destroyed, and the mind has been messed with.

    (2) I agree. I was talking more about getting a spectator (like me) on the sidelines and put fear into the server's mind, not the opponents calling it.
     
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  6. dlam

    dlam Rookie

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    I really dont think its possible to call a foot fault from the other side of the net unless it was a very obvious foot fault.

    In a match where we have to regulate each other without a referee, I have never seen it called.

    Anyone have a story of one that was called by the opponent?
     
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  7. cll30

    cll30 Rookie

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    That would seem true for singles, but in doubles it is very easy for the net person to see most foot faults if you look for them. The secret is to just not look.
     
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  8. Plestor

    Plestor New User

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    Yep its really really easy to call from the net. I find it much eaiser than line calls as their feet move much slower than the ball and you're not focusing on your return, just your movement.

    Outside of casual matches (in which I will mention it and not much more...), don't most matches have some provision for an umpire / referee?
     
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  9. tennis_ocd

    tennis_ocd Hall of Fame

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    What a joy you must be :)
     
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  10. h2os

    h2os New User

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    I played a match on Sunday. I normally have a reliable serve. I noticed the singles match taking place next to me and saw a guy consistantly foot faulting. He was our teams opponent and I thought about telling my teammate about it. I decided to let it go. Instead, I became concerned about my own footwork and began to double fault badly. I mean I was hitting a spin serve that was hitting before the net. I could not shake it. I agree with the original poster that once you call someone on foot faulting, you will destroy their service rhythm. Beware though that you could end up ruining your own!

    Jim
     
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  11. tennis tom

    tennis tom Hall of Fame

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    Just curious Woodrow, I assume you weren't working it, and was watching as a spectator, what can one do in such a situation to remedy the injustice?

    Thanks
     
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  12. sureshs

    sureshs Bionic Poster

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    That is why they chase me away these days
     
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  13. sureshs

    sureshs Bionic Poster

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    Haven't though about it from that angle, but if it happens to me, I will accept it. The skill to avoid a FF is a skill by itself, just like a forehand.
     
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  14. woodrow1029

    woodrow1029 Hall of Fame

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    I wasn't working or a spectator, I was playing. :)

    If his opponent had noticed and/or cared, he could have warned him that he was blatantly foot faulting. THen he could have gone and gotten an official (of course he can go get the official before he says anything too). Then, if the official can't be found, or if the official is on another court that had problems and can't leave the court he's on, he can call foot faults on the opponent.

    As a player, I don't ever feel that it is going to make me lose the match just because the opponent is foot faulting. One guy I played last weekend foot faulted a lot on the deuce side by clearly going over the center service line with his back foot. They were blatant, but I didn't say anything, and I won the match anyway. :)
     
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  15. tennis tom

    tennis tom Hall of Fame

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    The OP is writing about how to "get into the heads" of opponents--which for many, under the pressure of competing is not too difficult. I've seen at 4.0 sectionals some guys totally come unhinged when called for a foot-fault by the roving referee. One guy was a lawyer, who started arguing with the ref that it was "Only a technical violation", as only a lawyer could and persisted in foot-faulting and arguing with the ref, who called him on each additional foot fault until he lost the match, much to the dismay of his team-mate--hilarious!

    It's very easy to correct for a foot-fault if you have a sound serve--you just move back a few inches and the problem is solved without coming unglued mentally. Sometimes if my serve is going long, I'll step back a few inches to keep it in for a quick fix.

    At the same tournament that "Clarence Darrow" was in, I saw another instance of foot faulting being called where the perp did not become temporarily insane. It was in dubs and the roving ref called an f-f on a player who was NOT over the service line. The player was mystified why and the ref said to him you can ask me why and then I can tell you. The player asked, he was stepping over the imaginary line between the deuce/ad sides at the hash mark--which was unusual for doubles. This player handled it much differently then the lawyer in the previous example, fixed it and went merrily on his way.
     
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  16. woodrow1029

    woodrow1029 Hall of Fame

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    LOL. That is funny! Only a technical violation. :)
     
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  17. OrangePower

    OrangePower Hall of Fame

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    Amateur. A real litigator would have insisted that the court dimensions were not exactly to standard and that in fact there is a chance that it might not have been a footfault were the court exactly to size. Demand a measurement of all court dimensions to take place there and then, or retract the call!
     
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  18. LuckyR

    LuckyR Legend

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    For singles, I agree with the OP that IF you can make the call, it is a big deal since small infractions would be unable to be called with certainty (that is: you may know intellectually that her is FFing but if you cannot actually see it happening, you should not make the call).

    You don't need to add the issue of more faults because of a weak Mental Game since as he points out, it is cheating or at least against the rules anyway.
     
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  19. sureshs

    sureshs Bionic Poster

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    I have observed both the crossing over the imaginary hash mark, as well as crossing over the imaginary extension of the doubles side line. There are guys who have specialized in serving from behind the doubles alley in a diagonal fashion - it causes distress to the returner. Quite often they step over the imaginary doubles sideline with their back foot. It is another great example where the "dangerous" serve would just not happen if FFs were being called.
     
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  20. sureshs

    sureshs Bionic Poster

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    And don't even get me started on "handfaults" - standing close to the net and hitting the ball before it has come over.

    If this was enforced, it would not result in merely "scaling" down of the net aggressiveness - it will lead to a collapse of the game because many of the guys who do it lack fine control to hit the ball just after it crosses. Under scrutiny, their shot will breakdown, and the "fearsome net guy" will be rendered harmless. This is another situation in which players get away with impunity and even build big reputations in the process.
     
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  21. Sumo

    Sumo Semi-Pro

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    A line is a line regardless of the courts dimensions, definitely have to go after the official (eye sight, court positioning, experience, sexual history, political beliefs, etc).
     
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  22. mmk

    mmk Professional

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    No, but I play regularly against a guy who, if he isn't standing well back from the center line, steps across the center line (not the baseline) by a foot or more when serving to the ad court. That is fairly obvious no matter where you are standing. I don't bother calling it since I usually win handily.
     
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  23. Nostradamus

    Nostradamus G.O.A.T.

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    I was told it isn't manly to call footfaults. I was told it is a copout since you can't handle the other guy's serve.
     
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  24. sureshs

    sureshs Bionic Poster

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    What is surprising is how many people with good serves footfault. They are the ones to go after.
     
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  25. Cindysphinx

    Cindysphinx G.O.A.T.

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    Unless you are looking down the net or have slow-motion replay at your disposal, you are in no position to be sure the net player made contact on the other side of the net.

    Personally, I think "hand faults" should be made legal. If you can make contact with the ball without touching the net, why shouldn't you be allowed to play the ball? People hardly ever call a "hand fault" on themselves because they are in no position to judge the exact point of contact down to the inch, so why do we saddle them with that obligation?

    On the subject of calling footfaults, go right ahead. It leads to lots of bad blood and tit-for-tat nonsense, usually. If you think it is worth it, have at it.

    I have a teammate who is a huge, huge footfaulter. She is old school when she serves. So rather than lift off the ground to hit the serve, she kind of walks. She doesn't land on the left foot. She steps into the court with the right foot -- way way into the court -- and she S&V.

    I have never seen anyone call her on it.
     
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  26. Joeyg

    Joeyg Semi-Pro

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    This sounds like an old doubles partner of mine. He was called for multiple footfaults (much to my chagrin) at the grand prix in NorCal circa '99 or '00. I also regularly play rec dubs with a two foot faulter that almost gets a running start into the net.
     
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  27. OrangePower

    OrangePower Hall of Fame

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    I like the way you're thinking... let's put the official on trial and drag him/her through the dirt! That will teach him/her to volunteer!!
     
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  28. sureshs

    sureshs Bionic Poster

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    Exactly. When saddled with that obligation, they might end up losing their game.

    Tennis is full of mental issues. Footfaults and handfaults are two of them. I compare them to the requirement of touching the wall in swimming when turning around and the requirement of not starting off before the gun in track. So many Olympic athletes have experienced the disappointment of being disqualified after 4 years of training. Handling the mental pressure is part of the skill.

    The handfaults are especially obnoxious. Footfaults barely result in an advantage for the servers at the club level. But impunity from handfaults has given rise to a number of doubles players who take full advantage of it and end up putting away balls in an illegal fashion. They stand at the net and basically you have no recourse when they hit a ball on the other side.
     
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  29. Joeyg

    Joeyg Semi-Pro

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    Isn't manly? What, to force your opponent to play by the rules of tennis? Why not eliminate the lines and just guestimate where we should serve from?
     
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  30. Bedrock

    Bedrock Semi-Pro

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    footfault is sign of wrong habbit. In the most of cases asking for not footfaulting leads to increased number double faults.
     
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  31. Bedrock

    Bedrock Semi-Pro

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    Try to serve a foot or two behind of baseline. It is much easier :) (it is true)
     
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  32. tennis tom

    tennis tom Hall of Fame

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    Who told you that, Gore Vidal?
     
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  33. Bedrock

    Bedrock Semi-Pro

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    I would like to see him playing without this "copout".
    Copout or not but it is still an error, let him (the other guy) to pay for it.
     
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  34. woodrow1029

    woodrow1029 Hall of Fame

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    I will tell you what irritates me the most about foot faults (from an official's point of view).

    It really bothers me when I am officiating at a juniors tournament or at a collegiate match/tournament, and I call a foot fault on a player, and their coach/parents get mad at me for calling a foot fault.

    A bit of background, when I am in the chair, and am there for the entire match, I will call foot faults officially from the first one I see. If I am roving, and I get called onto the court because a player says their opponent is foot faulting, I will call the first one that I see. When I am roving, and I walk onto a court on my own, and I see one that is not terribly blatant, I will let the player know on the next changeover that he needs to watch out for his footfaults, because if nobody is complaining, I don't think that it's great just to walk on court (sometimes without knowing the flow of the match), and just get involved by calling them immediately, unless it is very blatant. I will then stay for a couple of games and watch. If it continues, I will call them.

    But going back to my original post, it bothers me when the parents/coaches get mad at the officials for correctly calling a foot fault, instead of getting irritated with their player and helping them correct the problem.
     
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  35. Cindysphinx

    Cindysphinx G.O.A.T.

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    Handfaults are not "obnoxious." You are assuming that you have a good vantage point to know if the opponent made contact on your side (you don't in close cases) or that your opponent does (he doesn't). Hand faults are currently against the rules, but I think there are good reasons to change the rule.

    The Handfaulter cannot know if he does or does not hand fault. This is different from other things the player is supposed to call on herself -- like double-hit, being hit by the ball, not up, touching the net, framing the ball. The player often gets some feedback (you can feel it when the ball ticks your racket) or is presumably looking closely at the ball (not up).

    Since no player on the court can see if a player breaks an imaginary plane and hits the ball on the other side of the net, why even have that rule?

    As it is a dumb, unenforceable rule, I don't get too worked up about it. If my opponent comes close to making contact on my side . . . well, whose fault was it that I left a ball hanging or failed to lob a player who was draped on the net?
     
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  36. tennis tom

    tennis tom Hall of Fame

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    If you have any ambitions for your team to go to any playoffs someone better start straightening her out now--the roving refs and maybe the other teams certainly will-- and then she'll probably fall apart.

    Running or getting a walking start to hit a serve, from your description, is also illegal. In "old school" tennis you were not allowed to break the plane of the service line, while in the air, as is allowed by the present rules.
     
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  37. Cindysphinx

    Cindysphinx G.O.A.T.

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    : shrug :

    I'm not going to straighten anyone out. She will need to resolve it herself.

    Interesting about the prior rule that you couldn't break the plane of the baseline. That rule is about as dumb as telling people they cannot make contact on the other side of an invisible plane, but they can follow through on the other side.
     
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  38. woodrow1029

    woodrow1029 Hall of Fame

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    I will also add to my rant (even though this part isn't about foot faults), while I'm in the ranting mood, that I am tired of parents threatening to file lawsuits against officials because an umpire gave their kid a code violation with the reason that the official gave the code violation because their kid is a different race than the official. Or players filing lawsuits because they were defaulted from a tournament based on lateness rules when they showed up an hour after their scheduled time, again with the reason being that they are of a different race than the official. Or, any other stupid lawsuits to try to intimidate the official to not issue a code violation. Or lawsuits when a parent thinks their kid's draw was "politically motivated" or "racially influenced" when their kid has to play the #1 seed in an earlier round. And, yes, this crap happens. Ok. I'm done ranting for now.
     
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  39. mmk

    mmk Professional

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    My dad used to umpire baseball from little league up to legion ball. Legion ballplayers might give him a look, or argue a bit, but he would get death threats from little league parents.
     
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  40. sureshs

    sureshs Bionic Poster

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    Not correct at all. It can be easily judged by the chair umpire, just like a FF can be judged by the line judges.

    I am not sure whether you want the rule repealed in pro tournaments or in club-level play. I would prefer to have the same set of rules. Moreover, the other net player can see the handfault very well, because it is often so blatant. I have seen many myself. Your argument about it being the opponent's problem is totally irrelevant. Even catching an out ball before it drops loses the point, and this is far from anything close to that.

    I have seen pro matches where the player has enough fine control to touch the ball and while making sure he hasn't crossed the net. I have even seen them change their racket motion near the net just for this delicate situation. Pros definitely know whether they handfaulted or not. If the same rules apply, club players should also be scrutinized. It will put a large number of the close-to-the-net characters out of business.
     
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  41. sureshs

    sureshs Bionic Poster

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    That is THE point. It is not about the serve, it is about whether they can cope with an additional constraint. Many can't, and they should be exposed.
     
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  42. Sakkijarvi

    Sakkijarvi Semi-Pro

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    We can consume unlimited bandwidth here at TW and it won't change the facts. No one calls footfaults at the rec level.

    Instead of getting hot and bothered at your keyboard, think of it along the lines of the phantom double play in baseball. Sure, the letter of the rule is one thing .. but decades of practice ... and thus tradition ... say otherwise.

    Like the OP said, calling footfaults at this level will lead to some angry people. If your recreation includes aggravating people and acting like an asshat, have at it.
     
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  43. Timbo's hopeless slice

    Timbo's hopeless slice Hall of Fame

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    every time I read one of these threads I just shake my head.

    what other rules is it ok to ignore? 'Nah, I can't reach that return, but it's 'rec level', so I'll just call a let for, oh, I dunno, a lunar eclipse distracting me, and we'll replay the point. First serve!'

    learn to serve, people, it will improve your serve if you are not trekking around under the thing before you hit it anyway!
     
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  44. sureshs

    sureshs Bionic Poster

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    It is just a matter of time. Very soon, portable and sophisticated multi-camera recording-replay systems will be available at very low prices. Players will carry them in their bags. Setup time will be a few minutes. Then all these cheaters are gonna get exposed.

    In fact, I have a great idea for a micro-helicopter which will be launched before a match and hovers above the court and a little to the side, filming the action in HD. No need to find any supports or props for the camera. Apart from the small probability of the helicopter being hit by a lob, it is a fool-proof system.
     
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  45. Cindysphinx

    Cindysphinx G.O.A.T.

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    None. Every rule should be enforced. Always, and to the letter.

    I recommend carrying a stopwatch with you during matches. When the point ends, start the watch. At 21 seconds, declare a violation of the continuous play rule. Use the PPS, and declare a default the third time it happens.

    If you hear your opponents utter a peep while the ball is traveling toward you, stop the point and declare a hindrance and claim the point.

    You are entitled to a "prompt" audible or visible out call. If your ball flies over the curtain and lands on the neighboring court and your opponent laughs but does not give you an immediate out audible or visual out call, assume their lack of a call means your ball was in.
     
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  46. sureshs

    sureshs Bionic Poster

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    Is a loud fart considered a hindrance?
     
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  47. woodrow1029

    woodrow1029 Hall of Fame

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    Cindy, it wouldn't really be on the third time it happens. You have to know the difference between time violations and code violations for delay of game. :)
     
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  48. Bobby Jr

    Bobby Jr Legend

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    A guy at my club, who I sometimes play against in doubles mainly, does the exact same thing - first and second serves.

    He's been called on it during interclub many times but just adopts the "I don't know what you're talking about" look - and then continues doing it as normal. His serve isn't really a big weapon so it's no major but it is funny it wont enter his head that all these people calling him on it might have be right.
     
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  49. Timbo's hopeless slice

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    pffft.

    Ok, but I still find the idea of just letting foot faults go because it's rec tennis ludicrous..
     
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  50. tennis tom

    tennis tom Hall of Fame

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    Yes, if it is traveling parallel to the ball as your opponent is hitting it over the net.
     
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