Lesser Known Tennis Rules

Discussion in 'Adult League & Tournament Talk' started by fightfan, Sep 21, 2012.

  1. fightfan

    fightfan New User

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    I thought this could be a thread where we can discuss lesser known tennis rules. I can start this by describing something that just happened to me, and I did not know what the official rule is.

    I served the ball and fell on the court, ultimately rolling over. Fortunately my opponent hit a winner on the return so there wasn't much confusion. However, what is the official USTA rule on an incident like that?

    1. Can my opponent call a hindrance and win the point immediately?
    2. Can my opponent call a let immediately?
    3. What happens if he is distracted and hits an error? What if he hits a sitter that I subsequently put away?
    4. Can I call a let or fault? I think if a ball flies out of your pocket or a hat falls off your head you can call a let the first time and lose the point outright the 2nd time.
    5. Something else?

    Also, there is probably some type of official USTA rule, but has anyone seen this happen before in a competitive environment? If so, did they follow the USTA rules or do something else? I guess my biggest concern in terms of fair play is addressing the distraction a returner has and accidentally hitting an error or sitter that loses him the point. That doesn't seem right, but who knows?!
     
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  2. BHiC

    BHiC Rookie

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    To answer your question, if someone falls, then the point is continued. If the person had missed the shot, it would have been your point, and no hindrance/let could have been called. A hindrance cannot be called for falling down or for a racquet slipping out of someone's hand. Also, if a ball falls out of your pocket, or your hat falls off, your opponent must call the let. You cannot call a let because a ball falls out of your pocket. You are correct though that it is a let the first time, but then you lose a point the second time the ball/hat falls.

    This had happened to me several times, I have both fallen down, gotten back up and won the point, and also lost points because I slipped and fell.
     
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  3. gmatheis

    gmatheis Hall of Fame

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    10 chars .....
     
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  4. blakesq

    blakesq Professional

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    a lesser known, and occasionally hotly contested rule: any player (other than the server) can move at any time to any part of the court on their side of the net. Thus, in doubles, the server's partner can move, just as the reciever's partner can move, even during the server's service motion.
     
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  5. kylebarendrick

    kylebarendrick Professional

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    ...unless that movement is solely for the purpose of distracting the server.
     
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  6. Cindysphinx

    Cindysphinx G.O.A.T.

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    If any player hears a net cord, that's it. It doesn't matter whether anyone else hears it.

    Which is why I don't like it when my partners say, "Did anyone hear a let?" If you heard a let, call it. If not, say nothing.
     
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  7. fightfan

    fightfan New User

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    Thanks for the clarifications BHiC and gmatheis! I guess falling is a fairly black and white issue. I also didn't know that only your opponent could call a let on your flying hat or ball problem. Good stuff everyone, keep those other rules coming!
     
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  8. tenniscasey

    tenniscasey Semi-Pro

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    There's dissent in the rec group I play in as to whether a server can call his own let.

    I say yes, the server can, under the premise that any player can call a service let. But I'm in the minority.
     
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  9. North

    North Professional

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    Actually, the way it is worded does not require that the purpose is to distract. It is rule 26 & the comment on it (26.1) says that the hindering act is deliberate in that "the player did what the player intended to do, even if the result was unintended". I like that it is put that way because it just speaks to the results of an action rather than trying to figure what someone's motive was.

    Edit: The Code certainly does make it clear that things done for the sole purpose of distracting an opponent constitute a hindrance. I think the rule as written allows addressing situations where attempts to distract are not obvious. I don't see hindrances called very often but I do see a lot of people getting angry & frustrated at hindrances they do not call.
     
    Last edited: Sep 22, 2012
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  10. North

    North Professional

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    The Code (#26) in the rule book says that any player can call a service let, including the server. You just have to call it soon enough so you can 't get two bites at the apple.
     
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  11. jswinf

    jswinf Professional

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    So the server would have to call it before (or pretty much simultaneous with) the returner strikes the ball, right? If the returner rips an outright winner and the server says, "Uh, that serve was a let" there's potential for abuse.

    It's not like the server can call a let to avoid a fault because if it doesn't land in the box it's a fault whether it grazed the net or not.

    Kind of interesting, you tend not to think of a server calling a let serve, but I've certainly hit some serves and thought I heard a net tick when nobody said anything. I find that situation easier to "just go ahead and play it" than if I hit a serve a foot long and back comes a return with no call.
     
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  12. jswinf

    jswinf Professional

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    How about if the player, while falling down, is screaming "Owie, son-of-a-*****) or such? I imagine the vocalization could be a hindrance.

    And there are all kinds of falls. What if they fall in a "serious" way like just collapsing in a heap or driving their head into the net post a la James Blake? Of course, talking about the rules for a competitive match these scenarios don't really apply...(but what if the surviving player was match point down and missed his shot, lost to a dead man.) :cry:

    Oh, I guess Blake would've lost the point for touching the net post before the point was over.
     
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  13. North

    North Professional

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    Yep. Best thing if you hear (or see) a service let is to call it immediately to minimize the likelihood of arguing over the timing of the call.
     
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  14. HunterST

    HunterST Hall of Fame

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    Little known rule: If an opponent comes onto your side of the court, you can legal break his kneecaps.
     
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  15. r2473

    r2473 Legend

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    It is perfectly legal to grab a burger after the first set.

    It is not legal to grab a hotdog.
     
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  16. uk_skippy

    uk_skippy Hall of Fame

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    How many people can answer this Q (correctly)?

    I serve a 1st serve fault, and my opponent breaks a string while returning it?

    What's my next serve? Another 1st serve, or a 2nd serve?
     
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  17. amorris525

    amorris525 Rookie

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    By the book it is a second serve. Most reasonable players would just tell the server to take two.
     
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  18. Fusker

    Fusker Rookie

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    I would say first serve since your opponent caused the delay. I'd give you the first serve anyway if I was the returner even if I'm wrong. ;)

    Here are a few rules that seem to be little known from the guys I play:

    1. I can ask the opponent for their view of a shot they hit where they clearly had a better view than I did. And if they saw it out, they should say so when asked. Yet in years of playing, I have only ever had a handful admit their shot was out. The response is almost always, "I didn't see it" or worse, "It's your call."

    2. Win the toss - and "defer." I almost never do it just because I get tired of explaining what it means.
     
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  19. Fusker

    Fusker Rookie

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    #19
  20. gmatheis

    gmatheis Hall of Fame

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    nope, by the book it's a first serve.
     
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  21. tenniscasey

    tenniscasey Semi-Pro

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    Actually, without looking at Friend of Court or any other links, I'd think it depends - if he keeps on playing with the same racket, so there's no delay, second serve. If he trades out equipment, first serve.
     
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  22. Big_Dangerous

    Big_Dangerous Legend

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    That's almost as infuriating as jackasses who offer to play a let on the basis of not seeing the ball, or claiming that the lights made it tough on them... I also hate it when on a close call they ask me for my opinion. As if I'm going to call my own shot that's relatively close out...

    I'm wondering about the reaching over the net rule. That one I'm not to clear on. I know you can't touch any part of the net until or unless the ball double bounces or is out, but what about reaching over the net. I played a guy a few weeks ago who would play super aggressively at the net. Like he was literally a few inches away from the net, really hugging that *****. I'm pretty sure he reached over a few times. I ended up just lobbing him and won the match in straights.
     
    Last edited: Sep 24, 2012
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  23. jswinf

    jswinf Professional

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    ^^^Reaching over the net is one of those things a player has to call on themselves, like playing a ball after a second bounce. You can't call it against them. As we know, many players aren't good at calling things against themselves. You can gripe about it, and maybe they won't do it again...

    Speaking of calling things on yourself, if you hit a shot that was close but you're sure it was out and your opponent asks your opinion, say it was out! Actually you should do this without being asked, with the exception that you can't call your own first serve out. Of course, many players aren't good at calling things against themselves...:)
     
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  24. NTRPolice

    NTRPolice Semi-Pro

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    I thought it was a "rule" or "code" that if if they defer the call to you that they have to accept whatever you say? Usually if they ask me what I thought I really think the ball was out, or barely in. When I hit a bad shot I can almost feel it and know its going out/wide and im more surprised when the ball goes in instead of going out. I've had people ask me before and I usually say "I'll believe you if you call it out." and most people dont take that the wrong way.

    I've found more people calling good balls as out and being 100% sure of the call than people who are 50% sure and ask/trust their opponent. Whenever someone asks me about what I thought on a ball that I hit I rarely do think that ball went in. I've never been asked my opinion on a line call for a ball that I hit that was obviously in.

    I dont like it when people complain about me playing long serves back over the net because these people are the same ones who want to play a let for a ball they called out but later reversed. I would rather those people just "cheat" and not offer a ridiculous "courtesy let" for a point that they should have lost according to the rules of tennis.

    Of course the degree on which I will play a long serve varies on the speed of the serve and how hard I hit it over the net.
     
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  25. PhrygianDominant

    PhrygianDominant Hall of Fame

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    I am fairly certain you are allowed to reach over the net. Touching is a foul, but you can cross the net with arm or racquet as long as you do not touch it.

    The old British Dude (OBD) on Eurosport once did this to John McEnroe at Wimbledon:

    McEnroe hit a dropshot/slice with so much backspin that after bouncing on OBD's side of the net returned to his own. OBD was prepared however, and reached over the net with his racquet, and hit the ball into McEnroe's side of the net. Point OBD. McEnroe was not amused.

    EDIT: I don't know OBD's name, but he comments on Eurosport International all the time, I am too lazy to google it. I summarized his account of that anecdote in the post above. Taken from some of his commentary.

    EDIT: after googling I am not sure I recounted that story right. If the OBD in question was David Mercer, he may have been talking about a match he officiated, rather than played, in which case the opponent remains a mystery. However, the point about the net stands.
     
    Last edited: Sep 25, 2012
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  26. NTRPolice

    NTRPolice Semi-Pro

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    I believe you can only reach over the net and play the ball on the opposite side if the ball has already come to your side of the court. A super spin shot close to the net does have the ability to bounce on your side, then spin back to their side. If you do not touch the ball, you lose the point. You would then have to reach over, but not touch the net, touch the ball with your racket and the ball has to land in the court.




    Another little known rule in tennis: Your ball does not have to clear the net for you to score a point. You can go around the net as low as you'd like provided you do not hit any permanent fixtures.

    In the case above, its possible for the spin to pull the ball way wide and outside of the net post. It's then legit to hit the ball into the court without going over the net itself provided the ball lands in play.

    There is no rule that requires the ball to go "over" the net, just restrictions that the ball cannot go "through" the net (broken net tape stitching; hole in the net; squeezing through the net and the net post) ect. The ball can definitely go around the net.
     
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  27. stapletonj

    stapletonj Semi-Pro

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    The rule, put quite simply, is this.

    You CANNOT reachover the net AT ANY TIME, before, during or after contact with the ball, with one exception.

    In the proverbial super backspin drop shot which hits, bounces, and comes back over to the other players side before bouncing the second time, you CAN and MUST reach over and at least touch the ball (WITHOUT TOUCHING THE NET) before it bounses the second time.
     
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  28. McLovin

    McLovin Hall of Fame

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    Bolded part is 100% totally incorrect. You are allowed to 'follow through' over the net, provided contact with the ball happened on your side of the net. Period. Obviously, if you touch the net, or your racquet touches the ground on the other side of the court before the point is over, you lose the point.

    But, you are correct in 'reaching over' if the ball bounced on your side & spun back over onto your opponent's side of the net.
     
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  29. McLovin

    McLovin Hall of Fame

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    Here's one for you (this happened to me & I looked the answer up, BTW):

    Your 1st serve was a fault, but the opponent did not clear the ball from the court and it is sitting inside the lines of play. During the point, your shot hits the ball on the court, and both balls go flying into the air. Your opponent unknowingly plays the wrong ball & hits a winner. Who's point is it?
     
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  30. Cindysphinx

    Cindysphinx G.O.A.T.

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    The Code:

    "Requesting opponent’s help. When an opponent’s opinion is requested and
    the opponent gives a positive opinion, it must be accepted. If neither player has an opinion, the ball is considered good. Aid from an opponent is available only on a call that ends a point."

    Really, it isn't that complicated. If you saw it out, say so. If you saw it in, say so. If you aren't sure, say so, which means it was good.

    No need to worry about how the ball came off your racket or any of that. Just say what you saw.
     
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  31. Fusker

    Fusker Rookie

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    Exactly - anything other than that approach is gamesmanship, or worse, cheating.
     
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  32. spot

    spot Hall of Fame

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    You said 2 different things in one sentence so lets split them out.

    This is fine if unless you meant that you will play long serves if they are going slow and you think that you can tee off on them. Then you in a grey area between cheating and gamesmanship. But props to you if you think that you play more serves out the harder they are hit.

    This is flat out cheating. You can't decide whether to call a serve out based on how well you make contact.
     
    Last edited: Sep 25, 2012
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  33. NTRPolice

    NTRPolice Semi-Pro

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    You are a clown.

    Firstly: You double quoted the same thing, but then offered two responses.

    Secondly: When a ball comes over the net at 100 mph and it "looks" like its going 1 ft. long you are going to send the ball back over the net just out of habit. It's too close to just let it go and the ball is too fast to to make a call before your racket hits it. When you play against someone with a 100+ mph serve you'll know exactly what im talking about.

    Thirdly: We're not talking about me drilling balls into the net person off a 50 mph serve that went a ft. long and then trying to claim the point.


    I know you're trying to look smart my illustrating me as a cheater but its clear you have no idea what im talking about. There is no reason to hit a ball that's going 50 mph and is 1 ft. long back over the net. There is plenty of reason to play a 100+ ball that is 1 ft. long back over the net because that ball is coming over so fast that you cant possibly expect to let it go and make the call every single time.

    That's a common practice in high level tennis. I want to be clear that im not talking about drilling a 50 mph 1 ft. long serve and then calling the ball good for a point... im talking about returning a 1 ft. long fast serve (100+ mph) back over and then calling the ball long is common practice and rarely abused.

    You keep talking about "i'll know someday" but every post you write tells me otherwise.
     
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  34. spot

    spot Hall of Fame

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    You need to read more closely. You said 2 very different things. And I did edit before you responded to say that if you were saying that you were playing more serves the harder than they were hit then good for you. It simply wasn't clear from your quote which one you were talking about. There are certainly people who are more willing to play a first serve if they get a ball that they like which is in a grey area between cheating and gamesmanship. Choosing whether to play a ball based on how hard you hit it back over the net is unquestionably cheating.
     
    Last edited: Sep 25, 2012
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  35. Big_Dangerous

    Big_Dangerous Legend

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    It doesn't say you have to offer an opinion or that if you think it's out you have to say anything. Also, the point is that when you are across the net you really don't have the best vantage point to make a call. There have been plenty of times where I've thought shots I hit were in, and yet were called out, especially along the baseline.
     
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  36. Big_Dangerous

    Big_Dangerous Legend

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    It's your point because it was his responsibility to clear the ball and he had the opportunity to, but he declined.

    There's no let for that unless a ball from an adjacent court came into your court during a point in play, but in that case someone has to call a let immediately. Let's say during a point in play, a ball rolls into your opponent's side of the court. You both just keep playing and then your opponent makes an error. Your opponent cannot then claim a let, because he chose to play the point.
     
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  37. Big_Dangerous

    Big_Dangerous Legend

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    How come I've seen pro matches where players have hit the net post and it bounces off and lands in, and they call it good?
     
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  38. NTRPolice

    NTRPolice Semi-Pro

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    If its doubles, its good.

    If its singles, its a dead ball and a loss of point provided singles sticks are being used (and in a "pro match" they would be).

    What you bolded was not related to your question. What you bolded was about the ball going around the net, lower than the height of the net, which is a good ball.

    The ball cannot squeeze through a hole in the net or the side of the net between the net and the net post.
     
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  39. blakesq

    blakesq Professional

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    Server's point as soon as the ball hits the ball on the court. It is receiver's responsibility to clear balls on his side of the net.

     
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  40. spot

    spot Hall of Fame

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    Here is a singles match at the US Open where Mayer hit the post and the ball is good.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S-C0KZEG5Z0
     
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  41. Fusker

    Fusker Rookie

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    13. Player calls own shots out. With the exception of the first serve, a player
    should call out the player’s own shots if the player clearly sees the ball out regardless of whether requested to do so by an opponent. The prime objective in making calls is accuracy. All players should cooperate to attain this objective.


    As far as vantage point goes, most players would only ask for help if the opponent clearly has a better view. For example, you hit a volley crosscourt - I scramble and rip a crosscourt passing shot attempt that in the process pulls me further off the court. You get there and bunt a volley down the line. It's traveling at a slow speed and you're 7 feet away from it, standing still, and have a clear view that it lands two inches out. I'm 60 feet away, at the worst possible angle, my head is bouncing as a run back into the play.

    I ask for help on the call. You say...???
     
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  42. 8F93W5

    8F93W5 Rookie

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    I didn't read ahead. Maybe someone answered. You didn't say if the opponent wants a racquet change or not. Maybe he/she wants to use the same racquet hoping you'll double fault or even if you don't, there's still a chance to win the point using a racquet with a broken string.
    But by rule, you get a first serve if the opponent wants to change racquets between serves.
    But how about when it's reversed? I was the returner and the server broke a string on first serve. This was a league match. AND the doofus didn't bring two racquets on court with him. He had to go to his car (which is against the rules, you can't leave the court for that) So anyway, of course I agree that he can go get a new racquet. It's about a 5 minute walk. Then he wants warm up serves! in the middle of a match! Then he wants a first serve. I knew the rule, but he got another first serve anyway.
     
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  43. NTRPolice

    NTRPolice Semi-Pro

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    You're not the sharpest twig on the tree so ill explain...

    There are no singles sticks because the net is setup for singles and therefore the ball is considered good when it struck the net post.

    1) Look for singles sticks (none present)
    2) Look at net post location (singles sticks not needed)
    3) If you saw either of those you could have answered your own question, but you didnt because you were so much in a hurry to prove me wrong.
     
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  44. spot

    spot Hall of Fame

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    You are so sensitive. I never said you were wrong- I was just posting an example from the most recent US open where the ball hit the post and was good. I just thought that people would like seeing an example.
     
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  45. McLovin

    McLovin Hall of Fame

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    Original Question:
    Your 1st serve was a fault, but the opponent did not clear the ball from the court and it is sitting inside the lines of play. During the point, your shot hits the ball on the court, and both balls go flying into the air. Your opponent unknowingly plays the wrong ball & hits a winner. Who's point is it?​

    Incorrect.

    Incorrect.

    The answer is: You play a let (see rule 25): http://assets.usta.com/assets/1/UST...A/Document Assets/2007/02/09/doc_13_16051.pdf

    Additionally, if it is clear the opponent hit the correct ball, they win the point.
     
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  46. woodrow1029

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    Well, if it's a singles match using singles sticks, and the ball goes through between the net post and the net (if there's a gap big enough) without hitting either, then it is a good ball.
     
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  47. McLovin

    McLovin Hall of Fame

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    Oh, and for the record, I thought the same as both of you, but was proven wrong when I got home & looked it up. Good thing it was a fun match & not a USTA league or tournament match.
     
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  48. NTRPolice

    NTRPolice Semi-Pro

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    Not sensitive. You have just proven over time that you're more concerned with proving me wrong than checking yourself first and then you always have to come back and play it off like you were trying to "help".

    You know, like the time you tried to discredit me by claiming I would measure Nadals serve at 180 mph using the FPS method and how, you, yourself, measured 5 videos on Youtube using "my method" and got them all to go 180 mph.



    And to clarify: You quoted me and posted a video of what would seemingly contradict what I said.
     
    Last edited: Sep 25, 2012
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  49. McLovin

    McLovin Hall of Fame

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    Correct. See the same rule I quoted above when hitting another ball on the court. Effectively, it says a return is 'Good' if:
    d. The ball passes under the net cord between the singles stick and the adjacent net post without touching either net, net cord or net post and hits the ground in the correct court​
     
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  50. Mongolmike

    Mongolmike Professional

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    I didn't know this was a "self call". I don't hug the net, but a social friend does... nobody ever chastizes him for hanging over the net and attacking balls that probably did not clear the net... he's an older guy, nice, quirky, we just laugh and let it go.... there is zero % chance guys like him would call it on themselves.
     
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