# Lets for balls on court?

Discussion in 'Adult League & Tournament Talk' started by Cindysphinx, Jan 31, 2010.

1. ### CindysphinxG.O.A.T.

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I had a question come up today. It was a clinic, four and a pro.

We were playing out points, and there were balls on the court near the curtains. There was also a lesson going on next door, with balls sprayed onto our court from time to time.

In the middle of a point, I saw a ball rolling around on our court behind my two opponents. I called a let immediately so no one would get hurt.

The pro said my let call was incorrect. He said that since the ball had been there all along, no player could call a let for that ball. My let call was wrong, so we should lose the point, he thought.

Now, this was clinic and so was a bit unrealistic because none of us plays matches with 20 balls along the side and back curtains. Further complicating matters is that I had no idea what caused that ball to start moving. I don't think my opponent struck the curtain to move it or kicked it, so it is possible it rolled over from the adjacent court (or it was along our side curtain and player on adjacent court caused it to roll).

I was kind of puzzled by this. I thought my opponents could not call a let for a ball they allowed to sit on their court (or a ball that fell out of their pocket). But I thought I could always call a let for a ball rolling onto my opponents' court regardless of where the ball came from.

Here's the only thing I could find in the Code, which doesn't really address this situation.

2. ### borg number oneLegend

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If it rolled on the court during the point, I see no problem in calling a let. That's the key fact. Did it roll there DURING the point or was it already there? If it's already there, you have to ask that it be moved before the point starts before calling it a let. Otherwise, you can't call it only once the point starts, otherwise a player would be able to call a let if he or she thought they were about to lose a point. So from a policy standpoint, it would be unfair to allow that.

If a ball rolls onto a court during a point, it can be very distracting AND dangerous. How do you know it will stop at a spot that is "tucked away" so the player will not roll a ankle? Plus, visually, it can be very distracting mid-swing. Hence, the difference there vs. allowing a ball to just sit there AND THEN calling a let. Sounds like the pro was trying to downplay all the balls spraying around perhaps. In U.S.T.A. tournaments, for example, this has always been how players treat that distinction between a rolling ball vs. a ball that was already on a court.

3. ### Steady EddyHall of Fame

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The most important thing is that no one gets hurt. Especially in points played in a clinic. The pro didn't know that the ball rolled on the court and just assumed it was there all along (most likely this is what happened). So he thought he'd put in his 2 cents about "not calling lets for balls already there". The whole thing is so different from playing real points that I don't think that rule stands. He probably thought he was helping and teaching something. But if there's any doubt that someone might get hurt by a stray ball, stop play. That's what you did, and that was the right decision.

4. ### CindysphinxG.O.A.T.

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Borg, when you say "on court," do you mean balls that are in the field of play such that someone might step on them? Or do you mean balls that are up against the curtain?

I ask because we are always very careful not to start points if there are balls hanging around behind the baseline, but balls all the way up against the curtain are left.

I guess I can say for sure that the ball, wherever it came from, was not in that spot when I noticed it. If that makes sense . . .

5. ### borg number oneLegend

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Cindysphinx, if it wasn't there before, it had to have rolled there from elsewhere. So, you called a let to prevent an injury because you suddenly noticed it and wanted to prevent an injury, which as Steady Eddy points out is the right thing to do.

As far as balls "up against a curtain", BE VERY CAREFUL. I'd pick those up as well (but I'm picky). Here's the reason, imagine going way back for a deep ball and getting near that curtain. Then, picture someone stepping on that ball, suddenly and rolling an ankle or breaking something. It's not worth the risk in my opinion. I know that if I'm playing, I sometimes go all the way back to the curtain, so I don't want balls even just under the curtain. Just a suggestion, but it sounds like you did the right thing.

6. ### blakesqProfessional

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I agree with Borg. Please note, if the ball is already on the court, and you decide to leave it there, and it gets kicked, or pushed by the net, or curtain, and starts rolling, you should not call a let. If a ball is in play, and hits a ball that you decided to leave on the court, then, the point is the opponent's.

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I believe that Let calls are suppose to be used diplomatically as in that they are called for reasons that are in the sportsmanship and fairness of maintaining competitive play. As mentioned this is not something that should benefit one side more than the other when used.

As for stationary balls at the back fence or net, if they are knocked or blown into the play area and have the potential to effect play from that point forward then a Let should be called.

8. ### CindysphinxG.O.A.T.

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OK, where did I get this idea that I can call a let for a ball rolling around on my opponents' court but not if it is on my court (assuming we're talking about a ball that was already there).

So if opponents leave a ball on their court against the back fence and the wind blows it onto their court during play, can anyone call a let?

Where is the darn rule that covers this? There must be one somewhere . . . .

9. ### CindysphinxG.O.A.T.

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Say my opponent hits a fault for first serve. Ball comes to rest along side curtain. I am not allowed to go clear that ball between first and second serve, per the Code. Same thing for a fault that comes to rest along the back curtain.

Next serve starts the point. During this point, people on adjacent court kick the side curtain, so that ball starts rolling. Are we really saying no one can call a let for that ball that is now rolling slowly across my opponents' court? I can't call it even if I do so promptly?

Anyway, I found this in the Rules:

10. ### Steady EddyHall of Fame

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^^So the ball wasn't moving before the point, but got nudged during the point? To me it's totally ok to call a let. I can see that if a ball is several feet from the curtain at the start of the point, and when the rally starts going against a team, they suddenly don't like that ball and call a let, that seems sleazy. But in your scenario, the ball wasn't moving at first, but now it is, then you should call a let. Not just because it's distracting, but because you don't want your opponents to get injured. They wouldn't object. You're doing them a favor.

11. ### spotHall of Fame

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Cindy- I think that you get the idea because if a players hat falls off then you are allowed to call a let, but a player is not allowed to call a let if their own hat falls off.

12. ### CindysphinxG.O.A.T.

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Yeah, I guess so.

Is it wrong, then?

13. ### blakesqProfessional

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I thought a hat falling off was a hindrance, not a let.

14. ### CindysphinxG.O.A.T.

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A hat falling off would give you one of two results.

If your hat falls off, you can't call a hindrance or a let. I, on the other hand, could call a let due to the hindrance of your hat being on the court and distracting me.

I cannot claim the type of hindrance you can claim when the opponent talks during your shot and distracts you.

So I guess there are two types of hindrance. Oy.

15. ### OrangePowerHall of Fame

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We can nitpick about the exact language used in the code and try to analyze it to death, but I think the intent is pretty clear:

You cannot call a let for something that (1) you directly caused, or (2) was a predictable result of something in your power to control.

I would apply this as follows:

If the opponents leave a ball where I suspect it would interfere with the point, and then it does, then they do not get a let. (Actually in this case I would probably ask them to clear it before the point starts, but of course they could refuse.)

But if the opponents leave a ball on their side of the court in a place where I would not reasonably expect the ball to interfere with the point (eg right along the back fence), but for some unpredictable reason it does end up moving (strong gust of wind, someone on adjacent court bumps the fence), then I would call a let.

So yes there is some judgement involved, but no set of rules governing human behavior has even been written that does not involve some degree of judgement.

16. ### blakesqProfessional

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Cindy, You are right, there are two types of hindrances:

"26. HINDRANCE
If a player is hindered in playing the point by a deliberate act of the opponent(
s), the player shall win the point.
However, the point shall be replayed if a player is hindered in playing the
point by either an unintentional act of the opponent(s), or something outside
the player’s own control (not including a permanent fixture)."

I remember recently, Roddick was playing and a ball fell out of his pocket during a point, and he was called with a hindrance, and a let was played. It happened again during the match, and he was assesed a loss of point. I wonder if the same happens during a non-officiated match. If your hat falls off once, your opponents get a let. if it falls off twice, you lose a point?

Last edited: Feb 1, 2010
17. ### Racer41cSemi-Pro

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I agree with blake who agrees with borg.

18. ### CindysphinxG.O.A.T.

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Blake,

If my hat falls off in a USTA unofficiated match, I cannot call a let. I don't get a second bite at the apple.

I imagine I could pick it up mid-point, and I imagine my opponents could have picked up that ball without there being a problem.

19. ### JavierLWHall of Fame

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We need Woodrow for this one, it's not all that cut and dry.

All points are supposedly played in good faith.

So the issue becomes when you do not even know or notice where this ball came from. You're just noticing a extra ball is rolling around (assuming that it is indeed rolling around and has become a danger), and you're bound to call let. You will not continue play if you have any sense.

But after you review all the forensic evidence, and photos and get a detailed interview from the ball itself about all of it's travels and whereabouts, then you determine that the player (who was acting in good faith) was wrong because they called let on the wrong ball?

Im not sure that's the same thing as when a player chooses to just leave a ball that's obviously in the way of everyone and decides to play on. (which I know doesnt have to be any specific player, if NOBODY says anything before the point starts, then NOBODY has a right to call let anymore while it's going on, since ANYONE can request a ball be removed from the playing area)

20. ### spotHall of Fame

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I think if you see a ball on the other side of the court and you believe that your opponents could be injured by it, you should call a let. FOr the most part I think people would be far happier that you called the let unless your team was barely alive in the point. If your opponents get pissed at you for it then you know next time to let them tear up their ankle.

21. ### blakesqProfessional

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I edited my previous post, it was unclear. If your hat falls off, you opponent can call a hindrance, and he gets a let. But what if you hat falls off a second time? A let again, or does your opponent get a point?

22. ### equinoxHall of Fame

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Generally you can't call a let on something you deliberately caused to happen.

Ok, cindy was both right and wrong in calling a let. she did the sensible thing to avoid possible injury to the players. In a social matches i've called lets for similar reasons. in comp i'm much more forgiving of balls crossing behind / near my baseline. I don't call my oppositions side. no arguments that way, no gamesmanship accusations.

imho anyone can call a let for a ball which is moving on the court. With certain previsions,

1. The ball wasn't on the court when the point started. once the point has started it becomes part of the court.
2. The ball hasn't stopped rolling. A call must be made in a timely fashion, not several shots later when the ball has come to rest.

I make it a habit to clear or pocket my partners serves 1st serves from the net area. Saves me from tripping/kicking over them when poaching.

23. ### PatrickBRookie

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Friend at Court 2010 doesn't say that, in a self-officiated match, you can claim the point:

In Chaired matches, however, the story is different:

24. ### CindysphinxG.O.A.T.

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Patrick,

Two questions:

1. Do you agree with the pro that my calling a let upon seeing a ball rolling on opponents' court results in my loss of point?

2. In an unofficiated match, do you agree that an opponent's hat can fall off repeatedly and I have no remedy for this and am limited to calling prompt lets?

25. ### jswinfProfessional

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1. Going back to the original post, a clinic's a clinic and a match is a match, without a bunch of balls laying around. Sounds like the pro was wanting to make a point about not calling unnecessary lets, but he probably didn't see the ball rolling. If a player took a couple of steps back and stepped on a ball they couldn't see and sprained or broke their ankle, the pro might have felt differently, especially if the player's day job was personal injury attorney.

2. Guarding against injury is always a priority.

3. You were a player and you were distracted by seeing a rolling ball. Sounds like grounds for a let right there.

4. Did any of the participants have geeky teenaged sons hanging around? I could imagine Garth installing some sort of self-propelling device in a ball and using a remote controller to make it scoot around.

26. ### Dave MHall of Fame

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1, in the scnario you were in i'd of done it too but in real terms i'd accept loosing the point because you have to take care of your side of the court, i dont think you have any call over the other side of the net.In our club sessions i'll stop play/replay a point if it happens as i know the people and even when playing sets are just there for the fun of it. If in a match my opponent just left a ball there that they could stand on then that's their choice.
2) I think after a second "offence" you can claim a point.

27. ### PatrickBRookie

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No. If there's a ball rolling onto their court, particularly if it was something that couldn't have been anticipated before the point began, you can reasonably claim a let there.

For unofficiated matches, Friend at Court doesn't give you an explicit remedy like it does for chaired matches. As I quoted above - it says the opponent is entitled to a let, but note that it doesn't forbid the opponent from claiming a deliberate hindrance, either, if you want to get technical.

IMO, you would be within your rights to warn your opponent after the first occurrence that they're responsible for such things and that you are going to claim the point for a deliberate hindrance if it keeps happening in the future.

Woodrow, would you care to share your thoughts/insights on this matter?

28. ### mirnyifanNew User

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I was in a sanctioned USTA match a couple of years ago where circumstances led me to inquire about this "let" rule on the TW forum. The title of the thread was "Rule Violation or Smart Call."

It was explained to me that tennis is a game of sportsmanship and fair play. If a ball rolls onto the court then any one of the players has the "right" to call a let. It was also impressed upon me that a "let" should always be called in this instance. By INTENTIONALLY not calling a "let" someone is attempting to gain an advantage by a means which is unsportsmanlike.