Receiver's partner standing in service box

Discussion in 'Adult League & Tournament Talk' started by AtomicForehand, Sep 20, 2010.

  1. AtomicForehand

    AtomicForehand Hall of Fame

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    Receiver's partner standing in service box??

    I recently played a doubles match in which an interesting situation occurred. One of the opponents was the poor-sportsman/headgame type. One of the (many) ways in which she let us know this about her was that, when I served to her partner in the deuce court, she would straddle the center line so that one of her feet was in the service box in which her partner had to receive serve. At the outset I assumed she was doing it accidentally and informed her that she was standing in the service box.

    "I know," she replied coolly; "I can stand anywhere I want."

    I had never seen this before, and replied, "Really? In the rules it says you can stand in your partner's service box?"

    "I can stand anywhere I damn well please," she snapped again, as if I were slow.

    "You're blocking your partner's view of the ball," I said. "And you're probably gonna get hit."

    "Hit me if you can. If you do you get the point," was the reply.

    "OK, great. If I hit you, we get the point, and you can't cry about getting hit," I answered. That seemed to **** her off. I guess she was trying to intimidate *me*.

    So, not being familiar with this rule, each time I served to her partner I debated whether or not to try to nail her with my serve. (She stood this way every single time, sometimes farther inside the box, sometimes moving in or out of the service box during my motion, obviously trying to distract me. Luckily I am a decent server and was not put off by this at all--I aced her partner twice during the match even with her standing in the box, and probably another 60% of my serves to the partner were unreturnables, so I guess her strategy didn't really work.)

    So my question for all of you is, what if I had hit her? Would I really have gotten the point? Also: 1) Would it have been poor sportsmanship to have deliberately nailed her after the little challenge she issued? 2) Would I have had to have hit only her foot in the service box to win the point, or would tagging her on any part of her body have sufficed, even if that body part were outside the box? 3) Did I do the right thing by failing to rise to her bait and continuing to serve as though she weren't there? 4) Have any of you ever encountered this situation before, and what did you do?

    (As a side note, while I didn't try to hit her with my serve, in the middle of the match I hit a hard volley that struck her in the throat. Quite accidental on my part. But you should have heard her scream! She immediately launched the offending ball over the fence, screaming the F word, then stopped play, storming off the court snarling "I need ice!! ICE!!!!" I apologized, asked if she were OK, and told her I hadn't meant to hit her [which was true--it was a lightning-fast volley], and she screeched, "YES YOU DID!!!" Heh heh. My partner and I just grinned and rolled our eyes, while Poor Sportsman's partner [who was very nice, incidentally] sheepishly apologized and said, "She's fine" as PS stalked away. Guess this wasn't the first time PS has behaved badly while playing with this particular partner...)
     
    Last edited: Sep 20, 2010
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  2. bluefuego

    bluefuego New User

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    I've run into this a few times. I figure, like you said, that person is trying to affect your serve placement, possibly trying to force you to serve out wide. I treat it like a pitcher reclaiming the batter's box and offer up the brush back serve as needed. Same thing if someone comes too far in for my second serve, anywhere close to the service line and they get my first serve screamer instead of my dink to get it in play serve.

    I have hit someone (purely accidental as I was a newbie at the time and had little control) and the point was ours. I haven't actually hit anyone since then now that I "try".

    I believe the rule is if it hits a player before the bounce, it's your point. It's that person's responsibility to get out of the way and not be hit by the ball. Also, I never mention where someone can or cannot stand, I figure it is some possibly strange strategy and try to figure out the point of the configuration. And I don't know if there are any rules on placement on the court outside of the boundaries from which you can serve.

    -Lydia
     
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  3. Z-Man

    Z-Man Professional

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    It's your point if you hit her with a serve in the foot, head, wherever. Allowing the returner's partner to stand in the box is the worst rule in tennis. It should be changed. There is a rule saying you can't intentionally try to distract your opponent, but that's the only reason anyone would ever stand in the box. It's not like the returner's partner can hit the ball. The only exception would be corporate league tennis in which you play let balls and i think either player can return a let.

    If an opponent does this once, i give them the dead fish handshake after the match. If they do it twice, i nail them with a return, which is much easier for me than hitting someone with a serve plus it hurts more because you are at close range and you are more likely to catch them in the upper body. If they step in the box several times, I stop play to deliver a profanity laced psychological deconstruction of the other player.

    Another tip is that if the other player's partner is somewhat reasonable, and you launch into a long argument over whether or not the intent was to distract, the reasonable player will sometimes give you a let. If that fails, and they do it on a second serve, then you should float a serve into play and then immediately call a let yourself under the grounds that they are intentionally trying to distract you. That way, you get a first serve and you also send a message that their cheating will be counterproductive. Tell them to consider this their warning, and that if they make further attempts to distract you during play, you will take the point.

    If this is a social match, never play with the person again. You might consider packing up and leaving the court immediately. If it is a league match, complain to the person's teammates in a very polite and friendly way. Do your best to humiliate the person and let her teammates know that this poor sportsmanship reflects negatively on them. Tell them they seem like such nice people that you are surprised they would associate with a person of such low calibre.
     
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  4. esgee48

    esgee48 Hall of Fame

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    Take a look at this thread. It is the same situation, but you should craefully note that they quote rules that says the 'offending' player cannot be moving during your serve. Most of us are of the opinion 'it is OK to hit the person' since they are asking for it.
    http://tt.tennis-warehouse.com/showthread.php?t=345539
     
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  5. furyballs

    furyballs Rookie

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    Z-Man, I like the way you think. Great advice!

    Another way to look at it would be to take an opportunistic approach. By that I mean to play the point as presented. Obviously with her standing in the service box, she would not be in a good position to cover a poached shot off the return out wide. Right?

    Just play the ball. Don't let your opponents on the other sid of the net get to you. Only the ball can get to you.
    cheers
     
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  6. Panic492

    Panic492 Rookie

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    I love it. While we learned from the other thread that it is legal, I feel that it is bush league. You should have nailed her with serves all night long.:twisted:
     
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  7. esgee48

    esgee48 Hall of Fame

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    I have played in matches where this occurred. Didn't bother me since it prevented the returner from going sharp crosscourt on serves to the T; left the other side open and for easy points 'you go after the person standing in the box.' It is gamesmenship and can't affect you if you ignore it.
     
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  8. Radicalized

    Radicalized Semi-Pro

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    AtomicForehand, you should have and could have nuked her. The "Cold War" is back. This wasn't fine tennis on her part. She was taking up your usable real estate. No easement allowed.

    "From USTA Friend on Court, 2008 Edition (Rules of Tennis), Page 23-24, Part 26. HINDRANCE"

    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. [:razz: :evil:]
    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).

    "Case 5: In doubles, where are the server’s partner and receiver’s partner
    allowed to stand?
    Decision: The server’s partner and the receiver’s partner may take any position
    on their own side of the net, inside or outside the court. However, if a player
    is creating a hindrance to the opponent(s), the hindrance rule should be used."
     
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  9. Radicalized

    Radicalized Semi-Pro

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    Might as well address some of the other issues:

    "From USTA Friend on Court, 2008 Edition (Rules of Tennis), Page 14, Part 15. ORDER OF RECEIVING IN DOUBLES"

    15. ORDER OF RECEIVING IN DOUBLES
    The team which is due to receive in the first game of a set shall decide
    which player shall receive the first point in the game. Similarly, before the
    second game starts, their opponents shall decide which player shall receive
    the first point of that game. The player who was the receiver’s partner for the
    first point of the game shall receive the second point and this rotation shall
    continue until the end of the game and the set.
    After the receiver has returned the ball, either player in a team can hit
    the ball.

    "From USTA Friend on Court, 2008 Edition (Rules of Tennis), Page 19, Part 24. PLAYER LOSES POINT"
    i. The ball in play touches the player or anything that the player is
    wearing or carrying, except the racket

    [However, the above rule would apply first.]

    "From USTA Friend on Court, 2008 Edition (Rules of Tennis), Page 57, THE CODE--HINDRANCE ISSUES." ("Note: The Code is not part of the official ITF Rules of Tennis. Players shall follow the Code in all unofficiated matches. Many of the principles also apply when officials are present. This edition of The Code is an adaptation of the original, which was written by Colonel Nicolas E. Powel.")

    34. Body movement. A player may feint with the body while the ball is in
    play. A player may change position at any time, including while the server is
    tossing the ball. Any other movement or any sound that is made solely to distract
    an opponent, including, but not limited to, waving the arms or racket or
    stamping the feet, is not allowed.

    37. Injury caused by a player. When a player accidentally injures an
    opponent, the opponent suffers the consequences. Consider the situation
    where the server’s racket accidentally strikes the receiver and incapacitates
    the receiver. The receiver is unable to resume play within the time limit. Even
    though the server caused the injury, the server wins the match by retirement.
    On the other hand, when a player deliberately injures an opponent and affects
    the opponent’s ability to play, then the opponent wins the match by default.
    Hitting a ball or throwing a racket in anger is considered a deliberate act.
    ----------
     
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  10. blakesq

    blakesq Professional

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    The rules are clear, you can stand anywhere you want when receiving the ball. The rules are also clear that if a serve hits a player on the receiving team prior to hitting the court (or the net), the server wins the point.


     
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  11. Gemini

    Gemini Hall of Fame

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    If he/she decides to play that game of standing in the active service box then she needs to be prepared to be hit. The active moving in and out of the box during your service motion is an intentional hindrance and is a violation of the rules.
     
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  12. blakesq

    blakesq Professional

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    I think you are wrong, the code says:

    "Body movement. A player may feint with the body while the ball is in
    play. A player may change position at any time, including while the server is
    tossing the ball. Any other movement or any sound that is made solely to distract an opponent, including, but not limited to, waving the arms or racket or stamping the feet, is not allowed."

    thus, feinting in and out of the service box is allowed.


     
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  13. rh310

    rh310 Professional

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    Give us a non-hinderance reason why the receiver's partner would be moving in and out of the service box when the server has started his/her serve.
     
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  14. Nellie

    Nellie Hall of Fame

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    I would advise you not to get so worked up about the returner's partner - any way, you should be looking at the ball during the toss.

    I would, however, groove it down the center line, repeatedly, and take the point if it hit the netman.

    I recall that McEnroe (greatest doubles player ever) would set up at the centerline because he found it discouraged opponents from serving up the T.
     
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  15. Gemini

    Gemini Hall of Fame

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    Fair enough. Once I'm in my motion, I usually don't see what the returner's partner is doing but...

    If someone is bounding in and out of the active box before I start serving, the ball IS NOT in play yet. Therefore, it would be a hinderance because as rh310 pointed out, there's really no other reason for such behavior other than to create an intentional distraction.

    Let's chalk it up to poor sportsmanship....
     
    Last edited: Sep 21, 2010
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  16. blakesq

    blakesq Professional

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    just because YOU don't see a reason, doesn't mean there isn't another reason. one reason that comes to mind, is the person wants to remain active and not be flat footed. another reason is that the person may have want to have his momentum moving him in a particular direction as you are a serving. But, you are right, what you described is something I have never seen on the court, and would be odd.

    one thing I have seen is the following: a person is straddling the service box, one leg is in the box, one is out, and he is rocking from his right leg to his left leg and back. Do you think that is a hindrance? I don't, I think that is within the rules of tennis.

     
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  17. AtomicForehand

    AtomicForehand Hall of Fame

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    Thanks for all the input, guys. It is very helpful (as was the other thread). I am in agreement that the rule needs to be changed--the opposing team should be allowed to stand anywhere EXCEPT in the service box. But since that's not the rule, I really like Z-Man's approach, and the suggestion to say, while claiming the point as a hindrance, "Is this really the way you want to play?" It seems to me that calling out the gamesmanship and refusing to be intimidated or rattled by it is the best way. I just ignored it and still played well, which is probably also a good way.

    In retrospect, I am glad that I served well regardless of her tactics and that I did not try to hit her on purpose. I am also glad to know that I would have been justified in hitting her, either purposely or accidentally, and claiming the point. Part of my doubt was whether she was trying to goad me into doing something either illegal or unsportsmanlike in trying to hit her.

    It was a very satisfying win. And she *did* give me the limp-fish handshake at the end. :grin: She was visibly shaking at the match's conclusion. A real psychotic one, that one. I told my pro about the serving box issue today and he thought I should report her to the league. Is this a good idea?
     
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  18. blakesq

    blakesq Professional

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    Report her to the league for playing according to the rules? talk about bad sportsmanship.

     
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  19. AtomicForehand

    AtomicForehand Hall of Fame

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    My pro felt she was clearly trying to hinder. He said the first time she did it, I should have warned her, second time claimed the point, third time talked to her captain.

    I did none of those things after the initial discussion. She continued to stand in the box and move from side to side or move during my service motion for the entire match. Clearly her only aim was to hinder.

    Also, this was only one of her behaviors that reeked of gamesmanship and unpleasantness. I spared you guys the full list. :)
     
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  20. Gemini

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    You don't have to be moving in and out of the active service box to not be flat-footed. Also, also you can rock back and forth with both your feet remaining and not be flat-footed. The fact that the OP's net opponent was actively moving in and out of the box smacks of an intent to hinder.

    Having one foot in the active service box and the other in the non-active is within the rules and there's nothing wrong with rocking back and forth or side to side. But..once again...actively moving your foot or feet in and out of the active service box? Yes. I think it's a hinderance regardless of the what the rules say. Do I ever call a hinderance? No..I never have because 1.) I'm usually aware that my opponent is "moving" like that and I'll politely make them aware that I know what they're trying to do by stepping off of the line. And 2.) if they continue, with him/her there it increases my margin for winning the point. I'll take the shot if it's offered up.
     
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  21. gameboy

    gameboy Hall of Fame

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    Then you might as well say "match point, game over" after the first point you win. Who cares what the rules say...

    Just because YOU think it is hindrance does not mean it is. The rules are very clear about players moving about during play not being hindrance.

    If they waved their arms during your serve, it is a different story, but just because they move about and you don't like it does not mean that it is against the rules. The fact that you care about it so much will just invite others to try the same mind trick. Just ignore it and play the game.
     
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  22. kylebarendrick

    kylebarendrick Professional

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    As was noted in the other recent thread on this subject, the USTA clarified thids exact case in their Q&A:

    The idea is that since the receiver's partner is not allowed to make contact with the ball, the only reason why they would take one position on the court and then move during the service motion would be to distract the server. This would be an intentional hindrance. This does not conflict with the rule quoted above allowing people to change position at any time, because that rule includes the statement "Any other movement or any sound that is made solely to distract an opponent... is not allowed."
     
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  23. Gemini

    Gemini Hall of Fame

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    Mind tricks? And someone intentionally creating a distraction isn't a mind trick? And I'm not questioning the movement, I'm saying the intent is in violation as noted by the OP.
     
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  24. sphinx780

    sphinx780 Professional

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    Here's what I love about an opponent that stands there.

    Pound that serve up the middle and have the net man pinch the middle at net...no need to poach because there's a 5 foot hindrance to cross court returns and if you miss your serve, you've got a good chance of getting the point as well. Plus, you've reduced straight returns down the alley with any consistency. Take the upper hand on serving all day long.
     
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  25. Gemini

    Gemini Hall of Fame

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    Agreed. I'll take the advantage if given it but I usually, when serving, step off of the line to let the opponent know that I know what's going on. If he or she continues, it's game on.
     
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  26. blakesq

    blakesq Professional

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    Gemini, he is not saying YOU are doing the mind tricks. he is saying that if you let these mind tricks bother you, OTHERS will try to mess with you using mind tricks.

     
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  27. AtomicForehand

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    So do you think it actually thwarted my opponent that I neither took the bait to try to hit her deliberately nor served poorly as a result of her hindrance? I mean, she never changed her tactic, and continued positioning herself in the service box for the entire match. Maybe she didn't even recognize that her gamesmanship was having no effect?
     
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  28. rh310

    rh310 Professional

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    I'm trying to think of any reason for a returner's partner to stand in the service box EXCEPT to hinder the server.

    I'll need to add this to my practice routine. I've been prone in the past to letting crap like that affect my service percentage, and I don't want to give a dweeb the satisfaction of affecting me.
     
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  29. decades

    decades Guest

    how did it work out strategically? were you able to take advantage of her odd positioning?
     
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  30. aceX

    aceX Hall of Fame

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    Hit her with a ball. You'll be doing her a favour. She needs to quit that before she goes against someone who bombs one straight into her face.
     
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  31. AtomicForehand

    AtomicForehand Hall of Fame

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    No, it was simply a neutral. My partner at the net was never able to do anything much about it. The opponent simply moved immediately to a more normal spot as soon as I struck my serve. :-|
     
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  32. sphinx780

    sphinx780 Professional

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    As long as you were serving well, you took advantage of it being there really is no other reason for her to stand there.
     
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