Rude to Return Out Service Ball to Server Especially When It's Obviously a Fault?

Discussion in 'Adult League & Tournament Talk' started by USS Tang, Mar 2, 2013.

  1. USS Tang

    USS Tang Rookie

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    One guy in our league when receiving always does this. The serve is two feet behind the service line and, instead of letting it go or hitting it into the bottom of the net, he intentionally takes a leisurely practice swing and sends the ball straight back to the server. Two things happen: (1) the server's second service motion is disrupted, or (2) the ball bangs around behind him and he has to wait for it to stop. My solution is to play a let and take another first serve when this happens. Of course, if it's a close serve, you give him the benefit of the doubt for returning it. Anybody have a different take on the subject?
     
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  2. gameboy

    gameboy Hall of Fame

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    First, unless the server begins his second serve even before the ball lands on the other side, I don't know how it can "interfere" with his service motion.

    Second, if he lets it go, it will rattle around behind the returner and you still have to wait for it to stop. You MIGHT save half a second or so, but is that even worth discussing?

    At least if the return is right at the server, he can catch it and not have to waste time retrieving the ball before the next point.
     
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  3. NumbersGuy

    NumbersGuy Rookie

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    From The Code:

    28. Obvious faults. A player shall not put into play or hit over the net an obvious fault. To do so constitutes rudeness and may even be a form of gamesmanship.
     
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  4. mikeler

    mikeler G.O.A.T.

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    The Code says you are not supposed to return obviously out serves. The interpretation of "obvious" is up to the individual player.
     
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  5. Big_Dangerous

    Big_Dangerous Legend

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    And the other issue is that sometimes people try to go for way to much on their serve and end up missing it long by several feet. So when you've got a ball that's hit hard and well out of the service box coming at you, sometimes all you can do to protect you self is just block it back. However, if it goes over the net is that considered rude? I'd say missing a first serve by that much margin that's heading directly for you opponent is quite rude, no?

    :)
     
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  6. stapletonj

    stapletonj Semi-Pro

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    Just my take.

    1. Anybody who is in their 2nd service motion that fast is trying to "quick serve" the receiver and is a much more blatant type of gamesmanship than that complainied of here.

    2. Taking a "full cut" service return at an obviously out serve is obviously :

    a. practicing gamesmanship, (intimidation attempt)

    b. not playing in the spirit of the game (practicing - kind of like in golf if you were on the green waiting to putt and you dropped another ball next to yours and hit it right before you hit your putt), and

    c. could well be setting the server up for the "server stops, receiver smacks one, says nothing if goes in for a winner, says fault if the return does not", hooking.

    3. Merely blocking or "bunting" the ball back to the server, or even the server's side of the court should not be considered a bad thing unless the server verbally objects. If the server objects, I might get just miffed enough to let them go to the back fence and let retrieving the balls be his problem. (I know, I know, that's not in the Code, but neither is being a prissy server)
     
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  7. tennis tom

    tennis tom Hall of Fame

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    The receiver should catch an out serve, hit it into the net or let it roll to the fence. Sometimes the serve is so close to the line and so fast there is not enough time for the nervous system to determine that the serve was long until after the return attempt was made and to pull the arm back. But there is time to hit the ball with control back to the server, hopefully without him fumbling it, or into the corner with the ball staying there. If the ball needs to be retrieved by the server or if it takes an inordinate amount of time for the errantly returned ball to come to a harmless rest, then the server should be offered two.

    He can award himself two without starting a range war, the returners should offer the two. If they don't they are uncouth, not knowing the etiquette of the sport. If it's a friendly match, the server should not blast another big first serve in, but spin it in. The receiver should not blast a winner off this point starter first serve.

    Catch it, hit it into the net or let it roll back to the fence so you don't have to give them a first serve and look like an oaf. Letting it roll back to the fence is my least favorite because it takes longer and can ricochet off a fence post or poorly placed concrete stop. Catching it is the best because it take up the least time and hitting it to the net is ok too because you can keep your eye on it. But you should not hit it so that it touches the net because if a ball in play hits the net it can become dislodged and roll around causing a distraction or injury and you can't claim a let for this since it you were the cause for it by not properly securing the ball.

    All this can be learned like any other shot with some practice and makes the game move better making it more enjoyable for everyone.
     
    Last edited: Mar 3, 2013
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  8. stapletonj

    stapletonj Semi-Pro

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    I basically agree, tom, but I still think the "bunt back" of an OBVIOUSLY out serve is acceptable etiquette. Keeps the balls where the server can easily get at them.

    Of course, the "cool" thing to do is to disdainfully do the little smack down with the racket or best of all catch on the strings and then pocket the ball. Wish I was good enough to do that.......
     
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  9. tennis tom

    tennis tom Hall of Fame

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    Yes, but then you give your opponent the opportunity to do the "fake fumble" off your "bunt back" necessitating you to give him two or appear uncouth to the peanut gallery.
     
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  10. Relinquis

    Relinquis Hall of Fame

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    if an opponent does this more than once (returning an obviously out ball on my serve), I'll continue the point. If he stops midway or protests then I will say "you should have left the ball, raised your hand or hit it aside if it was out. You played it as if it was in and now you've changed your mind because i was going to win the point".

    No need to go john mcenroe on him, but it helps break bad habits. Could sour the mood though.

    It usually gets rid of any gamesmanship.
     
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  11. Fusker

    Fusker Rookie

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    The definition of "obvious" varies with the difficulty of the serve. Against good servers, the process of returning the ball has started in motion early enough that even a ball two feet out will be hit back.

    I watched a college match between University of Denver and Nebraska yesterday, and I don't think I saw a single bunt into the net or "catch" of the ball. I saw lots of moments where the server had to take a couple seconds to settle a ball and it didn't affect them one bit. Which brings me to another observation - players are far less nit picky about supposed grievances at higher levels.

    But if you're talking about a guy who wails away on a 3.5 softball serve that's several feet out, yeah - that's a jerk move and you should call him on it.
     
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  12. slowfox

    slowfox Professional

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    If it's a big server I focus mainly on getting my racquet on the ball, in or out. Feel it's a better habit to develop i.e. getting any ball back into play. Sometimes with a heater that goes long I may not react soon enough to deliberately send it into the net. What then? If it's considered gamesmanship (albeit unintended), then I shall start apologizing in those instances.

    Learn something everyday... :)
     
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  13. OrangePower

    OrangePower Hall of Fame

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    Hehe that's what I do (or try to do :) ) assuming I can tell the serve is going out and can still get a racquet on it. I actually find that much easier than trying to steer the ball towards the bottom of the net as someone else suggested.

    I'm not a fan of the "bunt back" to the server approach. As server, I prefer to play by my own rythm between 1st and 2nd. And I do think some returners do it selectively as gamesmanship. But having said that it's not a big deal, as long as returner is doing is consistently (so not gamesmanship). I do believe that a server needs to be able to hit a 2nd serve at will even when not in rythm.
     
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  14. floridatennisdude

    floridatennisdude Hall of Fame

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    Poor etiquette:

    1) return of an obvious out serve

    2) automatically declaring a let when someone hits an obvious out serve

    Sounds like a beginner match. Those things iron themselves out over time.
     
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  15. dizzlmcwizzl

    dizzlmcwizzl Hall of Fame

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    I feel the need to share a story here ... I have a disdain for folks that obviously return out balls and consider it a form of practicing returns on my serve.

    5 years ago I was playing singles in a league match against a player for whom English was his second language and there was a language barrier issue between us.

    Any who, my serve is my biggest (read only) weapon and early on he noticed this and started to return every out serve, no matter how clearly out it was.

    I let this go on for a game or two, but then I asked him to stop returning out balls. I told him that I felt it disrupted my service motion to have clear the balls that were bouncing off back fence between serves.

    For another 2 games he persisted in returning obviously out balls. I asked him again to stop returning out balls ... he replied that he had every right to hit these balls. His stance was that I had a very hard serve and that he wanted the practice.

    Now I am hot and I begin hitting his practice shots ... hard, and right at him while he was on the baseline. The balls were screaming by him like middle school dodgeball in the 70's. A couple balls got stuck in the fence, one got stuck so high he could not reach it and I had to get it down on the changeover.

    He started to yell at me and when he asked me why I was doing this I told him that if he was going to practice on my serve, I was going to practice on his return ... that I wanted to work on my drive forehand and as long as we were practicing I was going to practice also.

    The opposing captain upon hearing the commotion walked over and asked what the problem was ... he told his player that the code says he is not supposed to hit out serves when possible and that it is a form of gamesmanship that he should not engage in. I felt I had won and that our match would finally even out.

    Unfortunately, my opponent disagreed and persisted ... I persisted ... when he would yell at me I would tell him he was in total control. If he did not return out serves I would have nothing to hit back at him. I told him he was in total control.

    So by this point we are both upset, and the tennis is not pretty. I am going for more on my 1st serves and as a result he is hitting more out balls and the problem is escalating .... fortunately for me, he was so upset that he was giving me error after error and I was ahead ...

    So with me serving up 6-4, 5-0 at 30-love I hit a clean ace to go up triple match point. I was not really interested in being a good sport at this moment I added in a little trash talk ... "Rakesh, I bet you could have returned that if it was an out ball!".

    He through his racket, swore in a language I am not familiar with and walked off the court with out any of his gear. He got in his car and left. His captain had to collect his gear and apologize for his players behavior. At the time I felt vindicated, now I look back on this with sadness for being a tool.

    4 years later we ended up on the same team, became reasonably good friends and he eventually won a huge upset in playoffs to get us to sectionals.
     
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  16. corners

    corners Legend

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    Sweet ending!
     
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  17. tenniscasey

    tenniscasey Semi-Pro

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    This was funny. I'm glad he ended up being a friend.
     
    Last edited: Mar 3, 2013
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  18. slowfox

    slowfox Professional

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    It's called keeping your enemies close... LOL
    Actually, good story man.
     
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  19. Cindysphinx

    Cindysphinx G.O.A.T.

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    Please don't do this, per the code.

    Thank you.
     
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  20. tennis tom

    tennis tom Hall of Fame

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    Yep, that's the natural progression. Good story, seems like he learned something that day and maybe got familiarized with "THE CODE".
     
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  21. Overdrive

    Overdrive Legend

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    Wow, I didn't know this is a big deal.
    No one told me about this before, I guess I better stop returning out serves before someone at a tournament next week might get on me about it... :roll:
     
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  22. clintontiger

    clintontiger New User

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    Wow, I dont post much but ya'll are making way to much out of this. It takes no longer to clear the returned out ball than it does to clear the serve that is out that hits off the back of the fence. Ya'll must have never been to a college match, every out serve is hit back. No one ever complains. Plus a obvious out serve to you might not be so obvious to them. You can't tell if the ball is two feet out if you are serving. Your two foot out ball is probably more like 4 inches.
     
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  23. amorris525

    amorris525 Rookie

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    Correct. One can only guess these people are referring to relatively slow serves where you actually do have time to think about what you are doing
     
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  24. Cindysphinx

    Cindysphinx G.O.A.T.

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    I have had people return serves I mishit that struck my court and bounced over the net.

    I have had people return let cord serves that bounced three feet over the net and landed out.

    I have had people return serves that landed on the doubles sideline.

    Come on, folks. Follow the Code.
     
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  25. Rjtennis

    Rjtennis Hall of Fame

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    I think I hit/chip balls back all the time but its not like I'm chasing down every out serve and taking big cuts at the ball. I've never had anyone say anything to me so I guess it's not an issue. In fact ive never heard of this being an issue in any match. On first serves it's just instinct to get the ball back. You don't raelly have time to think about it.
     
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  26. tennis tom

    tennis tom Hall of Fame

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    You're learning a lot on this glorious Sunday on the internets Grasshopper. Of course you didn't know about this, your former coach didn't even know the difference between an under-grip and an over-grip.
     
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  27. tennis tom

    tennis tom Hall of Fame

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    Maybe no one mentioned it but they took note of it. If you ever play in Monte Carlo with the Princess, she will make note of it. You better work on your tennis manners if this eventuality will ever come your way. If you do this against a real player you'll be hearing about it.

    Good tennis is about breaking yourself of hacker instinct bad habits. There's always time, you just have to develop your mind more fully.
     
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  28. tennis tom

    tennis tom Hall of Fame

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    That's why they're playing in college and not on the Pro-Tour. It's the details that'll kill ya'.
     
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  29. tamdoankc

    tamdoankc Rookie

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    So you're actually in your service motion as the ball is coming back? So if the returner is catching or stopping the fault you're already serving the second ball. That could be another problem itself.
     
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  30. clintontiger

    clintontiger New User

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    Yes, that's the reason there not playing pro, because they hit back out serves. Sure
     
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  31. Brian11785

    Brian11785 Hall of Fame

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    This might be the issue on which what feels intuitively proper varies the most from "The Code." My thinking is "what will keep play moving the quickest?" Letting the ball hit my back fence or hitting it into the net (in singles) so that I will likely have to further delay the second serve by taking 10 seconds to retrieve it (coupled with the realities of playing on public courts and/or ones without fences between them, so loose balls all over the court can be a hassle....interrupt play on adjacent courts, you risk having your ball stolen/mistaken, etc.) makes "The Code" feel relatively impractical here. When I am playing doubles, I almost always dump a return of an out serve into the net for my partner to pick up. But in singles, bunting it back to the server is generally what I prefer done to me and what I generally do as well. I have never been called out on it in my two years of playing flex and city league singles. I dunno. Maybe my opponent silently hates me for it.

    In fact, I don't think I've ever been called out on anything (or heard someone else get called out for anything) like this. Had a guy politely tell me to watch my feet while serving once. That's about it.
     
    Last edited: Mar 4, 2013
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  32. Govnor

    Govnor Professional

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    People will find anything to complain about, really.
     
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  33. sam_p

    sam_p Professional

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    This scenario is exceedingly common in doubles and even more so at higher level doubles. The returner is usually focused on returning the serves while the partner is more responsible for calling the service line. This leads to many returns of long serves over the course of a long match - it is simply unavoidable. Yet somehow no one seems to take this particularly to heart. If on a particular instance it leads to an unusual delay, you give them 2 and start over. Not a big deal and if someone just keeps wailing away on obviously out serves they'll just seem like a total tool - to all three other players on the court.
     
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  34. MeHere2PlayTennis

    MeHere2PlayTennis New User

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    I agree. It is very common. I have only found people taking it personal in mixed when an unintentional return goes down the line at the female player.

    Otherwise unless you hit it into another court, for the most part I don't feel like hitting it over has been a huge problem. As the code states I guess it depends on what is considered a obviously not in play.
     
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  35. Mauvaise

    Mauvaise Rookie

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    This is one of those things that annoys me as a server and I won't do as a receiver, but just seems too petty to actually complain about during a match.
     
    Last edited: Mar 4, 2013
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  36. tennis tom

    tennis tom Hall of Fame

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    The two best choices are to catch it and pocket it or gently hit it to the net. I changed that from "into the net" to near the net. Letting it roll behind you to your fence can cause delays if the ball ricochets off a fence post or a curb on a poorly planned court. A well constructed court will have a depression at the back fence, maybe with a drainage system to hold the ball. When you let it roll behind you, on windy days it can come back at you and you could step on it. Letting it ricochet behind you makes your opponent responsible for watching out for you.

    Frankly, there are some people who are so indifferent to stopping and controlling balls going behind them, I don't care anymore if they step on them and crack a femur. I've never heard a femur cracking but have heard from others that it makes quite a sound. The good news is the femur, the biggest bone in the body, will heal good as new in thirty days, barring complications.

    I'll warn them a few times if they're in harms way but if they don't care about there welfare why should I. I know several players who are very nonchalant about this, acting like they are real tough guys, not caring about the loose ball caroming off the angled concrete wall behind them. I no longer care if they injure themselves--if they don't care about their bones, ligaments and tendons, why should I have to constantly be warning them.

    Some players are so skilled they can consistently hit the ball into their opponents corner or back to them at a pace where it can be easily caught without delaying the rhythm of the servers swing--most here can't. Hitting it to the net so it rests there a few inches from the net is a skill that can be learned if you want to just like learning how to type.

    Probably the best option is catching it and pocketing the ball because on really windy days, if you hit it to the net you'll be spending a lot of your energy chasing it around so it doesn't roll onto the adjoining court disturbing that match.

    If you hit it back to your opponent, you stand the chance that they will do a fake fumble and you will be obligated to offer them two--why give them that opportunity? Everything has a reason, it's not only good tennis etiquette.


    When you're warming up serves with your opponent, you do stop and catch his serves with your racket until you have all three and not slug each one back, don't you?-- (except to signal that you are ready after hitting two minutes of warm-up) serves).
     
    Last edited: Mar 4, 2013
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  37. Cindysphinx

    Cindysphinx G.O.A.T.

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    +1. I will never complain about it either. I will not complain about anything opponents do in matches, really. I do not want to lose my focus, I didn't come there to have arguments, and I do not want my opponent to know they are dancing on my last nerve.

    However . . . .

    I am thiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiis close to scolding one of my regular partners. She is the worst OOR ("Obviously Out Returner") I have ever seen. She returns all out serves as hard as she can. By the end of the match, opponents are looking at me and rolling their eyes because it is so very ridiculous.

    I am not sure quite what to do about this. I have not told her directly "Hey! Stop wailing on serves that are going out!" I have, as captain, told the whole team via email about OORs and quoted the Code. This seems to make no difference to the habitual OOR.

    I even said during a match once, "OMG! That opponent is returning my serves that are way out. That is so *rude!*" Nope, didn't make a difference.

    There just never seems to be a good time to raise it with her. Don't want to call her out at the beginning of a match and throw her off. Seems weird to raise it afterward. I keep waiting for an opponent to say something so I can then stand there nodding my head, but it doesn't happen.
     
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  38. tennis tom

    tennis tom Hall of Fame

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    Cindy, she doesn't care about throwing others off with her rude behavior, why worry about throwing her off except that it may cost the match if you should get into her head? Subtly obviously is not working here, you're going to have to take this bull-***** by the horns and have a little chat with her, maybe during a team practice. If she's offended, that's the way the cookie is going to crumble. You have many partners to choose from, so you lose this one. BE DIRECT with her! Let us know how it turns out, call her now and let us know. Have her come onto the board so we can smack some sense into her--is she cute?
     
    Last edited: Mar 4, 2013
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  39. Relinquis

    Relinquis Hall of Fame

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    be direct and call her out on it... if it doesn't work, just continue the point and win it. if she stops, make a big deal about it.

    this works... try it.
     
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  40. AceKing

    AceKing New User

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    ^^ This. Common sense should trump The Code. I play in 2 separate outdoor locations that have 8 courts across, with no separation of courts. I also play mostly singles with 4.0 & 4.5 men. If I allowed 1st serve faults to go by me, many of them would bounce off the back fence with spin and angle & end up rolling into the courts next to me. I don't allow this to happen, I bunt obvious faults back to the server. My opponents do the same. I would find it annoying if they didn't (same goes for the players on the courts next to me).

    edit: I'm not condoning taking a full cut at a return that is obv out, I'm talking about bunting the ball back to the server so he can easily catch it.
     
    Last edited: Mar 4, 2013
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  41. NTexas

    NTexas New User

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    I go after every ball like it is going in, 2 inches out or 2 feet out. You better be ready against me or you might get a ball off your melon. But thats just me, code or no code.
     
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  42. Cindysphinx

    Cindysphinx G.O.A.T.

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    If you have the control to bunt the serve back to the server, you have the control to control the ball and put it in your pocket.
     
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  43. OrangePower

    OrangePower Hall of Fame

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    This.

    If you can control the ball, use that control to capture the ball rather than bunt to server.

    Talking about an obvious out serve, not one where you are swinging at the ball because it's too close to stop your swing ahead of time.
     
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  44. OrangePower

    OrangePower Hall of Fame

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    I'm sure you hit very impressive winners off those serves that are 2 feet out :neutral:
     
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  45. NTexas

    NTexas New User

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    Some are winners but most clank off the fence:cry: Im just saying if you play the ball as it is going out, you will be just standing watching alot of balls that will go in.
     
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  46. Brian11785

    Brian11785 Hall of Fame

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    I am not sure that's true. And it really depends on how far out or how fast the serve is coming in. I think blocking the ball back across the net is a whole lot easier than popping it up or spinning it into your own hands. Particularly on a fast serve.
     
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  47. Brian11785

    Brian11785 Hall of Fame

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    I guess it is more of an intuitive thing, depending on how fast and how "out" the serve is. On a serve that is fast and close to the line, I am less likely to react in time to alter my service return at all. On the other end of the spectrum, for a slow very out serve I can probably catch in my hands and then pocket, I will probably do just that. It is the serve in the middle I tend to bunt.
     
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  48. SweetH2O

    SweetH2O Rookie

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    I block/bunt it back to the server if I feel I can control it enough that he will be able to catch it without taking more than a step. If the server lets the first few of those roll back to the fence behind him, that tells me he'd rather me not do that, so I'll stop.

    Blocking it back to the server seems to be a common thing here, and I've never had anyone complain. It's just one more ball that we don't have to go chasing down after the point and keeps the game moving along faster.
     
    #48
  49. Brian11785

    Brian11785 Hall of Fame

    Joined:
    Dec 6, 2010
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    TX
    This. Again, to me, intuition (including intuition about your opponents' preferences) trumps The Code.
     
    #49
  50. Cindysphinx

    Cindysphinx G.O.A.T.

    Joined:
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    Messages:
    15,093
    If you really care about your opponent's preference on whether you should adhere to the Code, you could ask whether he would prefer that you hit obviously out serves over the net or pocket them.
     
    #50

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