Serving a dead old ball from another court.

Discussion in 'Adult League & Tournament Talk' started by Taxvictim, Oct 7, 2011.

  1. Taxvictim

    Taxvictim Semi-Pro

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    In the new issue of Tennis magazine, the Court of Appeals gave a very odd answer to a query:

    "On my partner's serve in a doubles match, he picked up a ball that he thought we had been playing with and proceeded to serve. After returning the serve into the net, the receiver called a let because the ball was dead. I said he could not call a let because he tried to return the ball and failed. My partner ended up giving him a let, but I didn't agree. Who was right?"

    The answer from Tennis magazine was that, if the ball was not broken (but just a dud), the point stands, citing Rule 3, Case 1 (which says the point stands if a ball is soft at the end of a point.) The guy at Tennis magazine seems to have missed the part where the server picked up the wrong ball, which would be a violation of the ball change provisions also contained in Rule 3.

    Anyway, if Tennis magazine is right, then a server could pick up a dead old ball from an adjoining court, serve that ball, and take the point.

    Anybody think the magazine is right? Woodrow, what say you?
     
    Last edited: Oct 8, 2011
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  2. Bud

    Bud Bionic Poster

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    Match type?

    Was this a friendly doubles match or a tournament doubles match?
     
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  3. LuckyR

    LuckyR Legend

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    I stand with your interpretation, FWTW.
     
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  4. JRad

    JRad New User

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    One of the principles of The Code is that a point played in good faith stands. If the mistake was an honest one, point server.
     
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  5. sphinx780

    sphinx780 Professional

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    I'd love to hear Woodrow's answer on this one but I'd side with OP too.

    Even if unintentional, is the point really played in good faith when the returner had no input?
     
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  6. yokied

    yokied New User

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    Your justification for not giving a let is that the returner didn't realise the ball was dead before he hit the return.

    I don't think that's good faith at all.

    Another way to look at it is how would you look at this if you were the returner. And how would the situation be dealt with at nil-all in the first set if one of the match balls was discovered to be a dud mid-point.

    It's a let.
     
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  7. 6-2/6-4/6-0

    6-2/6-4/6-0 Semi-Pro

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    I would be adamant about the let. While it may have been an honest mistake, it is not one where taking the point shows integrity. Definitely a let.
     
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  8. gmatheis

    gmatheis Hall of Fame

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    If the point had rallied back and forth even a couple times you could say it was played in good faith, however since the returner only hit the ball once and then said something it wasn't.

    Yes I know he hit the ball into the net, but that doesn't matter. If he spoke up after a single hit on the ball and the ball was in fact a dead ball from another court, it should be a let.
     
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  9. RoddickAce

    RoddickAce Hall of Fame

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    In my opinion, the justification for not playing a let is that nobody realized the ball was dead. "On my partner's serve in a doubles match, he picked up a ball that he thought we had been playing with..."

    This is an actual question, rather than to challenge your viewpoint. I don't understand why, under any situation, anyone would consider the bolded line as justification for not giving a let. If the returner didn't realize something and he lost the point, then there are two outcomes. 1) A let is played because it was an unfair situation. 2) A let is not played because the point was lost and the situation was not deemed unfair. Why would the reason for not playing a let be that the returner did not realize something? Wouldn't the reason simply be that there was no unfairness in the situation?

    In my opinion, as long as everyone honestly believed that the ball was a normal ball from their own court, it constitutes good faith. Just because the point was ended quickly doesn't mean the point was not played in good faith. The server was not trying to win the point by purposefully serving a dead ball, because he didn't know it was a dead ball from another court.
     
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  10. RoddickAce

    RoddickAce Hall of Fame

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    To the OP. I think you isolated the situation very well.

    1) The dead ball.

    2) The ball was from another court.

    Assuming the rulings you found were correct, I think you were right in the situation.

    The fact that the ball was dead has no bearing on the situation at all, as stated in your findings.

    The fact that the ball was from another court suggested that a let should be played unless the point was played in good faith.

    If nobody knew the ball was dead, and played the point honestly and sincerely, then the point should stand IMO.
     
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  11. jswinf

    jswinf Professional

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    I don't see how the "in good faith" condition can be applied to the receiver. How is he supposed to know the ball is dead until he hits it and it behaves differently than the balls he's been playing with? I can't see how he gave tacit consent to playing that point with a dead ball. Has to be a let. If anything, loss of point by server for introducing the dead ball, he at least had the opportunity to look at it, bounce it, etc. But I'd vote for a let.
     
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  12. esgee48

    esgee48 Hall of Fame

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    ^ +1. I cannot understand how the server could not tell it was a dead ball by 1) squeezing it or 2) bouncing it before starting the service motion. Something smells fishy here. I have played in situations where balls get mixed up from adjacent courts all the time. Everyone attempts to sort out the balls before starting play again. In match play, they mark the balls with dots (1 dot, 2 dots, 3 dots) so there is very little chance for confusion.
     
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  13. dizzlmcwizzl

    dizzlmcwizzl Hall of Fame

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    Seems to me the decision has to be the one given in the article... although any reasonable person in a social, or even league match, would award a let just based on what seems right.

    1st. If a ball from the other court had been perfect then certainly the point should stand. In my mind if the point was played with a ball in playable condition and the reciever missed the shot. Point stands, even if the ball had been from the adjacent court.

    2nd. It is a different story if the ball was broken, and clearly not playable. But the OP said in the response from the USTA that the ball was merely dead, not broken.

    3rd. How dead is dead? You cannot leave the decision of let or no let up to argument between players on whether the ball was dead enough to warrant a let. I think the USTA has addressed this by saying, if the ball is broken then a let is justified, if the ball is merely believed to be dead by one of the players (who happened to lose the point, in this case) then the point stands.

    Any other decision and the rule leaves open abiguity for opponents to request a let on every ball that in retrospect they now feel was flat.
     
    Last edited: Oct 8, 2011
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  14. dizzlmcwizzl

    dizzlmcwizzl Hall of Fame

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    You have to assume the server did not know he grabbed the wrong ball and that the point was played in good faith. If you were playing someone who knowingly grabbed the wrong ball to gain an advantage then you have more problems than this obscure rule.
     
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  15. gmatheis

    gmatheis Hall of Fame

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    well said.
     
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  16. Taxvictim

    Taxvictim Semi-Pro

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    For those who think it is alright to pick up a dead ball from another court, how do you square that with the strict provisions for ball changes that are also contained in Rule 3?
     
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  17. woodrow1029

    woodrow1029 Guest

    Just saw this.

    The magazine is right, unless you can prove that the server's intent was to play with a soft/old ball from another court.
     
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  18. pinky42

    pinky42 Rookie

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    If it was an honest mistake, then it doesn't matter. Points played in good faith stand. You're supposed to alternate serving from the ad and deuce side but if you mess up the order, the points are still valid. Picking up the wrong ball by accident would be a similar situation.
     
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  19. jswinf

    jswinf Professional

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    I know Woodrow knows his stuff, and I'll accept that the technical answer is point to server, but I still think it ain't right. If my opponent mistakenly serves from the wrong side, 1) I've got the chance to notice it and correct it before it happens, and 2) when I hit my return the ball should respond off my racket the way I expect it to.

    Of course, like others have said, if that "old, dead ball" isn't all that old and dead, it shouldn't be that big a deal. The original description makes you think it's been under a bush with a dog chewing on it for a few weeks.
     
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  20. Taxvictim

    Taxvictim Semi-Pro

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    The original letter to Tennis magazine shows that the returning player could tell it was a dud as soon as he hit the ball into the net. That's significantly different from the game balls if he could tell just from the feel of the ball and the way it bounced after the serve.

    Woodrow, I will bow to your practical competence with the rules and officiating, but we're now creating another exception (like some hindrances) where it depends on a player's intent, which only he can address. For example, that much disputed letter in Court of Appeals a few months ago where the returning team was moving during the serve. Even though the rules specifically say that you are allowed to move during the serve, one of the USTA rules guys said it all comes down to their intent, and he believed it should be a hindrance. The other USTA rules guy said it's not a hindrance because it is specifically allowed in the rules.
     
    Last edited: Oct 10, 2011
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  21. split-step

    split-step Professional

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    Oh my god, it's not that serious. The drama people create on court. Who wants to win a cheap point playing with a dead ball?
    Just throw the damn ball in the trash and play a let. Some people :rolleyes:
     
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  22. woodrow1029

    woodrow1029 Guest

    If the same thing happened and I was the server, I would probably play a let.

    I was asked about the ruling though, and the rule is correct, that it would not be a let.
     
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  23. jht32

    jht32 Rookie

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    As the server, I would probably just play a let too.

    But just for argument's sake, as the server, I could say that the receiver did have the chance to notice it and correct it before it happens. It is not just the server that has to keep track of the 3 tennis balls used in a match. The receiver is also responsible to keep track of the 3 tennis balls that are being used. Therefore, the receiver should have stopped play as soon as the receiver sees that the server picked up a wrong ball.

    Obviously, the receiver had no way of knowing the wrong ball was a dud, but the receiver could have said something as soon as the wrong ball was picked up by the server.
     
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  24. LuckyR

    LuckyR Legend

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    Woodrow's knowledge of the rules is almost certainly correct. Oh well, yet another example of a rule (admittedly an extremely minor and inconsequential one) that is illogical and should be changed.
     
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  25. slice bh compliment

    slice bh compliment G.O.A.T.

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    You are rational, intelligent and honest.
    This is the internet. There is not place for you and your kind here.
    EDIT: [sarcasm emoticon]
     
    Last edited: Oct 11, 2011
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  26. jmnk

    jmnk Professional

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    really? So how about: "Oh my god, it's not that serious. The drama people create on court. Who wants to complain about losing a single point playing with a dead ball?
    Just throw the damn ball in the trash and play on. Some people :rolleyes:"

    see, it goes both ways. On a serious note - so if I'm a server, pick up a wrong dead ball, and serve a fault, and let's say it was a second serve - you are obviously not taking a point and you would give me a first serve, right?
     
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  27. slice bh compliment

    slice bh compliment G.O.A.T.

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    ^I think he is trying to say that the server, who made a mistake, ought to replay the point.

    I also think your example is faulty, because the server ought to have noticed the different ball.

    I get the whole 'good faith' angle. I believe that good faith angle works both ways.

    Good thread, especially if it gives us perspective for casual, unofficiated matches.

    In tournaments, typically, most balls are good and have less than 3 sets in them, so, not much to worry about. Nothing to really replay. Sounds like this ball was dead enough to affect play.
     
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  28. jht32

    jht32 Rookie

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    No drama here :), just 2 issues...

    1) A server in good faith picks up the wrong ball and serves it. If the receiver doesn't notice this error and plays the ball, then it is a good faith point and no let should be call. This is the official rule and from my viewpoint, also a logical rule. Logical, because both the server and receiver are responsible for ensuring that balls from your own court are used (we're not talking about a server that sneakily switches balls). The example of serving from the wrong side (ad vs deuce court) is a good comparison because both server and receiver should have noticed that error and in that instance, the good faith point stands.

    If the wrong ball was not dead, I believe that most people would not allow a let or loss of point for server even though the " ball change provisions" were not followed by the server. It was just an error made in good faith. So to me, this resolution just comes down to the second issue below.

    2) A dead ball that affected play was used. Only the server could have prevented this situation. The receiver could not have done anything about it. But in the server's defense, I know that when I have a basket of balls and start feeding the balls to start a rally, sometimes I do not notice that a ball in it is dead when I pick it up from the hopper. It is only after I start the feed and can tell by the sound and ball flight, that the ball is dead. So in good faith, I can see why the server did not notice that the ball was dead. Some servers may not bounce the ball before he starts serving.

    The second issue is where I have a minor disagreement with the rule and where as a server, I would probably just agree to a let. I equate this to if I were a server and I picked up the right ball, but didn't notice that the ball had run through a puddle and was wet. If I served a wet ball, I would agree to a let. I'm not sure what the official rule for this case would be though.
     
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  29. LuckyR

    LuckyR Legend

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    That is true, BUT after the server serves the ball (in reality he would likely know when he bounces the ball as part of the serve ritual, but let's cut him a huge, likely undeserved break) he would know for sure (just as the receiver did when he struck the ball). So the server (and the returner too) should be calling a let and it is NOT in good faith while the ball is on the way to the returner having been served, while the server knows it is a dead ball.
     
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  30. volleygirl

    volleygirl Semi-Pro

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    I agree with you. The receiver is expected to accept the servers error of "good faith" in this instance is too much. Its a let.
     
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  31. Coach Carter

    Coach Carter Rookie

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    what if it isn't in good faith though? like say I had 3 bad balls and slid one out of the old bag and into the pocket to whip out for big points. another later...etc.

    when you find someone trying to win then they'll do anything...
     
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  32. OrangePower

    OrangePower Hall of Fame

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    I can see how from the receivers perspective, this rule could seem a little unfair.

    But, I think it is a good rule nevertheless. For example, let's say the rule was changed so that receiver could demand a let if noticing a "bad" ball upon hitting the return. Now we get into having to define what a bad ball is. Different people have different tolerance levels... you might think a ball is flat, whereas I might think it's not noticably different from the others. How do we resolve a dispute? And what about a ball that has more/less fluff than the others? Or a ball that's actually harder than the others? Etc.

    So I think the rule is the most logical one possible given that it needs to be general enough for most circumstances. And at the end of the day, we are all playing in good faith (should be, anyway), and most people would grant the receiver a let under the circumstances even if not required to according to the rule.
     
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  33. LuckyR

    LuckyR Legend

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    I wholeheartedly agree with your logic (as do the rulemakers) for a tennis ball from your court. But this case is about a rogue ball from another court, ie the server broke the rules by putting into play (perhaps "innocently", though I would doubt it in reality) a suprise ball for the returner. Why reward the server for breaking the rules?
     
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  34. jswinf

    jswinf Professional

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    I'd say for most all of us it's a ball other than the 3 (or 4 if you go for those weirdo cans) that we opened to start the match. "Got a Penn 3?" If the server hit me something that dies off my racket into the net and it's not one we started with, I think I've got a beef.
     
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  35. mikeler

    mikeler G.O.A.T.

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    The weirdo cans are necessary when you play at courts with bodies of water around them. :)

    I realize what the official rule is from Woodrow, but I tend to agree with the majority of posters here. The receiver has no idea the ball is different when the serve comes in and is therefore at a disadvantage. Seems like a let should be the rule.
     
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  36. jht32

    jht32 Rookie

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    If I were the server, I would agree to the let.

    As in the OP's scenario, as long as the receiver just hits the ball once and then appeals for a let, the server should probably grant the let. However, if there is a multi-stroke rally and the point ends, as the server, I would be less likely to grant the let. Even if I, as the server, accidentally picked up the wrong ball and the ball was dead.

    The let should be called as soon as the first ball is struck by the person calling for the let. And in good faith, because of the timing, the first ball may have hit the net prior to the call for the let and I would be okay with that.

    And definitely, weirdo 4-ball cans are a must when I play on the make-shift courts on the golf course greens. Those water and sand hazards really alter the playability of the tennis balls.
     
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  37. volleygirl

    volleygirl Semi-Pro

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    Well said. Its silly to think its that tough to define what a "bad ball" is. If its one of those we started with then they are all good.
     
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  38. woodrow1029

    woodrow1029 Guest

    Agree with this 100%. The rule is correct, and if there is an argument on court about this, it's the best way to handle it. But most people, (I think including myself) would play a let.
     
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  39. woodrow1029

    woodrow1029 Guest

    But still, if you make the rule to be a let, then the receiver could play a let for any ball from another court. Look at it this way, what if they had played a 15 shot rally or so, and then the receiver said it was a bad ball from another court. I still say the ruling is correct, the rule is the best way to handle it if a question arises, but if it was just a serve/return, then receiver said something, most would play a let even if not required.
     
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  40. LuckyR

    LuckyR Legend

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    This would be the situation many in this thread referred to with the "good faith" argument. I don't have problem with it, since in the narrow scenario you (and they) describe, both players played the point in good faith, ie the deadness of the ball was so inconsequential that no one thought to interupt play because of it.

    But again the OP's case is 1) a rogue ball from another court and 2) it was dead enough for the single stroke that the returner struck was affected and he called it immediately. In this case, if the play stands (not a let) then you are rewarding the server {who has the job of making sure the ball he selects is: 1) one of the balls in play in his match and 2) not dead/defective} for failing to do what he is supposed to (likely knowingly). Not my idea of a logical call.

    And since you personally would play a let, you agree with me, and are implying that you disagree with the rule (even if you argue the opposite).
     
    Last edited: Oct 12, 2011
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  41. jmnk

    jmnk Professional

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    so what if the receiving player hits that dead ball and it hits the net tape and goes barely over for the winner. Can the sever claim the let because, well, if it was a 'good' ball it would have bounced off the receiver's racket harder and it would likely have not hit the tape, and would have not been a winner.
     
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  42. Taxvictim

    Taxvictim Semi-Pro

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    It was the server's fault for putting the dead ball into play, and for switching the game balls in violation of the rules, so he gets no let.

    There's a song in there somewhere.
     
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  43. Caesar

    Caesar Banned

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    It's amusing to see which posters in this thread take the position we should play the let out of fairness even though it's not required.

    I seem to recall in the past that a couple in particular have been some of the first to jump on their high horses about always playing to the letter of the law, since fairness is so subjective.
     
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  44. jmnk

    jmnk Professional

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    so you are saying that even though the rule says there should really not be a let ever in the discussed case, if the receiver loses the point the let should be played out of fairness, but if the server loses the point there's no fairness anymore and the receiver gets the point. Even though there was no bad intention on the server's part.

    Ok, let's dig deeper. What if the server accidentally picks up a way newer ball and that causes the receiver to lose the point because his return sailed long. Is he entitled to a let?

    The point is, as almost in any rule, that you have to draw a line somewhere - otherwise you are ending with tens of those little edge cases that would have to be evaluated on case by case basis. And here the line is - the server returned the ball, played it in good faith, and the point stands.
     
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  45. Bobby Jr

    Bobby Jr Legend

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    I agree... if someone served me a dead ball compared to the new ones we'd been using I'd expect them to have noticed is when they picked it up and got ready to serve... i.e. fair play can't really be the case.

    Likewise, in the millisecond the ball is in contact with your frame on return do people really think you'd go "oh, this isn't right" and call a let only for the server to say "sorry, you played the ball..."?

    Replay the point if the ball was noticeably different regardless of what the rules say. It's just fair and respectful play imo.
     
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  46. Taxvictim

    Taxvictim Semi-Pro

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    I'm saying the interpretation of Rule 3 should be that, if the server serves a non-game ball, whether it's a dud or an extra-springy, extra-fuzzy, brand new ball or one of those half-bounce orange/red practice balls, and if the receiver can tell the difference as soon as he hits it, then it should be a let if the receiver calls it right then.

    If the point gets played beyond the first return, then nobody can call a let because the point was played out in good faith. This would be consistent with Rule 3 as it now stands for ball changes. It would also be consistent with the rules and Code provisions that say you must call a let promptly (e.g. as soon as a ball rolls onto the court), otherwise you give up the right to call it later. This is also a simple, bright-line, easy to understand interpretation of the rules.
     
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  47. Cindysphinx

    Cindysphinx G.O.A.T.

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    The Code is pretty consistent that unintentional mistakes happen, and unless there was bad faith the point stands.

    After all, the server could have served the dead ball into the net. He shouldn't get another serve if it was a dead but not broken ball.

    I too would play the point over most of the time. If the ball is dead enough to make a difference, I think I would have noticed this when bouncing it.

    The trouble comes in if the ball isn't all that dead, but it is a different ball from another court. If the ball felt OK to be before and after the point but was a different number, I don't think we should have to play a let. I can't imagine fighting over something like that, but I might if I thought my opponent was not an honorable person.
     
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  48. OrangePower

    OrangePower Hall of Fame

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    Right. So what if you're playing with Penn 3, and the dead ball in question *is* a Penn 3? Could still be from another court... but then again, maybe it's not. Seems like a bunch of arguments just waiting to happen. "Wait, it's a bit fluffier than the others - it must be from another court... let please!"

    And what if the ball *is* from another court - you started with Penn 3, and this one is a Penn 1. So it's clearly from another court... so is that automatically a let? What if the ball is otherwise identical to the ones you've been playing with - has the same bounce and felt... should that be a let, or should the point stand as played in good faith? Who decides if the quality of the ball impacted the point or not?

    It's just a slippery slope to go down.

    Again, for the record, I think if the server inadvertantly used a bad ball, the receiver noticed it upon making the return into the net, and then asked for a let, most people including myself would grant the let. But I think this needs to be left as a good-faith thing rather than attempting to rewrite the rule, because the rule cannot be made specific enough to address this without raising a bunch more issues.
     
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  49. jswinf

    jswinf Professional

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    This thread seems interestingly backward from so many where posters that disagree with a rule make up convoluted scenarios to argue against it. Here, the rule supporters are coming up with some pretty unlikely excuses for the poor server to not know he's serving a bad ball.

    Also the consensus is: if this happened and I was the server, I'd play a let. Just sayin'. :confused:
     
    #49
  50. mikeler

    mikeler G.O.A.T.

    Joined:
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    ^^^ Just remember Penn balls are usually dead out of the can, so it is hard to make that argument. :)
     
    #50

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