The Case Of The Tight Service Line Call

Discussion in 'Adult League & Tournament Talk' started by Cindysphinx, May 20, 2009.

  1. Cindysphinx

    Cindysphinx G.O.A.T.

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    Hey, I am having an issue with a partner. I love her to death. She is a wonderful person. I mean, there is not an evil bone in her body. I look forward to playing with her; she has a sunny disposition and is perpetually happy. But here's what happened today (practice match with friends).

    About five times when I was receiving serve today, she called the serve long. In each case, I was surprised that she called it long. I couldn't be sure, but I started to wonder if those serves weren't catching the back of the line. I tend to ignore the service line completely when I'm receiving and focus instead on not screwing up the service return (again), so I certainly didn't think I could overrule her. Maybe they were just barely out?

    I have not seen her err on other calls (baseline calls, sideline calls, center line service calls).

    In my experience, one tell-tale habit of the Tight Line Caller is that they tend to find it objectionable when you don't call the line tight and are always asking you whether "in" balls were "out." Like, if I don't call a serve long, a Tight Line Caller will miss the return and say, "Wasn't that deep?" over and over again in a match. 'Cause they see close balls as out. This partner doesn't question me about my service line calls even when it was painfully close or I gave benefit of the doubt, which I take as a good sign.

    I'm not sure what to do about this, though. The thing that makes it really curious is that I don't get this feeling from other partners. In other words, I can go many matches with other partners without being frequently surprised at the service line out calls. So how come the only time I'm getting that feeling is with this partner?

    I can either ignore it and just trust her, tell her I want to call my own service line, overrule her a few times, or tell her I think she is calling the service line too tight. Choices Two, Three and Four will upset her deeply. I know I wouldn't like it much at all.

    Is there an issue here I need to address? Any thoughts on what to do about this without offending her needlessly?

    Cindy -- who will save for another day the problem of the person who promises to call the service line for you and then repeatedly forgets
     
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  2. FloridaAG

    FloridaAG Professional

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    Why not just discuss it with her (not in the middle of a match) - Maybe at a practice. Or after a match, tell her you thought a few of those serves she called out were in.

    Doesn't seem like it should be such a big deal
     
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  3. seleswannabe

    seleswannabe Rookie

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    You are in a lose/lose situation. Unless you want to take a firm stand against her poor calls I think you just have to live with it or not play with her. Sorry, that stinks for you.
     
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  4. kylebarendrick

    kylebarendrick Professional

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    A ball that looks "in" to the receiver may be clearly "out" to their partner standing on the service line. Having the ball come directly towards you prevents you from seeing the gap between the ball and the line that may be visible to your partner.
     
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  5. mikeler

    mikeler G.O.A.T.

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    Play on clay and then you'll know for sure whether the calls are correct.
     
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  6. BullDogTennis

    BullDogTennis Hall of Fame

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    i mean honestly, you are a 3.5 woman playing doubles right? i mean maybe im looking at things completely wrong, but the ball cannot be served that hard, it should be pretty easy to know if it was in or out. if they are going in, you need to let it go the first time(anyone can mess up one) the next time let it go with the other team, but talk to her about it. then if she does it again over rule her.
     
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  7. ACK4wd

    ACK4wd Rookie

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    why: some people just stick by the rules - it's easier to just play the game - win or lose than it is to spend hours debating how to interpret rules to a political end
     
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  8. OrangePower

    OrangePower Hall of Fame

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    I second this. It's possible that your partner is calling in balls out, but also possible that you're seeing them wrong. Before confronting your partner, how about you ask a non-playing observer to discretely watch the service line next time you're playing, and let you know afterwards whether the calls were good or not?
     
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  9. gocard02

    gocard02 New User

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    Just curious, in a previous thread, you said that you follow the letter of the rule. You saw the serve in, she saw it out. The rule states that you must replay the point. What's the confusion?
     
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  10. Cindysphinx

    Cindysphinx G.O.A.T.

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    Well, I wouldn't characterize my position as "follow the letter of the rule." I'm a grey, not a black and white. You may have me confused with Drakulie there.

    But I do think it is important to get line calls right and give benefit of the doubt, when I see the ball clearly from a good position. And as others have noted, part of the difficulty is that she is in a better position. It's just that my alarm bells aren't clanging with other partners the way they were with her.

    Anyway, there are lots of options that are options but that don't help much. We play on hard courts often; I cannot dictate whether we will be on clay. Nor can I easily grab an observer and tell them what to watch for, assuming there were observers (there weren't).

    No, the serves are not coming that fast. Which is why I am surprised this is coming up. These two opponents had nice serves in the upper end of 3.5, no doubt. But that just means you give more leeway and benefit of the doubt, not less.

    I've never been especially good at having The Talk with people about stuff like this. It's just so uncomfortable and awkward, and someone always goes home upset . . . .
     
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  11. blakesq

    blakesq Professional

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    The problem is geometry. If you are receiving a serve, and the ball catches the "back" of the line, it is IMPOSSIBLE for the receiver to see the ball in or out. The receiver's line of sight is blocked by the ball, and hence, you cannot call a ball in or out if it catches the back of the line, or if it is just barely out. Thus, you should rely on your partner.


     
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  12. cak

    cak Professional

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    It sounds like the problem is she's calling the balls tighter than other partners, or even other lines she is not in the absolutely correct position to call. But in this case, she is standing directly on the line, and is taking advantage of that to call balls that are close but out, out. You may be able to remedy this by talking her into standing closer to the net, or even stand her at the baseline when you are receiving so her view of the line isn't so good. Or you could trust her.
     
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  13. tfm1973

    tfm1973 Semi-Pro

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    figure you could bust out your video camera and tape some practice matches. point out to her the ones that you thought she made wrong?

    otherwise during a match you could just overrule her and say that you saw it in. if her feelings get hurt . . . um i don't even know how to handle that. i guess guys don't have this problem. "hey partner. sorry i saw it clip the back of the line. nice serve guys."

    do ladies really have to worry about these kinds of things?
     
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  14. Steady Eddy

    Steady Eddy Hall of Fame

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    Again, you support your partner. If she calls it "out", then it's "out". If it looks good to you, remember, it might be out anyway. Besides, there's no harm if she's wrong because 2nd serves are easier to return anyhow.
     
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  15. kylebarendrick

    kylebarendrick Professional

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    Eddy, for the record, a ball that "might be out" is "in".
     
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  16. Steady Eddy

    Steady Eddy Hall of Fame

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    Ordinarily, that's right. But this isn't about calls that you have made, this is about a call that your partner made. And as you say, your partner wouldn't call it out, unless she knew it was out. She's in a better position to call the service line. So just let her make the call.
     
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  17. iamgoat

    iamgoat Banned

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    perfect explanation. consider this.
    i often think that serves are in, only to find that after the match someone tells me that i was being soft with my calling of serves.
     
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  18. Cindysphinx

    Cindysphinx G.O.A.T.

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    Tsk, tsk. You're married, aren't you? :)

    Seriously, I know men have these issues also. How do I know? From reading TT!
     
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  19. tfm1973

    tfm1973 Semi-Pro

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    cindy -- even in mixed doubles if my partner calls a ball out but i saw it in. i'll overrule her in a heartbeat. any calls i'm not 100% sure, i keep my big fat mouth shut though. i learned that from being married too. :)

    i think the point for me is this. if my partner in doubles (male or female) is making bad calls (intentional or unintentional) -- then it makes me look bad. i do a good enough job on my own of looking bad. so i'll call it like i see it at any time.
     
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  20. Cindysphinx

    Cindysphinx G.O.A.T.

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    So you would have overruled her on the spot the first time? Despite the issues with being certain despite your bad vantage point? I mean, all I want is some comfort that benefit of the doubt is being given and we're calling the lines liberally, not tightly.

    I wish I could figure out a subtle way to signal that I'm uncomfortable without going straight to The Dreaded Overrule.
     
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  21. tfm1973

    tfm1973 Semi-Pro

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    overruled the first one? yes. but only if i'm about 100% sure it was good - give or take 1%. and maybe at next changeover or break in games talk to my partner. i had a partner in mixed who i talked to about line calls and she told me flat out that she's not very good at seeing the lines. she also thought a ball hits the line it was OUT. :shock: true story.
     
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  22. Cindysphinx

    Cindysphinx G.O.A.T.

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    Lordie!!

    I had a (different) partner who was making some dodgy line calls once. These were balls I wasn't in a position to see, and she was looking right at them. I was thinking, "I would have guessed that ball would have landed in, but I guess I can't be sure from way over here." After the match, she told me she was glad she wasn't whiffing the ball because her glasses were fogging up. That explains a lot, eh? If she had told me, I could have "helped" her with those calls.

    OK. Maybe the way to go is a pre-match conference. I could casually say . . . . um . . . "Hey, Suzy. Remember last time we played and that lady got so angry with us about some of our line calls? Let's both keep an eye on the lines, and if one of us thinks there is any chance a ball was in, we'll have a quick conference and change the call to good."

    Maybe that would go over . . .
     
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  23. PimpMyGame

    PimpMyGame Hall of Fame

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    I have no hesitation in overruling my partner if I know they made a mistake, I'll do it twice if necessary and ask the opinion of my opponents if I need backing up. I also think that when it's done on court, in a match, it's more effective than having to approach the person later to discuss it. That discussion invariably ends in an argument.
     
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  24. tfm1973

    tfm1973 Semi-Pro

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    +1. i think conviction plays a big part of it too. if you saw it OUT or IN and overrule your partner -- say it with confidence.

    if my partner tells me sorry but your call was wrong. hey works for me.

    if my partner tells me sorry but i think maybe possibly it looked like your call was wrong. well then i might be a bit peeved.

    and PMG is right -- in a match with your opponents watching, your partner is less likely to fuss. cuz then they look like a jackazz. :)
     
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  25. Cindysphinx

    Cindysphinx G.O.A.T.

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    Well, yeah. But we're not talking about the "wrong" line call. The one where you are 100% sure they are wrong about the call and the ball was in. We've discussed that issue here at TT to death, and we are all in agreement that you are supposed to overrule your partner. Except for the people who disagree! :)

    This is a different question. I'm thinking of the gnawing doubt that your partner is calling the lines Too Tight. It is based on the observation that "close" balls are being called out more often than usual.
     
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  26. PimpMyGame

    PimpMyGame Hall of Fame

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    I understand you question Cindy and apologise if my answer isn't clear, but it still stands. If I think my partner is calling too tight then I will overrule, which gives them 1000 volts up their backside. You generally only need to do it once, twice maximum. You will be amazed how quickly they "recalibrate", even if it's just when they're partnered with you.
     
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  27. Cindysphinx

    Cindysphinx G.O.A.T.

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    LOL!! Yes, that is exactly the sensation. Couldn't have described it better.

    I think I'll still go with the pre-match conference first, though. That would be 100 watts up the backside. More like using an Easy Bake Oven instead of going straight to a Thermadore convection oven.
     
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  28. raiden031

    raiden031 Legend

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    Cindy, this is one instance where I would never overrule my partner. There is no way you can see the ball landing on the line with any amount of certainty. My eyes tell me that every single partner of mine who makes service line calls is a cheater, when the reality is that I don't have the angle to see the ball as well as them. There are times I have asked my partner where it landed and they said 8" out, yet I swear it hit the line!

    The good news is that this inability for the returner to see where the ball hits will often lead to giving a freebie to your opponents, instead of cheating your opponents, which is a good thing. So it is bias against yourself and not against your opponents. This is why the server should not stop play if they think their first serve is out, because 1) the rules say so and 2) the returner can't see it well enough and the same will occur when they are serving to you and giving you freebies.
     
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  29. Nellie

    Nellie Hall of Fame

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    Personally - I would not make a big deal of it except, maybe, to make a small remark along of the lines of "You must have better eyes than me because I cannot see for sure whether that ball is in or out and I was going to play that serve." You are unsure whether the balls are in or out. Who knows - maybe, your partner has a better view. Also, line calls seem to be one of those things that work out in the end - if your team calls tight, the other team calls tight and it is all even, so I don't stress to much about it. Heck - I have enough to occupy my mind with thoughts about technique and strategy.

    My problem is that I serve with a lot of spin, so opponents often call the serve out before it lands, only to see it bounce well in the service box, by at least 6 inches. It is really annoying when they (1) ask for a let or (2) maintain with the bad call. Grr....
     
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  30. PimpMyGame

    PimpMyGame Hall of Fame

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    raiden, there are a couple of points that I disagree with but I accept that it may just be down to the level of tennis that I play, or even cultural differences (I'm in the UK).

    Firstly, for serves that I see in our doubles league I estimate that I can see at least 80% as in or out. These serves may be between 50 and 90 mph. Therefore I know if a partner of mine is building up a pattern of "tight" calls because too many will go against my gut reaction.

    Secondly, our league is competitive but nonetheless social. The average player will express frustration if calls are not right but at the same time will not attempt any hooking or gamesmanship. Therefore by gauging my opponents' reactions to calls and comparing them to my "personal" call I know very quickly when my partner is calling too tight.

    Finally by not correcting bad/too tight calls the match can descend to low levels of "tit-for-tat" calling but by doing the right thing you earn kudos from your opponents and I guarantee their calls will be more favourable to me.
     
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  31. raiden031

    raiden031 Legend

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    I agree that if your opponents express doubt in your partner's calls, you should begin to as well. But I find that most of the time I swear it hits the line, yet both my partner and opponents are perfectly fine with the out call, which leads me to accept that I cannot see where the ball is landing as well as either my partner or our opponents.

    I absolutely agree that you should correct bad calls or question them, but only if you have little doubt that the call was bad. But there is nothing more annoying then a server who stops play because their first serve is out, because when they are returning they will return just as many of my out serves anyways.
     
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  32. PimpMyGame

    PimpMyGame Hall of Fame

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    QFT, play until you hear the call!
     
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  33. sureshs

    sureshs Bionic Poster

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    That is not true. In ALMOST ALL of the situations when I have called out a service as a returner, my partner (and everytime he/she is a different person) has also called it out almost at the same time.

    On the flip side, most of the disagreements I have had as the non-returner is when I have called the ball out, but there was no call from the returner.

    If anything, from my experience, the returner is erring on the safe side.

    But it may just be me.
     
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  34. drakulie

    drakulie Talk Tennis Guru

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    Cindy, seriously>>> get a coach.
     
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  35. sureshs

    sureshs Bionic Poster

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    How would a coach improve line calling?
     
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  36. drakulie

    drakulie Talk Tennis Guru

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    It won't, but maybe it will give her something to do, rather than post ridiculous thread, after ridiculous thread.

    She is a walking contradiction.

    She clearly stated she doesn't even look at where the ball lands when she is returning serve, and yet questions her partner's call??? In essence, questioning her partners integrity????? :roll: Her own partner???? I could only fathom what it would be like being her opponent. <<ouch>> She needs a serious reality check.

    Additionally, will say in one thread play by the rules (which she clearly doesn't), and then in another say bending the rules is ok (in certain circumstances).

    This is a captain of a tennis team?

    Sorry, but her threads, along with her posts display the character of someone who in no way shape or form should be leading a tennis team. She needs to take lessons, learn the rules, and if good enough and asked, kindly accept to be part of a team, rather than Captaining one.


     
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  37. sureshs

    sureshs Bionic Poster

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    ^^^ I think you misread it. She does not pay attention to the lines when she is returning, so she is not sure how her partner can be sure when the partner is returning. Seems consistent logic to me.
     
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  38. sureshs

    sureshs Bionic Poster

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    Though I must say I enjoyed her poke at you in the black, white and gray post. I enjoyed it a lot actually.
     
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  39. drakulie

    drakulie Talk Tennis Guru

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    She is referring to the person in question as her partner, additionally, states she doesn't feel this way when playing with other partners. Therefore, I'm taking this as she is playing doubles, and her "doubles partner" is checking where the serve lands when Cindy is returning, which coincidentally, a good partner should be doing. She clearly states in the OP she (Cindy) is returning serve, and her partner was calling some serves long.

    Anyway, I strongly feel, based on her continuous posts/threads>>> she has no clue what she is doing out there, and has no business Captaining a team.

    I missed the "black/gray/white" post you are referring to. Where is it?
     
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  40. sureshs

    sureshs Bionic Poster

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    Read it again, and this time I am not sure. If she is projecting herself on her partner, she would be willing to override her as she does not pay attention, but she said the opposite.
     
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  41. sureshs

    sureshs Bionic Poster

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    You are right I think. She is the receiver in this case. But her logic was so backwards that I seemed to have adjusted for it by making her the non-receiver in my head.
     
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  42. sureshs

    sureshs Bionic Poster

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    #10 ............

    It has been a while since there has been a fight, what with the great Mojo leaving the building. Need to spice it up around here.
     
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  43. Cindysphinx

    Cindysphinx G.O.A.T.

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    I'm glad you enjoy "fights" Sureshs, but I do not.

    I plan to ignore Drakulie and anyone else who behaves similarly. There will be no fight. I have not read his recent posts, on account of how fast I start scrolling when I see he has responded to me.

    A few folks here seem to understand what I am saying. Those who don't wish to discuss it should Run Along Like A Good Little Boy.
     
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  44. drakulie

    drakulie Talk Tennis Guru

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    LOL. True.

    Oh, yes. I read it now. She gives herself the luxury of saying she is "gray" because she refuses to learn the rules.

    As for NBMJ, yes>>> I miss him too. :evil:
     
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  45. drakulie

    drakulie Talk Tennis Guru

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    Uhmmm, I do understand what you are saying quite clearly. Suresh is the one who was a bit confused ( I don't blame him after reading the garbage you post).
     
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  46. ttbrowne

    ttbrowne Hall of Fame

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    Right! I was in a 4.0 USTA match and my partner was recieving, The serve clearly caught the back of the line, he missed and I walked back to recieve and he then called it a fault. I hated to do it but I said no, it was in.
    Funny thing was the other team wanted to give him another chance at the ball even though they thought the serve was good!!!! So they served to him again!
    Crazy stuff.
     
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  47. OrangePower

    OrangePower Hall of Fame

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    Back on topic...

    As many have already posted, if as the receiver you're sure that a serve was in but your partner called it out, you should overrule your partner immediately. However this is not the situation here, since you're not sure either way but just have some doubts.

    How about asking your partner, after some of these calls, something along the lines of "I was so intent on the return that I didn't even see where it landed! How much did it end up missing by?" This way you are not questioning her call, but you're making her think about it and mentally review where she saw the ball land. If she's not able to give a clear response, then maybe you need to sit down and have a chat sometime. But if she replies with confidence without having to think about it too much, then she's probably calling it right.
     
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  48. jc4.0

    jc4.0 Professional

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    always a tough call

    When she calls your serve out - do you ask her partner, politely, if she agrees? Both must agree that the serve was out. If they disagree, then the server must either be awared the point (if it was an ace or unreturnable serve); or take two more serves otherwise.

    It's not considered impolite to simply ask "are you sure my serve was out?" Or to ask to be shown a mark, if playing on clay.

    The rule is, your opponent(s) have the call, in any case. I just don't play with people who consistently make clearly bad line calls, whether they need glasses are just want to win too badly. Preserve the friendship, and play tennis with someone else.
     
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  49. sureshs

    sureshs Bionic Poster

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    When I play doubles and am the non-receiving partner, I stand on the service line and face the other half of the court. As the server starts serving, I manage to watch him/her impact the ball, and also quickly see the ball bounce. I don't think it would be feasible in a pro match, but I find that I need both views to accurately judge whether the ball is in or out. The overall trajectory, plus what happens near the service line. I am then usually completely confident about the call and will try to overrule my partner if he/she contradicts me.

    I am thinking now if just focusing on the service line will work.
     
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  50. JavierLW

    JavierLW Hall of Fame

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    I think you are right because I practice the same thing (watching the whole trajectory of the ball, not just staring at the line).

    Half the time when you are looking at the line if it's a good enough serve, you just see a yellow blur go across the line and obviously you cant call it out, but that doesnt mean it wasnt out.

    Maybe it's true that you have a better shot at it then the receiver, but it's still silly to me that everyone thinks it's an actual rule that it's YOUR JOB to call that one. Ive had partners make horrible line calls going the other way as well.
     
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