The Etiquette of USTA Singles

Discussion in 'Adult League & Tournament Talk' started by Cindysphinx, Jun 22, 2009.

  1. Cindysphinx

    Cindysphinx G.O.A.T.

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    I had this singles match recently. Since I don't play much league singles, I wasn't sure how certain things are normally handled.

    I won the toss and elected to serve. The opponent handed me the three balls, and I handed her one and said, "Hey, would you mind holding one?" She held one for a couple of points and then eventually sent it over to me. For the rest of the match, she kept sending me the third ball.

    But I didn't want to hold the third ball. It bothers me; it's just too much going on under my skirt and I worry it will fall out. I wasn't sure what to do. I actually thought about putting the third ball on the bench. Is it unusual for the receiver to hold the third ball? Was I out of line to ask this? Should I have kept asking her to hold it?

    When she served, she kept two balls and put the second along the back curtain. This bothered me some, as I don't like having extra balls on the court if it can be avoided. I knew the rule allows me to ask her to clear it, but I would have felt like a jerk doing that, so I tried to ignore it. Would I have been a jerk to object to this and ask her to hold the third ball or let me hold it?

    Finally, she played very quickly. We would finish a point, and I would want to take a practice swing and then go to the baseline to receive and bounce around some and think. But no. The instant she stepped up to the line, she was ready to mumble the score and serve. I didn't wish to stall and was willing to play to the reasonable pace of the server, but I felt very rushed. What can I do within the rules to slow things down when this happens?
     
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  2. Jim A

    Jim A Professional

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    I like to have 3 but tend to keep the extras right against the back fence, hasn't ever been an issue. If its nearby I'll often send the 3rd over

    Since I'm a guy we don't typically worry about this stuff :)

    If I start missing a decent amount of my 1st serves, I'll carry the 2nd in a pocket. but often if I've either won/lost the point going back to the middle of the fence for another ball is as quick/efficient as anything else
     
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  3. WBF

    WBF Hall of Fame

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    1.) Toss the ball behind you. You cannot ask her to clear a ball that is back there.

    2.) You can take your time within limits on your serve. Not for hers, provided she is giving you a reasonable time to get ready (without any of your extra preferences...)
     
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  4. blakesq

    blakesq Professional

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    I agree, the ball is "cleared" when it is against the back fence or back curtain.

    And yes, it is unusual to ask your opponent to hold a ball for you during a USTA match. I won't do it, because on several occasions, during my 30 years of playing tennis, the ball in my pocket has actually interfered with my stroke (i know its rare).



     
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  5. OrangePower

    OrangePower Hall of Fame

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    I don't think you can ask your opponent to hold the third ball for you. Of course you can and should indicate your preference - whether you prefer to have all three balls on your end (as I do) or whether two balls are sufficient. But if your opponent passes the third ball to you unasked and you don't want to hold it, just put it in one of the back corners. And I don't believe you can ask your opponent to clear a ball that is firmly in the corner on her end and in no danger of making it's way onto the court.
     
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  6. abbeytxs

    abbeytxs New User

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    My experience has always been that the receiver held the third ball. Whether she held it in her skirt, or rolled it against the back fence was up to her.

    I usually hold it under my skirt. Occasionally I have had an opponent who asked to hold all three.
     
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  7. blakesq

    blakesq Professional

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    tHE RULES say you have to play at the server's pace of play. However, "quick serving" is not allowed. iF YOU "take a practice swing and then go to the baseline to receive and bounce around some and think" and your opponent is waiting on you to serve, you are not playing at your opponents pace of play.

     
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  8. Mr. Blond

    Mr. Blond Professional

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    Cindy....I have been reading your post for a while now and am always enlightened by what you have to say. Recently, my wife started playing ladies 3.0 league matches (well actually for a year now) where I train with my coach. Because of this I often times hand out after hitting with my coach to watch her matches. Now I have been playing tournament tennis for around 5 years now, so my opinions are based on my personal experience.


    In ladies tennis what I notice is that there are two distinct types of players: Player A who is there to socialize and keep up with the joneses if you know what I mean. Player B who is there for the love and competition tennis offers.


    Because there are so many player type A's, what I have notices is that chit chat between points is ridiculous, to the point of taking two or three times the allotted time between points and changeovers.

    Another thing that I have noticed is that women love to encourage their opponents when they make errors.

    didn't mean to hijack your thread I was just wondering if you have found the same observations?
     
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  9. Cindysphinx

    Cindysphinx G.O.A.T.

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    Chit chat between points in a USTA league singles match?

    Heck no. Not if I'm losing, anyway. I'm Chatty Cathy if I'm winning, but since I never win in singles, I never find much to talk about. In doubles, the losing team is usually so sullen that it seems best to keep one's distance on changeovers.

    My singles opponent this last time asked me where I play (meaning whether I am a member of club). I told her no, but I live near a couple of supermarkets she has heard of so I can be found on the public courts there. The entire time I was actually wishing she would shut up so I could *think.*

    As far as encouraging opponents when they make errors . . . Well, I certainly like to encourage them to make *more* errors, but I somehow don't think that is what you meant. :)

    I had a match tonight with a new partner. We won the first set 6-4. Then we went up 2-0 in the second set. I hit a lucky shot that dribbled over the net for a winner and service break to us. This seemed to take the wind out of our opponents, as they were now in a deep hole with little time left in the match to turn things around. We won 6-2.

    After the match, my partner said, "Boy, I could see that the lady in pink kind of gave up. That's a shame."

    I thought to myself, "I wish you had pointed that out during the match, because I would have targeted her relentlessly to try to break her spirit completely."

    So some women are nice, supportive and encouraging to opponents (my partner) and some women are, um, like me!
     
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  10. Mr. Blond

    Mr. Blond Professional

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    You definitely sound like a type B player. My wife is too, so many times leaves her league matches frustrated over those things.
     
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  11. Vik

    Vik Rookie

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    Must be different for you ladies. I always smack the 3rd ball to my opponent whether they want it or not (and I always want the 3rd ball when I serve). The server should maintain the balls. What good are they to the returner?:shock:
     
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  12. Kostas

    Kostas Semi-Pro

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    Cindy I know by reading your posts that you are a student of the game and a competitor.

    However, about the first question about the balls - I agree with the other posters here about who keeps up with the 3rd ball. That said, I think you should stop worrying about it. Stop worrying about who's got what ball and about balls on the back fence and just play tennis.

    About #2 - the server's pace - blake pretty much summed it up.
     
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  13. SonRK

    SonRK Rookie

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    I have never seen someone ask their opponent to hold the 3rd ball. If for example, my opponent hit a fault, and I catch it, I either put it behind me, or hold it, but it was never at the request of my opponent.
     
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  14. heycal

    heycal Hall of Fame

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    I'm with you, buddy. I like your style.

    Then you've never played with my ex-gf. She'd hand me the third ball and I'd be like "what am I, your personal assistant? You deal with the damn ball, and when I'm serving, you can smack any stray balls my way whether I'm looking or not. Just send 'em over in my general direction and I'll deal with 'em."
     
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  15. Commando Tennis Shorts

    Commando Tennis Shorts Hall of Fame

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    I'm with most of you guys. I've never heard of asking your opponent to hold the 3rd ball when you're serving. Is this usual in ladies tennis? Are there different etiquettes between gentlemen's tennis and ladies leagues?
     
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  16. Cindysphinx

    Cindysphinx G.O.A.T.

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    I wonder if this could be a gender thing. When I play practice matches, the receiver always holds one ball. Only if the server requests the third ball does the receiver hand it over. Topaz, are you out there?

    We don't wear baggy shorts, after all.
     
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  17. jc4.0

    jc4.0 Professional

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    In my league the server holds all three balls, it's a rule. Asking your opponent to hold one of them is a weird concept to me. What's the problem with just rolling the third ball off the court, out of the way? This is a silly thing to "worry" about during a match, you are giving it far too much thought. In a league match I don't usually have too many conversations with my opponent, I just focus on my tennis game.

    The rule about serving is you play at the server's pace. If you aren't ready to receive you can hold up your hand long enough to get into ready position. The server shouldn't have to wait while you bounce around and take practice swings. That is a hinderance to the server's rhythm so that's why it's not allowed. I'll bet before you serve, you do all kinds of stuff that drives this opponent crazy... but you have 25 seconds to do it, and that's your pace so they have to deal with it.
     
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  18. seleswannabe

    seleswannabe Rookie

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    Regarding the balls...I really dislike holding balls in my shorts - I am female. I find it distracting. That being said, while serving I always keep an extra one in my shorts to keep play at a reasonable pace. Otherwise I keep the extra up against the back fence. No one has ever complained.
     
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  19. abbeytxs

    abbeytxs New User

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    I have a feeling it is more of a gender thing based on clothing. Mens tennis shorts tend to have fairly big pockets and can easily accomodate holding all three balls. Womens tennis shorts rarely have big enough pockets and while bike shorts are stretchy, they do have a limit.

    In doubles, the server usually starts out with two balls and tosses the third to their partner to hold. I guess the practice of having your opponent hold the third in singles started from there.

    When I started playing singles, most of my opponents just handed me the third ball to hold so I assumed that was the common practice.
     
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  20. mikeler

    mikeler G.O.A.T.

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    I would never ask my opponent to hold the 3rd ball. If they want to hold it fine. If they want to hit it back to me, no problem either. Keeping the balls at the back of the fence is pretty standard.

    As for the quick serve, my approach to this depends on whether I have an extra ball. If I do, I'll hit a nice slow backspin lob to the server to buy that extra couple seconds I need to prepare for the serve. If I don't have a ball, I'll walk to the back of the fence and then turn around to face the server and start walking towards the baseline. Most people will not serve until you walk up closer to the baseline. If they do, just put your hand up and don't make an attempt to return the ball.
     
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  21. Vik

    Vik Rookie

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    Guys don't hold all three balls either. One to serve, one in the pocket, the other along the fence. Not sure why clothing would matter. I find this fascinating though :shock:.

    Maybe it's b/c most women start off playing doubles (or play more doubles) and get used to their partner holding the extra ball?
     
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  22. Topaz

    Topaz Legend

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    Yeah, I think there is a gender difference here. We can hold one extra ball just fine, but shoving two under the skirt is a bit uncomfortable.

    I have held the third ball, and had an opponent hold the third ball for me as well. Some like to have all three, some don't. No big deal to me either way. When I have all three, one gets pushed behind me against the curtain/fence.
     
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  23. Power Player

    Power Player G.O.A.T.

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    Just put the ball along the fence and move on. Who cares? The point of tennis is to think about as little as possible except the ball.
     
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  24. boilerfan

    boilerfan New User

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    Typical etiquette for the balls:
    1. The server maintains the balls. You put one in your pocket, one behind you at the fence and serve with the other. You may not care which ball you serve with, but a lot of people do and choose between the balls which 2 to use. For example, I always use the heavier/fuzzier one for the second serve(kick serve), and the one with the most air/less fuzzy for the first serve(more flat serve)
    2. I would not hold the 3rd ball. I don't want to have the extra ball in my pocket when returning. If you gave it to me to hold, I would hit it back to the fence and it would take longer to play.
    3. The previous poster brought up another typical etiquette type thing. If the ball is on your side and you need a quick break, hold the ball for a second, then return it back to the server.

    Since you asked about this, asking the returner to hold the ball signals that you learned to play as an adult and are more a beginner in singles. Other examples I would say are like that are the doubles partner that stands near the doubles alley afraid of getting plunked with their partners serve, warming up doubles with 1 ball going, or warming up serves individually after the match has started.

    Also, singles players tend to play quicker, because a singles match can last much longer than a doubles match. You need to pick and choose some methods to slow down the server when you most need it. It would be very frustrating to play somebody that takes time between every point shadow swinging and jumping around. Use some methods like having a towel behind you to towel off periodically, or hold the ball and hit it back to the server when you are ready...or if you hit a ball in the net, get the ball and walk back a little slower and keep your back turned until you are ready. Once you are standing near the service line and are facing the server, expect a serve.

    Hopefully now of it sounds rude...just trying to help since you asked.
     
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  25. JavierLW

    JavierLW Hall of Fame

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    Ive noticed that when I play "friendly" matches with my friends, we sometimes hold the 3rd ball for the server. Ive had friends ask me if I wanted them to hold it even, although Ive never asked that. (I just put it against the back fence, it's allowed to be there as long as it's not rolling around and the wind isnt going to blow it back onto the court)

    But in an actual league match, Id never ask the opponent to hold the 3rd ball for me, that would be really weird. It's not their job to maintain the balls.

    I'll hold one in some cases though like if they miss a first serve and it rolls near me (to speed up play), or if I happen to be near one and they are not requesting the 3rd ball, I'll hold it for awhile to save time, but as soon as there is break in the action Im going to chuck them that 3rd ball whether they like it or not.

    It's not just a gender situation. I dont know any guy who wants to stick two tennis balls in his shorts pocket, that wouldnt be very comfortable, some shorts are not even made well for doing that.

    Most people just lay the 3rd ball against the back fence or wall. You cant make anyone remove a ball from there because it's not on the playing area. If it's a windy day sometimes I'll gently wedge it against the fence or I'll put some rocks in front of it or something.
     
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  26. Atown

    Atown Rookie

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    Some men do ... I play with some who want all three balls and keep the extra two in their shorts pockets.
     
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  27. Atown

    Atown Rookie

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    Is that why she's your ex-gf? ;)
     
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  28. heycal

    heycal Hall of Fame

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    I'm one of those guys more or less. I have no problem holding a ball in each pocket.
     
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  29. coyfish

    coyfish Hall of Fame

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    man you guys seem to take forever to get ready to recieve serve. If you wan't more time as a returner tie your shoe, look away, mess with your strings, plenty you can do. Its pretty annoying when people do this because when your serving it should be your chance to govern the speed of the game.

    Your opponent was probably confused and did not understand when you first told her to hold the 3rd ball. Ive never heard of that before and she probably took it as a one point thing.
     
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  30. Douggo

    Douggo Semi-Pro

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    As the receiver, I'd rather have the third ball in my pocket than against the fence behind you. That way, if a ball ends up in my end and I don't want to get it, I can toss you the ball from my pocket.
    For some reason, when the server's got the third ball behind him, it's always too far for him to walk if there's a ball on my end that I could retrieve.
     
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  31. JRstriker12

    JRstriker12 Hall of Fame

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    I guess it depends on your opponent.

    Last night in a USTA match, my opponent asked me if I wanted all three balls. I said he could hold one. Don't know why, I usually take all three.

    Having said that, I usually return all three balls to the server unless they ask me not to. But if it takes me a while to get a ball (say it rolls 2 or 3 courts over), I'll ask or hold up the third ball to see if they want it back at that point. Sometimes they do, sometimes they don't.

    On occasion I'll hold the third ball to make sure play moves quickly. Easier to pull it out of my pocket and send it over then pulling it off the back fence.

    As you can tell, I'm inconsistent on this issue - just depends on how I feel that day and the preference of my opponent.
     
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  32. JavierLW

    JavierLW Hall of Fame

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    Well okay, I guess you're right some people like to have all 3 balls. But not everyone does...

    I bought some cheap crappy Adidas shorts recently and it seems that the one ball has a habit of popping out, I cant imagine holding two in there. (it seems like certain styles or brands can hold two balls better then others depending on how deep the pockets are)
     
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  33. JavierLW

    JavierLW Hall of Fame

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    I guess Im the same way.

    If Im dealing with someone who loves to stall, that's one time that I'll hold the 3rd ball for them (if they let me). That way if they need one i can easily chuck it to them rather then watch them waddle over to wherever the other ball happens to be.

    I also ask for all 3 in those cases if they have it readily available otherwise it seems to be an extra excuse for them to go wandering after a ball we dont even need.

    It seems like sometimes when people stall though they are the ones who also always insist on getting the 3rd ball, which I will actually refuse if I have to spend extra time getting to it and they actually have two. (by rule I only have to get it if it's "readily available")
     
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  34. JRstriker12

    JRstriker12 Hall of Fame

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    Interesting - never knew you didn't have to get a third ball.
     
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  35. JavierLW

    JavierLW Hall of Fame

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    The rules say something about it being "readily available". If I have it or Im near it I have to hand it over if requested.

    If it's across the court and Id have to spend extra time to go get it and you have two balls, then you're going to only have two balls.

    (although I may feel that way a lot more if you are someone who stalls and slows the game down to a complete crawl and is only asking for the 3rd ball to waste extra time)

    23. Server’s request for third ball. When a server requests three balls, the
    receiver shall comply when the third ball is readily available. Distant balls shall be
    retrieved at the end of a game.
     
    Last edited: Jun 23, 2009
    #35
  36. heycal

    heycal Hall of Fame

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    Do what I do: buy shorts that have pockets on both sides.
     
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  37. Perry the Platypus

    Perry the Platypus Rookie

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    I would never ask another guy to hold the third ball. That said, I'm not having two balls in my pocket during a point either. One at the back of the fence is the norm in all of my matches. (both for my self and my opponents)

    Plus with all three on my side of the court, I can make sure that I rotate all of the balls into play the way I want to.
     
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  38. mctennis

    mctennis Hall of Fame

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    Just put the extra ball in your tennis bag. Then give the extra ball to her when you're done serving.
     
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  39. Commando Tennis Shorts

    Commando Tennis Shorts Hall of Fame

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    Wait, so you guys just got done running around the court for god knows how long, but your opponent can't walk 15 feet to grab another ball?

    Do they make shorts that don't?
     
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  40. heycal

    heycal Hall of Fame

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    Sounds like it from Javier's post. Or maybe he doesn't realize you are permitted to place one ball in each pocket instead of trying to put two balls in the same pocket.
     
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  41. OrangePower

    OrangePower Hall of Fame

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    That's why there are pockets on both sides :)

    I always serve with 3 balls - I start out with one in my hand, and one in the left pocket, one in the right pocket. That way, if there is a service let, I don't have to go searching for an extra ball.

    I do this in both singles and doubles, although in dubs I have to 'train' my partners to give me the third ball rather than holding onto it themselves :)
     
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  42. JavierLW

    JavierLW Hall of Fame

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    Dont need to, I dont care if I have 3 balls most of the time, and in the back against the fence works just fine.

    It's funny because when I was a kid, I had a habit of putting the extra ball in my right pocket (like I would with most things because Im right handed), so I would have to hand the racquet off to my other hand to get the ball and then I had to switch them since the ball is tossed with the left hand.
     
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  43. Cindysphinx

    Cindysphinx G.O.A.T.

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    No, it's not rude. I asked because I wanted to understand.

    I mean, from the perspective of a doubles player, it is unbelievably weird to see someone take the third ball and walk over to the middle of the back curtain and set a ball there. Perhaps I am unusual, but I crash into the back curtain and side curtain all the time. I don't want a ball back there (which will roll if I crash into the curtain), and I don't want to worry that there is a ball back there. I'd rather have it flush against the net, because I can at least see it and I certainly don't go crashing into the net.

    It sounds like the protocol is different in singles, for good reasons. You don't have a partner to hold the extra ball, and you are already wasting all kinds of time on ball management (missed serves that mus be cleared before the second serve).

    Regarding slowing down play, I didn't wish to engage in gamesmanship to buy time or anything, so I didn't. I did notice that singles players spend a lot less time between points (no conferences with partners, no waiting for all four people to be ready, the need to save time because points take so long, the need to spend time on ball management).

    Cindy -- who will start shoving the third ball in her cleavage
     
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  44. JRstriker12

    JRstriker12 Hall of Fame

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    I'm sure that would go over well in mixed dubs - So distracting, I'd have to call a hinderance ;)
     
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  45. Spokewench

    Spokewench Semi-Pro

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    I usually hold one ball in my shorts and serve one. If I have the third ball, I will put it at the back fence or curtain, cause I also am afraid there is not enough room in my shorts for two balls and they may pop out and become a hindrance. I do not ask a singles player to hold a ball; but when I am playing doubles I do ask my partner to hold a ball if I have all 3.

    I don't crash into fences and curtains too much; I think I'm too old! LOL And, even if I did, I doubt a loose ball at the curtain or fence would be a problem.

    spoke
     
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  46. blakesq

    blakesq Professional

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    At our indoor club, they often have ladders, metal carts full of tennis balls, and other hurtful things behind the back curtain, thats why I try not to go crashing into our back curtain.

     
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  47. boilerfan

    boilerfan New User

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    It's really not gamesmanship if you do it nicely :)

    Example #1: Hold the third ball until you are almost in the ready position, then hit it back...effectively stalling the point for 10 seconds or so.
    Example #2: You get a ball from the corner, walk a few slow steps with it, hit it back as a little lob and you have effectively given yourself another 4 or 5 seconds.

    People do #2 all the time as a way of saying, "You will have a more fun match if I don't die on the court"

    You will see some juniors do #1 after almost every point as gamesmanship.

    If you want to see the difference between singles and doubles speeds, watch the Wimbledon roof unvealing. Agassi/Graf vs Henman/Clijsters doubles where they laugh and talk after each point. Then Clijsters played Graf in singles and I don't even think they hardly waited for the ball kids to get back to the corner before starting a new point. Graf and Clijsters were 2 of the fastest players, so playing each other was pretty comical.
     
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  48. JavierLW

    JavierLW Hall of Fame

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    You are right, in singles ball frequently goes against the back curtain.

    In doubles it seems weird for that to happen, your partner typically holds a ball for you.

    When Im playing doubles once in awhile I dont want to deal with my partner holding the 3rd ball (if Im serving and I dont want the interuption) but usually I sort of note that it's a weird occurance.
     
    #48
  49. Grover Sparkman

    Grover Sparkman Rookie

    Joined:
    Apr 24, 2009
    Messages:
    256
    I can't stand playing with a second ball in my pocket. I usually just throw the 3rd one against the back fence.
     
    #49
  50. Kostas

    Kostas Semi-Pro

    Joined:
    Jul 7, 2008
    Messages:
    529
    Location:
    Memphis, TN
    I can play with 3 balls in my pockets...heh
     
    #50

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