To Bend or Not to Bend?

Discussion in 'Adult League & Tournament Talk' started by fe6250, Jan 31, 2008.

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Do you Bend USTA rules?

  1. No - I play to the letter of every USTA rule

    15 vote(s)
    25.4%
  2. Yes - I let common sense rule

    44 vote(s)
    74.6%
  1. fe6250

    fe6250 Semi-Pro

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    There has been some discussions on this board on various rules of USTA amateur tennis (time limits, catching a clearly out ball before it lands, calling minor foot faults, etc..) So do you play completely by the letter of every USTA rule (enforcing them all) OR do you 'bend' the rules where it seems reasonable to you?

    (Example - guy catches a ball behind the base line over his head on a fly to keep it from going out of the court area. Do you take the point because 'technically' he caught it before it bounced?)
     
    Last edited: Jan 31, 2008
    #1
  2. tennis-n-sc

    tennis-n-sc Professional

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    If I'm playing a social for fun match, I'll let a lot slide by. We often discuss the rules at these matches.

    If it is a league or tournament match, rules apply. I do not have the authority to "bend" the rules where it seems reasonable to me. Neither do you.
     
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  3. WBF

    WBF Hall of Fame

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    If I'm playing for fun I'll let pretty much anything go (well, I don't like breaks, let alone big breaks.. I won't call people on it, but I'll do everything to encourage them to play as quickly as possible).

    As for actual matches (tournaments, leagues, ladders, etc.) I'll call whatever I see. I don't pay attention to foot faults, so probably not those... Not to mention the fact that I love hitting the big serves, and hate weak serves :)
     
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  4. spiderman123

    spiderman123 Professional

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    The question is not bending the rule when it seems reasonable to you but when it seems logical and the advantage lies with your opponent (e.g. when the opponent is standing 4 feet behind the baseline, reaches above his head and catches the ball.)

    At that point, do you say "I am going to give you a point this time but this is not allowed." or do you say "(ha-ha) My point."
     
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  5. Supernatural_Serve

    Supernatural_Serve Professional

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    Play by the rules but I ignore foot faults and people showing up late or other related penalty rules, generous on service line calls, but I will warn people if they play painfully slow. That irritates me.

    One of the common things I say no to is people asking not to switch sides according to the rules and the 1st serve in nonsense. Screw those requests.
     
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  6. fe6250

    fe6250 Semi-Pro

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    I think that is an excellent clarification. I'm not asking whether or not it's 'ok' to cheat when it suits you - but rather do you let someone elses transgression go or not (foot faulting / catching the ball example). In the case of a time limit - both sides would have to agree. I'm assuming that you have to have agreement OR that the call is in your opponents favor that you are making. Personally - I wouldn't call the catched ball or the foot fault unless it was severe and impacted the game.
     
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  7. Supernatural_Serve

    Supernatural_Serve Professional

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    I wouldn't either, but I would ask him not to do that again.
     
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  8. Cindysphinx

    Cindysphinx G.O.A.T.

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    Let's see.

    I'm OK with a spectator on the court so long as they are as quiet as a church mouse. If they say or do anything, I would ask them to leave.

    I insist on switching sides. I think this leads to scoring disputes.

    I frequently tell opponents to say the score more loudly, or if they forget to announce it I ask them what it is.

    I'll give someone a let for pretty much anything that is not insane, assuming I think they are trustworthy. If they called the let in error, I'll explain but still grant the let.

    I don't call footfaults..

    I let people play slowly so long as I think they aren't doing it to run out the clock. I'm generous about giving people two serves if there is a question about it.

    I once claimed a point in a league match when the opponent was hit by the serve, though. 'Cause that's the rule.
     
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  9. tennis-n-sc

    tennis-n-sc Professional

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    Exactly......
     
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  10. tennis-n-sc

    tennis-n-sc Professional

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    In other words, you are going to decide which rules infractions to call. Maybe your opponent and you don't agree on what impacts the game. That would be a great argument by Hewitt next time he's called for a foot fault, which usually happens at least twice a match.
     
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  11. fe6250

    fe6250 Semi-Pro

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    Hewitt is playing for money and has line judges - I don't see how your analogy applies to weekend warriors banging the ball around and having a good time. I prefer to be a gentleman - sorry if you didn't get that.

    Further - what I meant by 'severe' was catching a ball that had a chance to fall in (never have seen that happen) or foot faulting 3 feet over the base line (haven't seen that either) - SO, for the record - I've never called either in a match.
     
    Last edited: Jan 31, 2008
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  12. Topaz

    Topaz Legend

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    IMO, you best show respect for your opponents as well as other teams waiting to play by following the rules. Then there is no question, no gray area, no middle ground, and no arguing.
     
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  13. spiderman123

    spiderman123 Professional

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    Topaz is right.

    Consider a case where your errant first serve of the game directly hits the opponent receiver who was not paying attention/was a little slow.

    Don't you think he or she will feel more respected if you yell "15-0"/"Are you ok? 15-0" compared to "oops. Are you ok? love all. Second." The latter choice is sure to embarrass your opponent and they may quit because they did not get the respect on the court.

    </s>
     
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  14. fe6250

    fe6250 Semi-Pro

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    Right On Spider! I don't need rules to define whether or not I'm respecting someone properly. I can usually figure it out on my own.
     
    #14
  15. matchmaker

    matchmaker Hall of Fame

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    Common sense rules!

    Once my opponent in a social match claimed the point because I had touched the net after crushing his dropshot down the line. I think that was really childish. I had already made the point when I touched the net slightly.

    When balls go far out I think the best thing is to catch them in the air if you do not want to run after them to retrieve them. However when they are close to the baseline I am merciless. Either you take it, either you let it go. You cannot take it, hit an error and then say the ball was going to go out. If you thought so you should have let it go.

    Many people do make mistakes in the score. They sometimes add a game or forget one. It can also be a point. In that case you have to explain the previous game or points to make them realize. It could be a lot better if every player stated the score out loud before every point.

    I do not mind people playing slowly. I rather get irritated by those who play too fast. The previous point has not yet ended and they are already serving.
     
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  16. A.Davidson

    A.Davidson Semi-Pro

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    For me, only if NOT breaking the rule would seriously hinder play (such as a ball going over the fence, and instead being caught) would I do any of these "minor" things.

    But for time limits, ESPECIALLY the starting time, I try to enforce as much as possible - this includes defaulting too.

    I call foot faults if they are blatant and the guy is a repeat offender.

    If the ball is gonna be out, but just hit the fence, I let it be. Just grab it after the point.
     
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  17. randomname

    randomname Professional

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    dont have the authority to bend rules? the usta rulebook isnt exactly the constitution, believe it or not you ARE playing a game where I would hope common sense should be the prevailing rule
     
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  18. AlpineCadet

    AlpineCadet Hall of Fame

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    The example you gave should be forgiven, because honestly, he and you both know that that ball is landing outside of the lines (unless there's an act of God, though highly unlikely.) Be honest with each other, and give the benefit of the doubt whenever possible.

    I had the same situation happen to me a few months back during doubles, and our opponent took the point away from us, probably because he was losing anyway. We all knew that the ball had NO chance of landing near the court lines, but as soon as I reached out to catch/stop the ball, he loudly exclaimed that since I touched the ball, we lose the point. And at that moment in time, by him following the rules, it actually seemed like he was cheating us.
     
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  19. raiden031

    raiden031 Legend

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    If someone is a stickler for rules that don't really give anyone an advantage, then I will not give them any lets unless the rules require it and will be a stickler to them as well. Being a stickler is not a good thing because it annoys the opponent(s) and causes tension. I think being reasonably flexible is a better approach and if someone feels they can't win a match by being flexible (but instead must be a stickler), then they have issues. Sorry I have played against a few people that were pulling all sorts of rules out of their ass and they take the fun right out of the sport.
     
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  20. fe6250

    fe6250 Semi-Pro

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    I couldn't agree with you more! If I was making a living doing this I might have a different opinion. The key for most amateur tennis is to have fun in my book and realize that sometimes it's better to do the right thing.

    I had an indoor league match tonight that was a true pleasure to play. My partner hit a serve and my opponent called it out and then a point afterwards asked me if I agreed with his call. I told him - that honestly 'no' (I was looking straight down the line) and he wanted to replay the point. I told him that I thought he had called the ball honestly as he saw it and that we shouldn't replay the point and lets just keep playing. After that there were a few other close calls where we all just laughed and tried to call them fairly. The mood was MUCH better than had I made an issue out of him not being 'sure' he should have called it 'out'.

    Calling your own game is an imperfect science - we all need to recognize that a little.
     
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  21. tennis-n-sc

    tennis-n-sc Professional

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    This is hilarious. Why have lines?
     
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  22. tennis-n-sc

    tennis-n-sc Professional

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    Well, this is all according to the rules, isn't it. Why didn't you overrule your partner's immediatley?
     
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  23. fe6250

    fe6250 Semi-Pro

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    My partner was serving - the guy who called it out was returning. I don't have the 'right' to over-rule him.
     
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  24. Supernatural_Serve

    Supernatural_Serve Professional

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    I have to disagree with that.

    Topaz had it right about respecting the rules.

    Common sense is often the rationale for people inventing, manipulating, and falsely interpreting rules, especially by people who haven't taken the time to learn the rules.

    I really get irritated by people who have never read the rules making up nonsense in the middle of the match that might be persuasive, might even be common sense, but are simply wrong and their common sense bullsh*t invites unnecessary arguments and fights that cheapen the game.

    The rules aren't based in common sense. They are based on principles of what is best for the game. That is a critical thing to understand and respect.

    And some of them are counter to common sense, especially the ones that would invite gamesmanship. For example, Its common sense to me that if the server serves a ball in doubles and it hits the opposing net man that the server shouldn't get the point, but the rules say the service team get the point since the ball was never given a chance to bounce.

    I can see all kinds of unschooled people using common sense saying "that ball never had a chance of going in. It was out by 6 feet, its a fault" and I would say, "you are absolutely wrong and have never read the rules of tennis"

    If the server wants to deny himself the point and offer a "do over" or take a fault, that's his right but in no way an obligation regardless of common sense and bullying by an indignant opponent using common sense is wrong and it is bad for the game.
     
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  25. fe6250

    fe6250 Semi-Pro

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    It seems we are losing the context of the original post. The premise was not to use common sense as a tool to invent rules or to give oneself an unfair advantage. Using common sense in that manner is simply cheating - end of discussion. However, my decision to call 'my point' on a caught ball behind the baseline (and it is my call) can be governed by my own common sense without causing cheating or gamesmanship. It can also make tennis more enjoyable by being a good sport.
     
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  26. spiderman123

    spiderman123 Professional

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    Or it is used by people who know the rationale behind a particular rule and are willing to use their common sense to resolve a situation quickly and in the friendliest manner. We can definitely agree to disagree but it is difficult for me to appreciate someone blindly following the rules without thinking first why that rule was formed.


    This is different. Not knowing rules is very different from knowing the rules and willing to overlook it at times. Again the example would be catching a ball 4 feet behind baseline in a timed match with 2 min to go to save time perhaps.




    Yes they are. That is how they evolve. If they were not, the sport would never be popular as human intelligence will refuse to accept it.

    I will give you an extreme example (please bear in mind that this is an extreme but true example which can be intrapolated to what we are discussing). I think this happened about 15 years(or more) ago in a Japanese (I think)school. The school was very strict about being on time and decided to have a door that closed automatically when the school started. A girl who was desperately trying to make it to school was crushed to death as the door did not open when it touched her.

    Yes, the rule of being on time was in the school's best interest.
    Yes, that child was running late.

    But common sense demanded that the door should have opened then. See how common sense is a driving factor in our lives. That brings me to another example of driving. If people don't use common sense while following traffic rules, there would be many many more accidents.



    And I would say in some of these cases that you are not using common sense. That rule is in place to make sure that the doubles partner does not invalidate a good serve by poking their racquet or does not stand so close to the line that the other person loses some of the serving confidence in the fear of hitting or a curved serve being invalidated because it hit the doubles guy.

    Now if the person is standing in the doubles alley and is not paying attention to the server for whatever reason, and if the "abide by rules" server decides to hit him with a first serve, the server will get the point, you can throw the book at them but please don't tell me that the server will not lose any respect because of this.

    Nobody is saying that the server is obligated use common sense. If you read the poll again, it just asks if you would be willing to use common sense in these cases. And your answer is no. The people who support common sense cannot *make* you use common sense. But we can definitely defend our position when someone says common sense is overrated.
     
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  27. spiderman123

    spiderman123 Professional

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    It is common sense to draw permanent lines to reduce the conflict with line calls. That is how it became a rule.

    The idea of this thread was to ask if you will use your common sense to reduce potential conflicts that could be avoided, not what rules you can overlook so that you can increase conflicts.
     
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  28. tennis-n-sc

    tennis-n-sc Professional

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    The problem is that when you begin to overlook the rules as written, there is never an end to it.

    From the responses, it appears that some adhere to the rules and play the game as it was intended and others do not. No big deal unless they are playing each other.
     
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  29. randomname

    randomname Professional

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    this is exactly the attitude that gives tennis it's image as an uptight sport
     
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  30. fe6250

    fe6250 Semi-Pro

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    No kidding! We allow the McEnroe and the Connors types to behave the way they did and don't put nearly enough emphasis on sportsmanship.
     
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  31. Supernatural_Serve

    Supernatural_Serve Professional

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    This isn't about blindly following the rules.

    Its about

    - respecting the game and its rules and by doing so elevates the game
    - understanding that the rules are there for a reason that sometimes defy common sense, especially the ones that invite gamesmanship if they weren't there
    - that its at the selected person's discretion and not obligation to overlook rules, i.e. the person who isn't benefiting from enforcing the rules. Its an important principle enshrined in line calls for example, the benefit of the doubt principle. They are choosing not to enforce rules that they have every right to, that they would benefit from, and by overlooking them give the benefit to their opponent instead.

    That's their choice and they can freely choose not to enforce rules against themselves, but its wrong for a person to expect, demand, or require people to overlook rules so they can benefit from them being overlooked, even if good common sense is at work expecting others to blindly go along with their ill sought gain

    - that people who choose not to know, learn, understand, or effectively interpret the rules (the area of let's is for example a more complex area of interpretation) shouldn't benefit from ignorance.

    I will make one compromise:

    in social tennis, maybe common sense has more place than following rules or choosing to overlook some rules assisting the opponent to help everyone have a good time. Its just not worth it. Since in social tennis its not uncommon for people to be ignorant of the rules anyway, so what else do they have but common sense. Nobody knows the rules anyway.

    in competitive tennis, tournaments, leagues - forget about it. I'm not going to bend over and allow opponents to introduce gamesmanship or ignorance of rules, or expect me to rule against myself to their benefit because they are "special" in some way. I reserve the right to let my opponent get away with a rule violation, but I won't obligate myself no matter how much common sense the opponent puts out there because behind all that common sense is a motive: I'm special, I want you to give me what I want. I want you to forget about the rules, rule against yourself and rule in my favor.

    It's not common sense to go along with their narcissism. That's simply wrong and it hurts the game.
     
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  32. Hooooon

    Hooooon Rookie

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    name a rule that doesn't follow common sense, otherwise this is the whiniest thread ever
     
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  33. fe6250

    fe6250 Semi-Pro

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    Nice to see that Hooooon is his pleasant self as usual. If you bothered to read any of this before posting, the issue is about tick / tack calls like calling it your point on someone for catching a ball that is clearly way out of play. But I'm guessing you're the type that would make that call. Go on to another thread.
     
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  34. spiderman123

    spiderman123 Professional

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    The discussion is not about bending rules to allow gamesmanship. (i.e. not for the cases where the ball had a good chance of landing in and the opponent caught it. In that case, it is NOT common sense to award the opponent the point.)

    The discussion is not about accepting or rejecting your opponents' common sense from their perspective.

    The discussion is if you want to use common sense at times when playing USTA amateur tennis to give advantage to your opponent and giving them benefit of doubt.

    And from where I look at it, I see USTA league as social tennis. About me wanting to win, that desire is with me whenever I am on court, it does not matter what type of game I am playing. But I am happy to be in common sense lobby.
     
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  35. Hooooon

    Hooooon Rookie

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    what kind of idiot catches a ball that is going out when he knows it's against the rules? most tennis courts i know of have rear fences to stop temptation.... next "oppressive" rule?
     
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  36. AlpineCadet

    AlpineCadet Hall of Fame

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    But I don't think it makes a difference. The ball is going out no matter what. Taking the point away is just sour grapes. ;(
     
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  37. Hooooon

    Hooooon Rookie

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    where do you draw the line? you're allowing for poo-poo faces to stop balls at their knees when they're standing a foot in front of the baseline. in a game between friends it should be no issue, but when it gets close your instincts should be to let the ball go, which they won't be if you practice breaking the rules.
     
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  38. tennis-n-sc

    tennis-n-sc Professional

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    I don't want my opponent giving me anything. I play by the rules and expect the opponent to do so as well. IMO, it's a bit like gimmie putts in golf when the 6" gimmie becomes the 3' gimmie and then the 5' gimmie. Gimmie me break. Play by the rules, putt the da=n thing. SAme thing in tennis.


    USTA may be social to you, but it's about the most competetion an ameteur can get in tennis. And if you're happy, I'm happy.
     
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  39. tennis-n-sc

    tennis-n-sc Professional

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    Bingo.....
     
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  40. AlpineCadet

    AlpineCadet Hall of Fame

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    LOL. No one in their right mind would stop/hinder a ball like that from landing onto the ground first.

    I'm talking about the obvious fly balls that have zero chance of being good, where you are standing many feet behind the baseline. Getting a technical call on the rules from stopping that type of ball is just abuse of the rules, when we ALL know it's long/out. Sour grapes.
     
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  41. Hooooon

    Hooooon Rookie

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    i very narrowly agree... the point is that letting a ball go out is easier than stopping it and there are obvious, legitimate reasons for the rule. you're arguing an isolated incident, which is a very small compromise to make for a good rule.
     
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  42. AlpineCadet

    AlpineCadet Hall of Fame

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    I guess you can narrowly agree, lol. But first off, there are many times where a ball flies long, and there are also many others times where the ball lands very close to the lines. Secondly, what would you do if you and I were playing singles, and I launched a ball that had no chance of going into the court. You are well behind the baseline, and, for some odd reason, you just stop the ball (because both YOU AND I know it's out.) How would you feel if your opponent, me, claims that point? I agree with your other post, that if it's a close call, the you should let it land first. But if the ball is clearly sailing...

    Also, did you read post 18? Maybe that will help paint a better picture of why I feel this way. :)
     
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  43. fe6250

    fe6250 Semi-Pro

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    The point is how one handles the rule - not what the rule states. It isn't about whether the rule is a good rule or not. It's about how tightly does one enforce rules. Do you call it on them or not? It IS ultimately up to you to decide whether or not to enforce that rule - even according to the rules - in most amateur events. Let's face it - at 4.5 and above, I doubt this is much of an issue at all. In the lower levels of tennis - people don't even know the rules sometimes and make honest mistakes.
     
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  44. Hooooon

    Hooooon Rookie

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    there is a 0% chance i would stop a ball like that. maybe it's because i play more than you, but if i want to win a point i understand that my opponent has to miss a shot or i have to hit a winner. do you see basketball players stop balls "on their way" out of bounds? someone made a good point about "gimmies" in golf...
     
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  45. AlpineCadet

    AlpineCadet Hall of Fame

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    I guess it's just pointless to repeat what I mean, haha. BTW, I don't think you play more than 5 times a week. :)
     
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  46. Hooooon

    Hooooon Rookie

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    i'd be mad at myself for breaking the rule, not you for enforcing it
     
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  47. Hooooon

    Hooooon Rookie

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    and if i do will your bottom be sore?
     
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  48. AlpineCadet

    AlpineCadet Hall of Fame

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    So when does logic come into play? The rule is there for another reason, like hindrance of a point, and not for abuse.
     
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  49. Hooooon

    Hooooon Rookie

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    the rule is there to stop cheating. if you can't stick to that rule, find a better use for your 5 days/week
     
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  50. AlpineCadet

    AlpineCadet Hall of Fame

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    You obviously have tunnel vision. Though I'm just trying to explain my POV. Thanks for the recommendation though! ;)
     
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