What's the definitive rule on net-touching?

Discussion in 'Tennis Tips/Instruction' started by New Daddy, Jan 23, 2011.

  1. New Daddy

    New Daddy Rookie

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    During the Kuznetsova vs. Schiavone match came up a situation that is good quiz material for tennis afficionados: Kuznetsova's ball dropped short on Schiavone's side, Schiavone scrambled to it, hit it past Kuznetsova for a winner, but touched the net before the ball hit the ground twice. It was unambiguously clear that Kuznetsova had no play on the ball.

    The chair umpire gave the point to Kuznetsova. Yes, I'm aware of the rule, and the chair seemed to have gone by the book.

    But somehow it didn't feel right. Isn't there like the overarching rule that reaches a more just and fair conclusion in a situation like this? I often watch Jon Lovitz's segments on Tennis Channel, and I remember a segment where you can't call a let when your opponent hits a winner, you have no play on it, but a ball rolls into the opponent's court from the next court.

    Brad Gilbert was argued on a similar ground for Schiavone's point: Kuznetsova had not play, regardless of the technicality of the rule. Pam Shriver, on the other hand, argued that the net-touching rule takes precedence over anything. I have such little respect for that woman that because she said the rule on net-touching trumps any other rule, I really have doubts. (I'm digressing, but Pam Shriver adds absolutely no value to the commentaries.)

    Anyone?
     
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  2. gameboy

    gameboy Hall of Fame

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    Why would you want to turn a simple and clear rule like "never touch the net" and make it complicated and confusing?
     
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  3. New Daddy

    New Daddy Rookie

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    The rule, as it stands, is not "never touch the net". You got it wrong there. The rule is that you can't touch the net until the ball bounces twice - i.e., you can't touch the net until the point is over.

    If that's the spirit of the rule, why not give the point to Schiavone anyway because Kuznetsova had no play on the ball and the point was over when the ball passed Kuznetsova for a winner?

    The sequence of yesterday: (a) Schiavone hits the ball, (b) the ball passes Kuznetsova, after which point Kuznetsova absolutely had no play on the ball, (c) the ball bounces the court, (d) Schiavone touches the net, (e) the ball bounces the court for a second time.

    I think one can argue, very convincingly, that Schiavone won the point at (c). One can argue event (d) becomes of relevance only if the opponent has a play on the ball, which in this case Kuznetsova did not.
     
    Last edited: Jan 23, 2011
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  4. jester911

    jester911 Rookie

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    The rule as is definitive as it is. You may not agree with it in this case but that doesn't mean it is not definitive.
     
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  5. Bud

    Bud Bionic Poster

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    The rule is very clear and has nothing to do with 'spirit'. If you touch the net prior to a double bounce (at which time the point is over), you lose the point. case closed.
     
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  6. mightyrick

    mightyrick Hall of Fame

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    I actually like Pam Shriver. She actually comments a lot on the players mechanics, technical issues, et cetera. Brad Gilbert is the one I find completely useless as a tennis commentator. He is the Dan Fouts of tennis.

    Regarding the rule on net-touching, it is definitive.

    I look at it this way. Schiavone was able to hit that winner because she misjudged her momentum, the distance, and had no regard for the net. If she would have considered those things more carefully, it is very possible she would have hit a different shot.

    If players were able to just sprint forward, lunge into the net, stretch the net, bounce back, and hit a winner... it would be a very different game.
     
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  7. cellofaan

    cellofaan Semi-Pro

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    The rule as it stands is to never touch the net during play, which is almost the same.

    The comparison with the ball coming from the other court is not really useful. In that case, none of the players can do anything about it. The ball rolls in from an other court, and if it can be considered is a hindrance, the point is replayed. That is like a wrong line call which gets overruled by the umpire. If the faulty (out) call stopped a player from hitting the ball, the point is replayed. If the ball was an outright winner, it doesn't matter if the call was wrong initially.

    As far as touching the net, that's a fault by one of the player, so it's a fault no matter if the other player had a play on the ball.

    It's a stupid way to lose a point for sure, but in the end, the player makes the fault, just like making a footfault.

    And like footfaulting by a few millimeters doesn't give a player a significant advantage, touching the net very lightly doesn't give asignificant advantage.
    However, footfaulting by stepping a foot into the field does, and running as heel to get a ball and throwing yourself into the net instead of 'breaking' with your feet also gives a significant advantage (plus it can hinder the opponent).

    I think it's a logical choice to prohibit touching the net at all, rather than to allow it for certain situations. This is pretty much done for every rule regarding players faulting, like footfaults.
     
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  8. cellofaan

    cellofaan Semi-Pro

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    ^This.
    Schiavone arguably wouldn't have been able to make that shot without touching the net afterwards. Event (d) is a result of the stuff happening around event (a), so you shouldn't regard them as completely separate events.
     
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  9. New Daddy

    New Daddy Rookie

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    I like your analysis. Yes, I'm now convinced that the rule is good rule, regardless of whether the opponent has a play on the ball, and the chair's call was correct.
     
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  10. Tennisman912

    Tennisman912 Semi-Pro

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    As the umpire should have. The ball was still in play until it bounced twice. She hit the net before the ball was out of play (bounced twice). Pretty simple. Whether the player has a play on the ball or not is irrelevant. You touched the net and thus the point was over. Just because we don’t like how it works out sometimes doesn’t change the facts.

    Good tennis

    TM
     
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