Originally Posted by jswinf
A few people have said they've never experienced many "phantom" let calls. I have. Might be more common with older players (not talking about myself, you understand.) They hear something around the time the serve is crossing the net, maybe their jaw popping or a small blood vessel bursting in their head, and they call a let when the serve seemed to have plenty of clearance.
I have a weird story involving a let from a 40 and over tournament this year.
I was playing the #1 seed in the semi-finals. He had a very nice game and was beating me pretty handily, and I was just happy to have made it that far. 60 minutes into the match, I was down 0-6, 1-5, and he was serving at 40-15 (double match point). He hit a big first serve that clipped the top of the net very hard and popped up about 6 to 8 feet in the air and landed softly in the middle of the service box for a let. Just the exact opposite of the "phantom let" that you mentioned. Therefore, I just bunted the ball back to him so he could re-serve, but he proceeded to smash it into the court. At that point, he stood there at the net to shake hands, and I told him that his serve was "obviously a let, take a first serve." At that point, he went absolutely ballistic - cussing, stamping his foot, and calling me a cheater!
I couldn't believe it, especially since I had never met this guy before, there hadn't been any animosity in the match up to that point, and I was resigned to getting my butt kicked. He told me that the serve was "way over the net", and not close to a let, but I stood my ground. It's like he had a temporary aneuryism and blacked out at the part where his serve smashed into the netcord, popping almost straight up... completely weird. To top it off, when he finally went back to re-serve, he proceeded to double fault the next 4 points. I held serve and broke again to make it 4-5, before he finally calmed down and broke me at love to win the match.
In the end, he apologized and I asked him why he gotten so worked up over the let, especially when he was winning so easily. He said that he still thought the serve had cleared the net, and he was tired of getting cheated all the time by players in tournaments. I told him that he certainly missed the let call, and wished him luck in the finals... but walked away thinking "what a psycho!"
As an epilogue, a couple months later, I happened to be looking through the USTA site and came upon a list of players that were banned from USTA sanctioned tournaments for sportsmanship grievances. Sure enough, this guy was on the list with a 6 month suspension, which started after the tournament we played in. I can only assume that he must have done something else crazy in the match before mine, or possibly in the final, since I never filed anything. Maybe he had a case of temporary insanity that weekend? Kind of scary to think it starts at 40...