The two best choices are to catch it and pocket it or gently hit it to the net. I changed that from "into the net" to near the net. Letting it roll behind you to your fence can cause delays if the ball ricochets off a fence post or a curb on a poorly planned court. A well constructed court will have a depression at the back fence, maybe with a drainage system to hold the ball. When you let it roll behind you, on windy days it can come back at you and you could step on it. Letting it ricochet behind you makes your opponent responsible for watching out for you.
Frankly, there are some people who are so indifferent to stopping and controlling balls going behind them, I don't care anymore if they step on them and crack a femur. I've never heard a femur cracking but have heard from others that it makes quite a sound. The good news is the femur, the biggest bone in the body, will heal good as new in thirty days, barring complications.
I'll warn them a few times if they're in harms way but if they don't care about there welfare why should I. I know several players who are very nonchalant about this, acting like they are real tough guys, not caring about the loose ball caroming off the angled concrete wall behind them. I no longer care if they injure themselves--if they don't care about their bones, ligaments and tendons, why should I have to constantly be warning them.
Some players are so skilled they can consistently hit the ball into their opponents corner or back to them at a pace where it can be easily caught without delaying the rhythm of the servers swing--most here can't. Hitting it to the net so it rests there a few inches from the net is a skill that can be learned if you want to just like learning how to type.
Probably the best option is catching it and pocketing the ball because on really windy days, if you hit it to the net you'll be spending a lot of your energy chasing it around so it doesn't roll onto the adjoining court disturbing that match.
If you hit it back to your opponent, you stand the chance that they will do a fake fumble and you will be obligated to offer them two--why give them that opportunity? Everything has a reason, it's not only good tennis etiquette.
When you're warming up serves with your opponent, you do stop and catch his serves with your racket until you have all three and not slug each one back, don't you?-- (except to signal that you are ready after hitting two minutes of warm-up) serves).
"...the human emotional system was not designed to endure the mental rigors of a tennis match." Dr. Allen Fox
Last edited by tennis tom; 03-04-2013 at 07:14 AM.