Interesting drama over ball on court, server readiness, and an underhand serve...

NTRPolice

Hall of Fame
Today in a non USTA league we had an incident in one of our singles lines. Mind you, these are high level adult tennis players.

Server loses the point prior to the point in question. This means the score is deuce. As the ball from the previous point is still rolling around the back of the servers side of the court, the server underhand serves and the serve lands in. The returner did "appear" to be ready, but after taking what was perceived as a "split step", decided that he wasnt ready and said "wait, the ball is still moving back there."

So, they both go to the net and start arguing. A few minutes later...

Captains go on court to see what's up.

Apparently, the returner did eventually say that he was sort of ready, but was sort of 'stretching' while at the service line in an otherwise ready position, but didnt think the server was going to serve because the ball was still moving. After the captains pointed out that he did take a step or two towards the drop shot serve (which would indicate trying to make a play on the ball) and that he should lose the point.

Then he then changed his argument to...

"It was deuce? I didnt know it was deuce. He (server) didnt call the score. I wanted to return the deuce point on the ad side."

So, now everyone is even more perplexed by this different argument and it's eventually agreed that the deuce point would be played over on the ad side.

Our team lost the replayed point and therefore lost that match.

What do you think about the ruling?
 

OnTheLine

Hall of Fame
That the opposing player is a clear weanie.

IMO His first argument stands. It is his job to know the score, called or not, he made a play on the ball therefore the play stands.
 
Sounds like receiver was ready to return serve--but NOT prepared to return an underhand serve which is meant to catch returners off guard--that's the point of that serve--to catch your opponent off-guard--it worked. Then returner went into BS mode, grasping for any excuse to replay the point and he got it. If the ball was still rolling behind him, he should NOT have taken his stance. Returner should have waited for the ball to stop rolling, watched it until it did so, or fetched it, or held his hand up until he was ready to return--he's doing the two bites of the apple routine--another day at the "high level adult tennis player" office.
 

DE19702

Rookie
The question is not and shouldn't be about whether the facts prove the receiver was ready or not. The question should be who gets to say whether he was ready or not. That person has to be the receiver. The server should take his word for it and the receiver should be honest about it. If the receiver wants to lie then that's too bad but that's the way it goes. If I were honestly not ready and this situation happened to me and the server wouldn't take my word for it, I'd call the serve out.
 

NTRPolice

Hall of Fame
The question is not and shouldn't be about whether the facts prove the receiver was ready or not. The question should be who gets to say whether he was ready or not. That person has to be the receiver. The server should take his word for it and the receiver should be honest about it. If the receiver wants to lie then that's too bad but that's the way it goes. If I were honestly not ready and this situation happened to me and the server wouldn't take my word for it, I'd call the serve out.
In this case, the receiver changed his story after admitting that he was at least "sort of ready" to return the serve after much debate. Then the receiver claimed he did not have the opportunity to choose a side to return on since this is a no-Ad league.

Do you think the point should stand because it qualifies as "played in good faith", even in a no-Ad league where the returner does get to choose a side?
 

NTRPolice

Hall of Fame
Sounds like receiver was ready to return serve--but NOT prepared to return an underhand serve which is meant to catch returners off guard--that's the point of that serve--to catch your opponent off-guard--it worked. Then returner went into BS mode, grasping for any excuse to replay the point and he got it. If the ball was still rolling behind him, he should NOT have taken his stance. Returner should have waited for the ball to stop rolling, watched it until it did so, or fetched it, or held his hand up until he was ready to return--he's doing the two bites of the apple routine--another day at the "high level adult tennis player" office.
I actually facepalmed when I saw him do the underhand serve. I havnt seen anyone actually try it in a match. I was actually kinda embarrassed by it. Oh well. The guy playing our singles today is only like 22 years old. He had a no-show earlier this season because he stayed out too late drinking. He did seem a little not like himself today. I actually made the comment way before this point happened. I remember talking to the captain after my match and saying things like "What is he doing?" and "Is it just me, or is he acting weird?".
 
Then the receiver claimed he did not have the opportunity to choose a side to return on since this is a no-Ad league.
He made his choice by standing where he was standing--it's incumbent on him to be aware of the score or ask the server if he doesn't know. This is all BS, an underhanded serve is a legal serve, whether the server is 22, hung-over or what-ever.
 

DE19702

Rookie
In this case, the receiver changed his story after admitting that he was at least "sort of ready" to return the serve after much debate. Then the receiver claimed he did not have the opportunity to choose a side to return on since this is a no-Ad league.

Do you think the point should stand because it qualifies as "played in good faith", even in a no-Ad league where the returner does get to choose a side?
It looks like the receiver wasn't being honest, but the point is there shouldn't be a debate about it. The server can ask but the final decision has to be the receivers. The played in good faith rule doesn't have anything to do with this situation. It has to do with mistakes in the score, not who should win a point.
 

DE19702

Rookie
He made his choice by standing where he was standing--it's incumbent on him to be aware of the score or ask the server if he doesn't know. This is all BS, an underhanded serve is a legal serve, whether the server is 22, hung-over or what-ever.
You mean a person standing standing on the baseline who may look like he's ready to receive a serve can't say he wasn't ready? Hasn't everyone been quick served before they were actually ready? An underhanded serve just doesn't work if it isn't done quickly. How quick is too quick? Anyway, right or wrong the server should have taken the guys word for it.
 

NTRPolice

Hall of Fame
It looks like the receiver wasn't being honest, but the point is there shouldn't be a debate about it. The server can ask but the final decision has to be the receivers. The played in good faith rule doesn't have anything to do with this situation. It has to do with mistakes in the score, not who should win a point.
A player is "ready" if they make an attempt to play the ball. A player can also not "unready" themselves unless there's outside interference.

The the debate is whether or not a "split step" counts as "making a play" on the ball, which undoubtedly means they are ready.

The "played in good faith" applies because then the returner couldnt choose to return from the ad side on the "let".

If the returner wasnt indeed ready, then a let is played. Since that point started on the deuce side, the let would be played on that side, not being able to choose the ad side on the let.

I dont know what the rules are for "receivers choice" type scoring. I'm going to look it up.
 

DE19702

Rookie
You're right about the played in good faith rule if the point at issue was considered played. But, I thought the issue was whether the point was actually played, i.e., that it counted. If the receiver actually took a split step after the server hit the underhand serve then he obviously was ready. Did he say that? I'm not sure. Why would someone split step for an underhand serve (drop shot)? Again, I don't think the rules are set up to allow for debate about contested facts. I think the rules are set up for someone to make a call which you don't get to debate.
 

MathGeek

Hall of Fame
Today in a non USTA league we had an incident in one of our singles lines. Mind you, these are high level adult tennis players.

Server loses the point prior to the point in question. This means the score is deuce. As the ball from the previous point is still rolling around the back of the servers side of the court, the server underhand serves and the serve lands in. The returner did "appear" to be ready, but after taking what was perceived as a "split step", decided that he wasnt ready and said "wait, the ball is still moving back there."

So, they both go to the net and start arguing. A few minutes later...

Captains go on court to see what's up.

Apparently, the returner did eventually say that he was sort of ready, but was sort of 'stretching' while at the service line in an otherwise ready position, but didnt think the server was going to serve because the ball was still moving. After the captains pointed out that he did take a step or two towards the drop shot serve (which would indicate trying to make a play on the ball) and that he should lose the point.

Then he then changed his argument to...

"It was deuce? I didnt know it was deuce. He (server) didnt call the score. I wanted to return the deuce point on the ad side."

So, now everyone is even more perplexed by this different argument and it's eventually agreed that the deuce point would be played over on the ad side.

Our team lost the replayed point and therefore lost that match.

What do you think about the ruling?
No ad? The deuce score must be called to give the returner a chance to pick the side.
 

NTRPolice

Hall of Fame
No ad? The deuce score must be called to give the returner a chance to pick the side.
Yes. No-ad scoring.

Calling the score is required by The Code, however, since there are no officials and this was the first instance in the match where it became an issue, there is no real punishment for the server. Imagine it as if it were a foot fault. You wouldnt be able to take a point or file a complaint for the first infraction of not calling the score.

So, the server is wrong for not calling the score, but there isnt a penalty in this case.

I found this from the New England USTA rulebook:

 When the score of a game reaches deuce, the next point played will determine the winner of the game.
 Singles receiver chooses which side to receive serves from (deuce or Ad).
 In doubles the receiving team will decide which player will receive the serve.
If the receiver doesn‟t choose a side/person and the point is played, neither player has grounds for an appeal or a “let”.

I cant find this ruling anywhere else though.
 

MathGeek

Hall of Fame
Yes. No-ad scoring.

Calling the score is required by The Code, however, since there are no officials and this was the first instance in the match where it became an issue, there is no real punishment for the server. Imagine it as if it were a foot fault. You wouldnt be able to take a point or file a complaint for the first infraction of not calling the score.

So, the server is wrong for not calling the score, but there isnt a penalty in this case.

I found this from the New England USTA rulebook:

 When the score of a game reaches deuce, the next point played will determine the winner of the game.
 Singles receiver chooses which side to receive serves from (deuce or Ad).
 In doubles the receiving team will decide which player will receive the serve.
If the receiver doesn‟t choose a side/person and the point is played, neither player has grounds for an appeal or a “let”.

I cant find this ruling anywhere else though.
Right, no penalty for the server, but the returner has a valid claim of "not ready" based on not being told the score so not getting an opportunity to choose a side. Without being told the score, it cannot be concluded that the receiver didn't choose a side - he didn't have reason to know it was the point in the game to choose a side.

Nothing wrong with a "trick" serve. But adding it to the negligence of not calling the score does seem a bit underhanded. Intentional or not, the server should honor the returner's claim of not being ready without making further argument. Calling the score is a necessary part of giving the returner their due opportunity to pick a side and get ready.
 
D

Deleted member 23235

Guest
Today in a non USTA league we had an incident in one of our singles lines. Mind you, these are high level adult tennis players.

Server loses the point prior to the point in question. This means the score is deuce. As the ball from the previous point is still rolling around the back of the servers side of the court, the server underhand serves and the serve lands in. The returner did "appear" to be ready, but after taking what was perceived as a "split step", decided that he wasnt ready and said "wait, the ball is still moving back there."

So, they both go to the net and start arguing. A few minutes later...

Captains go on court to see what's up.

Apparently, the returner did eventually say that he was sort of ready, but was sort of 'stretching' while at the service line in an otherwise ready position, but didnt think the server was going to serve because the ball was still moving. After the captains pointed out that he did take a step or two towards the drop shot serve (which would indicate trying to make a play on the ball) and that he should lose the point.

Then he then changed his argument to...

"It was deuce? I didnt know it was deuce. He (server) didnt call the score. I wanted to return the deuce point on the ad side."

So, now everyone is even more perplexed by this different argument and it's eventually agreed that the deuce point would be played over on the ad side.

Our team lost the replayed point and therefore lost that match.

What do you think about the ruling?
unless the server "fast served" him, (doesn't sound like it), the returner is just a sore loser, and embarrassed he got caught with a "beginner serve", and was trying to save face by making excuses. lame loser.
 
D

Deleted member 23235

Guest
In this case, the receiver changed his story after admitting that he was at least "sort of ready" to return the serve after much debate. Then the receiver claimed he did not have the opportunity to choose a side to return on since this is a no-Ad league.

Do you think the point should stand because it qualifies as "played in good faith", even in a no-Ad league where the returner does get to choose a side?
it's the returner's responsibility to choose side. if they forget, that's their problem.
 
D

Deleted member 23235

Guest
Right, no penalty for the server, but the returner has a valid claim of "not ready" based on not being told the score so not getting an opportunity to choose a side. Without being told the score, it cannot be concluded that the receiver didn't choose a side - he didn't have reason to know it was the point in the game to choose a side.

Nothing wrong with a "trick" serve. But adding it to the negligence of not calling the score does seem a bit underhanded. Intentional or not, the server should honor the returner's claim of not being ready without making further argument. Calling the score is a necessary part of giving the returner their due opportunity to pick a side and get ready.
nah, as the returner, i should put my hand up and ask the score... sounds like the returner didn't do that either, and was happy continuing with the game.
it's definitely good sportsmanship for the server to always say the score, but not a rule (but they should always say/confirm if asked)...

bottom line, returner got caught with a beginner serve, and was embarrassed. he should just smile, and say, "ya got me".
 

kevrol

Hall of Fame
it's definitely good sportsmanship for the server to always say the score, but not a rule (but they should always say/confirm if asked)...
Actually it is in The Code although this was a non-USTA match so maybe not subject to The Code.

31. Server announces score. The server shall announce the game score before the first point of a game and the point score before each subsequent point of the game.

My experience is that higher level players tend to almost never announce the score.
 

MathGeek

Hall of Fame
Actually it is in The Code although this was a non-USTA match so maybe not subject to The Code.

31. Server announces score. The server shall announce the game score before the first point of a game and the point score before each subsequent point of the game.
My experience is that all the organized matches, even non-USTA, I've participated in still have fine print where they state that USTA rules apply unless otherwise noted.

nah, as the returner, i should put my hand up and ask the score... sounds like the returner didn't do that either, and was happy continuing with the game.
it's definitely good sportsmanship for the server to always say the score, but not a rule (but they should always say/confirm if asked)...
Not at all. In real tennis, there is often a very short gap between announcing the score and the serve - often there is no significant opportunity to put up a hand between when the score would be announced and the serve.

Announcing the score is a rule. Putting up a hand and asking for the score is not a rule. Points started without the score being announced cannot said to have been played in good faith if the returner claims he was not ready. Breaking the rule by not announcing the score essentially gives the returner justification for their claim of not ready, especially not ready to play a deuce point in a no-ad game.

What you may have done, as an experienced player, does not dictate the rightness or wrongness of what a less experienced player actually did. Rightness or wrongness of actions by less experienced players are dictated by the rules. And by the rules, the inexperienced player here has a solid claim of "not ready" based on not having any opportiny to choose a side.
 
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Deleted member 23235

Guest
My experience is that all the organized matches, even non-USTA, I've participated in still have fine print where they state that USTA rules apply unless otherwise noted.



Not at all. In real tennis, there is often a very short gap between announcing the score and the serve - often there is no significant opportunity to put up a hand between when the score would be announced and the serve.

Announcing the score is a rule. Putting up a hand and asking for the score is not a rule. Points started without the score being announced cannot said to have been played in good faith if the returner claims he was not ready. Breaking the rule by not announcing the score essentially gives the returner justification for their claim of not ready, especially not ready to play a deuce point in a no-ad game.

What you may have done, as an experienced player, does not dictate the rightness or wrongness of what a less experienced player actually did. Rightness or wrongness of actions by less experienced players are dictated by the rules. And by the rules, the inexperienced player here has a solid claim of "not ready" based on not having any opportiny to choose a side.
receiver got owned by a dink serve, and was embarrassed, and now grasping at anything (except admitting he got owned), to save face.
you don't get to prep, split, take steps to the ball, then later claim, "i wasn't ready" (imagine doing that on every time someone got aced)
had the receiver not even made a move, i'd give him 100% credibility that he wasn't ready...

arguing about whether the score was said, is ridiculosus... might as well review every other point (guarantee the score was not said on all points). i've played entire games not saying the score... maybe those should be DQ'd to. maybe my entire usta career should be DQ'd because i'm sure there was at least one point in every match that the score was not explicitly called. damn, i just argued myself back to 2.0
 

Dartagnan64

G.O.A.T.
Since the receiver did not make a play on the ball, he is within his right to call a let for being served to before he was ready. I do not think any sort of split step necessary means readiness. I've been served to before I was ready and made plays on the ball and lost points because I did so. It's a dick move by servers. I now just turn my back and play with strings if I get one of those people.

It's also a dick move by the server to not give the receiver the choice of side on a deuce point in no ad. So it should be a let. It is the server's responsibility as keeper of the score to ask which side he should serve to.

I don't blame the receiver for saying he wasn't ready. If he was ready he would have been racing to the net as soon as he saw the underhand motion.
 
D

Deleted member 23235

Guest
he made a move to the ball. that's considered trying to make a play on the ball.
turning your back, holding your hand up, etc.. are all good markers to show you're not ready...
when i've been fast-served, i literally don't move, or immediately hold my hand up... i don't split, take 2 steps to try to return it, then say, "sorry, wasn't ready" (ie. giving yourself 2 chances to win the point).

returner wasn't ready for an underhand serve, that's all. usually what happens, is that returners get into a rhythm of waiting for a long backswing to start "really gettting ready"... in the past, back when i had to fast service motion (think dolgopolov), returns said it was uncomfortable because they had to prep sooner than they are used to. same thing with an underhand serve (except there's even less time).
 
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Deleted member 23235

Guest
regarding the server not saying the score... most likely both teams forgot the no-ad rule, but that's not grounds for a do-over. you don't get 2 tries to win a point for "the serve forgetting to ask which side". it's returners responsibility too.
folks are using all kinds of BS arguments to avoid the real issue... the returner tried failed, and got aced by an UH serve, and now is trying to save face citing all kinds of BS reasons why it should be a let.
 
D

Deleted member 23235

Guest
In this case, the receiver changed his story after admitting that he was at least "sort of ready" to return the serve after much debate. Then the receiver claimed he did not have the opportunity to choose a side to return on since this is a no-Ad league.

Do you think the point should stand because it qualifies as "played in good faith", even in a no-Ad league where the returner does get to choose a side?
point should stand
 

r2473

Talk Tennis Guru
I'm consistently amazed that people would rather ruin their tennis experience getting worked up over this type of stuff instead of just playing tennis. It's clear why tennis was considered a "gentleman's game". To avoid these types of disputes. The "spirit" most people play tennis with is horrible.

I much prefer playing tennis with people who see it as a "cooperative" as opposed to a strictly "competitive" effort. This doesn't mean that I prefer playing with people who don't want to win.

In this case, I'd say both parties got exactly what they deserved.
 

kylebarendrick

Professional
The first time someone serves to me when I am "kind of ready" (it happens sometimes, usually a quick serve or I'm distracted by a bee or something) I let it slide since I was in a ready position. Server's point. From then on, (if they are quick serving) I always hold my hand up as I get ready. If they serve before I put it down, then I just stand still with my hand up as the ball goes by. "Take it over, I wasn't ready". This way there can really be no argument.

Sounds like the player in the OP was in the ready position and made a move toward the serve. If I was playing them I'd have been pretty incredulous (how can you say you weren't ready? You moved toward the ball..) but in the end I'd have felt forced to take their word for it. And I'd be more careful with them for the rest of the match (not much chance in this one).

No-ad scoring I'd just go with the fact that the receiver lined up in the deuce court as their selection of side.
 

Dartagnan64

G.O.A.T.
regarding the server not saying the score... most likely both teams forgot the no-ad rule, but that's not grounds for a do-over. you don't get 2 tries to win a point for "the serve forgetting to ask which side". it's returners responsibility too.
folks are using all kinds of BS arguments to avoid the real issue... the returner tried failed, and got aced by an UH serve, and now is trying to save face citing all kinds of BS reasons why it should be a let.
Neither of us were there so it's really hard to know exactly what happened. We are hearing one side of the story. I've been served to while wandering back from the corner to retrieve a ball, instantly reacted to move towards it to return it, even though I most certainly wasn't ready, thought better of it and just let the ball go by and raised my hand. The first move is often a reflex move. Only the receiver really knows how ready he was. And we only get the story that he was "sort of ready". I'm not sure how that fits on the dichotomy of ready/not ready. I personally think anything short of Ready is not ready.

Every action requires a go/no go paradigm and depending on how good your frontal lobes are, you can call off an action more quickly than someone with less adequate frontal lobes. I have no idea at what moment in the serve the opponent called off his attempt so it's really hard to judge whether it showed total readiness or not. It's quite possible your interpretation is correct. It's quite possible the returner was totally not ready despite making an initial reaction.

I'm all for underhand serves but I'm also for servers announcing a deuce point and asking for a side to serve to. I've played in a no-ad club league for 3 years and I've never seen people fail at that simple task. Even the newbies figure it out very quickly.

In the end it sounds like two poor sportsmen trying to out-manoeuvre each other with poor sportsmanship.
 

NTRPolice

Hall of Fame
Neither of us were there so it's really hard to know exactly what happened. We are hearing one side of the story. I've been served to while wandering back from the corner to retrieve a ball, instantly reacted to move towards it to return it, even though I most certainly wasn't ready, thought better of it and just let the ball go by and raised my hand. The first move is often a reflex move. Only the receiver really knows how ready he was. And we only get the story that he was "sort of ready". I'm not sure how that fits on the dichotomy of ready/not ready. I personally think anything short of Ready is not ready.
I tried to give the best account of the events. I have no personal interest in the moral judgment/vindication of this forums opion on this thread. I really just want to know what people think about the events and the outcome.


In the end it sounds like two poor sportsmen trying to out-manoeuvre each other with poor sportsmanship.
This is exactly why I dont care about being vindicated in this thread. I definitely believe we could've behaved better as a team.

I believe the underhand serve was in poor taste, but at the same time, I dont think the returner had a legitimate claim at a replay because it did look like he took a step towards the ball and then decided he wasnt ready after seeing the serve would've been an "ace". As far as the loss, this was a very close match and either player could've won/lost; so I dont that much about the result.

This is also a case where im not sure what the actual ruling should be, except that in New England it specifically says if no one chooses a side to return in no-Ad, the point stands.
 

Dartagnan64

G.O.A.T.
I dont think the returner had a legitimate claim at a replay because it did look like he took a step towards the ball and then decided he wasnt ready after seeing the serve would've been an "ace"
That's why it's such a tough call. I've definitely made a reactionary move towards serves before when I wasn't ready. I don't think a simple step counts as showing readiness unless it came out of a clear ready position (facing server, both hands on racket, wide base). If that's not the case then only the returner knows his degree of readiness.

If it was a "quit on the ball and claim unreadiness" then it was gamesmanship and similar to the phantom net cord let. Which makes it just as difficult to judge. Maybe he did hear a net cord. Maybe he's making it all up.

That being said, as a server I'd feel pretty bad winning a match on a quick serve underhand ace on a no ad deuce point where I didn't offer the returner a choice of side. I'd have been more than gracious to admit my poor sportsmanship and play a let. The only thing that makes no ad fair is giving the returner his favorite side, otherwise it clearly favors servers too much.
 

sureshs

Bionic Poster
The returner could have seen the moving ball as he was getting ready and gotten distracted.

It is the job of the server to wait till all balls have stopped moving, then point out any balls which might pose a danger, wait for them to be removed, then call out the score, look at the returner to make sure he is ready, and only then serve.

There are plenty of cheaters out there who do none of the above, and try to quick-serve their way through the match.
 
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