Is The ITF Service Rule Changing Youth Tennis?

#1
Unaware of the rule that no let is called anymore, my son has lost a tiebreaker in one of the U12 tournaments. He was devastated after he served his first that slightly touched the net and was swiftly returned uncalled. My boy could've smacked that ball back as he had it right on his forehand in the middle but instead picked it up with his hand to serve again at 2:2. He could not have regained his composure and went on to lose his tiebreaker while crying which left me heartbroken and furious at the umpire who had not informed of the changes and at the ITF that has set a ridiculous rule which does not apply in the pro tennis. The question is; "Does this service rule assist kids to become better servers and tennis players or does this standard help save time/money for the organizers?"
 
#5
Good lesson to learn the rules and know which rules you are playing by. Also it was only 2-2. That's not the reason your son lost.
It sounded like it was the reason why he lost. It being "only 2-2" doesn't change that a completely negative surprise like that could throw somebody off.

That's different from saying "he should have recovered and concentrated on the point at hand, not on the past." On that, I totally agree. It's similar to if an opponent hooked you [although that was deliberate vs the non-let which is a rule issue] or if he had hit a lucky shank winner. In any case, mental toughness is required to pick oneself off the ground and keep fighting.

@TennisBro - It sucks but now you know the rule [and you need to study the rules because there may be other ones of which you're unaware] and it's a teaching moment so he can learn about overcoming obstacles like that.

Good luck!
 
#6
Hey Pops, it's incumbent on your tike to stay abreast of BIG rule changes in his sport. How'd you'll let this one slip by you? Did he really cry about this at 12? Time to man up--it's only tennis. In other parts of the 3rd world he'd be part of a miltia and packen' heat. Maybe you got him too diversified with activities to master any one, you don't want him becoming a yuppie dilettante--a jack of all trades, a master of none--time to cut out some of the extra-curriculars, like the piano, picolo and ballet lessons, etc. There aren't that many rule changes in tennis--you gots to pays attencion.
 
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#7
i lost a college tiebreaker to a serve let and a let cord passing shot consecutively. devastating because it was the best match I've ever played against a superior player. my closest brad gilbert level ever. guy was standup dude, clearly apologetic the match ended that way. I look back proudly on it. make me a better player mentally
 
#8
He could not have regained his composure and went on to lose his tiebreaker while crying
Let's be real here. I understand your son is twelve, so he has many years to mature, but it wasn't the rule that made him lose. It was his response to a tough situation. Any number of quirky things could've happened to him that made him lose that point.

One of the biggest challenges for youth players is dealing with their emotions in tennis. It's unlike most youth sports where you're on a team, and you have other people you can lean on for support. It's a solitary game, and that's hard for adults let alone children. Use this as an excellent learning experience. If you try to blame the "umpire" or ITF then it's wasted.

furious at the umpire who had not informed of the changes
This rule changed in 2018 right? It isn't reasonable to expect the umpire to communicate this to players.

The question is; "Does this service rule assist kids to become better servers and tennis players or does this standard help save time/money for the organizers?"
Service lets are an oddity remaining in tennis. You don't stop play during the point if the net is hit. The easier path is to simply not call it, and the potential time saved is negligible so that's not really anything.
 
#10
Because college girls don’t serve as big, They are no different as far as cheating.
The "Prisoners Dilemma" tells you that the best strategy is to cheat.

-If you don't and your opponent does, you come out worse.
-If your opponent doesn't, you can gain an advantage by cheating (this is the best case)

What should happen in every tennis match is that both players should cheat, assuming no 3rd party can enforce the rules properly. And this is pretty hard to do outside of professional tennis. And not surprisingly, this is what you find.

The enforcement is "social pressure". Which only goes so far, unless you are playing in a close knit group (like a club) and you fear being ostracized even more than you want to win
 
#11
Because college girls don’t serve as big, They are no different as far as cheating.
If someone wanted to cheat by calling a let, why would a slower serve prevent them from doing so?

Oh, I see your point: it's because aces/service winners aren't as common with slower serves, right? OK. But what if the receiver simply didn't like the looks of the serve [it was a good quality serve] so she calls a let to hopefully get a poorer quality serve for her to return?
 
#12
If someone wanted to cheat by calling a let, why would a slower serve prevent them from doing so?

Oh, I see your point: it's because aces/service winners aren't as common with slower serves, right? OK. But what if the receiver simply didn't like the looks of the serve [it was a good quality serve] so she calls a let to hopefully get a poorer quality serve for her to return?
Nothing to prevent calling a let on any shot if you want, though calling a let on a 60 mph serve is much harder to pull off.
 
#13
Nothing to prevent calling a let on any shot if you want, though calling a let on a 60 mph serve is much harder to pull off.
IMO, all the more reason to just get rid of the let serve and play on. I'd be fine with that in USTA.

Here's a novel cheating idea: in scenarios where let serves are played, I believe the receiver's partner can also return [I'm thinking of a serve that barely goes over]. So the receiving team can have the better returner who currently is not the receiver, return the serve because they claim it was a let. Suppose the receiving team is playing 2 back and the serve is an ace going down the T that somehow the non-receiver manages to return.

I'm not sure this has ever happened.
 
#14
IMO, all the more reason to just get rid of the let serve and play on. I'd be fine with that in USTA.

Here's a novel cheating idea: in scenarios where let serves are played, I believe the receiver's partner can also return [I'm thinking of a serve that barely goes over]. So the receiving team can have the better returner who currently is not the receiver, return the serve because they claim it was a let. Suppose the receiving team is playing 2 back and the serve is an ace going down the T that somehow the non-receiver manages to return.

I'm not sure this has ever happened.
I don’t have strong feelings about whether or not to play a let. As far as I know a let is not called the receiver just tries to return it. Two returners would make it interesting. Lol it would mean way less down the T serving.
 
#15
IMO, all the more reason to just get rid of the let serve and play on. I'd be fine with that in USTA.

Here's a novel cheating idea: in scenarios where let serves are played, I believe the receiver's partner can also return [I'm thinking of a serve that barely goes over]. So the receiving team can have the better returner who currently is not the receiver, return the serve because they claim it was a let. Suppose the receiving team is playing 2 back and the serve is an ace going down the T that somehow the non-receiver manages to return.

I'm not sure this has ever happened.
So to prevent cheating, i would advice not to call when balls during ralleys are outside the lines. Maybe they could remove the lines altogether.
 
#16
in scenarios where let serves are played, I believe the receiver's partner can also return [I'm thinking of a serve that barely goes over]. So the receiving team can have the better returner who currently is not the receiver, return the serve because they claim it was a let. Suppose the receiving team is playing 2 back and the serve is an ace going down the T that somehow the non-receiver manages to return.

I'm not sure this has ever happened.
I don't believe that this is correct- regardless of whether a serve hits the netcord or not, the proper receiver must return the serve- the non-receiving partner cannot. Since the point of the rule change is to make it so the players no longer have to determine whether the ball actually hit the net or not, every serve that lands in the proper box is treated the same-- a good serve, which then must be returned by the intended receiver.
 

Dags

Hall of Fame
#18
I don't believe that this is correct- regardless of whether a serve hits the netcord or not, the proper receiver must return the serve- the non-receiving partner cannot. Since the point of the rule change is to make it so the players no longer have to determine whether the ball actually hit the net or not, every serve that lands in the proper box is treated the same-- a good serve, which then must be returned by the intended receiver.
It may vary by region and format. For instance, Fast4 under LTA rules allows either player to return a let.

https://www.lta.org.uk/play-compete/getting-started/adult-tennis/fast4-tennis/#
 
#19
If your son had been unfairly screwed, I wouldnt hold it against him for losing his composure. He's a kid and his emotional investment in a match can be a fragile deck of cards, which is understandable at any age really.

The fact that you guys didnt know the rules is not a situation where you were unfairly screwed. He's gotta learn to move on quickly from that moment.

Whether the rule change was stupid or not I cannot say one way or the other. It sounds like there is sound reason for it.
 
#20
@TennisBro - It sucks but now you know the rule [and you need to study the rules because there may be other ones of which you're unaware] and it's a teaching moment so he can learn about overcoming obstacles like that.
Yes, I've learnt; honestly though, i'd known about it, before we went for that tournament (Nadal Cup in China). The problem was that my son wasn't told prior to the start of the match and neither was I. Perhaps, we should've asked first. Kids, like my son, may and will most likely learn from those experiences. But again, the problem is that practicing such competition prior to the big (pro) competition for those who actually make it through must be enormously hard as unnecessary adjustments (such as this one) have to be made. Like I said, there are few young ones in the top that can compete with Roger, Rafa or Novak and there may be even fewer in the future who'll be able to compete with Thiem, Tsitsi or Zverev in 5-8 years time given that the ITF tampers with the rules unlike in the ATP.


If your son had been unfairly screwed, I wouldnt hold it against him for losing his composure. He's a kid and his emotional investment in a match can be a fragile deck of cards, which is understandable at any age really.

The fact that you guys didnt know the rules is not a situation where you were unfairly screwed. He's gotta learn to move on quickly from that moment.

Whether the rule change was stupid or not I cannot say one way or the other. It sounds like there is sound reason for it.
No, I have not been hard on my boy for this one. I have banged my head against the wall instead. He's learning to deal with the rule well. Anyhow, the sound reason may have to do with MONEY rather than the development of tennis.

They should ban a few here and there for cheating. Or disqualify some mid match if caught out. At least try to set some standards and hold kids accountable.
Perhaps they should ban the ITF reps who created this time and responsibilities saving rule. Youth tennis is a platform for the new talent for the top level tennis and many spend huge sums of money for the youngsters' development.
 
#21
I'm shocked that it took until the tiebreaker to have the first let serve of the match.

I'm shocked that there was "fury" at an umpire in a tournament for 12 year olds. First world problems I guess.

I'm shocked that someone doesn't understand why this rule is in place these days. Way too many cheats.

I'm sorry your child lost, but I'd definitely use this as a teaching point for life. Life is not fair. Sooner kids learn that lesson the better IMO.
 
#22
It may vary by region and format. For instance, Fast4 under LTA rules allows either player to return a let.

https://www.lta.org.uk/play-compete/getting-started/adult-tennis/fast4-tennis/#
Yup-- and also in TeamTennis they allow either player to return a let. But I think that for Fast4 and TeamTennis it's to speed up the game which is a different reason than NCAA Div I men's has for implementing the no-let rule for serves (to stop mystery let calls on aces/service winners).

As far as I've seen, I don't think the NCAA allows the non-receiver to return the serve.
 
#23
For Adult Senior Tournaments, there are notes at their application websites that give important information such as scoring formats, what kind of ball will be used, whether there are consolation rounds, rain-out info, etc. I don't know if it's the same for junior tournaments in China, but these types of info should be read and paid attention to for relevant and important updates and tournament changes.
 
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#24
For Adult Senior Tournaments, there are notes at their application websites that give important information such for scoring formats, what kind of ball will be used, whether there are consolation rounds, rain-out info, etc. I don't know if it's the same for junior tournaments in China, but these types of info should be read and paid attention to for relevant and important updates and tournament changes.
You're right that there are messages to the participating parties about tournaments in many places; and, yes, there was an instruction for the kids and their parents to the tournament that we participated in. My wife (a Chinese national) claims that prior to the tournament this no let message was "hard to see" in her native tongue on the we-chat. Regardless, the "hard to see"(to me ambiguous sounding) instruction in Chinese language has been given in one language only, but the Canadian passport of my son on the Nadal Cup tournament roster has been clear. The no let rule is very new to 2019 China which any tournament organizers who accept expensive applications for the participation in should bring the news out accordingly. Anyhow, I agree with the ones who say that I am guilty, so I leave it at that.
I'm shocked that it took until the tiebreaker to have the first let serve of the match.

I'm shocked that there was "fury" at an umpire in a tournament for 12 year olds. First world problems I guess.

I'm shocked that someone doesn't understand why this rule is in place these days. Way too many cheats.

I'm sorry your child lost, but I'd definitely use this as a teaching point for life. Life is not fair. Sooner kids learn that lesson the better IMO.
You're way too SHOCKED there. But you're quite right that the match was so letless :)

By the way, I wasn't as "furious" as fast to stand up and wait. When the umpire suggested that they should replay that ball and my son was about the serve it again, the opponent kid was smart. He got pissed and so he received the point which then pissed my boy in vain. That was the moment when I spoke to the fickle umpire. Don't be so SHOCKED for the rule is new but the sport isn't.

Thank you all. You make me feel that I am not alone in the jungle.
 
#25
Anyhow, I agree with the ones who say that I am guilty, so I leave it at that.
Don't be too hard on yourself, take it as a learning experience for next time--so now you know. At a recent exo-team tennis event, where they were utilizing the "play the let format" for the first time, some of the pros forgot to play them--in fact, I think it was Serena playing mixed against Roger, and he had to explain it to her.
 
#27
Don't be too hard on yourself, take it as a learning experience for next time--so now you know.
Absolutely! The hardship was felt for only a few moments there. Out of the 64 U12 kids, my boy ended in quarterfinal which is not so bad considering that this is my son's (born in 2008) first big year moving on from the U10 category. I've been practicing the "no let service" concept with my son a lot now.
 

MathGeek

Hall of Fame
#28
I find it odd that the match made it to a tiebreaker without a let having occurred at some earlier point.

But, where possible, I prefer tennis rules for youth play be the same as the rules for the pros they see on TV, and this includes the common let rule. Pro players are a big inspiration for many youths, and the more they change the rules for youth play, the more they are playing a different game.
 
#30
I find it odd that the match made it to a tiebreaker without a let having occurred at some earlier point.

But, where possible, I prefer tennis rules for youth play be the same as the rules for the pros they see on TV, and this includes the common let rule. Pro players are a big inspiration for many youths, and the more they change the rules for youth play, the more they are playing a different game.
Pretty sure Pop Warner Football doesn't play the same rules as the NFL. Nor is Tee Ball the same as MLB. Most ice Hockey is non-contact before age 15. It's quite alright for kids to play something different than the pros, although ideally its to make things safer and more fun for the kids.
 
#31
Losing a point on a net cord serve isn't terribly fair.
I don't understand what you mean. It's fair when something happens according to the rules. It's still fair if the sun gets in your eyes during an overhead, or if a strong gust of wind comes along that throws your shot off. Unlucky for you, sure, but not unfair.
 
#32
Pretty sure Pop Warner Football doesn't play the same rules as the NFL. Nor is Tee Ball the same as MLB. Most ice Hockey is non-contact before age 15. It's quite alright for kids to play something different than the pros, although ideally its to make things safer and more fun for the kids.
I see your point that there are different rules for kids versus adults to make things safer, but tennis is a non-contact sport (theoretically} and the lets don't come close to hitting anyone--although, having to make a headlong dash to the net attempting to return one, may cause a pulled muscle or sprained ankle.
 

MathGeek

Hall of Fame
#33
Pretty sure Pop Warner Football doesn't play the same rules as the NFL. Nor is Tee Ball the same as MLB. Most ice Hockey is non-contact before age 15. It's quite alright for kids to play something different than the pros, although ideally its to make things safer and more fun for the kids.
The key words in my viewpoint were "where possible." Some times rules variations for younger players are well reasoned and appropriate. In other cases, there is no real need or justification for the rule variation. I see no need for juniors not to have the same let rule as the pros. The variation is arbitrary, capricious, and unjustified.
 
#34
I don't understand what you mean. It's fair when something happens according to the rules. It's still fair if the sun gets in your eyes during an overhead, or if a strong gust of wind comes along that throws your shot off. Unlucky for you, sure, but not unfair.
I guess if you consider the vagaries of luck, fair. Luck may decide to favor one side exclusively and in that situation its hardly fair. If it balances out, then everything is fair. Fair is when any action is equally reciprocated.

So the net cord rule is fair but the outcomes that luck chooses in a match may be decidedly unfair. I guess I should have qualified that the teaching point is that Luck isn't Fair, not necessarily that life isn't. Although I think Life and Luck can be very unfair at times.
 
#35
The key words in my viewpoint were "where possible." Some times rules variations for younger players are well reasoned and appropriate. In other cases, there is no real need or justification for the rule variation. I see no need for juniors not to have the same let rule as the pros. The variation is arbitrary, capricious, and unjustified.
Pretty sure the tennis intelligentsia is looking to eventually eliminate service lets from the rules so it makes sense to start it at the grass roots of juniors. Just like mandatory helmets in hockey started in juniors and works its way into the pros. If the kids are used to playing net serves, they won't complain when they make the rule change for everyone 6 years from now.

The service let was always a strange rule to mandate in the first place, since a net cord during any other shot was played out.
 

MathGeek

Hall of Fame
#36
Pretty sure the tennis intelligentsia is looking to eventually eliminate service lets from the rules so it makes sense to start it at the grass roots of juniors. Just like mandatory helmets in hockey started in juniors and works its way into the pros. If the kids are used to playing net serves, they won't complain when they make the rule change for everyone 6 years from now.

The service let was always a strange rule to mandate in the first place, since a net cord during any other shot was played out.
Cart before the horse. Helmets are about safety.
 
#37
I guess if you consider the vagaries of luck, fair. Luck may decide to favor one side exclusively and in that situation its hardly fair. If it balances out, then everything is fair. Fair is when any action is equally reciprocated.
I disagree. Whether something is fair does not depend on the outcome but is decided beforehand.

If a coin is flipped and you win when it's heads and I win when it's tails and tails comes up more times than heads, it was still a fair game even though I ended up winning. That's because we each had a 50% probability of winning.

So if playerA benefits from a bunch of lucky shanks and playerB does not get the same luck, it was still a fair game.

PlayerA could win fewer points than PlayerB in the match but still win. Was that fair? Yes. Because the rules of the game were established before they started playing. If PlayerB unilaterally declared that the person with more points at the end would be the winner, that would be unfair because he's changing the rules.
 
#38
I disagree. Whether something is fair does not depend on the outcome but is decided beforehand.

If a coin is flipped and you win when it's heads and I win when it's tails and tails comes up more times than heads, it was still a fair game even though I ended up winning. That's because we each had a 50% probability of winning.

So if playerA benefits from a bunch of lucky shanks and playerB does not get the same luck, it was still a fair game.

PlayerA could win fewer points than PlayerB in the match but still win. Was that fair? Yes. Because the rules of the game were established before they started playing. If PlayerB unilaterally declared that the person with more points at the end would be the winner, that would be unfair because he's changing the rules.
I think you can have an unfair outcome in a fair game just as you can have a fair outcome in an unfair game.

If you lost a tennis match because every shot the opponent hit came off his frame and ticked the net barely rolling over, would you walk away saying, “well I lost that match fair and square.” We’d probably walk away muttering about being cheated by Lady Luck and not feeling we had a fair opportunity to win the match.
 
#39
Cart before the horse. Helmets are about safety.
But it was a rule change that started in juniors and moved into the pros. Doesn’t matter what it’s for. Safety, expediency, fairness. If you are planning on changing the sport in a radical way it’s often best to introduce the changes in juniors so they have adapted by the time they reach pro levels.

You may think no lets is a capricious rule change but it’s gaining a lot of traction amongst ruling bodies.
 
#40
I think you can have an unfair outcome in a fair game just as you can have a fair outcome in an unfair game.

If you lost a tennis match because every shot the opponent hit came off his frame and ticked the net barely rolling over, would you walk away saying, “well I lost that match fair and square.” We’d probably walk away muttering about being cheated by Lady Luck and not feeling we had a fair opportunity to win the match.
I would say he was lucky. I would not say the match was unfair. We have different definitions.
 
#41
I guess if you consider the vagaries of luck, fair. Luck may decide to favor one side exclusively and in that situation its hardly fair. If it balances out, then everything is fair. Fair is when any action is equally reciprocated.

So the net cord rule is fair but the outcomes that luck chooses in a match may be decidedly unfair. I guess I should have qualified that the teaching point is that Luck isn't Fair, not necessarily that life isn't. Although I think Life and Luck can be very unfair at times.
You might lose some points to bad luck. Maybe a game or two.

Nobody in the history of sports has lost an event due to LUCK being the reason.
 
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#42
You might lose some points to back luck. Maybe a game or two.

Nobody in the history of sports has lost an event due to LUCK being the reason.
You clearly don't ascribe luck to outcomes as much as I do. May be my golfing background.

Why do you think the tennis slams play best of 5 sets if not to diminish the effect of luck?
 
#43
You clearly don't ascribe luck to outcomes as much as I do. May be my golfing background.

Why do you think the tennis slams play best of 5 sets if not to diminish the effect of luck?
It’s best of 5 so that athleticism & conditioning become critical variables.

To ascribe luck to any win/loss because of a event late in a competition would invalidate every other earlier event that clearly wasnt luck that lead to that point. The weeks of preparations, strategy, execution are all weighted in determining a outcome. One single moment never determines the outcome. That’s why you cant blame luck, even if luck was the reason for a deciding moment.
 
#44
Why do you think the tennis slams play best of 5 sets if not to diminish the effect of luck?
If that's the case, why don't Women play best of 5? Is there less luck in Women's tennis, therefore no need to play best of 5?

Why do doubles not play best of 5? Why do they play TBs in lieu of a 3rd set? Aren't those 2 factors allowing luck to play a larger role?

Why flip a coin to determine side or serve? Shouldn't that determination be skill-based?

If diminishing the effect of luck was the #1 priority, they'd redo the scoring system to "first one to X points". Someone who wins fewer overall points but most of the big ones and takes the match could be considered lucky [by the loser] or mentally tough [by the winner].

Anyways, I recognize that luck plays a role although how much is arguable. But I can't practice being lucky: it's beyond my control so I spend my time on things over which I do have some measure of control.
 
#45
There was an Australian Short Track Speed skater that won an Olympic gold medal. In every heat he was dead last going into the final lap. In every instance, the top 3 skaters wiped each other out and because he was so far behind he avoided the crash and skated to victory.
Even he admits to winning that medal by the vagaries of chance. While rarely is it as clear as that instance, when you have two opponents equal in skill, training, coaching and fitness, often luck is the deciding variable.

But I agree you can’t practice luck. You can only hope it will be fairly distributed during a match.
 
#46
In every instance, the top 3 skaters wiped each other out and because he was so far behind he avoided the crash and skated to victory.
That's a good story! Avoiding the pile up and ensuing carnage can be a winning strategy. In tennis 80% of points are won on opponent's errors and not by hitting winners. Outlasting and outliving your opponents can be a winning strategy--I'm shooting to peak in the 95's.
But I agree you can’t practice luck.
You make your own luck--I know people who are ALWAYS lucky!
 
#47
Pretty sure Pop Warner Football doesn't play the same rules as the NFL. Nor is Tee Ball the same as MLB. Most ice Hockey is non-contact before age 15. It's quite alright for kids to play something different than the pros, although ideally its to make things safer and more fun for the kids.
Sorry but I feel you're mixing apples and oranges here. Hockey is not only a team sport but also a dangerous sport for concussions and other varieties of injuries related to rough plays or hard puck shots. Now, with the soft, compared to the puck, tennis ball and opponents divided by the net, we're crossing the twilight zone. The rule that results in the points accumulation here (in tennis) is directly related to the match score unlike in hockey where kids are to be more considerate with their bodies and sticks on the ice.
 
#48
having to make a headlong dash to the net attempting to return one, may cause a pulled muscle or sprained ankle.
That's exactly what I have been thinking about ever-since the last practice that I made my boy not only to hop on both feet twice prior to my service but also move faster (closer to the net) forward in case .... Well, it's hard to prepare kids on the service return for some have a top spin service while others can hit hard even in U12 now. The top spin is concerning with this rule as the ball may come all the way back but the kid must anticipate a much shorter ball as well. In any case, I am going nuts on this rule and feel sorry for kids to have to play it different than the top adults whom they watch on TV. By the way, my boy's had a sprained ankle a while back and with his flat feet I am terribly concerned.
 
#49
I guess if you consider the vagaries of luck, fair.
That would fit the definition. Fairness does not concern luck, only that you are playing by the same set of rules. You appear to be thinking of equal, which sports almost never even attempt to be.

So if playerA benefits from a bunch of lucky shanks and playerB does not get the same luck, it was still a fair game.
Well explained.

If you are planning on changing the sport in a radical way it’s often best to introduce the changes in juniors so they have adapted by the time they reach pro levels.
Absolutely true. It's difficult to retrain someone who reached the pinnacle of their profession to do something different, but it's simple to teach a kid learning the game a new way.

We have different definitions.
This isn't politics. The word fair has a single meaning :) .

The top spin is concerning with this rule as the ball may come all the way back but the kid must anticipate a much shorter ball as well.
Most balls that clip the net are a disadvantage to the server not the returner. If the ball hits the net enough to "go short" it's going to pop up and be an easy return. I learned tennis with a service let, and it took me less than a month to get used to playing without it in college. It really wasn't a big deal.

In any case, I am going nuts on this rule and feel sorry for kids to have to play it different than the top adults whom they watch on TV.
I believe the phrase is 'mountain out of a molehill'.

By the way, my boy's had a sprained ankle a while back and with his flat feet I am terribly concerned.
Hope he feels better. I would encourage you/him to look up some good exercises for ankle strengthening or consult with a physical therapist. That and buying good shoes (some of the slop made today is problematic for people without perfect feet). I've had a lot of "success" with reducing ankle injuries, but in full disclosure it was probably playing less basketball that really solved my problems.
 
#50
If the "service lets are good" rule, goes into effect for ALL tennis, then I would start practicing aiming for the net tape. Good players can hit the lines, why not the net-tape it's about the same width? Apply a lot of top-spin and have it roll down the net on the opponent's side, and not even come up for a bounce. Kramer used to be able to hit a half-dollar coin, suspended from a string on the FIRST try--saw it on a show called "YOU ASKED FOR IT!"--there's probably a youtube of it.
 
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