Proper Etiquette on returning OUT serves?

kevrol

Hall of Fame
If you serve a ball into the net, or if the ball is anywhere within 5 feet of the court I'm going to force you to pick it up, because it is a distraction. If you don't, I'll wait until you are about to hit a winner, and then call a let. That usually gets the idea across to the opponent and is well within the rules. Usually the ones who don't pick up the balls are the ones who are such a nervous wreck trying to hit a 2nd serve that they don't want to move and reset.
You can't do the bold. If you start the point with it on the court you have to finish it out.
 

Bionic slice

Semi-Pro
I like to clear the balls but if they are near the fence then no worries on my end unless the guy is a high bouncing lobber or kick server, lol. I am not rolling an ankle or taking a chance and falling if a ball is in my space. Most guys don't complain with me as I jog to move them out of the way quickly and this doesn't affect the pace of the game.
Have i seen someone employ the stall...like with getting the balls or whoops i didnt hit it right back to them, or other options like the classic restroom break or i need to fill my water bottle, to trying a shoelace or hitting a ball over the fence, yes. I'm sure we are all guilty of this at some point especially when a player gets on a hot streak or good rhtyhm.
 

beltsman

Legend
I like to clear the balls but if they are near the fence then no worries on my end unless the guy is a high bouncing lobber or kick server, lol. I am not rolling an ankle or taking a chance and falling if a ball is in my space. Most guys don't complain with me as I jog to move them out of the way quickly and this doesn't affect the pace of the game.
Have i seen someone employ the stall...like with getting the balls or whoops i didnt hit it right back to them, or other options like the classic restroom break or i need to fill my water bottle, to trying a shoelace or hitting a ball over the fence, yes. I'm sure we are all guilty of this at some point especially when a player gets on a hot streak or good rhtyhm.
To be honest, guys that are so scared of twisting an ankle on a ball are pretty annoying. I'm not saying you. But I've been playing for years and years and never stepped on a ball. I understand clearing them from court. But where I live, court time is expensive, and walking around between serves to pick up balls wastes a lot of time. The mind subconsciously knows where balls are and avoids stepping on them.

Basically, I've never found balls around the court to be a big deal. Granted I'm not playing in huge tournaments or anything.

Here's a question:
Server hits a fault into the net. It rolls back a few feet into the service box. The server is about to serve his second, and the returner stops and asks the server to pick up the ball.

Now THIS annoys me. It's on MY side. There is ZERO chance of you getting injured. Seriously, what is the chance that your drop shot lands on the ball, versus the time wasted in me picking it up? I am going to start refusing to acquiesce this request.
 
The new rule is an opponent can make you move a ball on your side of the net, I think it's nuts but that's what I've read here recently, if I'm wrong please correct me.
 

swizzy

Hall of Fame
tom is correct.. boggles the mind.. but your opponent has the last word on a ball on your side of the net
 

J_R_B

Hall of Fame
To be honest, guys that are so scared of twisting an ankle on a ball are pretty annoying. I'm not saying you. But I've been playing for years and years and never stepped on a ball. I understand clearing them from court. But where I live, court time is expensive, and walking around between serves to pick up balls wastes a lot of time. The mind subconsciously knows where balls are and avoids stepping on them.

Basically, I've never found balls around the court to be a big deal. Granted I'm not playing in huge tournaments or anything.

Here's a question:
Server hits a fault into the net. It rolls back a few feet into the service box. The server is about to serve his second, and the returner stops and asks the server to pick up the ball.

Now THIS annoys me. It's on MY side. There is ZERO chance of you getting injured. Seriously, what is the chance that your drop shot lands on the ball, versus the time wasted in me picking it up? I am going to start refusing to acquiesce this request.
When I was 9, I saw my uncle step on a ball and get a compound fracture of his ankle. It was possibly the nastiest thing I've ever seen. I'm kind of anal about balls on the court.
 

bertrevert

Hall of Fame
To be honest, guys that are so scared of twisting an ankle on a ball are pretty annoying. I'm not saying you. But I've been playing for years and years and never stepped on a ball.
Let me stop you there. That says all I need to know. If after "years and years" you haven't stepped on one laying around then you don't know what you're talking about. I am not saying you haven't stepped on one, just not on one you've left laying about. The shock and pain is truly excruciating, not to mention the downtime - but it is the embarrassment you feel yourself for leaving a goddamn ball lying around that truly teaches you this lesson once.

Server hits a fault into the net. It rolls back a few feet into the service box. The server is about to serve his second, and the returner stops and asks the server to pick up the ball.
Now THIS annoys me.
Receiver feels the yellow dot in their field of vision is a distraction - and it is. Pick it up. Case closed.
 

bertrevert

Hall of Fame
Back to proper etiquette...

I think it is the responsibility of the receiving team to control the ball as soon as it is called out. So no I don't think belting it back anywhere is good form. However on fast serves you're already returning as perhaps your partner is calling out, but still you should try to capture/dispose of the ball.

I don't think any inability to do so however should mean that the server gets a first serve again - no.
 

SretiCentV

Rookie
If it's catchable I catch and pocket it. Usually it isn't though so I hit it right back to the guy so he can use it for a second serve unless it is way out and likely to go into a corner. Letting it go means it rolls back off the fence possibly. Hitting into the net means it may roll back and obstruct play. I have played at least 100 people and nobody ever complained.

Of course I think most people here play USTA and I will play anything provided it isn't USTA and that seems to be for good reason.
 
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badkitty

Rookie
I hit all close ones only because I used to leave a lot of balls that I thought were going out but dipped in at the last moment costing me points. I hit the close ones and call them out immediately if they are out. I call all out balls and play all balls that are not called out by my opponent.
 

Torrance310

New User
If you can hit it back you can learn to stop it and put it in your pocket or keep it on your side, it just takes the desire to do it and some practice.
Why should I have to learn how to stop it or keep it on my side? It makes no sense to me. If I hit right back to the guy with little pace, he has the ball back immediately. If I let it go or try to hit into the net on my side, I feel like the odds of it rolling back into play and breaking his rhythm are just as high as if i were to hit it back.

I agree that it's bad form to practice hitting winners off out servers, but I see no issue in softly returning the ball back to the server.
 
Why should I have to learn how to stop it or keep it on my side? It makes no sense to me. If I hit right back to the guy with little pace, he has the ball back immediately.
If you don't hit it back to the guy accurately and it rolls around, you are obligated by good sportsmanship to offer him two because you have disrupted his service rhythm. Catching it is a good tennis skill to learn like any other. There are no Mulligans in tennis, by hitting it back to him you are taking a practice shot. He doesn't need the ball back immediately since he has two others, one in his pocket and the third behind him at the fence. If you ever play against good players they will appreciate that.
 

Govnor

Professional
If you don't hit it back to the guy accurately and it rolls around, you are obligated by good sportsmanship to offer him two because you have disrupted his service rhythm. Catching it is a good tennis skill to learn like any other. There are no Mulligans in tennis, by hitting it back to him you are taking a practice shot. He doesn't need the ball back immediately since he has two others, one in his pocket and the third behind him at the fence. If you ever play against good players they will appreciate that.
I truly think it depends on who you're playing against/with. I've do hit balls back off of out serves and I don't think anyone has every called me out on it. I do not try to take full swings, but against big servers you have very little time to make that decision. I have no issue with them doing the same, I like to have all the balls at my disposal.

Even if you leave a ball, you pretty much have to have a look to see where it went, as I've yet to come across the perfect fence/wall/bubble that never allows balls to roll around behind you. It isn't like the ball disappears into a magic spare ball area. There is always the potential for play to be delayed no matter what happens to the ball after the server has hit it.

I would add, if someone told me not hit it back to them at all, I'd just have to deal with that and respect their wishes, but it hasn't happened yet.
 

Cashman

Hall of Fame
I must admit, I hit all faults back. As a returner. I don’t like chasing balls. It also makes it easier to ensure my side of the court is clear and safe.

It might be slightly bad manners, but I’ve never had anyone complain - and it does tend to mean less time between points.
 

dkshifty

Rookie
I always return all balls back as a "just in case." In doubles, its beneficial to have your partner call while you focus on returning. For singles, I just make sure to get it back and we can figure out fault calls or what not after the fact. I just never like being stuck with the whole "you didn't play the ball" scenario.
 

EddieBrock

Professional
This is something I've wondered about too. I always try to call the serve out as soon as possible and try to get the ball out of the way. What I can't stand is when someone plays the serve and I don't hear an out call so I get ready for the next shot and as I'm ready to hit it they say "the serve was out". If the serve missed by a mile I can understand, but if it's close and I don't hear it called out don't I have to assume it was in?
 

Cashman

Hall of Fame
What I can't stand is when someone plays the serve and I don't hear an out call so I get ready for the next shot and as I'm ready to hit it they say "the serve was out". If the serve missed by a mile I can understand, but if it's close and I don't hear it called out don't I have to assume it was in?
Yes. What’s more, if they don’t make the fault call before hitting the ball back then you’re entitled to treat the serve as in.

Remind them that if they’re going to return faults, they need to make sure the call is loud and early - otherwise it’s got to be play on.
 

socallefty

Legend
I have an opponent at my club who will return close 1st serves, wait to see if his return is going out and then calls the serve out. If it looks like he hit a great return for a winner or potential forced error, he won’t call the serve out even though many times I saw my serve land out by a couple of inches. I’ve told him many times that this is double-jeopardy and he has to make an early out-call on serves, but he continues to do so - he is also notorious for making bad line calls in his favor.

If a serve is very clearly out, I won’t return it - I’ll either let it go past me to the back fence or stop it with my racquet and tap it softly to the side fence on my side. If it is a close serve that is just out, I will often hit the return simultaneously while making the out-call as often I will start the return motion already before I even see where the serve lands - especially true against fast first serves.
 

Fedinkum

Legend
I don’t see how you can make a split second decision of judging whether a ball is out or not and not affecting your focus. Personally, I hit the return first then decide if it is out.
 
I don’t see how you can make a split second decision of judging whether a ball is out or not and not affecting your focus. Personally, I hit the return first then decide if it is out.
see below :
If it is a close serve that is just out, I will often hit the return simultaneously while making the out-call as often I will start the return motion already before I even see where the serve lands - especially true against fast first serves.
 
I have an opponent at my club who will return close 1st serves, wait to see if his return is going out and then calls the serve out. If it looks like he hit a great return for a winner or potential forced error, he won’t call the serve out even though many times I saw my serve land out by a couple of inches. I’ve told him many times that this is double-jeopardy and he has to make an early out-call on serves, but he continues to do so - he is also notorious for making bad line calls in his favor.
Why play this cheater unless he is the last player on earth? Your pleasure time may be better served playing against a ball machine. Or, cheat him back--this often works against a cheater--it's just tennis. Or, just play him for practice, hit your most outlandish shots, practice your worst shots--don't keep track of the score or forget it a lot--don't get emotionally invested in the outcome if the scores aren't being recorded. Laugh out loud every time he cheats and tell him he's taking two bites of the apple.
 

FedLIKEnot

Professional
Wait- so I am the only one who plays home run derby with those serves and sees how far I can hit it?!?!?

But to really answer the question depends on if singles or doubles; in singles I try to focus on making the call quickly and if I can hold up the swing just pocket the ball. If I cannot or I hit the ball for whatever reason I typically try to net it or hit a topspin roller back to the opponent. But in singles I REALLY, REALLY try to not swing and pocket the ball as often as possible.

In doubles I typically am not making the call my partner is usually watching the line for me or with me. But in that case I try to hit it into our side of the net for a quick ball clearance most often.

And I agree with what has been said I don't like having the balls lose around the court and especially on my side. To many years in baseball as a catcher and playing basketball has my ankles and knees already vaguely compromised to run the risk of stepping on a ball.
 

J_R_B

Hall of Fame
Yes. What’s more, if they don’t make the fault call before hitting the ball back then you’re entitled to treat the serve as in.
I try to return serves early either at or (depending on how much pace the player has) inside the base line. Unless the serve is a foot out or more, I almost always have to swing and make the call simultaneously in singles, and I make calls as soon as I'm finished swinging. I don't ever let the quality of the return dictate what call I make, but it may seem late sometimes because it's often after I contact the return. There's no way for me to avoid this with the style that I like to play.
 

socallefty

Legend
Why play this cheater unless he is the last player on earth? Your pleasure time may be better served playing against a ball machine. Or, cheat him back--this often works against a cheater--it's just tennis.
I play more than 100 to 120 singles matches a year against roughly 20 opponents. My philosophy is to play about 50-60% of players at my level, 20-30% at a level better than me and about 20% at a level that is easy to beat. The first category of players at my level give me very competitive matches, the better players expose my weaknesses to let me know what I need to work on with my coach and the weaker players allow me to experiment with technique changes and new point patterns during matches. This guy luckily belongs in the third category and so, I can beat him fairly routinely in spite of his ‘hooking’ - I don’t let it bother me and it is in fact good to experience it as you are bound to run into cheaters in tournaments and league play even if you cut them out of your social tennis calendar.

I would not resort to retaliation cheating as I always strive to be at my best including on the court and it is a sign of weakness to let a cheater run my own ethical standards.
 
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