Rule/Etiquette on hitting toward opponent at net?

#1
Watching a recent doubles match in a tournament, there was quite a dust up when one player hit an overhead smash that struck the player at the net. The referee had to intervene to calm everyone down.

I have heard that it's rude to hit right at another player, and in this situation the etiquette is to hit toward their feet if they're in your target area. Still, it doesn't seem like the receiving player should be in any position to complain if they get hit by the ball.

I can remember hitting a defensive lob that was short, and, fully expecting the overhead smash, I charged the net anyway, holding the racket in front of my face. It would have been no surprise if I were struck by the ball (but this usually makes the opponent choke and hit in the net).

What say you more experienced types?
 

Jonny S&V

Hall of Fame
#2
Watching a recent doubles match in a tournament, there was quite a dust up when one player hit an overhead smash that struck the player at the net. The referee had to intervene to calm everyone down.

I have heard that it's rude to hit right at another player, and in this situation the etiquette is to hit toward their feet if they're in your target area. Still, it doesn't seem like the receiving player should be in any position to complain if they get hit by the ball.

I can remember hitting a defensive lob that was short, and, fully expecting the overhead smash, I charged the net anyway, holding the racket in front of my face. It would have been no surprise if I were struck by the ball (but this usually makes the opponent choke and hit in the net).

What say you more experienced types?
It won't make you very many friends, but if you are playing, say, a high school meet that you won't see that player that many times anyway, I'll still do it. I'm notorious for pegging the net man on returns (hard and flat, and usually going a mile out, which just adds salt to the wound ;) ).
 
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#3
The rules of tennis and The Code of tennis are both silent on hitting balls at your opponent. It is totally acceptable.

However, the rule of thumb that I follow is only hit at your opponent below the waist when hitting from within the service line.

Return of serves, baseline ground strokes, overheads from the backcourt: all is fair game. I am happy to hit at them anywhere.

Still, anytime I hit my opponent, I hold my racquet up, ask if all is ok, and say I am sorry whether I intended to hit at them or not and whether I am laughing inside or not.

A simple apology rather than some gladiator routine after they're hit goes a long way at keeping things under control and keeps the chances of getting drilled in the face yourself down too.
 

Jonny S&V

Hall of Fame
#4
The rules of tennis and The Code of tennis are both silent on hitting balls at your opponent. It is totally acceptable.

However, the rule of thumb that I follow is only hit at your opponent below the waist when hitting from within the service line.

Return of serves, baseline ground strokes, overheads from the backcourt: all is fair game. I am happy to hit at them anywhere.

Still, anytime I hit my opponent, I hold my racquet up, ask if all is ok, and say I am sorry whether I intended to hit at them or not and whether I am laughing inside or not.

A simple apology rather than some gladiator routine after they're hit goes a long way at keeping things under control and keeps the chances of getting drilled in the face yourself down too.
Ouch..........
 

jmverdugo

Hall of Fame
#6
If you are playing doubles, and you are the one at the net, then, IMO, it is your problem to look for your health, of course this all depends of the level you are playing, however a smash directly to your opponent is not something I would do, a groundstroke or a volley, for sure, it is a good technique.

I you are playing singles then you have more space where to hit the ball and hitting directly to your opponent at the net, specially if you are mid court, is rude.

Anyway, is always polite to apologize after the incident.
 
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Jonny S&V

Hall of Fame
#7
Well, if one can't defend their package with some quick reflexes, then I have to wonder where their priorities are. I can't think of a body part (except maybe a ball heading directly between my eyes) that's better defended with quick reflexes.
You'd be surprised with the hicks that I had to play last season here in good ol MO.
 

Jonny S&V

Hall of Fame
#8
If you are playing doubles, and you are the one at the net, then, IMO, it is your problem to look for your health, of course this all depends of the level you are playing, however a smash directly to your opponent is not something I would do, a groundstroke or a volley, for sure, it is a good technique.

I you are playing singles then you have more space where to hit the ball and hitting directly to your opponent at the net, specially if your mid court, is rude.

Anyway, is always polite to apologize after the incident.
Yeah, otherwise, the guy gets really ticked off.
 
#10
tell me about it, i hit a guy with a serve to the T, he was actually standing in the way, and he almost jump the net to kick my a** because he didnt hear my apologize...
I'm too nice, I got beamed with a 110+ serve in doubles my freshman year, the guy didn't apologize, he just laughed and I didn't get all over him (although he was 6'5" and I was 5'10" at the time :-( ).
 
#12
I'm too nice, I got beamed with a 110+ serve in doubles my freshman year, the guy didn't apologize, he just laughed and I didn't get all over him (although he was 6'5" and I was 5'10" at the time :-( ).
Tall guys are easy, Just hit him as hard as you can in a knee with your racket. He'll drop like a bag of potatoes.... then he'll be shorter than you.... it'll also slow down his serve ;-)
 
#13
Tall guys are easy, Just hit him as hard as you can in a knee with your racket. He'll drop like a bag of potatoes.... then he'll be shorter than you.... it'll also slow down his serve ;-)
Thanks, I'll put that into practice the next time I see him and tell him "that was for 2 years ago, you jerk!!!" :grin:
 
#14
and I'd never say to hit someone on purpose... hit at them, yes. If it's a tall guy he should be used to it. That being said it can be a very effective strategy. It'll make some guys a half step slow, or they stop coming into net.

I played a match a few weeks ago and got nailed, I was running down a drop shot, and dropped him back. He antisipated this, and got to the ball early, but then Dude didn't even seem to try to hit a winner or even on court just hit it right at my stomach. It didn't really hurt, more a surprise than a sting/pain. I just charged it to the game, and made sure he lost the match so he wouldn't have a story to tell ;-) .
 

burosky

Professional
#15
Hitting at the net person is fair game. However, I think most problems arise when it is a point blank shot that can easily be controlled specially if the net person has their back turned or has conceded the point. Of course the level of play and the relative ease of the shot also has to be taken into consideration. Anything hit from the baseline shouldn't be a cause to get mad. A simple apology would go a long way though.
 
#16
Obviously, the best placement for a winner is AWAY from the opponent into open court.

Sometimes the best placement is not possible under the circumstances, then should you aim at the net person? Not quite yet.

There are other options available that are better, and in most cases it the net person is any good then they will welcome the chance at another put-away volley. Hitting at the opponent is USUALLY a tactic of the low to middle rate player or a sociopath.

If you must, hit at their feet, aim toward the hip or arm-pit area of their racket-hand side- these are difficult balls to get the racket on.

Other options are lobs, crosscourt drop shots or stop volleys, low balls down the middle (doubles) and angle placements.

I know that when an opponent intentionally hits right at me, 90% of the time I put the ball away or set up for a winner. Eventually they start trying something else.

In a "friendly/social" game it is bad form to hit at the opponent.

In a serious match, there may be times (especially in doubles) when it is an effective choice-- but the times and situations are so rare that I will not encourage the practice by describing them. Normally, almost always, there is a better choice.

B
 
#17
I tend to hit a lot of people at net during doubles... and the group I mostly hit with is kind of use to it. I still apologize, especially if I leave a mark or anything. I mean when I go for a overhead smash, of course i take a brief note of where my opponents are (doubles), but as i focus on the ball I sometimes forget where they are; I consider it almost as my first serve (flat) but aiming as if I was trying to hit net.

Of course i've gotten hit as well.

I really think I've just accepted the fact that in doubles you can get hurt. It's wise to say you're sorry, but I really don't expect anything.
 
#19
If an opponent has the opportunity to hit an overhead on a short ball (e.g. after a weak shot from your doubles partner), the correct thing for you to do is to turn your back to the net so that his smash cannot hit anything vital. If your opponent does that when you have a sitter, he's recognizing that you've won the point; if you're playing doubles you can smash it near him if that's necessary to keep it out of his partner's range -- but aiming at him would be hostile and very poor sportsmanship.

On the other hand, if he stands there five feet from you determined to try his best to block your smash and win the point, then by all means aim it at him. I mean, he _chose_ to risk it....
 
#20
this comes up way too often.

its great and simple strategy: take an aggressive shot at the opponent with the least amount of reaction time.

it happens all the time at the professional level, and last i checked they know what they're doing.
 
#22
It is my personal policy to not to Smash at the guy directly. If it means i loose a point, so be it ( i have lots a few like that).

I will not willingly try to injure anybody.
 
#23
To Bean or Not to Bean

If you assume a ready position you are fair game. Therefore, if you concede the point by dropping your racket and turning sideways -- you shouldn't be hit.

Apologies are expected.

P.S. If you run up to an overhead, you deserve to be tagged.
 
#24
I can remember hitting a defensive lob that was short, and, fully expecting the overhead smash, I charged the net anyway, holding the racket in front of my face. It would have been no surprise if I were struck by the ball (but this usually makes the opponent choke and hit in the net).
Dont do that, I almost lost my front teeth once doing the same thing.
 
#26
I think it depends what the opposing net man is doing. If he is still playing the point (ie positioning himself to try to return your shot) then he is fair game (although if am smashing I hit to their feet) but if he has conceded the point (ie dropped arms and moved to the alley) then you really should not hit hard towards him. I feel pretty strongly about this as I was hit is the mouth by a massive close range smash, following a weak defensive lob from my pertner) even though I had clearly conceded the point. I believe the guy did not mean to hit me but he really did not need to hit all out from close range to finish the point as I had already downed arms and moved away.
 

Marius_Hancu

Talk Tennis Guru
#27
Sometimes, when focussing on the ball, you may simply lose the opponent from your peripheric view.

If you hit him by chance, apologize and that's it.

Once at the net, he should expect the ball to come in any direction.
 
#28
Apologies are expected.
i disagree with this. I apologize if it was an accident or if my opponent is hurt. otherwise, i did the smart play by going after the net guy. i dont see the value of apologizing when im not sorry, much less when i meant to hit him.

that being said, i also dont try to hurt my opponents with an overhead, etc. their reaction time at the net is so low that you can do almost the same amount of damage with an easier shot.
 
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#29
It is my personal policy to not to Smash at the guy directly. If it means i loose a point, so be it ( i have lots a few like that).

I will not willingly try to injure anybody.
I have seen people get injured trying to AVOID getting hit, mainly doing stupid stuff like diving or doing some weird contortion to avoid getting hit and twisting an ankle or something.

The absolute WORST I've ever seen from someone that got hit was a little bruising.... maybe. Fact is it stings for about 5 seconds. If you really get beamed it's a little tender for a day. It's not Football or Rugby!!

Last thing that youtube video with JohnnyMac, he was playing to the crowd a little, and it probably worked the crowd shamed lindel into not using an effective strategy.
 
#30
I always thought the net guy was the target;) especially on returns of serve. We have a guy that plays with us who is nortorious for bad line calls and reaching over the net. I hit every ball I can hard at his gut on returns or well anything. He usually winds up backing up by the end of the first 4 games or so and doesn't crowd the net as much for the rest of the time. Like wise when I play the net I expect to be hit at and when some one hits me and says "I'm sorry" I just say hey you did what you were supposed to do no problem.
 
#31
I get hit fairly often in doubles, and usually don't mind. It's actually perfect shot for someone to volley and get me in the feet. The only issues are when people can hit the overhead anywhere and specifically aim for your chest or head. We're not playing for money, and it's supposed to be friendly. Everyone should want to win, but smacking someone to intimidate them is just plain rude.

However, addressing the person who hits a weak lob and then runs forward to mess with the opponent, I see no problem in that person getting pegged. That's a dumb move and only works with weaker players. Stronger players will either hit right by you or smack it at you, which is not a bad move in that situation.
 

chess9

Hall of Fame
#32
The person at the net is the aggressor and may fairly be repelled.

If you are not comfortable receiving hard balls at the net, then stay back.

Beginners have problems understanding how this works, so be patient with them, and kind. :) When I play mixed doubles I only hit at the net person if they are a better standard of player. Ditto for when I play some of the old guys. Actually, older guys can be like teenage girls at times. Whine whine whine. LOL.

-Robert
 
#33
This is a little off subject, but if it's a girl would you hit her? Also, I rarely play mixed doubles, but If the girl is a strong player, no brainer youplay her like any opponent.

If she is a much weaker player than the guy do you just pick on her to win. Or do you mix it up. Also, do you hit your normal shots or take a little off the serves,etc.
 
#34
Nothing Personal

i disagree with this. I apologize if it was an accident or if my opponent is hurt. otherwise, i did the smart play by going after the net guy. i dont see the value of apologizing when im not sorry, much less when i meant to hit him.
Yes, but if you apologize (I don't mean sincerely, I mean perfunctorily), you are saying "Hey, nothing personal; just smart tennis." Otherwise, it can be perceived as personal.
 
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#35
Often, when hitting a smash and the opponents are one-up, one-back, you hit to the one at the net. The one back will more likely be able to return the ball, but the one at the net won't be able to react in time.

To hit away from him is to give away the point. You hit at him to win the point, not out of malice. If he sees that he's too close, he should just turn around and concede the point.

If he gets hit and he wants to get mad at someone, he should get mad at his partner who is the one who set him up. Some partners keep giving up short lobs when you're at the net, and think, "Why aren't you covering 'your side'?" They're the ones who messed up. But don't blame the smasher, he's only doing his job.

When I hit someone I always say 'sorry', and they're usually OK w/ that. If you believe that balls should never come at you, let people know that up front. Maybe they'll agree to that, but don't assume that's some universally understood rule. It's not.
 
#36
Watching a recent doubles match in a tournament, there was quite a dust up when one player hit an overhead smash that struck the player at the net. The referee had to intervene to calm everyone down.

I have heard that it's rude to hit right at another player, and in this situation the etiquette is to hit toward their feet if they're in your target area. Still, it doesn't seem like the receiving player should be in any position to complain if they get hit by the ball.

I can remember hitting a defensive lob that was short, and, fully expecting the overhead smash, I charged the net anyway, holding the racket in front of my face. It would have been no surprise if I were struck by the ball (but this usually makes the opponent choke and hit in the net).

What say you more experienced types?
You can hit towards a player. You can try to hit a player. However, the latter will cause your opponents to want to retaliate. Many times I have hit in the direction of the opponent and accidentally tagged them. I immediately apoligize. It is up to them to accept the apoligy. I guage whether they have and if they do not accept the apoligy and retaliate, then it is gloves-off bombs away.

That is just the way it is.
 
#37
One time my country club and another country club got together and we had a tournament just for fun, and I was watching a mixed doubles match. It was our two worst guy and girl, only been playing tennis for a few months maybe. The boy was only 10 at the time, too. They were up against a team returning from state last year, and it was an easy 8-0 set for them. For some reason the guy (like 17 years old) felt like hitting an extremely hard overhead probably around 100 mph right at the little kid, and nailed him right in the ear. I stood up to the guy and yelled "what the hell is your problem man he's fcuking 10 years old!!" and then my friend took a ball and ran up and hit it at him right in the eye. Luckily my friend was 6'5" and the other guy maybe hardly 6'.. Yea well my friend was defaulted from the tournament anyways but I'm still glad he did that to him..
 
#38
Hitting people in the eyes is NEVER a cool move. It's much better to just knock someone out for being a ****** than to possibly irreparably damage their eyesight.
 
#39
Hitting people in the eyes is NEVER a cool move. It's much better to just knock someone out for being a ****** than to possibly irreparably damage their eyesight.
Oddly enough, I'm in agreement.

Steady Eddy (above) is also right on - too much of this whining is about the wrong thing. Usually a player gets beaned because their partner put them squarely in the crosshairs with a weak lob. I let my partner know immediately if I put up a sitter so they can at least get a step away from the firing line. I'd apologize to my own partner before apologizing to my opponents, but you have to check that an opponent is ok if they get hit, if they fall, or anything else like that.
 
#40
Great etiquette question. The 4 accepted circumstances for driving or smashing at the net man in doubles is as follows:
1. Return of first serve (whether or not net man remains still or moves).
2. Return of second serve (but only if net man moves, not if he is still).
3. Anytime during rally (but not within around 4 metres of the net, if the net man remains a still target).
4. Anytime during a rally and any distance from the net, if the net man moves.

Bottom line - it is a cheap shot to hit the net man if he is a still target and within close range.
 
#41
Great etiquette question. The 4 accepted circumstances for driving or smashing at the net man in doubles is as follows:
1. Return of first serve (whether or not net man remains still or moves).
2. Return of second serve (but only if net man moves, not if he is still).
3. Anytime during rally (but not within around 4 metres of the net, if the net man remains a still target).
4. Anytime during a rally and any distance from the net, if the net man moves.

Bottom line - it is a cheap shot to hit the net man if he is a still target and within close range.
The net man should always be moving in doubles, even if it's fake poaching, so your guidelines do not hold.
 
#42
The net man should always be moving in doubles, even if it's fake poaching, so your guidelines do not hold.
Good point net man should always be moving in doubles. My point was if he/she was "not" moving which happens a lot at lower club level and kids tournaments.
Fake poaching is a great play and fair game for being drilled.
 
#43
Good point net man should always be moving in doubles. My point was if he/she was "not" moving which happens a lot at lower club level and kids tournaments.
Fake poaching is a great play and fair game for being drilled.
I play 3.5 Doubles and I sometimes go hard at the still net man's belly button on a weak second serve. Don't see a problem with it. Never had any complaints.
The good volleyers get it back. Other guys miss or just stand back at baseline if I'm punishing their partner's serves.
When I'm playing the net, I welcome hard service returns right at me. Lots of time to react. Never been hurt by one. Only been hurt at net by shots during the rally, when there was less reaction time, but never by a service return.
 
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2good4U

Professional
#44
IF a person is at net and hits a short, high sitter, they SHOULD just concede the point.

But I've seen Novak himself, and PLENTY of other pros, act like they've got a play on the ball.
(and/or nothing to lose)

ANY 5.0 with a short, high floater at hand, could smack it down ANY player's throat who would
be foolish enough to think they'd have a chance, pros included. (ASSuming they won't get hit)

I've seen Novak and other top pros pitch a fit when they get Lendl'd, acting like it should not
have happened.

And they're pretty much ASKING for it, like ANY good player couldn't beam them with ease.
(would you really want to stand there when I have a sitter that's above the net to smack?)
 
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heninfan99

Talk Tennis Guru
#45
As long as it's the torso or legs. I don't support head hunting unless they tagged you there first.

Standing up at net is a very aggressive court position and there are risks.
 
#46
Many times i'll rip shots cause it's fun when there are short sitters. If my aim and timing were better the opponents could just stand there and watch the winner sail by. Unfortunately in my development , the shot ends up going directly at the opponent and they need to deal with it. I could decelerate or try some funky off balance push and flub the shot, or concede the point and say , "oh I was afraid i might hit you" would that be more gentlemanly? It might be tough to win if every time the opponents make a bad shot I'm expected to alter my plan and accommodate them with more bad play. It's not personal.
 
#47
Many times i'll rip shots cause it's fun when there are short sitters. If my aim and timing were better the opponents could just stand there and watch the winner sail by. Unfortunately in my development , the shot ends up going directly at the opponent and they need to deal with it. I could decelerate or try some funky off balance push and flub the shot, or concede the point and say , "oh I was afraid i might hit you" would that be more gentlemanly? It might be tough to win if every time the opponents make a bad shot I'm expected to alter my plan and accommodate them with more bad play. It's not personal.
You should prepare something to say in case you hit a player in the eye and they get a detached retina. According to tennis rules you can do that. Include that. But the other player could get a permanent eye injury. Say something about that. What is the percentage of balls that don't go where the hitter intends them to go. ? Always have a quick automatic 'sorry' ready.

Do you know about vitreous degeneration? About in the 50s to 70s for most people, the vitreous of the eye, which is attached to the retina, comes loose and separates from the retina. While this is occurring over a period of weeks or months(?), the retina is more vulnerable to tearing especially if the head gets hit. Maybe you want to especially consider the age and reduced reaction times of your opponent. ?

I'd would hate to always remember that I injured somebody's eye if I would have won the point just with another shot choice.

In another situation - I had just read that eye injuries in tennis often occur after the point when somebody smacks the ball for no reason. I was playing indoors and a point ended. A guy on the other side, who was an ex semi-pro or other serious ex baseball pitcher, decided to blast one. I was walking in front of him at the net and his shot hit me square in the temple area about 2-3 inches from my eye. It was a very high pace shot. I let him and everybody else in the facility know what I thought of what he did. If my head had been turned the ball was at the height of my eye. I had my head turned to the side by chance.

There is only one guy in my tennis club, so far, that goes for the opponent and he hits hard.................
 
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#49
@Jonny S&V
Well, if one can't defend their package with some quick reflexes, then I have to wonder where their priorities are. I can't think of a body part (except maybe a ball heading directly between my eyes) that's better defended with quick reflexes.
I have experienced permanent eye damage from ball impacts. Retina partially detached and significantly diminished near-vision focus (permanent). Lucky that I did not have full detachment of the retina. That would have required expensive surgery. The near vision in my dominant eye is now much worse than my non-dominant eye. More difficult to read books, phone/tablet displays and computer screens. TV viewing not a problem tho'. A blow to the jewels will smart for a while but it is rarely permanent damage.
 
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#50
@Jonny S&V


I have experienced permanent eye damage from ball impacts. Retina partially detached and significantly diminished near vision focus (permanent). Lucky that I did not have full detachment of the retina. The near vision in my dominant eye is now much worse than my non-dominant eye. More difficult to read books, phone/tablet displays and computer screens. TV viewing not a problem tho'. A blow to the jewels will smart for a while but it is rarely permanent damage.
Sorry to hear about the injury Systematic. I have a big inside out forehand flat drive and in my early days hit a lot of players. We all have an obligation as sportspeople to avoid seriously hurting anyone whilst at the same time playing tough tennis.
 
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