When is a ball considered over the net?

kevrol

Hall of Fame
#1
Last night playing doubles I was at the net. Opponent hit a weak ball that floated over the net. I waited to hit it until it seemed part of the ball was on my side of the net but part of it was still over the net so part of the ball was still on their side. Is the ball able to be hit as long as it was partially on my side of the net or does the whole ball have to be on my side of the net? My racket or body did not touch the net.
 
#2
An interesting theoretical question (I only say theoretical since it seems unlikely anyone could call it this close). The ITF Rules (24.h, also The Code article 20) say “The point is lost if the player hits the ball before it has passed the net”, which doesn’t give a whole lot of help. I suspect the interpretation would be that as long as the part of the ball that you first make contact with is on your side of the net, which it doubtless would be, it’s legal. But, that’s just a suspicion. Woodrow?
 

anubis

Hall of Fame
#3
If you hit the ball before 100% of it has crossed the net, and your opponent calls you out on this, then you lose the point. Next time just wait for it to clearly cross the net. It's not like that millisecond of time that you wait is going to remove any advantage that you had.
 
#5
If you hit the ball before 100% of it has crossed the net, and your opponent calls you out on this, then you lose the point. Next time just wait for it to clearly cross the net. It's not like that millisecond of time that you wait is going to remove any advantage that you had.
Your opponent can not make this call, it is up to you to call on yourself if there is no chair umpire.
 

kevrol

Hall of Fame
#6
If you hit the ball before 100% of it has crossed the net, and your opponent calls you out on this, then you lose the point. Next time just wait for it to clearly cross the net. It's not like that millisecond of time that you wait is going to remove any advantage that you had.
Actually not true. It's my call to make.

I know it seems unlikely that I had that much time to think about it, however this was a big time floater and it seemed like time slowed down when it was hanging there.

So you're saying you can't make contact with the ball on your side of the net until that ball is completely over?
 
#8
If your eyes and reactions are good enough to see and hit a ball that is halfway over the net then kudos to you.

Somehow I highly doubt this happens very often.
 

spot

Hall of Fame
#9
If your eyes and reactions are good enough to see and hit a ball that is halfway over the net then kudos to you.

Somehow I highly doubt this happens very often.
Huh? There are many people who hit the ball before it crosses the net. The question is whether you have to wait until just a portion of it crosses or whether the entire ball needs to pass over the line before contact can be made.
 

sureshs

Bionic Poster
#11
I would be suspicious of a guy who claims he can focus on the instant when half the ball is over the imaginary extended plane of the net on one side, and half over the other, while also worrying about whether his own racket is crossing the imaginary plane. Add to this that his viewpoint is not from the side where he can at least see the net as a dividing line, but in front of the ball.
 
#12
Agreed. This is an entirely hypothetical exercise, but my interpretation of "passed the net" would mean the entirety of the ball has passed the entirety of the thin, imaginary sheet emanating upwards from the net.
Only partially over? Immediate DQ. Go home and feel shame.
 

spot

Hall of Fame
#13
I think the easiest example would be a ball that is a slow duck that if allowed to drop would touch the net. Are you allowed to hit it before it touches the net in case it goes over or would have to let it drop and see where it went after the bounce.

When saying it this way, I think that as soon as a part of the ball is available to hit it then it is legal. There would be no need to let it drop to see if the back of the ball would graze the net on the way down.
 

sureshs

Bionic Poster
#14
Agreed. This is an entirely hypothetical exercise, but my interpretation of "passed the net" would mean the entirety of the ball has passed the entirety of the thin, imaginary sheet emanating upwards from the net.
That is reasonable, since unlike the racket, the ball is a small self contained entity not connected to the body or anything like that.
 
#15
I think the easiest example would be a ball that is a slow duck that if allowed to drop would touch the net. Are you allowed to hit it before it touches the net in case it goes over or would have to let it drop and see where it went after the bounce.

When saying it this way, I think that as soon as a part of the ball is available to hit it then it is legal. There would be no need to let it drop to see if the back of the ball would graze the net on the way down.
I would agree. I would interpret "passed the net" in the rule to mean that any part of the ball is on your side - not necessary for the ball to have 100% crossed over.

Two reasons why this makes sense to me:
1. It is consistent with line calls, where it's enough for the ball to just touch the line in order to be in. So if any part of the ball has crossed the plane into your court, makes sense to consider it in your court.
2. Presumably your contact point with the ball would be with that part of the ball closest to you, which would be the part that is already over the net even if the backside of the ball isn't.
 
#16
If you hit the ball before 100% of it has crossed the net, and your opponent calls you out on this, then you lose the point. Next time just wait for it to clearly cross the net. It's not like that millisecond of time that you wait is going to remove any advantage that you had.
Sometimes I get so impatient waiting for the ball to completely cross the net, that I hit it when it is only halfway across. :)
 

anubis

Hall of Fame
#17
If you want to avoid confrontations in the future, just wait for the ball to cross the net completely. You aren't getting paid millions to play tennis. Your mortgage payments aren't on the line. Just wait for the ball, unless you don't mind the uncomfortable argument that may follow: "hey you can't hit the ball when it's on my side of the court!".

Even if you don't lose the point, even if you get no warnings, even if you don't suffer any penalties: tennis is a gentleman's game. I recommend just waiting for it to cross over completely.
 

kevrol

Hall of Fame
#18
I think the easiest example would be a ball that is a slow duck that if allowed to drop would touch the net. Are you allowed to hit it before it touches the net in case it goes over or would have to let it drop and see where it went after the bounce.

When saying it this way, I think that as soon as a part of the ball is available to hit it then it is legal. There would be no need to let it drop to see if the back of the ball would graze the net on the way down.
This is exactly what it was but it would have actually landed on my side of the net. I was standing right on top of the net and had a long while to just wait for it to come down. When I thought it had crossed to my side I hit the ball.
 

jswinf

Professional
#19
What you just said is OK in any kind of rec match. If you feel like the ball crossed the net and your opponent questions it, maybe you should just say it crossed the net and not discuss what portion of the ball was over, you really can't tell that, y'know.

Not sure what a chair umpire should call. Based on the recent Djocovik non-call, probably nothing.
 

kevrol

Hall of Fame
#20
That's where I left it. He questioned it. I said it was over and we moved on. I gave more detail here than I did on the court. I was confident I contacted the ball on my side of the net. It just got me to thinking how much of the ball has to be on my side of the net.
 
#23
I would be suspicious of a guy who claims he can focus on the instant when half the ball is over the imaginary extended plane of the net on one side, and half over the other, while also worrying about whether his own racket is crossing the imaginary plane. Add to this that his viewpoint is not from the side where he can at least see the net as a dividing line, but in front of the ball.
Couldn't agree more with Sureshs...I don't think there is anyone in the recreational level where they can STOP their racquet from crossing the net, if they are swinging at a ball this close over the "imaginary plane."
 
#24
Couldn't agree more with Sureshs...I don't think there is anyone in the recreational level where they can STOP their racquet from crossing the net, if they are swinging at a ball this close over the "imaginary plane."
As long as they contact the ball at their side of the net they do not need to.
 
#25
If you hit the ball before 100% of it has crossed the net, and your opponent calls you out on this, then you lose the point. Next time just wait for it to clearly cross the net. It's not like that millisecond of time that you wait is going to remove any advantage that you had.
Try proving to me on a court that the ball CLEARLY didn't cross the net.
 
#27
Just play it unless you're sure. Like suresh I highly doubt you could quantitatively differentiate which portion of the ball has crossed an imaginary plane from a 90 degree angle not to mention you're playing the point.

However from an academic standpoint (which I think is actually your question) any portion of the ball on my side of the net is fair game in my mind.
 
#29
My thinking is that as long as first contact with the ball is made on my side of the net then it's good.
ITF explanation of the rules

24. PLAYER LOSES POINT

The point is lost if:
.
.
.
g. The player hits the ball before it has passed the net;

25. A GOOD RETURN

It is a good return if:
.
.
.
b. After the ball in play has hit the ground within the correct court and has spun or been blown back over the net, the player reaches over the net and plays the ball into the correct court, provided that the player does not break Rule 24;
.
.
.
e. The player’s racket passes over the net after hitting the ball on the player’s own side.


I would agree. I would interpret "passed the net" in the rule to mean that any part of the ball is on your side - not necessary for the ball to have 100% crossed over.

Two reasons why this makes sense to me:
1. It is consistent with line calls, where it's enough for the ball to just touch the line in order to be in. So if any part of the ball has crossed the plane into your court, makes sense to consider it in your court.
2. Presumably your contact point with the ball would be with that part of the ball closest to you, which would be the part that is already over the net even if the backside of the ball isn't.
To sum it up, you won the point, using the ITF rules and OrangePower's explanation.

Thanks to you, I learned something new as well...lol For some reason I always thought you couldn't cross the net with your racquet period, regardless to where the original of contact was made.
 

kevrol

Hall of Fame
#30
ITF explanation of the rules

24. PLAYER LOSES POINT

The point is lost if:
.
.
.
g. The player hits the ball before it has passed the net;


I wish there was an interpretation of this by USTA. Because you could argue that passing the net means the whole ball needs to pass the net, not just break the plane. But then the counterpoint to that is so long as contact is made on your side of the net you are fine.
 
#32
What's next?

I was standing on the service line not touching the line, started the serve and then a bird pooped from the air, the bird poop touched the tip of my shoe and also hit the line, do I have a fault?
 
#33
Actually not true. It's my call to make.

I know it seems unlikely that I had that much time to think about it, however this was a big time floater and it seemed like time slowed down when it was hanging there.

So you're saying you can't make contact with the ball on your side of the net until that ball is completely over?
If you were the opponent and not the person to hit the ball, it's not your call to make. The person who hit the ball has to concede the point.

From the Code: (http://assets.usta.com/assets/1/15/2014FAC_final.2.pdf)

"19. Touches, hitting ball before it crosses net, invasion of opponent’s court, double
hits, and double bounces. A player shall concede the point when:
• A ball in play touches that player;
• That player touches the net or opponent’s court while a ball is in play;
• That player hits a ball before it crosses the net;
• That player deliberately carries or double hits a ball; or
• A ball bounces more than once in that player’s court.
The opponent is not entitled to make these calls"
 
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#35
Since this is a call one has to make against oneself, (the opponent cannot call it against you), this means it's not something to worry about. Every time I've seen it come up it has been something like this, "Did you cross the net?" "No." The end.

So swing away and don't worry if you make contact on the other side, much less if you think the ball might be only partway over. (Who could ever be certain of that, BTW?)
 
#37
I have such good eyesight and spatial awareness that I only wait for 10% of the ball to cross the net. Also my racquet control is so good that I stop before it crosses the net.

You must also remember that it is the receivers call, but only once it is on the receivers side of the net !!!
 
#38
Lets forget someone believes they can actually tell that a ball is on both sides of the net as it is coming towards them at any speed. The hypothetical question is, when is a ball over the net, or as the rules state, passes the net.

My response would be, when is a ball over the line? No one disputes this answer so I would apply the same rule.

Like it's been said, it's the receiver's call, end of story.
 
#39
Lets forget someone believes they can actually tell that a ball is on both sides of the net as it is coming towards them at any speed. The hypothetical question is, when is a ball over the net, or as the rules state, passes the net.

My response would be, when is a ball over the line? No one disputes this answer so I would apply the same rule.

Like it's been said, it's the receiver's call, end of story.
Not really. You claim the ball was over the net by 50%. I accept that, but because of the angle of your racquet, the tip went over the net before the strings made contact. My call!
 
#40
My opponent and I both hit the ball when it was halfway over the net. We are actually both stuck there right now. I can just reach my phone and log on to TWH with one hand. Think we might be here a long time so I should order a pizza.
 

jswinf

Professional
#42
Not really. You claim the ball was over the net by 50%. I accept that, but because of the angle of your racquet, the tip went over the net before the strings made contact. My call!
You must also remember that it is the receivers call, but only once it is on the receivers side of the net !!!
It seems you're making a distinction here that doesn't compute. The person making the disputed shot (struck before crossing the net) must call that violation on himself in an unofficiated match. The opponent can't call them for hitting the ball before it crosses the net, or having their racket across the net when they hit the ball, if that's what you were saying. :confused:
 
#43
It seems you're making a distinction here that doesn't compute. The person making the disputed shot (struck before crossing the net) must call that violation on himself in an unofficiated match. The opponent can't call them for hitting the ball before it crosses the net, or having their racket across the net when they hit the ball, if that's what you were saying. :confused:
The whole scenario is ridiculous. The receiving player has to let the ball cross the net. They cannot be impatient and hit it before it does. However much it floats over! Without an umpire sitting over the net, or better still hawkeye to help you out, you are entering silly territory. Be patient is the answer really.
 

spot

Hall of Fame
#44
People are getting caught up on whether it is possible to know whether the ball is over the net without answering the question. Take a situation where the ball strikes the net and goes basically straight up. It is going to come down on your side of the court but it may graze the net on the way down. Are you entitled to hit the ball or do you need to let it drop to see if it would hit the net?
 
#45
The whole scenario is ridiculous. The receiving player has to let the ball cross the net. They cannot be impatient and hit it before it does. However much it floats over! Without an umpire sitting over the net, or better still hawkeye to help you out, you are entering silly territory. Be patient is the answer really.
How does being patient solve anything?

In an unofficiated match, the person hitting the ball makes the call on him or herself, per the code:

From the Code: (http://assets.usta.com/assets/1/15/2014FAC_final.2.pdf)

"19. Touches, hitting ball before it crosses net, invasion of opponent’s court, double hits, and double bounces. A player shall concede the point when:
• A ball in play touches that player;
• That player touches the net or opponent’s court while a ball is in play;
• That player hits a ball before it crosses the net;
• That player deliberately carries or double hits a ball; or
• A ball bounces more than once in that player’s court.
The opponent is not entitled to make these calls"

I've only come across one case where there was a clear violation. That's when my doubles partner clearly reached over the net to hit a volley. Based on the position of his racket you could clearly see the racket was in front of the opponent's side of the net (basically you could see the opponent's side of the net through the strings in his racket.)

Everything else with a ball coming in over the net, in most cases it's just to close to call and generally not worth making a fuss over.
 
#46
People are getting caught up on whether it is possible to know whether the ball is over the net without answering the question. Take a situation where the ball strikes the net and goes basically straight up. It is going to come down on your side of the court but it may graze the net on the way down. Are you entitled to hit the ball or do you need to let it drop to see if it would hit the net?
I'd take that ball on the air 99% of the time. If the ball hit the net and bounces relatively straight up with a trajectory that looks like it could drop on their side of the net, I'd think most players would have a reasonable claim that that ball was on their side.

I've played a fair amount of doubles and I don't think whether they reached over the net on a high floating ball comes up for discussion much. I think touching the net comes up much more often and most players are generally honest and call it on themselves.

IIRC, there is one exception to the rule, such as if the ball bounces on your side but the spin takes it back over the net. http://www.usta.com/Improve-Your-Game/Player-to-Player/Rules/Reaching_over_the_net/
 
#47
IIRC, there is one exception to the rule, such as if the ball bounces on your side but the spin takes it back over the net. http://www.usta.com/Improve-Your-Game/Player-to-Player/Rules/Reaching_over_the_net/
You don't have to consider that an exception. Most people read the rule as "you have to hit the ball when it is on your side of the net" - this reading is what makes people consider your case an exception. If instead you read the rule (and it is written this way) as "the ball has to cross the net before you can hit it" then the case where it bounces back over the net is still covered and you would be permitted to reach over the net to hit the ball.
 
#48
Be patient is the answer really.
I was too patient and abandoned this mindset. Just move forward and pop these little floaters before ensuring they really bounce on my side. Or worse, drop on the cord. Not saying to reach over but give up the wait and see. I'll call it on myself (perhaps once a year) but no longer do I let myself be handcuffed by some soft, hanging floater.
 
#49
You don't have to consider that an exception. Most people read the rule as "you have to hit the ball when it is on your side of the net" - this reading is what makes people consider your case an exception. If instead you read the rule (and it is written this way) as "the ball has to cross the net before you can hit it" then the case where it bounces back over the net is still covered and you would be permitted to reach over the net to hit the ball.
I see what you're saying. I was just pointing out there is one case where it is legal to reach over the net and play the ball on the opponent's side.

Though I do appreciate your point about having the ball actually cross the net first.
 
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