Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Weird tennis rules and match scenarios

Kristianne Bontempo | Towpath Tennis Employee | Online Store Manager

Have you ever been in a middle of a match when something so off the wall happens where both you and your opponent wonder, how do we rule this? Well we've experienced a handful of these odd-ball scenarios and have the USTA sanctioned rulings on each of them to keep you on your toes and to make you into an on-court know-it-all!
  1. What if somebody serves out of order? If you realize a doubles team had served out of order after the fact, then the match continues on in the corrected original rotation of servers. If you make this discovery during a game then immediately stop play and make the correction, then continue the game as is. Regardless of who was serving, all completed points stand as played previous to the discovery. 
  2. What if the ball bounces back over the net before I could hit it? If the spin or wind brings the ball back over the net, then you must hit the ball in order to win the point even if that means reaching over the net to put the shot away. If you fail to touch the ball, then the player who hit the spin shot wins the point. Just be careful not to touch the net or your opponent's side of the court or you lose the point!
  3. What if the ball falls out of my pocket/skirt, do I lose the point? Not necessarily. In regular match-play without tournament officials, it is up to the opponent to call the hindrance and play a let (not you). The call has to be made immediately though, not after the point is played out. If an umpire is present, they will always call a let first. If a ball repeatedly falls out of your pocket, then you may lose a point over the hindrance.
  4. What if the ball hits my racquet twice? As long as you are hitting the ball twice on the same swing or follow-through, it is then (and only then) considered legal. 
  5. What if my strings break on a serve, is that a let? If your strings break during a serve or any other time during a point, it is not a let for anybody. Even if it makes a funny and distracting noise, plan to play out the point even with a hole in your racquet. 
  6. What if the opponent calls a ball of mine Out before it hits the ground, but then yells Good and tries to continue playing out the point? If an Out call was made (and not in the sense of communicating to a partner) then play has stopped. So in this case your opponent would lose the point. And that is exactly why you wait to make a call until after the ball bounces. 
  7. What if you're playing on a court with a dividing net/wall/fence, can you call a Let if the ball hits any of these objects before you hit the ball? Sorry but if all players agree to play on the court as is, all players are agreeing to it's possible hindrances. 
  8. What if an opponent calls a Let on a ball that doesn't actually roll onto our court? Any ball in a player's vision, whether on the other side of the net or near the sidelines, may hinder play during a point so a let is permitted. As long as the let is called prior to the completed point (or before the one calling the let hits the ball), it is considered valid. 
  9. What if I was returning serve when my doubles partner (who was no where near the service box) got clipped on the toe by the server before it bounced. Who gets the point? A ball that hits any part of your body or clothing on you or your partner (on and off the court), is considered a point won by the other team. This is also true if the ball hits any part of you other than your racquet and bounces back over the net. The point is still your opponents-sorry you got hit!   
  10. What if my opponent hits a volley but his racquet swings over the net, isn't that my point?  As long as he hit the ball before his racquet swung over the net, the shot is considered legal. This can be a hard one to judge unless he's clearly reaching over the net to put the shot away.
To study up on other weird tennis rulings, check out Miscellaneous USTA Rules. You never know when you're going to need it!

Do you have a question or weird scenario that you'd like to know the ruling of? Email us with your question!

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