Tournament Journal

ask for a let, unless there is some outside interference. If you and your opponent want to reach an agreement on how to keep yourselves from having to chase balls that are obviously out, you may do so. In the absence of such a ground rule, when you catch a ball that is in play, you lose the point, regardless of whether you are inside or outside the court.

Any call of out, fault or let has to be made immediately; otherwise the ball is presumed good and still in play. Or in other words, a ball is not out until it is called out. “It’s only fair,” says the UTSA, “that any time you cause your opponent to expend energy, he should have a chance to win the point; and when you fail in your duties as a linesman, you pay by letting an out ball stay in play. From strictly the practical view, the instantaneous call rule will eliminate much indecision and unpleasantness.”

Never try to catch your opponent off guard by returning a first service that is obviously out. Make the call. Otherwise, consider yourself a cheater.

In making a line call, don’t seek the advice of a spectator. They may either be biased may offer an opinion without having even seen the shot.

It’s considered rude to bounce the ball upwards to 10 times before each serve, or to take more than the allowable 10-minute break at the end of the second set in a three-set match. Also frowned upon is a server who waits at the net, instead of going to the baseline, while an opponent is retrieving a ball.

When a ball from your court goes onto an adjacent court, or a ball from an adjacent court comes onto yours, remember these simple steps:

  • A. Until play is paused on the other court, don’t ask for your ball back and don’t run behind that court to retrieve your ball.
  • B. In returning a ball to the adjacent court, toss the ball or hit it so that it arrives after one bounce to one of the other players, preferably the server.
  • To help keep disagreements over the score to a minimum, the server should call out the set score before the first serve in each game. The server should also call out the game score before serving each point. In situations where doing so won’t delay the match needlessly, retrieve the match balls on your side of the court and give them to the next server, or put them on the baseline of the next server.

Remember, warns Kaufman, while some players may bend over backwards to be fair in a friendly game, don’t be surprised to see those players change when the result of a match matters. “I don’t think anyone’s trying to cheat, but people tend to see what they want to see when there are stakes involved,” he says. “You may see etiquette, but it’s going to be a lot different. People are going to go strictly by the code.

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