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The Rules of Tennis


Explanatory Note

The following Rules and Cases and Decisions are the official Code of the International Tennis Federation, of which the United States Tennis Association is a member. USTA Comments have the same weight and force in USTA tournaments as do ITF Cases and Decisions.

When a match is played without officials, USTA Regulation I.M. shall apply in any situation not covered by the rules. The Code shall apply in any situation not covered by USTA Regulation I.M.

Except where otherwise stated, every reference in these Rules to the masculine includes the feminine gender.

Amendments to the USTA Comments may be made in accordance with Article VIII of the USTA Regulations provided such amendments are not inconsistent with the Rules of Tennis of the International Tennis Federation.


The Singles Game


RULE 1
The Court

The court shall be a rectangle 78 feet (23.77m.) long and 27 feet (8.23m.) wide.
[USTA Comment: See Rule 34 for a doubles court.]

It shall be divided across the middle by a net suspended from a cord or metal cable of a maximum diameter of one-third of an inch (0.8cm.), the ends of which shall be attached to, or pass over, the tops of two posts, which shall be not more than 6 inches (15cm.) square or 6 inches (15cm.) in diameter. These posts shall not be higher than 1 inch (2.5 cm.) above the top of the net cord. The centers of the posts shall be 3 feet (0.914m.) outside the court on each side and the height of the posts shall be such that the top of the cord or metal cable shall be 3 feet 6 inches (1.07m.) above the ground.

When a combined doubles (see Rule 34) and singles court with a doubles net is used for singles, the net must be supported to a height of 3 feet 6 inches (1.07m.) by means of two posts, called "singles sticks", which shall be not more than 3 inches (7.5cm.) square or 3 inches (7.5cm.) in diameter. The centers of the singles sticks shall be 3 feet (0.914m.) outside the singles court on each side.

The net shall be extended fully so that it fills completely the space between the two posts and shall be of sufficiently small mesh to prevent the ball passing through. The height of the net shall be 3 feet (0.914m.) at the center, where it shall be held down taut by a strap not more than 2 inches (5cm.) wide and completely white in colour. There shall be a band covering the cord or metal cable and the top of the net of not less than 2 inches (5cm.) nor more than 2.5 inches (6.3cm.) in depth on each side and completely white in colour.

[USTA Comment: An approved method for obtaining proper net tautness is: Loosen the center strap. Tighten the net cord until it is approximately 40 inches above the ground, being careful not to overtighten the net. Tighten the center strap until the center of the net is 36 inches above the ground. These measurements should always be made before the first match of the day.]

There shall be no advertisement on the net, strap, band or singles sticks.

The lines bounding the ends and sides of the Court shall respectively be called the base-lines and the side-lines. On each side of the net, at a distance of 21 feet (6.40m.) from it and parallel with it, shall be drawn the service-lines. The space on each side of the net between the service-line and the side-lines shall be divided into two equal parts called the service-courts by the center service-line which must be 2 inches (5cm.) in width, drawn half-way between, and parallel with, the side-lines. Each base-line shall be bisected by an imaginary continuation of the center service-line to a line 4 inches (lOcm.) in length and 2 inches (5cm.) in width called the center mark drawn inside the Court, at right angles to and in contact with such base-lines. All other lines shall be not less than 1 inch (2.5cm.) nor more than 2 inches (5cm.) in width, except the base-line, which may be 4 inches (10cm.) in width, and all measurements shall be made to the outside of the lines. All lines shall be of uniform colour.

If advertising or any other material is placed at the back of the court, it may not contain white, or yellow. A light colour may only be used if this does not interfere with the vision of the players.

If advertisements are placed on the chairs of the Linesmen sitting at the back of the court, they may not contain white, or yellow. A light colour may only be used if this does not interfere with the vision of the players.

ITF Note 1: In the case of the Davis Cup or other Official Championships of the International Tennis Federation, there shall be a space behind each base-line of not less than 21 feet (6.4m.), and at the sides of not less than 12 feet (3.66m.). The chairs of the linesmen may be placed at the back of the court within the 21 feet or at the side of the court within the 12 feet, provided they do not protrude into that area more than 3 feet (.914m).

ITF Note 2: In the case of the stadium courts in the Davis Cup World Group and the Federation Cup Main Draw there should be space behind each baseline of not less than 27 feet (8.23m) and at the sides of not less than 15 feet (4.57m).

ITF Note 3: At club or recreation level, the space behind each baseline should be not less than 18 feet (5.5m) and at the sides not less than 10 feet (3.05m).


RULE 2
Permanent Fixtures

The permanent fixtures of the Court shall include not only the net, posts, singles sticks, cord or metal cable, strap and band, but also, where there are any such, the back and side stops, the stands, fixed or movable seats and chairs round the Court, and their occupants, all other fixtures around and above the Court, and the Umpire, Net-cord Judge, Foot-fault Judge, Linesmen and Ball Boys when in their respective places.

ITF Note: For the purpose of this Rule, the word "Umpire" comprehends the Umpire, the persons entitled to a seat on the Court, and all those persons designated to assist the Umpire in the conduct of a match.


RULE 3
The Ball

The ball shall have a uniform outer surface and shall be white or yellow in colour. If there are any seams, they shall be stitchless.

The ball shall be more than two and a half inches (6.35cm.) and less than two and five-eighths inches (6.67cm.) in diameter, and more than two ounces (56.7 grams) and less than two and one-sixteenth ounces (58.5 grams) in weight.

The ball shall have a bound of more than 53 inches (135cm.) and less than 58 inches (147cm.) when dropped 100 inches (254cm.) upon a concrete base.

The ball shall have a forward deformation of more than .220 of an inch (.56cm.) and less than .290 of an inch (.74cm.) and a return deformation of more than .315 of an inch (.80cm.) and less than .425 of an inch (1.08cm.) at 18 lb. (8.165kg.) load. The two deformation figures shall be the averages of three individual readings along three axes of the ball and no two individual readings shall differ by more than .030 of an inch (.08cm.) in each case.

For play above 4,000 feet (1219m) in altitude above sea level, two additional types of ball may be used. The first type is identical to those described above except that the bound shall be more than 48 inches (121.92cm) and less than 53 inches (135cm) and the ball shall have an internal pressure that is greater than the external pressure. This type of tennis ball is commonly known as a pressurized ball. The second type is identical to those described above except that they shall have a bound of more than 53 inches (135cm) and less than 58 inches (147cm) and shall have an internal pressure that is approximately equal to the external pressure and have been acclimatized for 60 days or more at the altitude of the specific tournament. This type of tennis ball is commonly known as a zero-pressure or non-pressurized ball.

All tests for bound, size and deformation shall be made in accordance with the Regulations in the Appendix hereto.


RULE 4
The Racket

Rackets failing to comply with the following specifications are not approved for play under the Rules of Tennis:

(a) The hitting surface of the rachet shall be flat and consist of a pattern of crossed strings connected to a frame and alternately interlaced or bonded where they cross; and the stringing pattern shall be generally uniform, and in particular not less dense in the center than in any other area. The strings shall be free of attached objects and protrusions other than those utilized solely and specifically to limit or prevent wear and tear or vibration and which are reasonable in size and placement for such purposes.

(b) The frame of the racket shall not exceed 32 inches (81.28cm.) in overall length, including the handle and 12.5 inches (31.75cm.) in overall width. The strung surface shall not exceed 15.5 inches (39.37cm.) in overall length, and 11.5 inches (29.21cm.) in overall width.

(c) The frame, including the handle, shall be free of attached objects and devices other than those utilized solely and specifically to limit or prevent wear and tear or vibration, or to distribute weight. Any objects and devices must be reasonable in size and placement for such purposes.

(d) The frame, including the handle and the strings, shall be free of any device which makes it possible to change materially the shape of the racket, or to change the weight distribution in the direction of the longitudinal axis of the racket which would alter the swing moment of inertia, during the playing of a point.

The International Tennis Federation shall rule on the question of whether any racket or prototype complies with the above specifications or is otherwise approved, or not approved, for play. Such ruling may be undertaken on its own initiative, or upon application by any party with a bona fide interest therein, including any player, equipment manufacturer or National Association or members thereof. Such rulings and applications shall be made in accordance with the applicable Review and Hearing Procedures of the International Tennis Federation, copies of which may be obtained from the office of the Secretary.

Case 1. Can there be more than one set of strings on the hitting surface of a racket?

Decision. No. The rule clearly mentions a pattern, and not patterns, of crossed strings.

Case 2. Is the stringing pattern of a racket considered to be generally uniform and flat if the strings are on more than one plane?

Decision. No.

Case 3. Can a vibration dampening device be placed on the strings of a racket and if so here can it be placed?

Decision. Yes; but such devices may only be placed outside the pattern of crossed strings.


RULE 5
Server and Receiver

The players shall stand on opposite sides of the net; the player who first delivers the ball shall be called the Server, and the other the Receiver.

Case 1. Does a player, attempting stroke, lose the point if he crosses an imaginary line in the extension of the net,

(a) before striking the ball,

(b) after striking the ball?

Decision. He does not lose the point in either case by crossing the imaginary line and provided he does not enter the lines bounding his opponents Court (Rule 20 (e)) In regard to hindrance, his opponent my ask for the decision of the Umpire under Rules 21 and 25.

Case 2. The Server claims that the Receiver must stand within the lines bounding his Court. Is this necessary?

Decision. No. The Receiver my stand wherever he pleases on his own side of the net.


RULE 6
Choice of Ends and Service

The choice of ends and the right to be Server or Receiver in the first game shall be decided by toss. The player winning the toss may choose or require his opponent to choose:

(a) The right to be Server or Receiver, in which case the other player shall choose the end; or

(b) The end, in which case the other player shall choose the right to be Server or Receiver.

[USTA Comment: The toss shall be made before the warm-up. Choices should be made promptly after the toss and are irrevocable, except that if the match is postponed or suspended before the start of the match.]


RULE 7
The Service

The service shall be delivered in the following manner. Immediately before commencing to serve, the Server shall stand with both feet at rest behind (i.e. further from the net than) the base-line, and within the imaginary continuations of the center-mark and side-line. The Server shall then project the ball by hand into the air in any direction and before it hits the ground strike it with his racket, and the delivery shall be deemed to have been completed at the moment of the impact of the racket and the ball. A player with the use of only one arm may utilize his racket for the projection.

[USTA Comment: The service begins when the Server takes a ready position (i.e., both feet at rest behind the baseline) and ends when his racket makes contact with the ball or when he misses the ball in attempting to serve it.]

[USTA Comment: There is no restriction regarding the kind of service which may be used; that is, the player may use an underhand or overhand service at his discretion.]

Case 1. May the Server in a singles game take his stand behind the portion of the base-line between the side-lines of the Singles Court and the Doubles Court?

Decision. No.

[USTA Comment: The server may stand anywhere in back of the baseline between the imaginary extensions of the center mark and the singles sideline.]

Case 2. If a player, when serving, throws up two or more balls instead of one, does he lose that service?

Decision. No. A let should be called, but if the Umpire regards the action as deliberate he may take action under Rule 21.

[USTA Comment: There is no restriction regarding the kind of service which may be used; that is, the player may use an underhand or overhand service at his discretion.]


RULE 8
Foot Fault

(a) The Server shall throughout the delivery of the service:

(i) Not change his position by walking or running. The Server shall not by slight movements of the feet which do not materially affect the location originally taken up by him, be deemed "to change his position by walking or running".

(ii) Not touch, with either foot, any area other than that behind the base-line within the imaginary extensions of the center mark and side-lines.

(b) The word "foot" means the extremity of the leg below the ankle.

[USTA Comment: This rule covers the most decisive stroke in the game, and there is no justification for its not being obeyed by players and enforced by officials. No official has the right to instruct any umpire to disregard violations of it. In a non-officiated match, the Receiver, or his partner, may call foot faults after all efforts (appeal to the server, request for an umpire, etc.) have failed and the foot faulting is so flagrant as to be clearly perceptible from the Receiver's side.

It is improper for any official to warn a player that he is in danger of having a foot fault called on him. On the other hand if a player in all sincerity, asks for an explanation of how he foot faulted, either the Line Umpire or the Chair Umpire should give him that information.]


RULE 9
Delivery of Service

(a) In delivering the service, the Server shall stand alternately behind the right and left Courts beginning from the right in every game. If service from a wrong half of the Court occurs and is undetected, all play resulting from such wrong service or services shall stand, but the inaccuracy of station shall be corrected immediately it is discovered.

(b) The ball served shall pass over the net and hit the ground within the Service Court which is diagonally opposite, or upon any line bounding such Court, before the Receiver returns it.


RULE 10
Service Fault

The Service is a fault:

(a) If the Server commits any breach of Rules 7, 8 or 9(b);

(b) If he misses the ball in attempting to strike it;

(c) If the ball served touches a permanent fixture (other than the net, strap or band) before it hits the ground.

Case 1. After throwing a ball up preparatory to serving the Server decides not to strike at it and catches it instead. Is it a fault?

Decision. No.

[USTA Comment: As long as the Server makes no attempt to strike the ball it is immaterial whether he catches it in his hand or on his racket or lets it drop to the ground.]

Case 2. In serving in a singles game played on a Doubles Court with doubles posts and singles sticks the ball hits a singles stick and then hits the ground within the lines of the correct Service Court. Is this a fault or a let?

Decision. In serving it is a fault because the singles stick the doubles post and that portion of the net or band between them are permanent fixtures. (Rules 2 and 10 and note to Rule 24.).

[USTA Comment: The significant point governing Case 2 is that the part of the net and band outside the singles sticks is not part of the net over which this singles match is being played. Thus such a serve is a fault under the provisions of Article (c) above . . . By the same token this would be a fault also if it were a singles game played with permanent posts in the singles position. See Case 1 under Rule 24 for difference between "service" and "good return" with respect to a ball's hitting a net post.]


RULE 11
Second Service

After a fault (if it is the first fault) the Server shall serve again from behind the same half of the Court from which he served that fault, unless the service was from the wrong half, when, in accordance with Rule 9, the Server shall be entitled to one service only from behind the other half.

Case 1. A player serves from a wrong Court. He loses the point and then claims it was a fault because of his wrong station.

Decision. The point stands as played and the next service should be from the correct station according to the score.

Case 2. The point score being 15 all the Server by mistake serves from the left-hand Court. He wins the point. He then serves again from the right-hand Court delivering a fault. This mistake in station is then discovered. Is he entitled to the previous point? From which Court should he next serve?

Decision. The previous point stands. The next service should be from the left-hand Court the score being 30/15 and the Server has served one fault.


RULE 12
When To Serve

The Server shall not serve until the Receiver is ready. If the latter attempts to return the service, he shall be deemed ready. If, however, the Receiver signifies that he is not ready, he may not claim a fault because the ball does not hit the ground within the limits fixed for the service.

[USTA Comment: The Server must wait until the Receiver is ready for the second service as well as the first, and if the Receiver claims to be not ready and does not make any effort to return a service, the Server's claim for the point may not be honored even though the service was good. However, the Receiver, having indicated he is ready, may not become unready unless some outside interference takes place.


RULE 13
The Let

In all cases where a let has to be called under the rules, or to provide for an interruption to play, it shall have the following interpretations:

(a) When called solely in respect of a service that one service only shall be replayed.

(b) When called under any other circumstance, the point shall be replayed.

Case 1. A service is interrupted by some cause outside those defined in Rule 14. Should the service only be replayed?

Decision. No the whole point must be replayed.

[USTA Comment: If the interruption occurs during delivery of the second service, the Server gets two serves. Example: On a second service a linesman calls "fault" and immediately corrects it, the Receiver meanwhile having let the ball go by. The Server is entitled to two serves, on this ground: The corrected call means that the Server has put the ball into play with a good service, and once the ball is in play and a let is called, the point must be replayed. Note, however, that if the serve is an unmistakable ace - that is, the Umpire is sure that the erroneous call had no part in the Receiver's inability to play the ball - the point should be declared for the Server.

If a delay between first and second serves is caused by the Receiver, by an official or by an outside interference the whole point shall be replayed; if the delay is caused by the Server, the Server has one serve to come. A spectator's outcry (of "out", "fault" or other) is not a valid basis for replay of a point, but action should be taken to prevent a recurrence.]

Case 2. If a ball in play becomes broken, should a let be called?

Decision. Yes.

[USTA Comment: A ball shall be regarded as having become "broken" if, in the opinion of the Chair Umpire, it is found to have lost compression to the point of being unfit for further play, or unfit for any reason, and it is clear the defective ball was the one in play.]


RULE 14
The "Let" in Service

The service is a let:

(a) If the ball served touches the net, strap or band, and is otherwise good, or, after touching the net, strap or band, touches the Receiver or anything which he wears or carries before hitting the ground.

(b) If a service or a fault is delivered when the Receiver is not ready (see Rule 12).

In case of a let, that particular service shall not count, and the Server shall serve again, but a service let does not annul a previous fault.


RULE 15
Order of Service

At the end of the first game the Receiver shall become Server, and the Server Receiver; and so on alternately in all the subsequent games of a match. If a player serves out of turn, the player who ought to have served shall serve as soon as the mistake is discovered, but all points scored before such discovery shall be reckoned. If a game shall have been completed before such discovery, the order of service remains as altered. A fault served before such discovery shall not be reckoned.


RULE 16
When Players Change Ends

The players shall change ends at the end of the first, third and every subsequent alternate game of each set, and at the end of each set unless the total number of games in such set is even, in which case the change is not made until the end of the first game of the next set.

If a mistake is made and the correct sequence is not followed the players must take up their correct station as soon as the discovery is made and follow their original sequence.


RULE 17
The Ball in Play

A ball is in play from the moment at which it is delivered in service. Unless a fault or a let is called it remains in play until the point is decided.

[USTA Comment: A point is not decided simply when, or because, a good shot has clearly passed a player, or when an apparently bad shot passes over a baseline or sideline. An outgoing ball is still definitely in play until it actually strikes the ground, backstop or a permanent fixture (other than the net, posts, singles sticks, cord or metal cable, strap or band), or a player. The same applies to a good ball, bounding after it has landed in the proper court. A ball that becomes imbedded in the net is out of play.]

[USTA Comment: When a ball is hit into the net and the player on the other side, thinking the ball is coming over, strikes at it and hits the next he loses the point if his touching the net occurs while the ball is still in play.]

Case 1. A player fails to make a good return. No call is made and the ball remains in play. May his opponent later claim the point after the rally has ended?

Decision. No. The point may not be claimed if the players continue to play after he error has been made, provided the opponent was not hindered.

[USTA Comment: An out call on A's shot to B's court must be made before B's shot has either gone out of play or has been hit by A. See Case 3 under Rule 29 regarding this situation in an umpired match.]


RULE 18
Server Wins Point

The Server wins the point:

(a) If the ball served, not being a let under Rule 14, touches the Receiver or anything which he wears or carries, before it hits the ground;

(b) If the Receiver otherwise loses the point as provided by Rule 20.


RULE 19
Receiver Wins Point

The Receiver wins the point:

(a) If the Server serves two consecutive faults;

(b) If the Server otherwise loses the point as provided by Rule 20.


RULE 20
Player Loses Point

A player loses the point if:

(a) He fails, before the ball in play has hit the ground twice consecutively, to return it directly over the net (except as provided in Rule 24(a) or (c)); or

(b) He returns the ball in play so that it hits the ground, a permanent fixture, or other object, outside any of the lines which bound his opponent's Court (except as provided in Rule 24(a) or (c)); or

[USTA Comment: A ball hitting a scoring device or other object attached to a net post results in loss of point to the striker.]

(c) He volleys the ball and fails to make a good return even when standing outside the Court; or

(d) In playing the ball he deliberately carries or catches it on his racket or deliberately touches it with his racket more than once; or

[USTA Comment: Only when there is a definite "second push " by the player does his shot become illegal, with consequent loss of point. The word 'deliberately' is the key word in this rule. Two hits occurring in the course of a single continuous swing are not deemed a double hit.]

(e) He or his racket (in his hand or otherwise) or anything which he wears or carries touches the net, posts, singles sticks, cord or metal cable, strap or band, or the ground within his opponent's Court at any time while the ball is in play; or

[USTA Comment: Touching a pipe support that runs across the court at the bottom of the net is interpreted as touching the net; See USTA Comment under Rule 23 for a ball which hits a pipe support.]

(f) He volleys the ball before it has passed the net; or

(g) The ball in play touches him or anything that he wears or carries, except his racket in his hand or hands; or

[USTA Comment: This loss of point occurs regardless of whether the player is inside or outside the bounds of his court when the ball touches him.]

(h) He throws his racket at and hits the ball; or

(i) He deliberately and materially changes the shape of his racket during the playing of the point.

Case 1. In serving, the racket flies from the Server's hand and touches the net before the ball has touched the ground. Is his a fault or does the player lose he point?

Decision. The Server loses the point because his racket touches the net while the ball is in play (Rule 20 (e)).

Case 2. In serving the racket flies from the Server's hand and touches the net after the ball has touched the ground outside the proper court. Is this a fault or does the player lose the point?

Decision. This is a fault because the ball was out of play when he racket touched the net.

Case 3. A and B are playing against C and D. A is serving to D. C touches the net before the ball touches the ground. A fault is then called because the service falls outside the Service Court. Do C and D lose he point?

Decision. The call "fault" is an erroneous one. C and D had already lost the point before "fault" could be called because C touched the net whilst the ball was in play (Rule 20 (e)).

Case 4. May a player jump over the net into his opponent's Court while the ball is in play and not suffer penalty?

Decision. No. He loses the point (Rule 20 (e)).

Case 5. A cuts the ball just over the net and it returns to A's side. B, unable to reach the ball, throws his racket and hits the ball. Both racket and ball fall over the net on A's Court. A returns the ball outside of B's Court. Does B win or lose the point?

Decision. B loses the point (Rule 20 (e) and (h)).

Case 6. A player standing outside the service Court is struck by a service ball before it has touched the ground. Does he win or lose the point?

Decision. The player struck loses the point (Rule 20 (d), except as provided under Rule 14 (a).

Case 7. A player standing outside the Court volleys the ball or catches it in his hand and claims the point because the ball was certainly going out of court.

Decision. In no circumstances can he claim the point.

(1) If he catches the ball he loses the point under Rule 20 (g)

(2) If he volleys it and makes a bad return he loses he point under Rule 20 (c).

(3) If he volleys it and makes a good return the rally continues.


RULE 21
Player Hinders Opponent

If a player commits any act which hinders his opponent in making a stroke, then, if this is deliberate, he shall lose the point or if involuntary, the point shall be replayed.

[USTA Comment: 'Deliberate' means a player did what he intended to do, although the resulting effect on his opponent might or might not have been what he intended. Example: a player, after his return is in the air, gives advice to his partner in such a loud voice that his opponent is hindered. 'Involuntary' means a non-intentional act such as a hat blowing off or a scream resulting from a sudden wasp sting.]

[USTA Comment: Upon appeal by a competitor that the server's action in discarding a "second ball" after a rally has started constitutes a distraction (hindrance), the Umpire, if he deems the claim valid, shall require the server to make some other satisfactory disposition of the ball. Failure to comply with this instruction shall result in loss of a point on each occasion.]

Case 1. Is a player liable to a penalty if in making a stroke he touches his opponent?

Decision. No, unless the Umpire deems it necessary to take action under Rule 21.

Case 2. When a ball bounds back over the net the player concerned may reach over the net in order to play he ball. What is the ruling if the player is hindered from doing this by his opponent?

Decision. In accordance with Rule 21 the Umpire may either award the point to the player hindered or order the point to be replayed (See also Rule 25).

Case 3. Does an involuntary double hit constitute an act which hinders an opponent within Rule 21?

Decision. No.


RULE 22
Ball Falls on Line

A ball falling on a line is regarded as falling in the Court bounded by that line.

[USTA Comment: In a non-officiated singles match, each player makes the call on any ball hit toward his side of the net. If a player cannot call a ball out with surety he should regard it as good. In doubles, normally the Receiver's partner makes the calls with respect to the service line, with the Receiver calling on the side and center lines, but either partner may make the call on any ball he clearly sees out.]


RULE 23
Ball Touches Permanent Fixtures

If the ball in play touches a permanent fixture other than the net, posts, singles sticks, cord or metal cable, strap or band) after it has hit the ground, the player who struck it wins the point; if before it hits the ground, his opponent wins the point.

[USTA Comment: A ball in play that strikes a pipe support running across the court at the base of the net is treated the same as a ball landing on clear ground. See also Rule 20(e) for a player who touches a pipe support.]

Case 1. A return hits the Umpire or his chair or stand. The player claims that the ball was going into Court.

Decision. He loses the point.


RULE 24
A Good Return

It is a good return:

(a) If the ball touches the net, posts, singles sticks, cord or metal cable, strap or band, provided that it passes over any of them and hits the ground within the court; or

(b) If the ball, served or returned, hits the ground within the proper Court and rebounds or is blown back over the net, and the player whose turn it is to strike reaches over the net and plays the ball, provided that neither he nor any part of his clothes or racket touches the net, posts, singles sticks, cord or metal cable strap or band or the ground within his opponent's Court, and that the stroke is otherwise good, or

(c) If the ball is returned outside the posts, or singles sticks, either above or below the level of the top of the net, even though it touches the posts or singles sticks, provided that it hits the ground within the proper Court, or

(d) If a player's racket passes over the net after he has returned the ball provided the ball passes the net before being played and is properly returned; or

(e) If a player succeeds in returning the ball, served or in play, which strikes a ball lying in the Court.

[USTA Comment: Paragraph (e) of the rule refers to a ball lying on the court at the start of the point, as a result of a service let or fault, or as a result of a player dropping it. If a ball in play strikes a rolling or stationary "foreign" ball that has come from elsewhere after the point started, a let should be played. See Case 7 under Rule 25 and note that it pertains to an object other than a ball that is being used in the match.]

Note to Rule 24: In a singles match, if, for the sake of convenience, a doubles Court is equipped with singles sticks for the purpose of a singles game then the doubles posts and those portions of the net, cord or metal cable and the band outside such singles sticks shall at all times be permanent fixtures, and are not regarded as posts or parts of the net of a singles game.

A return that passes under the net cord between the singles stick and adjacent doubles post without touching either net cord, net or doubles post and falls within the court, is a good return.

[USTA Comment: But in doubles this would be a "through" -- loss of point.]

Case 1. A ball going out of Court hits a net post or singles stick and falls within the lines of the opponent's Court. Is the stroke good?

Decision. It a service: no, under Rule 10 (c). If other than a service yes, under Rule 24 (d).

Case 2. Is it a good return if a player returns the ball holding his racket in both hands?

Decision. Yes.

Case 3. The service, or ball in play, strikes a ball lying in the Court. Is the point won or lost thereby?

[USTA Comment: A ball that is touching a boundary line is considered to be "lying in the court".]

Decision. No. Play must continue. If it is not clear to the Umpire that the right ball is returned a let should be called.

Case 4. May a player use more than one racket at any time during play?

Decision. No; the whole implication of the Rules is singular.

Case 5. May a player request that a ball or balls lying in his opponent's Court be removed?

Decision. Yes, but not while a ball is in play.

[USTA Comment: The request must be honored.]


RULE 25
Hindrance of a Player

In case a player is hindered in making a stroke by anything not within his control, except a permanent fixture of the Court, or except as provided for in Rule 21, a let shall be called.

[USTA Comment: See Rule 13 and its USTA Comments regarding lets.]

Case 1. A spectator gets into the way of a player, who fails to return the ball. May the player then claim a let?

Decision. Yes, if in the Umpire's opinion he was obstructed by circumstances beyond his control, but not it due to permanent fixtures of the Court or the arrangements of the ground.

Case 2. A player is interfered with as in Case No. 1, and the Umpire calls a let. The Server had previously served a fault. Has he the right to two services?

Decision. Yes: as the ball is in play, the point, not merely the stroke, must be replayed as the Rule provides.

Case 3. May a player claim a let under Rule 25 because he thought his opponent was being hindered, and consequently did not expect the ball to be returned?

Decision. No.

Case 4. Is a stroke good when a ball in play hits another ball in the air?

Decision. A let should be called unless the other ball is in the air by the act of one of the players, in which case the Umpire will decide under Rule 21.

Case 5. If an Umpire or other judge erroneously calls "fault" or "out", and then corrects himself, which of the calls shall prevail?

Decision. A let must be called unless in the opinion of the Umpire, neither player is hindered in his game, in which case the corrected call shall prevail.

Case 6. If the first ball served, a fault, rebounds, interfering with the Receiver at the time of the second service, may the Receiver claim a let?

Decision. Yes. But if he had an opportunity to remove the ball from the Court and negligently failed to do so, he may not claim a let.

Case 7. Is it a good stroke if the ball touches a stationary or moving object on the Court?

Decision. It is a good stroke unless the stationary object came into Court after the ball was put into play, in which case a let must be called. If the ball in play strikes an object moving along or above the surface of the Court, a let must be called.

Case 8. What is the ruling if the first service is a fault, the second service correct, and it becomes necessary to call a let either under the provision of Rule 25 or if the Umpire is unable to decide the point?

Decision. The fault shall be annulled and the whole point replayed.


RULE 26
Score in a Game

If a player wins his first point, the score is called 15 for that player; on winning his second point, the score is called 30 for that player; on winning his third point, the score is called 40 for that player, and the fourth point won by a player is scored game for that player except as below:

If both players have won three points, the score is called deuce; and the next point won by a player is scored advantage for that player. If the same player wins the next point, he wins the game; if the other player wins the next point the score is again called deuce; and so on, until a player wins the two points immediately following the score at deuce, when the game is scored for that player.

[USTA Comment: In an non-officiated match the Server should announce, in a voice audible to his opponent and spectators, the set score at the beginning of each game, and point scores as the game goes on. Misunderstandings will be avoided if this practice is followed.]


RULE 27
Score in a Set

(a) A player (or players) who first wins six games wins a set, except that he must win by a margin of two games over his opponent and where necessary a set is extended until this margin is achieved.

(b) The tie-break system of scoring may be adopted as an alternative to the advantage set system in paragraph (a) of this Rule provided the decision is announced in advance of the match.

In this case, the following Rules shall be effective:

The tie-break shall operate when the score reaches six games all in any set except in the third or fifth set of a three set or five set match respectively when an ordinary advantage set shall be played, unless otherwise decided and announced in advance of the match.

The following system shall be used in a tie-break game.

Singles

(i) A player who first wins seven points shall win the game and the set provided he leads by a margin of two points. If the score reaches six points all the game shall be extended until this margin has been achieved. Numerical scoring shall be used throughout the tie-break game.

(ii) The player whose turn it is to serve shall be the server for the first point. His opponent shall be the server for the second and third points and thereafter each player shall serve alternately for two consecutive points until the winner of the game and set has been decided.

(iii) From the first point, each service shall be delivered alternately from the right and left courts, beginning from the right court. If service from a wrong half of the court occurs and is undetected, all play resulting from such wrong service or services shall stand, but the inaccuracy of station shall be corrected immediately after it is discovered.

(iv) Players shall change ends after every six points and at the conclusion of the tie-break game.

(v) The tie-break game shall count as one game for the ball change, except that, if the balls are due to be changed at the beginning of the tie-break, the change shall be delayed until the second game of the following set.

Doubles

In doubles the procedure for singles shall apply. The player whose turn it is to serve shall be the server for the first point. Thereafter each player shall serve in rotation for two points, in the same order as previously in that set, until the winners of the game and set have been decided.

Rotation of Service

The player (or pair in the case of doubles) who served first in the tie-break game shall receive service in the first game of the following set.

Case 1. At six-all the tie-break is played, although it has been decided and announced in advance of the match that an advantage set will be played. Are the points already played counted?

Decision. It the error is discovered before the ball is put in play for the second point, the first point shall count but the error shall be corrected immediately. If the error is discovered after the ball is put in play for the second point the game shall continue as a tie-break game.

Case 2. At six all, an advantage game is played, although it has been decided and announced in advance of the match that a tie-break will be played. Are the points already played counted?

Decision. If the error is discovered before the ball is put in play for the second point, the first point shall be counted but the error shall be corrected immediately. If the error is discovered after the ball is put in play for the second point an advantage set shall be continued. If the score thereafter reaches eight games all or a higher even number, a tie-break shall be played.

Case 3. If during a tie-break in a singles or doubles game, a player serves out of turn, shall the order of service remain as altered until the end of the game?

Decision. If a player has completed his turn of service the order of service shall remain as altered. If the error is discovered before a player has completed his turn of service the order of service shall be corrected immediately and any points already played shall count.


RULE 28
Maximum Number of Sets

The maximum number of sets in a match shall be 5, or, where women take part, 3.


RULE 29
Role of Court Officials

In matches where an Umpire is appointed his decision shall be final, but where a Referee is appointed, an appeal shall lie to him from the decision of an Umpire on a question of law, and in all such cases the decision of the Referee shall be final.

In matches where assistants to the Umpire are appointed (Linesmen, Net-cord Judges, Foot-fault Judges) their decisions shall be final on questions of fact, except that if in the opinion of an Umpire a clear mistake has been made, he shall have the right to change the decision of an assistant or order a let to be played. When such an assistant is unable to give a decision he shall indicate this immediately to the Umpire who shall give a decision. When an Umpire is unable to give a decision on a question of fact he shall order a let to be played.

In Davis Cup matches or other team competitions where a Referee is on Court, any decision can be changed by the Referee, who may also instruct an Umpire to order a let to be played.

The Referee, in his discretion, may at any time postpone a match on account of darkness or the condition of the ground or the weather. In any case of postponement the previous score and previous occupancy of Courts shall hold good, unless the Referee and the players unanimously agree otherwise.

[USTA Comment: See fourth USTA Comment under Rule 30 regarding resumption of suspended match.]

Case 1. The Umpire orders a let, but a player claims that the point should not be replayed. May the Referee be requested to give a decision?

Decision. Yes. A question of tennis law, that is an issue relating to the application of specific facts, shall first be determined by the Umpire. However, if the Umpire is uncertain or if a player appeals from his determination, then the Referee shall be requested to give a decision, and his decision is final.

Case 2. A ball is called out but a player claims that the ball was good. May the Referee give a ruling?

Decision. No. This is a question of fact, that is an issue relating to what actually occurred during a specific incident, and the decision of the on-court officials is therefore final.

Case 3. May an Umpire overrule a Linesman at the end of a rally if, in his opinion, a clear mistake has been made during the course of a rally?

Decision. No, unless in his opinion the opponent was hindered. Otherwise an Umpire may only overrule a Linesman if he does so immediately after the mistake has been made.

[USTA Comment: See Rule 17 Case 1 regarding non-officiated matches.]

Case 4. A Linesman calls a ball out. The Umpire was unable to see clearly, although he thought the ball was in. May he overrule the Linesman?

Decision. No. An Umpire may only overrule if he considers that a call was incorrect beyond all reasonable doubt. He may only overrule a ball determined good by a Linesman if he has been able to see a space between the ball and the line; and he may only overrule a ball determined out, or a fault, by a Linesman if he has seen the ball hit the line, or fall inside the line.

Case 5. May a Linesman change his call after the Umpire has given the score?

Decision. Yes. If a Linesman realizes he has made an error, he may make a correction provided he does so immediately.

Case 6. A player claims his return shot was good after a Linesman called out. May the Umpire overrule the Linesman?

Decision. No. An Umpire may never overrule as a result of a protest or an appeal by a player.


RULE 30
Continuous Play and Rest Periods

Play shall be continuous from the first service until the match is concluded, in accordance with the following provisions:

(a) If the first service is a fault, the second service must be struck by the Server without delay.

The Receiver must play to the reasonable pace of the Server and must be ready to receive when the Server is ready to serve.

When changing ends a maximum of one minute thirty seconds shall elapse from the moment the ball goes out of play at the end of the game to the time the ball is struck for the first point of the next game.

The Umpire shall use his discretion when there is interference which makes it impractical for play to be continuous.

The organizers of international circuits and team events recognized by the ITF may determine the time allowed between points, which shall not at any time exceed 20 seconds from the moment the ball goes out of play at the end of one point to the time the ball is struck for the next point.

[USTA Comment: The 20 second rule applies only to certain international circuits and team events recognized by the ITF. When practical, in USTA sanctioned tournaments using a certified official in direct observation of the match, the time which shall elapse from the moment the ball goes out of play at the end of the point to the time the ball is struck shall not exceed 25 seconds.]

(b) Play shall never be suspended, delayed or interfered with for the purpose of enabling a player to recover his strength, breath, or physical condition.

However, in the case of accidental injury, the Umpire may allow a one-time three minute suspension for that injury.

(c) If, through circumstances outside the control of the player, his clothing, footwear or equipment (excluding racket) becomes out of adjustment in such a way that it is impossible or undesirable for him to play on, the Umpire may suspend play while the maladjustment is rectified.

[USTA Comment: If equipment other than a racket becomes unusable through circumstances outside the control of the player, play may be suspended for a reasonable period and the player may leave the court to correct the problem. If a racket or racket string is broken, Rule 30 does not permit play to be suspended. A player who leaves the court to get a replacement is subject to code violation(s) under the Point Penalty System.]

[USTA Comment: Loss of, or damage to, a contact lens or eyeglasses shall be treated as equipment maladjustment. All players must follow the same rules with respect to suspending play, even though in misty but playable weather, a player who wears glasses may be handicapped.]

(d) The Umpire may suspend or delay play at any time as may be necessary and appropriate.

[USTA Comment: When a match is resumed after a suspension of more than ten minutes, it is permissible for the players to engage in a re-warm-up that may be of the same duration as that at the start of the match. The preferred method is to warm-up with other used balls and then insert the match balls when play starts. If the match balls are used in the re-warm-up, then the next ball change will be two games sooner. There shall be no re-warm-up after an authorized intermission or after a suspension of ten minutes or less.]

(e) After the third set, or when women take part the second set, either player is entitled to a rest, which shall not exceed 10 minutes, or in countries situated between latitude 15 degrees north and latitude 15 degrees south, 45 minutes and furthermore, when necessitated by circumstances not within the control of the players, the Umpire may suspend play for such a period as he may consider necessary. If play is suspended and is not resumed until a later day the rest may be taken only after the third set (or when women take part the second set) of play on such a later day, completion of an unfinished set being counted as one set.

If play is suspended and is not resumed until 10 minutes have elapsed in the same day the rest may be taken only after three consecutive sets have been played without interruption (or when women take part two sets), completion of an unfinished set being counted as one set.

Any nation and/or committee organizing a tournament, match or competition, other than the International Tennis Championships (Davis Cup and Federation Cup), is at liberty to modify this provision or omit it from its regulations provided this is announced before the event commences.

(f) A tournament committee has the discretion to decide the time allowed for a warm-up period prior to a match but this may not exceed five minutes and must be announced before the event commences.

[USTA Comment: When there are no ballpersons this time may be extended to ten minutes.]

(g) When approved point penalty and non-accumulative point penalty systems are in operation, the Umpire shall make his decisions within the terms of those systems.

(h) Upon violation of the principle that play shall be continuous the Umpire may, after giving due warning, disqualify the offender.


RULE 31
Coaching

During the playing of a match in a team competition, a player may receive coaching from a captain who is sitting on the court only when he changes ends at the end of a game, but not when he changes ends during a tie-break game.

A player may not receive coaching during the playing of any other match.

After due warning an offending player may be disqualified. When an approved point penalty system is in operation, the Umpire shall impose penalties according to that system.

Case 1. Should a warning be given, or the player be disqualified, if the coaching is given by signals in an unobtrusive manner?

Decision. The Umpire must take action as soon as he becomes aware that coaching is being given verbally or by signals. If the Umpire is unaware that coaching is being given, a player may draw his attention to the fact that advice is being given.

Case 2. Can a player receive coaching during an authorized rest period under Rule 30(e), or when play is interrupted and he leaves the court?

Decision. Yes. In these circumstances, when the player is not on the court, there is no restriction on coaching.

ITF Note: The word "coaching" includes any advice or instruction.

[USTA Comment: Coaching is not permitted in the USTA Adult and Senior League Program except during authorized rest periods.]


RULE 32
Changing Balls

In cases where balls are to be changed after a specified number of games, if the balls are not changed in the correct sequence, the mistake shall be corrected when the player, or pair in the case of doubles, who should have served with new balls is next due to serve. Thereafter the balls shall be changed so that the number of games between changes shall be that originally agreed.


The Doubles Game


RULE 33

The above Rules shall apply to the Doubles Game except as below.


RULE 34
The Doubles Court

For the Doubles Game, the Court shall be 36 feet (10.97m.) in width, i.e. 4.5 feet (1.37m.) wider on each side than the Court for the Singles Game, and those portions of the singles side-lines which lie between the two service-lines shall be called the service side-lines. In other respects, the Court shall be similar to that described in Rule 1, but the portions of the singles side-lines between the base-line and service-line on each side of the net may be omitted if desired.

[USTA Comment: The Server has the right in doubles to stand anywhere back of the baseline between the center mark imaginary extension and the doubles sideline imaginary extension.]


RULE 35
Order of Service in Doubles

The order of serving shall be decided at the beginning of each set as follows:

The pair who have to serve in the first game of each set shall decide which partner shall do so and the opposing pair shall decide similarly for the second game. The partner of the player who served in the first game shall serve in the third; the partner of the player who served in the second game shall serve in the fourth, and so on in the same order in all the subsequent games of a set.

Case 1. In doubles one player does not appear in time to play, and his partner claims to be allowed to play single-handed against the opposing players. May he do so?

Decision. No.


RULE 36
Order of Receiving in Doubles

The order of receiving the service shall be decided at the beginning of each set as follows:

The pair who have to receive the service in the first game shall decide which partner shall receive the first service, and that partner shall continue to receive the first service in every odd game throughout that set. The opposing pair shall likewise decide which partner shall receive the first service in the second game and that partner shall continue to receive the first service in every even game throughout that set. Partners shall receive the service alternately throughout each game.

Case 1. Is it allowable in doubles for the server's partner or the Receiver's partner to stand in a position that obstructs the view of the Receiver?

Decision. Yes. The Server's partner or the Receiver's partner may take any position on his side of the net in or out of the Court that he wishes.


RULE 37
Service Out of Turn in Doubles

If a partner serves out of his turn, the partner who ought to have served shall serve as soon as the mistake is discovered, but all points scored, and any faults served before such discovery, shall be reckoned. If a game shall have been completed before such discovery, the order of service remains as altered.

[USTA Comment: For an exception to Rule 37 see Case 3 under Rule 27.]


RULE 38
Error in Order of Receiving in Doubles

If during a game the order of receiving the service is changed by the Receivers it shall remain as altered until the end of the game in which the mistake is discovered, but the partners shall resume their original order of receiving in the next game of that set in which they are Receivers of the service.


RULE 39
Service Fault in Doubles

The service is a fault as provided for by Rule 10, or if the ball touches the Server's partner or anything which he wears or carries, but if the ball served touches the partner of the Receiver, or anything which he wears or carries, not being a let under Rule 14(a) before it hits the ground, the Server wins the point.


RULE 40
Playing the Ball in Doubles

The ball shall be struck alternately by one or other player of the opposing pairs, and if a player touches the ball in play with his racket in contravention of this Rule, his opponents win the point.

[USTA Comment: The partners themselves do not have to "alternate" in making returns. In the course of making one return, only one member of a doubles team may hit the ball. If both of them hit the ball, either simultaneously or consecutively, it is an illegal return. Mere clashing of rackets does not make a return illegal unless it is clear that more than one racket touched the ball.]

ITF Note: Except where otherwise stated, every reference in these rules to the masculine includes the feminine gender.


APPENDIX I

Regulations for Making Tests Specified in Rule 3

1. Unless otherwise specified all tests shall be made at a temperature of approximately 68 Fahrenheit (20 Centigrade) and a relative humidity of approximately 60 per cent. All balls should be removed from their container and kept at the recognized temperature and humidity for 24 hours prior to testing, and shall be at that temperature and humidity when the test is commenced.

2. Unless otherwise specified the limits are for a test conducted in an atmospheric pressure resulting in a barometric reading of approximately 30 inches (76cm.).

3. Other standards may be fixed for localities where the average temperature, humidity or average barometric pressure at which the game is being played differs materially from 68 Fahrenheit (20 Centigrade), 60 per cent and 30 inches (76cm.) respectively.

Applications for such adjusted standards may be made by any National Association to the International Tennis Federation and if approved shall be adopted for such localities.

4. In all tests for diameter a ring gauge shall be used consisting of a metal plate, preferably non-corrosive, of a uniform thickness of one-eighth of an inch (.32cm.) in which there are two circular openings 2.575 inches (6.54cm.) and 2.700 inches (6.86cm.) in diameter respectively. The inner surface of the gauge shall have a convex profile with a radius of one-sixteenth of an inch (.16cm.). The ball shall not drop through the smaller opening by its own weight and shall drop through the larger opening by its own weight.

5. In all tests for deformation conducted under Rule 3, the machine designed by Percy Herbert Stevens and patented in Great Britain under Patent No. 230250, together with the subsequent additions and improvements thereto, including the modifications required to take return deformations, shall be employed or such other machine which is approved by a National Association and gives equivalent readings to the Stevens machine.

6. Procedure for carrying out tests.

(a) Pre-compression. Before any ball is tested it shall be steadily compressed by approximately one inch (2.54cm.) on each of three diameters at right angles to one another in succession; this process to be carried out three times (nine compressions in all). All tests to be completed within two hours of precompression.

(b) Bound test (as in Rule 3). Measurements are to be taken from the concrete base to the bottom of the ball.

(c) Size test (as in paragraph 4 above).

(d) Weight test (as in Rule 3).

(e) Deformation test. The ball is placed in position on the modified Stevens machine so that neither platen of the machine is in contact with the cover seam. The contact weight is applied, the pointer and the mark brought level, and the dials set to zero. The test weight equivalent to 18 lb. (8.165kg.) is placed on the beam and pressure applied by turning the wheel at a uniform speed so that five seconds elapse from the instant the beam leaves its seat until the pointer is brought level with the mark. When turning ceases the reading is recorded (forward deformation). The wheel is turned again until figure ten is reached on the scale (one inch [2.54cm.] deformation). The wheel is then rotated in the opposite direction at a uniform speed (thus releasing pressure) until the beam pointer again coincides with the mark. After waiting ten seconds the pointer is adjusted to the mark if necessary. The reading is then recorded (return deformation). This procedure is repeated on each ball across the two diameters at right angles to the initial position and to each other.


APPENDIX II

Rules of Wheelchair Tennis

The game of wheelchair tennis follows the same rules as able-bodied tennis as endorsed by the International Tennis Foundation except the wheelchair tennis player is allowed two bounces of the ball.

1. The Competitive Wheelchair Tennis Player. The only eligibility requirements for an individual to become a competitive wheelchair tennis player is that he must be medically diagnosed as having a mobility-related disability. In other words, he must have substantial or total loss of function in one or more extremities. If, as a result of these functional limitations, this person would be unable to play competitive able-bodied tennis (that is, having the mobility to cover the court with adequate speed), then the person would be eligible to play competitive wheelchair tennis in sanctioned IWTF tournaments.

(a) Quadriplegic division players shall be characterized as one who has limited mobility, power and strength in at least three limbs due to accidents, spinal cord injuries and other related diseases. Also included in this division are walking quadriplegics, power wheelchair-users and triple amputees. Players who cannot use both arms to move the chair are allowed to use their legs. In case of doubt it is up to the IWTF to make a decision if the player is allowed to use his legs.

If there is reason to doubt an individual's eligibility to participate as a competitive wheelchair tennis players, the IWTF rules committee reserves the right to screen any player being considered for ranking. A verification of quadriplegic status may be required, when in doubt.

2. The Ball In Play

In wheelchair tennis the ball is allowed to bounce twice before being returned.

(a) If the ball is taken on the first bounce, it must bounce within the bounds of the court.

(b) If the ball is taken on the second bounce, the second bounce can hit the ground either within the boundaries of the court or outside the court boundaries before being returned.

3. The Service

(a) The ball served may, after hitting the ground in the service court, hit the ground once again within the bounds of the court or outside the court boundaries before being returned.

(b) The server shall throughout the delivery of the service:
-- Not change position by rolling or spinning. The server shall not by slight movements of the wheels which do not materially affect the location originally taken up by him, be deemed "to change his position by rolling or spinning."
-- Not touch, with any wheel, any area other than that behind the baseline within the imaginary extension of the center-mark and sideline.

(c) If the player deliberately uses any part of his lower extremities as brakes or as stabilizers while delivering service, the service is deemed a fault.

(d) If conventional methods for the service are physically impossible for a quadriplegic player, then another individual may drop the ball for such a player.

4. Player Loses Point. The wheelchair is part of the body. All applicable rules apply. A player loses the point if:

(a) The ball in play touches him or his wheelchair or anything he wears or carries, except his racket in his hand(s). This loss of a point occurs regardless of whether the player is inside or outside the bounds of his court when the ball touches him.

(b) A served ball hits him or his wheelchair or anything he wears or carries, except his racket in his hand(s). If the server hits his own partner with the served ball, then it is a fault.

(c) He deliberately uses any part of his feet or lower extremities as brakes or as stabilizers while delivering the service, stroking a ball, turning or stopping.

(d) He fails to keep one buttock in contact with his wheelchair seat contacting the ball.
It is legal for a player to hit a return, fall out of his chair and then get back into his chair to make the next return.

5. Wheelchair/Able-Bodied Tennis. Where a wheelchair player is defined in Rule 1 above is playing with able-bodied persons, then again the rules of tennis shall apply.

In this instance, however, the wheelchair player is allowed only one bounce and Rules 2 and 3 above shall therefore not apply.


APPENDIX III

Tie-Breaks and No-Ad Scoring

1. Tie-Break Use Mandatory. Use of the 12-point tie-break is mandatory in all sanctioned tournaments in all sets.

2. Twelve-Point Tie-Break

Singles. Player A, having served the first game of the set, serves the first point from the right court; Player B serves points 2 and 3 (left and right); A serves points 4 and 5 (left and right); B serves point 6 (left) and after they change ends, point 7 (right); A serves points 8 and 9 (left and right); B serves points 10 and 11 (left and right); A serves point 12 (left). A player who reaches seven points during these first 12 points wins the game and set. If the score has reached six points all, the players change ends and continue in the same pattern until one player establishes a margin of two points which gives him the game and set. Note that the players change ends every six points and that the player who serves the last point of one of these 6-point segments also serves the first point of the next one (from right court). For a following set the players change ends and B serves the first game.

Doubles. The same pattern as in singles applies, with partners preserving their serving sequence. In a game of A-B versus C-D, with A having served the first game of the set, A serves the first point (right); C serves points 2 and 3 (left and right); B serves points 4 and 5 (left and right); D serves point 6 (left) and after the teams change ends, D serves point 7 (right); A serves points 8 and 9 (left and right); C serves points 10 and 11 (left and right); B serves point 12 (left). A team that wins seven points during these first 12 points wins the game and set. If the score has reached six points all, the teams change ends. B then serves point 13 (right), and they continue until one team establishes a two-point margin and thus wins the game and set. As in singles, they change ends for one game to start a following set, with team C-D to serve first.

3. Experimental 12-point tie-break. The experimental 12-point tie-break is the same as the present 12-point tie-break except that ends are changed after the first point, then after every four points, and at the conclusion of the tie-break game.

4. When experimental 12-point tie-break is authorized. For experimental purposes, a section may authorize any tournament below the National Championship level to use the experimental 12-point tie-break. For experimental purposes, the USTA Sanctions and Schedules Committee may authorize the use of the experimental 12-point tie-break for any other tournament. Any tournament electing to use the experimental 12-point tie-break must announce the election before the start of tournament play.

5. Recording the tie-break score. The score of the tie-break set will be written 7-6(x) or 6-7(x), with (x) being the number of points won by the loser of the tie break. For example, 7-6(4) means the tie-break score was 7-4, and 6-7(14) means the tie-break score was 14-16.

6. Changing ends during the tie-break. Changes of ends during a tie-break game are to be made within the normal time allowed between points.

7. Ball changes. If a ball change is due on a tie-break game, it will be deferred until the start of the second game of the next set. A tie-break game counts as one game in determining ball changes.

8. No-Ad scoring. The No-Ad procedure is simply what the name implies; the first player to win four points wins the game, with the seventh point of a game becoming a game point for each player. The receiver has the choice of advantage court or deuce court to which the service is to be delivered on the seventh point. No-ad scoring is authorized for tournaments at the sectional championship level and below. A tournament electing to use no-ad scoring must announce the election before the start of the tournament play except as set forth in paragraph 9 below.

Note: The score-calling may be either in the conventional terms or in simple number, i.e., "zero, one, two, three, game."

Cautionary Note: Any ITF-authorized tournament should get special authorization from ITF before using No-Ad.

9. Change to No-Ad scoring. The referee can switch to no-ad scoring from regular scoring in any round without prior notice on the entry blank when in the referee's discretion the change is necessary to complete the tournament after inclement weather or other factors cause the tournament to fall behind its published schedule.


 

The Code of Tennis

1 January 1992 by Colonel Nick Powell  (This edition supersedes the edition of 1 January 1989.)

1. Before reading this pamphlet you might well ask yourself: Since we have a book that contains all the rules of tennis, why do we need a code? Isn't it sufficient to know and understand all the rules?

2. An answer to these questions could come from this hypothetical situation. Two strangers, A and B, are playing a tightly contested tournament match without officials. On one of B's shots A says: "I can't be sure if it was in or out; therefore, the point is yours." Three games later on one of A's shots B says: "I'm not sure how it was; let's play a let." In two identical situations there are different decisions. If no one else is in favor of a code that works the same on both sides of the net, you can be sure that A is!

3. There are a number of things not specifically set forth in the rules that are covered by custom and tradition only. For example, everybody knows that in case of doubt on a line call your opponent gets the benefit of the doubt, but can you find that in the rules? Further, custom dictates the standard procedures that players will use in reaching decisions. These, then, plus some other similar ones, are the reasons why we need a code, the essential elements of which are set forth here.

4. One of the difficult aspects of tennis is that when a match is played without officials the players themselves have the responsibility for making decisions, particularly line calls; but there is a subtle difference between their decisions and those of an umpire or a linesman. A linesman does his best to resolve impartially a problem involving a line call with the interests of both players in mind, whereas a player must be guided, in this case and in all other cases, by the unwritten law that any doubt must be resolved in favor of his opponent.

5. A corollary of this principle is the fact that a player in attempting to be scrupulously honest on line calls will find himself frequently keeping in play a ball that "might have been out" and that he discovers -- too late -- was out. Even so, the game is much better played this way.

6. In making a line call a player should not enlist the aid of a spectator. In the first place, the spectator has no part in the match and putting him in it may be very annoying to an opponent; in the second, he may offer a call even though he was not in a position to see the ball; in the third, he may be prejudiced; and in the fourth, he may be totally unqualified. All these factors point decisively toward keeping out of the match all persons who are not officially participating.

7. It is both the obligation and prerogative of a player to call all shots landing on, or aimed at, his side of the net, to help his opponent make calls when the opponent requests it, and to call against himself (with the exception of a first service; see par. 32) any ball that he clearly sees out on his opponent's side of the net. If A just got to B's shot, hitting it several inches above the ground, and there is a question whether A's shot went directly over the net or bounced over, the best determinant is the presence or absence of forward roll on A's shot, with the presence of forward roll being an almost certain sign that A's shot bounced over. In a case like this, B has the prerogative of decision. (For calling service lets, see par. 32.)

8. The prime objective in making line calls is accuracy, and all participants in a match should cooperate to attain this objective. When a player does not call an out ball (with the exception of a first serve) against himself when he clearly sees it out -- whether he is requested to do so by his opponents or not -- he is cheating.

9. All players being human, they will all make mistakes, but they should do everything they can to minimize these mistakes, including helping an opponent. No player should question an opponent's call unless asked. When an opponent's opinion has been requested and he has given a positive opinion it must be accepted; if neither player has an opinion the ball is considered good. Obviously, aid from an opponent is available only on a call that terminates a point. In accordance with the laws of parallax, the opinion of a player looking down a line is much more likely to be accurate than that of a player looking across a line.

9.1. When you are looking across a line don't call a ball out unless you can clearly see part of the court between where the ball hit and the line. This means if you are half a court or so away and a ball lands within two inches of a line it is almost impossible for you to call it with accuracy. A player who stands on one base line and questions a call concerning a ball that landed near the other base line is probably being ridiculous.

9.2. Unless you have made a local ground rule designed to save chasing balls that are obviously going out, when you catch in the air a ball that is in play you have lost the point, regardless of whether you are inside or outside the court.

10. Any call of "out", "let", or "fault" must be made instantaneously; otherwise, the ball is presumed good and still in play. In this connotation "instantaneously" means that the call is made before either an opponent has hit the return or the return has gone out of play. Most important: a ball is not out until it is called out.

11. The requirement for an instantaneous call will quickly eliminate the "two chance" option that some players practice. To illustrate, C is advancing to the net for an easy putaway when he sees a ball from an adjoining court rolling towards him. He continues his advance and hits the shot, only to have his supposed easy putaway fly over the baseline. C then makes a claim for a let, which is obviously not valid. C could have had a let had he stopped when he first saw the ball rolling towards him, but when he saw it and then continued on to hit the easy shot he forfeited his right to a let. He took his chance to win or lose, and he is not entitled to a second one.

12. Another situation eliminated by the instantaneous call requirement is that in which a player returns the ball, at the same time yelling: "I don't know." This sort of call constitutes a puzzle which should not be thrown at any opponent.

13. In living up to the instantaneous call requirement it is almost certain that there will be out balls that are played. On a fast first service, for example, sometimes the ball will be moving so rapidly that the receiver has hit the ball and it has gone into play (maybe for a placement) or into the net before an out call can be made. In such cases, the receiver is considered as having taken his chance, and he is entitled to only one, whether he made a putaway or an error. Likewise, when the server and his partner thought to be out the ball which was good and didn't play their opponents' return, they lose the point. The purists' argument that a ball that is out cannot be played under any circumstances falls before the practicality of the player's responsibility to make calls. Otherwise, after a point involving a long rally had been concluded a player could discover an out mark made at the beginning of the point and ask that the point he had just lost be awarded to him. It is only fair 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.

14. Any ball that cannot be called out is presumed to have been good, and a player cannot claim a let on the basis that he did not see a ball. If this were not so, picture your opponent at the net ready to tap away a sitter. As he does so your back is to him. Can you ask for a replay because you didn't see where his shot landed? If you could, the perfect defense has been found against any shot that is out of reach: close your eyes before it touches the court.

15. One of tennis' most infuriating moments occurs when after a long hard rally a player makes a clean placement and hears his opponent say: "I'm not sure if it was good or out. Let's play a let." Remember that it is each player's responsibility to call all balls landing on, or aimed at, his side of the net, and if a ball can't be called out with surety, it is good. When you ask for a replay of a point because you say your opponent's shot was really out but you want to give him "a break," you are deluding yourself; you must have had some small shred of doubt and that doubt means the point should be your opponent's. Further, telling your opponent to "take two" is usually not so generous as it might sound.

16. When time and the court surface permit, a player should take a careful second look at any point-ending placement that is close to a line. Calls based on a "flash look" are often inaccurate, and the "flash look" system has a high probability of being unfair to an opponent.

17. In doubles when one partner calls a ball out and the other one good, the doubt that has been established means the ball must be considered to have been good. The reluctance that some doubles players have to overrule their partners is secondary to the importance of not letting your opponents suffer from a bad call. The tactful way to achieve the desired result is to tell your partner quietly that he has made a mistake and then let him overrule himself. If it comes to a showdown, untactful honesty is preferable to tactful dishonesty.

18. Normally, asking for a replay of a point is a sign of weakness and of failure to exercise line calling responsibilities, and should occur only on rare occasions. One of these is as follows. Your opponent's ball -- a serve or otherwise -- appears out and you so call, but return the ball to his court. Inspection reveals that your out call, which stopped play, is in error. Since you actually returned the ball a let is authorized. Had you not returned the ball the point would have been your opponent's. (See last sentence in par. 19.) Another possible replay situation occurs when, just as C is returning A's good shot, A's overzealous partner, B calls A's shot out. If C hits a placement he wins the point; otherwise, the point should be replayed.

18.1. When you are hindered attempting to return a shot that you could not have returned even had there been no hindrance, a let is not authorized. Incidentally, a request for a let does not mean that the let is automatically granted. For example, a request for a let because you have tripped over your own hat should be denied.

19. Once an out (meaning a ball has landed outside the court), fault, or let call is made play stops, regardless of what happens thereafter. This policy is sound, though sometimes maddening. For example, with you at the net your partner serves a bullet that the receiver barely gets to the net for an easy setup which you whack away, but the receiver has yelled "fault" as he was returning the service. Inspection reveals that the service was good. You first feel that your putaway shot should count for the point. But suppose that you had missed the putaway. Your immediate cry would have been for a let because the out call distracted you and made you miss. A rule can't work one way one time and work another way another time. It is unfortunate that a miscall was made on such a good service, but you must trust your opponents' intentions to be fair, remember that since they are human they are going to make some mistakes, and realize that since they returned the service a let may be called. The validity of the principle here notwithstanding, most good players who have made a weak giveaway type of return because of an opponent's good forcing shot will give the opponent the point in spite of the out call. The important thing is that a player should not let his ineptitude as a linecaller cause his opponent to fail to win a point that he almost surely would have won had the correct call been made on his forcing shot.

20. All points in a match should be treated with the same importance, and there is no justification for considering a match point differently than the first point. Also, some players will insist that on occasion even though a ball is good they want it to be out so badly that they will unconsciously call it out, this reasoning is difficult for a strong-willed fair-minded player to accept.

20.1. All points played in good faith stand. For example, if, after losing a point, you discover that the net was four inches too high, the loss stands. If the third point of a game is played in the ad court, there is no replay. If you lose a match using a 9-point tie-break, then discover the tournament was using 12-point tie-breaks, the loss stands.

20.2. As a general guide, when it is realized during a point that a mistake was made at the beginning, e.g., service from the wrong court, the point will not be interrupted, nor will corrective action be taken until the point is played out.

20.3. Each player is responsible for "housekeeping" on his own court. If he fails to remove stray balls and other objects he may expect to pay for the consequences.

20.4. When a player is injured in an accident caused by his opponent, it is the player who must suffer with respect to the match, not the opponent. For example, A accidently throws his racket and incapacitates B so that B is unable to resume play within the time limit; even though A caused the injury, it was accidental, and B must be defaulted, not A.

21. As a driven ball -- in contrast to a ball dropping vertically -- strikes the ground (or asphalt or cement, but not grass) it will leave a mark in the shape of an ellipse. If this ellipse is near a line and you cannot see court surface between the ellipse and the line, the ball is good. If you can see only part of an ellipse on the ground this means that the missing part is on the line or tape. Some players will call a ball of this kind out on the basis that all of the mark they can see is outside the line; this thinking is fallacious. An ellipse tangent to a line literally, touching the line at only one point) still represents a good ball; this is tantamount to saying that a ball 99% out is 100% good.

22. Notwithstanding the ellipse theory, on courts which have tapes for lines, occasionally a ball will strike the tape, jump an inch, then leave a full ellipse. This is frequently the case with a hard service when the server will see a clear white spot appear on the service tape, only to have the receiver call "fault" and point to an ellipse an inch back of the line. To attain accuracy in such situations is difficult. The best that the receiver can do is to listen for the sound of the ball touching the tape and look for a clean spot on the tape directly between the server and the ellipse; if these conditions exist he should give the point to his opponent. Sometimes sound alone can be misleading, particularly when the hearer is some distance -- across the net or otherwise -- from the sound. Also, an inch and a half is about the maximum that a ball will jump off the tape.

23. In returning service the partner of the receiver should call the service line for him, with the receiver calling the center line and the side line, although either partner may make an out call on any shot (service or other) that he clearly sees out. It is difficult for the receiver, who is looking across the service line, to call with accuracy a shot that lands near that line. This is the reason why in singles a receiver will frequently find himself unsure of a serve and put it in play even though later it is determined that it was out.

24. Returning a service that is obviously out (accompanied by an out call) is a form of rudeness, and when the receiver knows that in making these returns he bothers the server it is gamesmanship. At the same time it must be expected that a fast service that just misses the line will frequently with justification be returned as a matter of self-protection, even though an out call is made. The speed of deliveries is such that if the receiver waited for a call before he started to make a return he would be overpowered. Probably the most difficult shot in tennis to call accurately is a hard flat service, aimed directly at the receiver, that hits within an inch of the service line in a grass court singles match.

24.1. Returning a first service that is obviously out without an out call in an attempt to catch an opponent off guard is cheating. At the same time, if the receiver in good faith gives the server the benefit of the doubt and returns an out ball, the server is not entitled to refuse the benefit of the doubt and ask for a let on the basis that since he saw the serve out the return caught him by surprise.

24.2. When the server causes a delay between the first and second serves, he has one serve to come. When there is a delay between serves that interrupts the natural flow of the match and when the delay is caused by the receiver or outside interference, the server has two serves to come. The receiver determines whether the delay has interrupted the natural flow of the match.

25. A USTA rule interpretation authorizes the receiver or his partner to call footfaults on the server after the server has been warned once and a request for an umpire has failed. This call should be made only when the caller is absolutely certain, with the footfaulting being so flagrant as to be clearly perceptible from the receiver's side of the net. While in doubles the partner of the receiver may be in a fair position to call a normal fooffault, in either singles or doubles the receiver himself would be able to make this call only in flagrant cases.

25.1. When you feel that your opponent, a netrusher, is footfaulting but his violations are not sufficiently flagrant for you to be sure and to call, the situation can be irritating. Compliance with the footfault rule is very much a function of a player's personal honor system. The plea that he only touches the line and doesn't rush the net is not acceptable. If he doesn't footfault when there is an umpire but does when there is no umpire, the time has come for him to examine his own sense of fair play to see if he is the type of person who will cheat provided he thinks he can go undetected or unpunished, and, if he is, to try to make a change. Habitual foot faulting, intentional or careless, is just as surely cheating as is making a deliberate bad line call.

26. Even if no ethics were involved, from the practical view it behooves a player to avoid footfaults. It is not uncommon in a match having officials for a chronic fooffaulter to become so upset by the frequent footfault calls against him that his whole game disintegrates.

27. A player who hits a weak shot and then, when the ball is moving towards his opponents' court, utters an exclamation such as "back, partner!" has violated the ethics of good play. His opponent, provided he does not play the ball because of the exclamation, is entitled to the point on the basis of having been hindered. However, if the opponent goes ahead and plays the ball and misses, the "two chance" rule holds. There is such a thing as the exclamation coming forth just as the opponent is making his shot. It is then properly a matter for the opponent to determine whether or not he is entitled to a let, for only he can judge if the hindrance came before his shot, after it, or simultaneously with it. If he is going to request a let he should try to make the claim before he sees the outcome of his shot, though this is not always possible. A certain type of player will wait and request a let if he has made an error, but will forget about the let if his shot has turned into a freak placement; this practice is not ethical. The main thing is that if the opponent was hindered, then had an option to stop or to make the shot, then attempted the shot, whether he missed it or not is immaterial, he is considered to have played the ball and there is no basis for a let.

28. In general, any conversation between partners while the ball is moving toward their opponents' side of the net is taboo; once either you or your partner has hit the ball, don't say anything until an opponent has hit it. Even when a ball is moving toward two partners conversation between them should be minimized, with about the only words permitted being such exhortations as to try hard for a ball ("run!") or to let one pass ("out!"), etc. Incidentally, "out" as advice to a partner to let the ball drop does not suffice for the normal "out" call necessary when a ball has landed outside the court.

29. With respect to a player moving when a ball is in play or about to be in play, in general he is entitled to feint with his body as he wishes. He may change position on the court at any time including while the server is tossing the ball to serve. Movements or sounds that are made solely to distract an opponent, such as waving the arms or racket, stamping the feet, or talking are prohibited.

30. A ball from your court going into an adjoining court or a ball from an adjoining court coming into your court can provide the basis for a let. In handling these balls here are some things to remember. When play is in progress don't go behind another court to retrieve a ball or hit a loose ball to that court; this may mean holding a ball for several seconds while a point is being finished. Don't ask for one of your balls until the point in play on the adjoining court has stopped. In returning a loose ball to another court don't hit it aimlessly as if you didn't care where it goes as long as it leaves your court. Instead, pick up the ball and hit it so that it goes directly to one of the players on the other court, preferably the server, on the first bounce; this might be termed "Rule One" of court etiquette. As a corollary to this rule, except when so doing will delay play unnecessarily, collect the match balls that are on your side of the net and either give them to the next server or place them on his baseline.

31. In the general area of common courtesy and consideration for others violations are too frequent. Some players in loud tones have a post mortem on each point, to the dismay of the players on the adjoining courts. Some players complain of the type of shots an opponent hits (e.g., too many lobs); what he hits are his business as long as they are legal. Don't embarrass a weak opponent by being overly gracious or condescending. Don't spoil the game for your partner or opponents by losing your temper and using vile language or throwing your racket. After losing a point don't slam a ball in anger; a ball boy once lost an eye from this sort of action. And don't sulk when you are losing; instead, praise your opponent's good shots. Above all, try to make tennis a fun game for all participants.

31.1. Be neat in your dress, and wear proper tennis clothing; no blue jeans, loud sport shirts, or jogging shoes. If you are going to a strange club with whose rules you are not familiar you can never be wrong dressing in all-white. Carry a spare racket; if one breaks you are not allowed a delay to find a replacement, but instead must continue with what you have courtside, broken or not. If you break a string and change rackets, practice shots with the new racket are not permitted. And don't place towels or clothing over the net or on the court.

31.2. If there is a clothing, shoes, equipment or racket malfunction during a point, the point will be finished before any corrective action is taken. After the point is over a reasonable delay may be allowed for a player to leave the playing area to repair or replace shoes, clothing, and equipment, but not rackets.

32. As mentioned in paragraph 7, neither the server nor his net man should make an out call on a first service even though he thinks it is out, because the receiver, not being sure of the ball, may give the server the benefit of the doubt and then hit a placement. In this instance the prerogative of the receiver to give the benefit of the doubt and make a return should not be usurped. However, either the server or the net man should volunteer a call on any second service he clearly sees to be out for his call terminates the point. In doubles the net man is usually in the best position to hear a service touch the net, though custom supports the calling of a let in singles or doubles by any player who hears an otherwise good serve touch the net. For a call of a service let to be valid, it must be made prior to the return of serve either going out of play or being hit by an opponent.

33. Calls involving a ball's touching a player, a player's touching the net, a player's touching his opponent's court (invasion), hitting an opponent's return before it has passed the net, and a double-bounce, can be very difficult to make. Any player who becomes aware that he has committed a violation in one of these areas should announce the violation immediately in order to avoid unnecessary expenditure of energy by his opponent.

33.1. In all of the above areas the prerogative of decision belongs to the player or team involved. To illustrate, A thinks B's shot is a double- bounce, catches B's shot and claims the point. B, however, feels sure there was no double-bounce; since B has the prerogative of decision the point is B's. On occasion even though B thinks there was no double-bounce he will defer to A's judgment because A was in a better position to see what happened.

33.2. After a point has been finished A might give B an opportunity to admit, for example, a double-bounce that was not called during the point. If B accepts A's thinking he should give him the point, even at that late time. The decision, of course, is still B's. A better example would be where A thinks that B has invaded A's court, but B hasn't called the invasion. After the point is over, if A can point out half of one of B's footprints under the net it would be difficult for B to refuse to give A the point.

33.3. Done without deliberation and with one continuous forward swing of the racket, a double-hit and a carry are legal shots. When done with deliberation, or when there is a definite 'second push' of the racket, each of these shots is illegal, with consequent loss of point that the striker, who has the prerogative of decision, should call promptly on himself.

34. Some players confuse "warm-up" and "practice." While it is not mandatory, normally a player should provide his opponent five minutes (ten minutes if there are no ball persons) of warm-up, making a special effort to hit his shots directly to his opponent. Five minutes warm-up is adequate even on a chilly day, although it may not be adequate for him to practice his shots as much as he would like. If he wants to practice more than five minutes he should do it prior to the match. Courtesy dictates that you not practice your service return when your opponent practices his serve. Incidentally, even a windy day does not justify taking warm-up serves from both ends of the court. If partners want to warm each other up (at the same time their opponents are warming up), they may do so.

34.1. Many players want to practice or to warm-up their serves just before they serve the first time, even though the match is then one game or more old. Once a match has started there is no basis for further practice or warm-up. It would be just as logical to hit practice serves before the tenth game as it would be to hit them before the second game.

35. If you feel that you, as a receiver, are being victimized by a server who serves without hesitation (frequently, a server who serves when you are getting ready rather than when you are ready) the person to blame is most likely yourself. This is true because in any discussion over whether a receiver was ready or not the sole criterion is the receiver's own statement, and if he wasn't ready a let is in order. In reality, while there are unsmart receivers, there is no such thing as a quick server.

36. The receiver should make no effort to return a serve when he is not ready if he wishes to maintain valid his right to a let. On the other hand the server is protected from the "two chances" receiver under the same rule, this rule states that if a receiver makes any attempt to return a service he is presumed to have been ready.

37. A recent USTA Comment under Rule 12 provides that once the receiver has indicated that he is ready he cannot become unready and claim a let-- anymore than he could become unready during a point-- unless there is some outside interference. This negates the gamesmanship practice some receivers have had of indicating ready, then, just as the server starts to serve, announcing that they are unready in an attempt to upset him.

38. When the receiver has indicated that he is ready and the server serves an ace, the receiver's partner cannot claim a let because he (the partner of the receiver) was not ready. The receiver's indication of being ready is tantamount to indicating that his team is ready. While no server should serve if he sees either of his opponents is not ready, he is not expected to check both opponents before each serve. It is the receiver's responsibility to signal ready only when both he and his partner are ready. Likewise, the server should check his partner's readiness before he serves, for his serving is an indication that his team is ready.

39. When a server requests three balls to be in his hand prior to each point he is to serve the receiver should comply with this wish when the third ball is readily available. Since only two balls are normally needed for a service, the receiver should not be required to get the third when it is some distance away, nor, under the continuous play rule, should a server during a game be permitted to retrieve a distant third ball himself. The distant balls should be retrieved at the end of a game. When a tournament specifies a new can of balls for a third set, it is mandatory that the new balls be used unless all the players agree to use the old balls.

40. In any argument about facts it should be remembered that the position of each side has equal weight. For example, regardless of how sure you are that the score is thirty-forty, your opponent may be just as sure that it is forty-thirty (or five games to three versus four games all). The preferred, but not mandatory, method of settling a scoring dispute is to count all points and games agreed on by the players, with only the disputed points and games being replayed. Another method is to go back to the last score on which there was agreement, then resume play from that point. If no agreement can be reached in a dispute, whatever the disagreement may be, it should be settled by tossing a racket. Certainly, it would be undesirable to have the players depart in a huff.

40.1. To eliminate arguments about the score the server should announce, in a voice audible to the players and spectators, the set score (e.g., 5-4) prior to his first serve in each game, and the game score (e.g., thirty-forty) prior to serving each point. This is important.

40.2. No matter how obvious it may be to you that your opponent's shot is out, it may not be obvious to him. He is entitled to a prompt hand signal or call; give it to him.

41. You have had contact with the primary form of stalling when your opponent in an official match purposely arrives 25 minutes late, hoping that those 25 minutes will have provided you with ample opportunity to tense up. Some opponents attempt an excessively long warm-up to achieve the same result. Another form of stalling is provided by the player who walks and plays at about one-third his normal rate, thereby, among other things, taking much of the fun out of the match. Another form is the excess time taken between games when the authorized delay is doubled due to extra toweling, drinking, taking of pills, and sitting down. Another form is the taking of time at the end of a 6-4 first set; the rules say play shall be continuous except for specified breaks, which do not include one at the end of the first set that ends on an even number of games. Another form is the server's waiting at the net -- instead of going to the baseline -- while the receiver is retrieving a ball to give to him. Another form is taking more time than the authorized ten minutes break at the end of the second set in a three-set match. Another is the starting of a discussion to permit a player to catch his breath. Another is the action of the receiver in clearing an out first service that doesn't need to be cleared, such as one that ends up six inches from the backstop. Another is bouncing the ball ten times before each serve. These are some of the more common forms of stalling, a type of gamesmanship aimed at upsetting an opponent. What is the answer to the problem? Again, like footfaulting, it is a matter of a player's personal honor system. From a practical view, if you try to outstall a staller you may upset yourself even more, and from an ethical view you may damage your own reputation. With it all, you can be firm in waiting for a late opponent only a reasonable period (as you interpret the meaning of the word under the circumstances involved) before departing, and in other cases refusing to continue play without an official. The best players are not known as stallers.

41.1. If your opponent is a chronic footfaulter or makes a larger number of what you feel sure are bad calls, what should you do? There is only one answer: calmly call for an umpire and refuse to continue until the umpire arrives. While normally a player may not leave the playing area during a match, an expeditious visit to the referee to request an umpire is authorized. Incidentally, also authorized is a bona fide toilet visit.

41.2. Grunting (or other loud noises) can be the basis for a let or loss of point, and should be avoided. Fortunately, a player can usually adjust to his opponent's grunting so that it does not become a distraction; unfortunately, grunting can be an annoyance to players on an adjacent court.

41.3. Don't enter a tournament and then withdraw when you discover some tough opponents have also entered. Don't be a cup hunter and search for tournaments where all the entrants will be of a much lower caliber than yourself. If you must default a match notify the referee at once so that your opponent may be saved a trip. If you withdraw from a tournament don't expect the return of your entry fee unless you withdrew before the entries closed.

42. When your serve hits your partner stationed at the net is it a let, fault, or loss of point? Likewise, what is the ruling when your serve before touching the ground hits an opponent who is standing back of the base line? The answers to these questions are obvious to anyone who knows the fundamentals of tennis, but it is surprising the number of players who don't know these fundamentals. All players have the responsibility of being familiar with the basic rules and customs. Further, it can be distressing to your opponent when he makes a decision in accordance with a rule and you protest with the remark: "Well, I never heard of that rule before!" Ignorance of the rules constitutes a delinquency on the part of a player and often spoils an otherwise good match.

43. What has been written here constitutes the essentials of "The Code," the summarization of procedures and unwritten rules which custom and tradition dictate all players should follow. No system of rules will cover every specific problem situation that may arise, but if players of good will follow the principles of The Code they should always be able to reach an agreement, at the same time making tennis a better game and more fun for all participants.

If you have a question concerning The Code, or if you have a suggestion for improvement, send full details, enclosing a stamped, self-addressed envelope, to: USTA Officials Department, 70 West Red Oak Lane, White Plains, New York 10604, and you will be sent a prompt reply.


 

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