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Good Question July/August 2018

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IT’S ALL IN THE TIMING

During a doubles match, our opponent threw up a short lob and she yelled, “Watch out! Back up!” multiple times and very loudly as I was about to hit the ball. Is there a rule about either calling a let or taking the point due to this disturbance?

Celia Sheridan, Junior Leagues Vice President:
It depends on when you call the hindrance. Based on The Code page 40 (sections 33 and 34) contained within the USTA Friend at Court 2017, play must be stopped immediately to call the hindrance.

If you decide to play the ball and then miss it, you lose the point because you did not make a timely claim of hindrance.

Talking or, in this case, yelling, is not allowed when the ball is moving toward the opponent’s court and a hindrance can be called if play is stopped as soon as possible. Refer to the ALTA website, altatenis.org, to see this publication for other helpful information.

CAN’T TOUCH THIS

My opponent ran up to the net to hit a short ball. They got to the ball, did not hit the net, but to stop their momentum they placed their racquet down on the court on my side of the net. Is that legal?

Jane Milton, Thursday Women’s League Vice President:
That is an interesting question. If the ball was still in play when your opponent touched your side of the court with their racquet, your opponent loses that point.

According to Friend at Court, ITF Rule 24 g., “The player or the racquet, whether in the player’s hand or not, or anything which the player is wearing or carrying touches the net, net posts, cord or metal cable, strap or band, or the opponent’s court at any time while the ball is in play loses that point.” They may not have touched the net, but they cannot touch your side of the court.

HANDBOOK OFFERS DIRECTION

The opposing captain and I agreed to play lines 1 and 2 early for a recent match. We were unable to agree on the start time for the remaining matches on Sunday. Her players showed up at 1 p.m. and my players showed up at 2 p.m. What is the correct time for the line 3 match to start?

Holly Underwood, Sunday Women’s League Vice President:
In this situation, without a previously agreed start time of 1 p.m., please refer to page 44 in the Captains’ Handbook, Rule IV.E. Playing Match Early, which says: “When captains agree to play line 1 early without the agreement on times for the remaining lines, the default time for line 3 is 20 minutes after the normally scheduled time for line 3.”

This would make the correct match start time 2 p.m. with a default time of 2:20 p.m. for a Sunday Women’s League match.

TAKE IT IN THE AIR

During a recent match, our opponent played the serve “out of the air” and returned it good. Who takes the point if a player returns a first serve before it bounces and the return is good?

Bill Price, First Vice President:
According to ITF Rules of Tennis, Section 17. Serving: When serving in a standard game, the server shall stand behind alternate halves of the court, starting from the right half of the court in every game. In a tie-break game, the service shall be served from behind alternate halves of the court, with the first served from the right half of the court.

The service shall pass over the net and hit the service court diagonally opposite, before the receiver returns it.

Therefore, in your example, the point goes to the server.