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Mon, Oct. 14

Howard: How well do you know the rules?
My Point

Here and there some of the rules of tennis and other oddities that infrequently come up when you’re on the court may throw you for a loop. Would you know what to do?

You’re playing doubles and you hit a wide angled shot taking your opponent almost into the side fence. They get there in time and end up hitting their shot around the net post, only 6 inches off the ground and it lands in for a winner. You protest the point because it didn’t go over the net.

Who’s point? (Since the net doesn’t stretch that wide, the rules state this is a legal shot, even though it goes around the net and not over it. Point to your opponent.)

B. Your opponent hits you a high, short lob. You get under it and crack it as hard as you can. The ball hits the bumper guard and creates so much spin that the ball lands on their side and bounces back over to your side without them hitting it.

Who’s point? (It’s your point - they never hit it back.)

C. Exact same scenario, except this time they race up to the net and have to reach over it to contact the ball for a winner.

Who’s point? (This is the one time you’re allowed break the plane of the net and make contact with the ball, just as long as you don’t hit the net with your racquet or body.)

D. You’re playing doubles and you serve out of order. The mistake is caught in the middle of the game, how do you handle the situation? (As soon it’s realized the wrong person is serving or even returning from the wrong side, the score stands and the correction is made.)

E. You and your opponent are at odds over what the game score is and can’t come to an agreement.

What do you do? (You go back to the first score you both can agree on and start from there.)

F. We all know that you are to make the calls on your side of the court, right? Then, what about when a player scrambles after a tough shot you hit and you’re sure it bounced twice....yet they get the ball back over the net and say they got it on one bounce?

Who has the final say, or should you just play it over? (The player hitting the ball has final say. You can question them, but that’s as far as you can take it.)

G. You toss the ball up to serve on a windy day, take a swing and miss it completely.

Do you get that try over, does it count as one of your two tries, or do they automatically get the point? (The swing counts as one of your two tries. If a first service toss, you get one more, if the second, it’s a double fault.)

H. You begin the game by normally spinning your racquet and calling M or W (if you have a Wilson racquet), or maybe flipping a coin (heads or tails) with the winner getting to make the first choice to do what exactly?

Serve - chose side - chose to return, have them serve first.

Are there any other choices you have here? (Yes, you could give them the first choice.)

You’re running after a shot and a ball you have in your pocket falls out and distracts your opponent.

Do they get the point? Do you play the point over? Do they lose the point because they can’t make that call? (If they stop play when it happens, you replay the point. If the point finishes, it stands. But, the next time it happens, you lose the point automatically.)

J. You hit a great shot that is obvious to all that lands just inside the line, but your opponent calls it out.

What can you do? (You are allowed to question them, but you’re only other choice is to get an umpire to oversee the calls.)

Chris Howard is a local USPTA Tennis Professional with over 45 years in the racquet and fitness industry. He can be reached at 928-642-6775 or

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