Three pink tennis balls on a blue court

Tennis Conundrums

Your Questions About Tennis Rules Answered

Ever been unsure how to handle mishaps or odd situations during a tennis match? We've been there too (some of these even come from our personal experiences). We've started keeping track of quirky questions and answers so they're handy for everyone.

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Breaks in Tennis Matches

How much time do you get in between points in a tennis match?

Players have twenty-five seconds in between points in a tennis match. The clock starts ticking the moment the ball is out of plan and stops when the ball is struck for the next point.

Source:
ITF Rule 29a: “Between points, a maximum of twenty-five (25) seconds is allowed.”

How much time do you get in between games in a tennis match?

Players get 90 seconds when they change ends in a tennis match. Except for the first game of each set where they do not get a break.

Source:
ITF Rule 29a: “When the players change ends at the end of a game, a maximum of ninety (90) seconds are allowed. However, after the first game of each set and during a tie-break game, play shall be continuous and the players shall change ends without a rest.”

How much time do you get in between sets in a tennis match?

Players get a maximum of two minutes in between sets in a tennis match. If a player needs to use the restroom, they get additional time and there is no stated limit, just "reasonable" time.

Source:
ITF Rule 29a: “At the end of each set there shall be a set break of a maximum of one hundred and twenty (120) seconds.”

How much time do you have between the end of the warm up and start of a tennis match?

Neither
ITF nor USTA defines this specifically. However, we think 90 seconds seems reasonable as this is the amount of time allowed when players change ends at the end of a game.

Source:
ITF Rule 29: “As a principle, play should be continuous, from the time the match starts (when the first service of the match is put in play) until the match finishes. a. Between points, a maximum of twenty-five (25) seconds is allowed. When the players change ends at the end of a game, a maximum of ninety (90) seconds are allowed.”

What is a break in tennis?

A "break" in tennis is when you win the game when your opponent is serving.

Coaching in Tennis Matches

In tennis, is coaching allowed during play?

Yes, coaching is allowed at specified times depending on what rules you’re following / league you’re playing. If you’re playing USTA, coaching is permitted during the three and ten minute rest periods.

Source:
ITF Rule 30: “In team events where there is a team captain sitting on-court, the team captain may coach the player(s) during a set break and when the players change ends at the end of a game, but not when the players change ends after the first game of each set and not during a tie-break game. In all other matches, coaching is not allowed.”

The Code: USTA Comment 30.2: "Is coaching permitted during a rest period? Yes. Coaching is permitted during a 3-minute or 10-minute rest period. However, coaching is not allowed in the following situations: A 2-minute set break”

In tennis, is coaching allowed during suspended play?

Yes, coaching is allowed during suspended play, including the set break and when players change ends (except after the first game in a set).

Source:
ITF Rule 30: “In team events where there is a team captain sitting on-court, the team captain may coach the player(s) during a set break and when the players change ends at the end of a game, but not when the players change ends after the first game of each set and not during a tie-break game. In all other matches, coaching is not allowed.”
Case 2: “Decision: Yes. An example of suspended play is due to weather. “

Errors & Disputes in Tennis

In tennis, what happens if after playing multiple games, we realize that our opponents were switching sides (ad / deuce)?

Your opponents must finish the current game in their current positions. After the current game, they must go back to the original sides of receiving (for that particular set). They should not go back and replay anything.

Source:
ITF Rule 27: “Errors shall be corrected as follows. a. During a standard game or a tie-break game in doubles, if there is an error in the order of receiving, this shall remain as altered until the end of the game in which the error is discovered. For the next game in which they are the receivers in that set, the partners shall then resume the original order of receiving. “

In tennis, if the server serves from the wrong side, how do you handle the next point?

If the server serves from the wrong side of the court, correct the mistake. Serve to the same side twice in a row to get things back in order. If the error is discovered between the first and second serve, move to the correct side of the court immediately and continue with the second serve.

Source:
ITF Rule 27: “Errors shall be corrected as follows. a)If a player serves from the wrong half of the court, this should be corrected as soon as the error is discovered and the server shall serve from the correct half of the court according to the score.”

In tennis, if I accidentally serve on the wrong side of the court and win the point, does it count?

Yes, it absolutely counts. Additionally, you should serve again on that side to get things back on track.

Source:
ITF Rule 27: “As a principle, when an error in respect of the Rules of Tennis is discovered, all points previously played shall stand.”

“Errors shall be corrected as follows. a)If a player serves from the wrong half of the court, this should be corrected as soon as the error is discovered and the server shall serve from the correct half of the court according to the score.”

In tennis, if I realize that I am serving on the wrong side after a fault, what happens?

If you realize that you're on the wrong side of the court after a fault, you should serve your second serve on the correct side of the court.

Source:
ITF Rule 27: “Errors shall be corrected as follows. a. During a standard game or a tie-break game, if a player serves from the wrong half of the court, this should be corrected as soon as the error is discovered and the server shall serve from the correct half of the court according to the score. A fault that was served before the error was discovered shall stand.”

In tennis, if I serve a fault and then we realize that my partner was supposed to serve, does my partner start with a first or second serve?

If you serve a fault and realize that your partner is supposed to serve, your partner should begin serving with the second serve.

Source:
ITF Rule 27: “Errors shall be corrected as follows...
c. In doubles, if the partners of one team serve out of turn, a fault that was served before the error was discovered shall stand.”

In tennis what if my opponent or I realize we called the score wrong but continued to play? Do we have to play with the score as it was announced?

No, if you realize that the score was called incorrectly, go to the last score at which you both agree. If you both agree to correctly amend the score and keep going, do that. If not, go back to the last point you agreed on, before the score was called wrong, and play from there.

Source:
The Code #32: “Disputes over the score must be resolved by using one of the following methods, which are listed in the order of preference:

- Count all points and games agreed upon by the players and replay only disputed points or games;

- Play from a score mutually agreeable to all players;

- Spin a racket or toss a coin.”

In tennis if I call the wrong score but I don’t realize until a few points later, can I go back and dispute it?

Yes if you call the wrong score and don't immediately realize it, go to the last score at which you and your opponent agree. If you both agree to correctly amend the score and keep going, do that. If not, go back to the last point you agreed on, before the score was called wrong, and play from there.

Source:
ITF Rule 32: “Disputes over the score must be resolved by using one of the following methods, which are listed in the order of preference:
- Count all points and games agreed upon by the players and replay only disputed points or games;

- Play from a score mutually agreeable to all players;

- Spin a racket or toss a coin.”

In tennis, what if after the point has started, I realize that the score was called incorrectly. Should I stop play?

No, if you realize that the score was called incorrectly you cannot stop the play once it has started. The only way you could theoretically stop the point is calling a hindrance, but it doesn’t qualify as a hindrance because it doesn’t prevent you from playing.

After the point has stopped, dispute the score. Go to the last score at which you and your opponent agree. If you both agree to correctly amend the score and keep going, do that. If not, go back to the last point you agreed on, before the score was called wrong, and play from there.

Source:
ITF Rule 26: “If a player is hindered in playing the point by a deliberate act of the opponent(s), the player shall win the point. However, the point shall be replayed if a player is hindered in playing the point by either an unintentional act of the opponent(s), or something outside the player’s own control (not including a permanent fixture).”

ITF Rule 32: “Disputes over the score must be resolved by using one of the following methods, which are listed in the order of preference:
- Count all points and games agreed upon by the players and replay only disputed points or games;

- Play from a score mutually agreeable to all players;

- Spin a racket or toss a coin.”

What is a fault in tennis?

There are two types of service faults that can occur in a tennis match.

The first, simply called a service fault is when the serve does not put the ball into play (Either the ball does not land in the correct service box or server misses the ball completely, or if the ball touches something before it hits the ground.)

A foot fault is when the server breaks a service rule during their service (serves in the wrong position or touches the baseline with their foot).

Source:

ITF Rule 19: "The service is a fault if:

a. The server breaks Rules 16, 17, or 18; or

b. The server misses the ball when trying to hit it; or

c. The ball served touches a permanent fixture, singles stick or net post before it hits the ground; or

d. The ball served touches the server or server’s partner, or anything the server or server’s partner is wearing or carrying.

"ITF Rule 18: "During the service motion, the server shall not:

a. Change position by walking or running, although slight movements of the feet

are permitted; or

b. Touch the baseline or the court with either foot; or

c. Touch the area outside the imaginary extension of the sideline with either

foot; or

d. Touch the imaginary extension of the centre mark with either foot."

Hindrances in Tennis

In tennis, if a ball rolls onto the court after the serve is struck, and a let is called, does the server get a first serve?

Yes, if the ball lands IN the service box, the server gets a first serve. However, if it lands OUT of the service box, it is not, as the server was not hindered because they no longer had control over the ball.

Of course, if the ball rolled onto the court before the ball was struck they would be entitled to a first serve whether or not the ball lands in the service box.

Source:
ITF Rule 23: “In all cases when a let is called, except when a service let is called on a second service, the whole point shall be replayed.”

ITF Rule 26: “The point shall be replayed if a player is hindered. by. something outside the player’s own control.”

The Code #36: ”A player who is hindered. by something else outside the player’s control is entitled to a let only if the player could have made the shot had the player not been hindered.”

What happens if my tennis racquet string breaks during a point?

If your tennis racquet string breaks during the point, you should keep playing. The point must be continued and after the point you can decide to keep playing with the racquet or get a replacement racquet. Because your strings are considered "within your control", you cannot claim a hindrance.

Source:
ITF Rule 26: “The point shall be replayed if a player is hindered. by something outside the player’s own control.”

ITF Rule 4, Case 4: “During a point, a player accidentally breaks the strings. Can the player continue to play another point with this racket?
Decision: Yes, except where specifically prohibited by event organisers.”

The Code #45: “If a racket or string is broken, a player may leave the court to get a replacement, but the player is subject to code violations for delay under the Point Penalty System.”

In tennis, what happens if a ball falls out of my opponent’s pocket during the point?

If a ball falls out of your opponent's pocket during the point and it distracts you, you can call a hindrance.

Source:
ITF Rule 26: “The point shall be replayed if a player is hindered in playing the point either in an unintentional act of the opponent.”

The Code #36: “... if a player’s hat falls off during a point, an opponent may immediately call a let due to unintentional hindrance.”

In tennis, what happens if my hat falls off during a point?

You should keep playing because you cannot call a let for this (your hat is within your control). However, your opponent can call a let if it distracts them. If they do call a let, it needs to be called immediately.

Source:
ITF Rule 26: “The point shall be replayed if a player is hindered in playing the point either in an unintentional act of the opponent or something outside of the players own control.”

The Code #36: “... if a player’s hat falls off during a point, an opponent may immediately call a let due to unintentional hindrance.”

What happens if someone watching a tennis match calls the ball out when it is not?

If a spectator calls the ball out, regardless of whether the ball is in or out, nothing happens. Spectators can’t make calls. Furthermore, this does not qualify as a hindrance.

Source:
The Code #36: “Out calls and other noises from spectators are not hindrances and, therefore, are not considered grounds for a player calling a let or claiming the point.”

The Code #16. “Spectators never make calls. A player must not enlist the aid of a spectator in making a call. No spectator has a part in a match.”

What happens if a tennis player gets injured during a point?

If a tennis player is injured while playing a point the point should continue as normal. After the point finishes, the injured player can choose whether or not to retire and forfeit the match.

However, their opponent can claim a let if they were hindered from playing the point.

Source:
ITF Rule 26: “However, the point shall be replayed if a player is hindered in playing the point by either an unintentional act of the opponent(s)...”

The Code #34: “For example, if a player yells after an injury or getting stung by a bee, this is an unintentional hindrance that would entitle the opponent to claim a let.”

What if the ball hits a bird during a point in a tennis match?

If the ball hits a bird during a match, the point should be replayed from the first serve.

Source:
ITF Rule 26: “The point shall be replayed if a player is hindered by something outside the player’s own control.”

ITF Rule 26, Case 3: “A ball in play hits a bird flying over the court. Is this a hindrance? Decision: Yes.”

In a tennis match, what happens if my opponent falls during a point?

The point should continue as normal. They do not get a let (because this is within their control). You can call a let if it hinders your play, but you must make the call immediately.

Source:
The Code #36: “A let is never authorized for a hindrance caused by something within a player’s control, such as when a player’s racket comes out of a hand, when a player’s shoe comes off, or when a player trips over the player’s own hat. However, if a player’s hat falls off during a point, an opponent may immediately call a let due to unintentional hindrance.”

In doubles tennis, where is the server’s partner allowed to stand?

In doubles tennis, the server's partner can stand absolutely anywhere they choose on their side of the net.

This is also true for the receiver's partner.

Source:
ITF Rule 26, Case 5: “In doubles, where are the server’s partner and receiver’s partner allowed to stand?
Decision: The server’s partner and the receiver’s partner may take any position on their own side of the net, inside or outside the court.”

As the receiving team in double's tennis, can you stand in the service box when your partner is receiving?

Yes, the receiver's partner can stand anywhere on the court when their partner is receiving the serve.

Source:
ITF Rule 26, Case 5: “In doubles, where are the server’s partner and receiver’s partner allowed to stand?
Decision: The server’s partner and the receiver’s partner may take any position on their own side of the net, inside or outside the court.”

In tennis, is my opponent allowed to call a let after they hit a ball that is going out?

If your opponent makes the call immediately after the shot was made and there actually was a hindrance, they can call a let.

They cannot make the call after the ball lands. They also cannot call a let if the hindrance happened after the shot was made.

Source:
ITF Rule 26: “The point shall be replayed if a player is hindered. by. something outside the player’s own control.”

The Code #36: ”A player who is hindered. by something else outside the player’s control is entitled to a let only if the player could have made the shot had the player not been hindered.”

The Code #17: “Prompt calls eliminate two chance option. A player must make all calls promptly. A call must be made either before the player’s return shot has gone out of play or before an opponent has had an opportunity to play the return shot. Prompt calls will quickly eliminate the “two chances to win the point” option that some players practice. To illustrate, a player is advancing to the net for an easy put away and sees a ball from an adjoining court rolling toward the court. The player continues to advance and hits the shot, only to have the supposed easy put away fly over the baseline. The player then claims a let. The claim is not valid because the player forfeited the right to call a let by choosing instead to play the ball. The player took a chance to win or lose and is not entitled to a second chance.”

In tennis, can I call a hindrance if I’m bitten by a mosquito? Stung by a bee? Shat on by a bird?

Yes, as long as you were hindered from playing the point (and it was not within your control), you can call a hinderance.

If you're playing where there are a lot of mosquitos and getting bitten is expected, your opponent may argue that this was in your control (apply buy spray).

Source:
ITF Rule 26: “... the point shall be replayed if a player is hindered in playing the point by something outside the player’s own control.”

What is big enough to call a hindrance in tennis- where does the line get drawn?

Neither ITF nor The Code clarifies this specifically, so consider each situation carefully. A hindrance is something that is not within your control. USTA says that a racquet falling out of your hand, or your hat coming off is within your control. If your opponent calls a hindrance, you should give them the benefit of the doubt (as long as they understand that the hindrance must be out of their control.

Also, note that The Code says that you CAN call a hindrance if your opponent's hat flies off but CANNOT if their shoe flies off. We contacted USTA about this discrepancy and were given the additional guidance that if it gives your opponent a disadvantage, you cannot call a hindrance.

Source:
ITF Rule 26: “... the point shall be replayed if a player is hindered in playing the point by. something outside the player’s own control (not including a permanent fixture).”

The Code #6: “Opponent gets benefit of doubt. A player should always give the opponent the benefit of any doubt. When a match is played without officials, the players are responsible for making decisions. a player is guided by the principle that any doubt must be resolved in favor of an opponent.”

The Code #36: “A let is never authorized for a hindrance caused by something within a player’s control, such as when a player’s racket comes out of a hand, when a player’s shoe comes off, or when a player trips over the player’s own hat.”

In tennis, can I call a hindrance because of sudden construction noise? A nail flying out of a nailgun from a nearby construction site? A small earthquake? A large earthquake? A gust of wind?

If it hinders you, then you probably can call a hindrance for any earthquake. Even in California, we’re not sure how that could be considered within your control. The gust of wind and construction noise are “sort of” within your control, so we don’t think you should call a hindrance for those. You chose to play on a windy day, you chose to play next to a construction site. The nail gun is an interesting one. Yes, you are playing near a construction site, but the nail flying out of a nail gun seems pretty bizarre, so we think you should be able to call a hindrance for that.

Source:
ITF Rule 26: “... the point shall be replayed if a player is hindered in playing the point by. something outside the player’s own control (not including a permanent fixture).”

The Code #36: “A let is never authorized for a hindrance caused by something within a player’s control, such as when a player’s racket comes out of a hand, when a player’s shoe comes off, or when a player trips over the player’s own hat.”

If I cough or sneeze during a point in tennis, can I call a let?

This really depends the situation. If it is due to allergies, then it is within your control and you can’t call a let. However, if it is due to something like breathing in a gust of dust, then this is more open for interpretation. You can certainly try calling it if it really hindered you from playing the point.

If your cough or sneeze hinders your opponent, they can call a let.

Source:
ITF Rule 26: “The point shall be replayed if a player is hindered in playing the point by either an unintentional act of the opponent(s), or something outside the player’s own control”

I hit a winner, and as I did, a ball from the court next to ours rolled onto the court. Can my opponent call a hindrance?

No, if you hit a winner, your opponent cannot call a hindrance. In order to call a hindrance, they would have had to have been able to make the shot had they not been hindered. If you truly hit a winner, they couldn't have returned your shot.

Source:
The Code #36: ”A player who is hindered. by something else outside the player’s control is entitled to a let only if the player could have made the shot had the player not been hindered.”

In tennis, what if I can’t return the ball because I would run into a player from another court?

If you can't return a ball because you would run into a player on their own court, you cannot claim a hindrance because they’re considered a permanent fixture.

However, if the player is on your court, then they’re not considered a permanent fixture. In this case, they were a hindrance to you and you could call a let.

Source:
ITF Rule 2: “The permanent fixtures of the court include. the spectators, . , the Chair Umpire, Line Umpires, Net Umpire and ball persons when in their recognised positions.”

ITF Rule 26: “... the point shall be replayed if a player is hindered in playing the point by either an unintentional act of the opponent(s), or something outside the player’s own control (not including a permanent fixture).”

In tennis, is a hindrance a let?

No, in tennis, a hindrance is not a let but you can claim a let because of a hindrance. A let just means that the point is replayed.

Source:
ITF Rule 23: “In all cases when a let is called. the whole point shall be replayed.”

ITF Rule 26: ”However, the point shall be replayed if a player is hindered in playing the point by either an unintentional act of the opponent(s), or something outside the player’s own control.”

In tennis, if a let is called during the second serve motion, does the server get a first serve?

If a let is called during the second serve motion, it is likely due to a hindrance - so they would start the point again with a first serve. (The only time when the server doesn’t get a first serve is during a service let (ball hits the net) on the second serve.

Source:
ITF Rule 23: “In all cases when a let is called, except when a service let is called on a second service, the whole point shall be replayed.”

In tennis, is a ball rolling onto the court a let?

Yes, in a tennis match, if a ball rolls onto the court, it is considered a hindrance and a let is called.

Source:
The Code #18: “Let called when ball rolls on court. When a ball from another court enters the playing area, any player on the court affected may call a let as soon as the player becomes aware of the ball.”

Making Calls in Tennis

In tennis, what if no player on the court sees where the ball lands? Is it in or out?

If no one can see where the ball landed, the ball should be called in. All shots must be called in unless there is certainty that it’s out.

Source:
The Code #6: “A player should always give the opponent the benefit of any doubt.”

In a tennis match, what happens if doubles partners disagree on a line call?

In tennis, if partners disagree on whether or not the ball was out, then the ball must be called in.

Source:
The Code #14 “if one partner calls the ball out and the other partner sees the ball good, the ball is good.”

In tennis what do you do if you’re not sure if the ball is in or out?

If it's your call and you're not 100% certain that the ball was out, you must call the ball in. 99% out is still in.

Source:
The Code, #7, “a player shall not call a ball out unless the player clearly sees space between where the ball hits and the line.”

The Code, #8, “any ball that cannot be called out is considered to be good.”

In tennis, do you have to call a ball out before you hit it?

No, in tennis, you don't have to call a ball out before you hit it. As long as you call it out quickly afterwards, it is fine.

Source:
The Code #17: “Prompt calls eliminate two chance option. A player must make all calls promptly. A call must be made either before the player’s return shot has gone out of play or before an opponent has had an opportunity to play the return shot.”

In tennis, what happens if my opponent doesn’t admit to a double bounce?

If your opponent doesn't admit to a double bounce, then unfortunately, nothing happens because it is their call.

Source:
The Code #19: “A player must concede the point when: . A ball bounces more than once in that player’s court. The opponent is not entitled to make these calls.”

In tennis, what if I’m not sure if the ball bounced twice before I hit it?

If you're not sure if the ball bounced more than once before you hit it, you should concede the point.

Source:
The Code #19: “ A player must concede the point when: A ball bounces more than once in that player’s court. The principle of giving the opponent the benefit of any doubt applies.”

In tennis, what if my partner calls a ball “out,” but I call it “in” and then hit a winner. Whose point is that?

If partner's disagree on whether or not the ball was in or out, it should be considered in, so your "winner" won the point.

If you hadn't hit a winner, your opponents may be able to call a hindrance based on this mistaken call.

Source:
The Code #14: “if one partner calls the ball out and the other partner sees the ball good, the ball is good.”

In tennis, what if I call the ball out, but then decide that it is in?

If you call the ball out and subsequently decide that it is in, you lose the point and the point stops immediately.

Source:
The Code # 12: “A player who calls a ball out must reverse the call if the player becomes uncertain or realizes that the ball was good. The point goes to the opponent and is not replayed.”

Match Start

What if we spun and chose ends before warm-up, but then my opponents, who chose the end, decide they want to switch for the start of the tennis match?

Your opponents can't change their mind about which end they start on unless you agree. However, if the warm-up was stopped and players leave the court, both players get new choices.

Source:
ITF Rule 9: “The choice of ends and the choice to be server or receiver in the first game shall be decided by toss before the warm-up starts.”

Case 1: “Do both players/teams have the right to new choices if the warm-up is stopped and the players leave the court
Decision: Yes. The result of the original toss stands, but new choices may be made by both players/teams.”

In tennis, if the coin toss winner defers the choice, can the loser defer back?

No, if the coin toss winner defers, the loser cannot defer back. They are required to choose to serve or receive, or to choose the end of the court.

Source:
ITF Rule 9: “The player/team who wins the toss may choose:To be server or receiver in the first game of the match, in which case the opponent(s) shall choose the end of the court for the first game of the match; orThe end of the court for the first game of the match, in which case the opponent(s) shall choose to be server or receiver for the first game of the match; orTo require the opponent(s) to make one of the above choices.”

What are the options when you win the coin toss in tennis?

When you win the coin toss in tennis, you have three choices: You can choose to serve or receive, choose the end of the court to start on, or defer.

Source:
ITF Rule 9: “The player/team who wins the toss may choose:To be server or receiver in the first game of the match, in which case the opponent(s) shall choose the end of the court for the first game of the match; orThe end of the court for the first game of the match, in which case the opponent(s) shall choose to be server or receiver for the first game of the match; orTo require the opponent(s) to make one of the above choices.”

What happens if my tennis opponent shows up late to our match?

If your opponent shows up less than 5 minutes late to your match, you win the toss and start the match with 1 game to love. If they’re more than 15 minutes late, they default the match.

Source:
The Code Table 16:
“5 minutes or less: Loss of toss plus 1 game
5:01-10 minutes: Loss of toss plus 2 games
10:01 - 15 minutes: Loss of toss plus 3 games
More than 15 minutes: default”

Point Play in Tennis

Is your racquet allowed to cross over the tennis net?

Yes. It is actually okay if it crosses over after you strike the ball on your side of the court.

It is also okay to reach over the net and hit the ball if it first bounced on your side of the court and then blew back over to the opponent’s side of the net.

You cannot hit the ball on your opponent's side of the net.

Source:
ITF Rule 25: “It is a good return if: . After the ball in play has hit the ground within the correct court and has spun or been blown back over the net, the player reaches over the net and plays the ball into the correct court.”

ITF Rule 24, Case 4: “Does a player lose the point if an imaginary line in the extension of the net is crossed before or after hitting the ball? Decision: The player does not lose the point in either case provided the player does not touch the opponent’s court.”

Is the return good if it hits a net post then bounces in the court?

Yes. The net posts are considered part of the court.

Source:
ITF Rule 25: “It is a good return if: a. The ball touches the net, net posts. provided that it passes over. and hits the ground within the correct court”

Can you hit the ball while it is on the opponent's side of the net?

Yes, but only if it crossed to your side of the court first. So, if it bounces on your side of the court first and spins or gets blown over to the opponent's side you can (and should) reach over and hit it. It is not okay if you hit a volley before it crosses the net.

Source:
ITF Rule 25: “It is a good return if...
b. After the ball in play has hit the ground within the correct court and has spun or been blown back over the net, the player reaches over the net and plays the ball into the correct court”

What happens if the ball hits the net post and then bounces in?

It’s in.

Source:
ITF Rule 25: “It is a good return if:
a. The ball touches the net, 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 correct court”

Can you hit the ball from outside of the net post?

Yes

Source:
ITF Rule 25: “It is a good return if...
c. The ball is returned outside the net posts, either above or below the level of the top of the net, even though it touches the net posts, provided that it hits the ground in the correct court”

What happens if, when serving, the server hits the receiver (or the receiver’s partner) with the ball prior to the bounce?

The point goes to the server.

Source:
ITF Rule 11: “Unless a fault or a let is called, the ball is in play from the moment the server hits the ball, and remains in play until the point is decided.”

ITF Rule 24: “The point is lost if:...
j. The ball in play touches the player.”

What happens if a ball touches a light, scorecard, ceiling, fence, or other object and then lands in the court.

If a ball touches any foreign object that is not the net or net-post, the player who hit the ball loses the point.

Source:
ITF Rule 13: “... If the ball in play touches a permanent fixture before it hits the ground, the player who hit the ball loses the point.”

What happens if I catch a ball that is clearly going out?

You lose the point.

Source:
ITF Rule 24: “The point is lost if:... i. The ball in play touches the player or anything that the player is wearing or carrying, except the racket”

The Code #43: “Catching a ball. If a player catches a ball in play before it bounces, the player loses the point regardless of where the player is standing.”

What happens if I hit a ball and it bounces on the opponent's side of the court and then comes back over the net to my side?

Unless your opponent touched the ball with their racquet, it’s your point.

Source:
ITF Rule: 2: “The point is lost if:..
b. The player does not return the ball in play before it bounces twice consecutively”

What happens if I hit the net with my racquet?

The point goes to your opponent.

Source:
ITF Rule 24: “The point is lost if:...
g. The player or the racket, whether in the player’s hand or not, touches the net”

Can a player throw their racket at the ball to try to reach it and make the shot?

No. A player who throws their racket at the ball loses the point automatically.

Source:
ITF Rule 24: “The point is lost if:
j. The ball in play touches the racket when the player is not holding it”Case 6: ”A player throws the racket at the ball in play. Both the racket and the ball land in the court on the opponent’s side of the net and the opponent(s) is unable to reach the ball. Which player wins the point? Decision: The player who threw the racket at the ball loses the point.”

Can you touch the net?

No. Period.

Source:
ITF Rule 24: “The point is lost if:...
g. The player or the racket, whether in the player’s hand or not, or anything which the player is wearing or carrying touches the net, net posts/singles sticks, cord or metal cable, strap or band, or the opponent’s court at any time while the ball is in play.”

Can I call the point if my opponent’s racquet crossed the net?

No, because it can cross the net. There are two instances where this makes sense. They can finish their stroke after hitting the ball on their side of the net, or if the ball bounced on their side of the net and then blew back over to their side.

Source:
Rule 25: “It is a good return if:...
b. After the ball in play has hit the ground within the correct court and has spun or been blown back over the net, the player reaches over the net and plays the ball into the correct court.”Rule 24, Case 4: “Does a player lose the point if an imaginary line in the extension of the net is crossed before or after hitting the ball? Decision: The player does not lose the point in either case provided the player does not touch the opponent’s court.”

Can you hit the ball twice?

Only if it isn’t intentional and the swing is in one fluid motion. You can't hit the ball twice but the ball can touch several parts of the racket before crossing the net as long as it doesn't touch the ground.

Source:
Code #24: “The point is lost if...
f. The player deliberately carries or catches the ball in play on the racket or deliberately touches it with the racket more than once”

What happens if my partner’s racquet and mine hit each other while hitting the ball?

Nothing. Unless you both hit the ball.

Source:
USTA Comment 24. 1: “Does the clashing of rackets make the returnillegal? No, unless it is clear that more than one racket touched the ball.”

ITF Rule 24: “The point is lost if:...
l. In doubles, both players touch the ball when returning it.”

Do I have to let the ball bounce before returning a serve?

Yes

Source:
ITF Rule 24: “The point is lost if:...
e. The receiver returns the service before it bounces”

ITF Rule 17: “The service shall pass over the net and hit the service court diagonally opposite, before the receiver returns it.”

What happens if the ball hits the score cards and then bounces in?

It’s out.

Source:
ITF Rule 24: “The point is lost if:...
d. The player returns the ball in play so that, before it bounces, it hits a permanent fixture”

What happens if my sunglasses or hat flies off and hits the net?

You lose the point.

Source:
ITF Rule 24: “ The point is lost if:...
g. The player or the racket, whether in the player’s hand or not, or anything which the player is wearing or carrying touches the net”

If the ball bounces back over the net, before you have a chance to hit it, whose point is it?

If you don’t hit it, it is the opponent’s point

Source:
ITF Rule 24: “The point is lost if:...
b. The player does not return the ball in play before it bounces twice consecutively.”

What happens if the ball touches my hand before I hit a backhand?

You lose the point.

Source:
ITF Rule 24: “The point is lost if:...
i. The ball in play touches the player or anything that the player is wearing or carrying, except the racket”

If my dampener flies off and onto my opponent’s court, is it considered a hindrance?

No. And worse, it is their point.

Source:
ITF Rule 24: “The point is lost if:...
g.anything which the player is wearing or carrying touches the net, net posts/singles sticks, cord or metal cable, strap or band, or the opponent’s court at any time while the ball is in play”

What if I hit the ball over the net, but it only touched my hand, not the racquet?

The point goes to your opponent.

Source:
ITF Rule 24: “The point is lost if:...
i. The ball in play touches the player or anything that the player is wearing or carrying”

What happens if a ball is broken during point-play?

You need to replay the point.

Source:
ITF Rule: 3ii; “If a ball gets broken during play, the point shall be replayed.”

Tennis Scoring

If my tennis partner is the last to serve during a tiebreak game, can she serve first during the next set?

Yes, the fact that your partner was last to serve in the tiebreak is irrelevant.

Your partner can serve first in the next set because for each new set in a tennis match, you can decide which player serves first.

Source:
ITF Rule 5: ”Tie-break game ... b. The player/team whose turn it was to serve first in the tie-break game shall be the receiver in the first game of the following set.”

The Code USTA Comment 15.2: “May a doubles team switch its receiving order at the beginning of any set or Match Tiebreak? Yes.”

In tennis, if you end on an even score in a set tiebreaker (ex. 8-6), do you switch sides for the next set or not? (the number of games is odd, but the tiebreak score was even)

You switch sides, because the number of games played for the previous set was odd. A tiebreak is considered as one game for scoring purposes. It is always recorded as 7-6 (with the tie break score in brackets).

Source:
ITF Rule 10: “The players shall change ends at the end of the first, third and every subsequent odd game of each set. The players shall also change ends at the end of each set unless the total number of games in that set is even, in which case the players change ends at the end of the first game of the next set.”

What is no-ad scoring in tennis?

In tennis, no-ad scoring is when a game gets to 40-40 (deuce) and there is no ad-in, or ad-out. Instead there is one sudden death point to determine the winner of the game.

Source:
ITF APPENDIX V: “If each player/team has won three points, the score is “Deuce” and a deciding point shall be played. The receiver(s) shall choose whether to receive the service from the right half or the left half of the court. In doubles, the players of the receiving team cannot change positions to receive this deciding point. The player/team who wins the deciding point wins the “Game”.”

How many games are in a tennis set?

There are a minimum of 6 games in a tennis set. The first player to win 6 games (by at least two games) wins the set.

Source:

ITF Rule 6a: “The first player/team to win six games wins that “Set”, provided there is a margin of two games over the opponent(s). If necessary, the set shall continue until this margin is achieved.”

What are the tennis score names?

The names of the tennis scores are: Love, 15, 30, 40, Game. Additionally, if each player has 40 points, the score is called as Deuce.

Source:

ITF Rule 5a: “A standard game is scored as follows with the server’s score being called first:

No point - “Love”

First point - “15”

Second point - “30”

Third point - “40”

Fourth point - “Game”. “

How do tiebreaker games in tennis work?

In a set tiebreaker it is first to 7 (by two points). In a match tiebreaker (where a tiebreak is played instead of an additional set), it is first to 10 (by two points).

Serving & Receiving in Tennis

Which trumps which for the pace of the serve? Playing to reasonable pace of the server or waiting until the receiver is ready?

They're both important. The server dictates the pace but they have to wait until the receiver is ready (within reasonable limits).

ITF Rule 21: “The server shall not serve until the receiver is ready. However, the receiver shall play to the reasonable pace of the server and shall be ready to receive within a reasonable time of the server being ready.”

In doubles tennis, can my partner stand in the service box while I’m returning a serve?

Yes. Every doubles player, outside of the server, is allowed to stand anywhere on the court at all times.

Source:
ITF Rule 8: “The receiver may take any position inside or outside the lines on the receiver’s side of the net.”

ITF Rule 26: Case 5: “In doubles, where are the server’s partner and receiver’s partner allowed to stand? Decision: The server’s partner and the receiver’s partner may take any position on their own side of the net, inside or outside the court. “

In doubles tennis, can my opponents discuss strategy between my first and second serve?

Generally, no, your opponents cannot discuss strategy between your first and second serve because they have to be ready within ”reasonable time.” So one comment is okay, but a 10 second conversation is not.

Source:
ITF Rule 20: “If the first service is a fault, the server shall serve again without delay.”

ITF Rule 21: ”... the receiver shall play to the reasonable pace of the server and shall be ready to receive within a reasonable time of the server being ready.”

In tennis, what happens if you completely miss the ball while serving?

If you completely miss the ball when serving in tennis, it is considered a fault.

Source:
ITF Rule 19b: “The service is a fault if: b. The server misses the ball when trying to hit it”

In tennis, what happens if the server hits the net with the ball, and subsequently, the ball hits the opponent before it touches the ground?

If, during your tennis serve, the ball touches the net and then subsequently touches your opponent, it is considered a service let.

Source:
ITF Rule 22: “The service is a let if: a. The ball served touches the net... and is otherwise good; or, after touching the net... touches the receiver or the receiver's partner... before hitting the ground.”

Can you call a let on your own tennis serve?

Yes, you can. Any player can call a service let.

Source:
The Code #27: “Any player may call a service let.”

Who can call a service let in tennis?

Anyone playing can call a service let.

Source:
The Code #27: “Any player may call a service let.”

Can you require your opponent to give you the third ball when serving in tennis?

Yes, in tennis, you can require your opponent to give you the third ball when you are serving.

Source:
The Code #22: “When a server requests three balls, the receiver shall comply when the third ball is readily available. Distant balls shall be retrieved at the end of a game.”

In tennis, can a returner refuse the server’s request to give them the third ball?

No, the returner cannot refuse the server's request for the third ball unless it is fairly far away. If there is a ball that is far away, it should be retrieved at the end of the game.

Source:
The Code #22: “When a server requests three balls, the receiver must comply when the third ball is readily available. Distant balls must be retrieved at the end of a game.”

In tennis, what happens if my opponent serves before I am ready?

If your tennis opponent serves before you are ready, it is considered a let.

Source:
ITF Rule 22: “The service is a let if: The ball is served when the receiver is not ready.”

In a tennis game, what if, while serving, I line up on the deuce side, but finish by landing my foot on the ad side?

As long as you start your tennis serve on the correct side of the court while serving, it doesn't matter where you land as long as you contact the ball before you land.

The service motion is considered complete after the ball is struck, and the rule for a foot fault only applies during the service motion.

Source:
ITF Rule 16: “... the server shall stand at rest with both feet behind (i. e. further from the net than) the baseline and within the imaginary extensions of the centre mark and the sideline.”and: “The service motion is completed at themoment that the player’s racket hits or misses the ball.”

ITF Rule 18: “During the service motion, the server shall not:b. Touch the baseline or the court with either foot; orc. Touch the area outside the imaginary extension of the sideline with either foot; ord. Touch the imaginary extension of the centre mark with either foot. If the server breaks this rule it is a “Foot Fault”.”

Can I bounce the ball for the toss of my serve?

No, you cannot bounce the ball for the toss of your serve. You can bounce the ball before you start your service motion, but all serves must be hit out of the air, (regardless of if they are over or underhand).

Source:
ITF Rule 16: “The server shall. release the ball by hand in any direction and hit the ball with the racket before the ball hits the ground.”

In a tennis match, am I allowed to serve before my opponent is ready?

No. In tennis, the server must look at and determine that the receiver is ready before serving.

Source:
ITF Rule 21: “The server shall not serve until the receiver is ready.”

Is my tennis opponent allowed to call timeout before I am about to serve?

Yes, your tennis opponent is allowed to call a timeout if their condition qualifies for one. It needs to be a medical condition, visible bleeding, or for a toilet break.

Source:
USTA Regulations Table 13 Medical Timeouts, Bleeding Timeouts, and Toilet/Change of Attire Breaks: “When a timeout may be taken. Medical condition during match. Visible bleeding. Toilet/change of attire breaks”
ITF Rule 21: “The server shall not serve until the receiver is ready. However, the receiver shall play to the reasonable pace of the server and shall be ready to receive within a reasonable time of the server being ready.”

What is a break in tennis?

A "break" in tennis is when you win the game when your opponent is serving.

Standard Measurements in Tennis

How big is a tennis court?

A tennis court is 78 feet long and 27 feet wide. For doubles, it is expanded to 36 feet wide.

Source:
ITF Rule 1: “ The court shall be a rectangle, 78 feet (23. 77 m) long and, for singles matches, 27 feet (8. 23 m) wide. For doubles matches, the court shall be 36 feet (10. 97 m) wide.”

How tall is the net in tennis?

The tennis net should be three and a half feet tall at the posts and three feet tall at the center.

Source:
ITF Rule 1: “The court shall be divided across the middle by a net suspended by a cord or metal cable which shall pass over or be attached to two net posts at a height of 3 ½ feet (1. 07 m). The net shall be fully extended so that it completely fills the space between the two net posts and it must be of sufficiently small mesh to ensure that a ball cannot pass through it. The height of the net shall be 3 feet (0. 914 m) at the centre, where it shall be held down tightly by a strap. A band shall cover the cord or metal cable and the top of the net. The strap and band shall be completely white.”

How big is a full size tennis racket?

A full size tennis racquet is 27 inches long and up to 12.5 inches wide. Surprisingly, racquets up to 29 inches are allowed though!

Source:
ITF Appendix II: “The racket shall not exceed 73. 7 cm (29. 0 inches) in overall length, and 31. 7 cm (12.5 inches) in overall width. The hitting surface shall not exceed 39. 4 cm (15. 5 inches) in overall length, when measured parallel to the longitudinal axis of the handle, and 29. 2 cm (11. 5 inches) in overall width, when measured perpendicular to the longitudinal axis of the handle.”

What's your conundrum?

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