Play two?

This question came in from a friend: “During the third set of a close semi-final match at a recent USTA Senior Sectional Tournament (not my match), player A was serving & faulted on his first serve. Before he could hit the second serve, a ball rolled on to his court from an adjacent court. This ball was retrieved & returned to the other court, but the receiver did not offer to “play two”.

“I understand the exact same situation occurred earlier in the match with the same result, i.e., no offer to “play two”. After the match, which the server in question lost, he confronted the receiver about the two situations & the receiver maintained that the USTA rules absolutely do not call for two serves in those situations. Is he correct according to the USTA rules? If he was technically correct, how about proper tennis etiquette?”

I told my friend: I believe the rule is that the server would get to Play Two if his service motion or timing were interrupted; but if didn’t interfere with either (example: he knocks the ball back as he is walking back to the baseline after missing his first serve and coming to the net), there is no reason to play two. What’s your opinion?

5 thoughts on “Play two?

  1. My understanding is that the rules of tennis (USTA 23.3) and recommendations for good sportsmanship (USTA 21.9) require that when a delay to clear the ball constitutes an “interruption” between the first and second serves, a let should be offered by the receiver. Technically, the receiver is the judge of whether or not a “let” should be given. Unfortunately, there are many players out there who would rather hope for a free point or advantage of a weaker serve than give the server the benefit of the doubt as to whether service was interrupted and offer a “let.”

  2. If you give you may receive in kind. Civil players of tennis know there is a “rhythm to the game”. Regardless of the technical rules it is understood that a certain natural pace of play should be expected by both parties. If a server would normally take an historic length of time between first & second serves & his/her rhythm is interrupted then a “let” should be allowed by the receiver. Unless you are Nadal serving. In this case since the server has been rude during the entire match by taking far too long to serve every serve, no let should be allowed.

  3. Gentlemen: That is the name we go by when we play amature tennis. That is also a dying sportsmanship term that we need to revive and fast! I have never read the USTA rules (that is why I have George Wachtel as a friend) but I have written several rules on my own.

    One of them says: “If the call is close and you are uncertain, it goes to the other guy”. Why? Because it make me feel good about the “sport” and there is no paycheck on the line, eg. my livlihood is not threatened.

    I am not a bleeding-heart tennis player (eg. if you are obnoxious and I get a chance to hit you, I will) but I like to laugh. I play more for the camaraderie than for the score. If you need to win on a bad call, I don’t call that a win.

  4. This is in response to Casey Wolff’s comment on “When in doubt…etc, I would like to say it’s a refreshing rule you have. Ask George about another self rule we played under by an unamed opponent..”when in doubt….call it out! ” I enjoy the website George !!….

  5. Yes, Jimmy… if we are thinking of the same guy, he is the one who told me that he calls OUT balls IN, in the beginning of the match… planning to intentionally take them back later — when he really needed them!

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