Who Can Call a Let?

netHere is a question from a tennis friend who had played a league doubles match and got into a dispute on calling his own serve as a “let.”

“Hi George. A question for you. Can the server call a let on his serve? We had that happen today. We were playing a league match. I was serving, heard what I thought was a let, called a let, they returned the ball in court and I caught the ball. They said they did not hear a let and therefore the point was theirs. We did agree after a little conversation to play the point over. It was their ad, they did win the do over and the game and therefore the disputed point did not affect the outcome. But there was some controversy on that call.”

My Answer

The rule on this is very clear… Anyone on the court can call a “net cord” (the serve ticking the net and going over). It is then up to the receiving team to say whether the serve was then in or out, thus whether the serve ticking the net was a fault or if the serving team gets another serve.

Other similar issues or opinions?

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3 thoughts on “Who Can Call a Let?

  1. This happened on a TV match. Nishikori serves and racket comes out of his hand. Opponent returns serve, but it was never clear if the serve was called “in” or “out”. The announcer said maybe it was automatically a let. We did not think that would be a let. Nishikori hits another serve for winner. We assumed the initial serve was called “out” and the next serve was a second serve. We thought, if you drop your racket and opponent returns ball, opponent wins point.

    Rick – i saw that incident and thought (like the announcers) that the serve must have been out and he was then serving a second serve (but he did serve it like it was a first serve!). I believe, YES, he would have lost the point had the ball been in and the return in. thanks. george

  2. The problem in this case as I was there watching was that the server called the let but no one else heard it, not even the servers partner. It was discussed by everyone and I think handled in a sporting way. However, one of the servers opponents did get somewhat upset. In a case like this where no one else hears the let, things become a little more complicated especially when the ball is returned for a winner.

    Dick – yes, it can be “challenging” when only one players says he heard something; but this is from the USTA;
    Serve Rulings
    Q. Can a server call his own let if he thinks the ball hit the net, but no one else heard it?
    A. The answer to your question is yes, a server may call a “let” if he/she hears it.
    george

  3. The rule that any player on the court may call a let is precisely why the NCAA men’s rule is that all net cord shots on the serve are played in college matches. There is no let; you play the serve, net cord or not. I heard the rule was established because of rampant cheating on the part of both servers and returners in college, who could simply call a let if they got aced or call a let if the returner hit a winner. Rumor had it that coaches were even complicit in advising kids to engage in this behavior. That is a shame, but that is the NCAA rule now.

    David – I have heard the same thing about the players, the rule change AND the coaches… which is very sad. george

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