Announcing The Score

score keeperThere are many players who never announce the game or point score during a match, which can lead to confusion; but can it lead to a point or game penalty?

According to Mike Beautyman,: At the St. Pete CAT II tournament last week, a point penalty was given by the roaming umpire (without warning) on set point to the server for not calling out the score audibly. The umpire said the next would be “game penalty” and then “match default.”

When I shared this with Fred Drilling who was also at the tournament, he seemed to think that the umpire HAD given an earlier “instruction” to the server to announce the score during the match; and then awarded the point penalty for “not following his instructions.”

Does The Umpire Have The Power?

It seems to me that, no matter the protocol nor the warning, the umpire does NOT have the authority to impose any penalty for that infraction. The only thing Friend at Court says is:

31. Server announces score. The server shall announce the game score
before the first point of a game and the point score before each subsequent point
of the game.

There is no mention of any penalty; so I think none can be given.

But Mike Beautyman found this:

USTA Comment 5.3: In matches without officials, is the server required
to call the score at the beginning of each game and the point scores as the
games go on? Yes. This is required by The Code § 31. After an official has
cautioned a player to call out the score, the official may in a particularly
egregious case treat subsequent violations as code violations for
unsportsmanlike conduct

What do you think?

I am a believer in the server announcing the score before every serve. It really helps remind everyone where in the game you are. And although many teaching pros say “play every point the same,” I don’t think you do – or should. So knowing the score really helps.

Then there are those OPPONENTS who announce the score – especially when you are serving 15-40 or ad out – even if you have regularly been doing the “announcing.” Gee, I wonder why they do that?

Health Advice:

Larry Turville says: Don’t just get a flu shot. Also get the pneumonia shot. He speaks from first-hand experience of suffering and missing the St. Pete tournament and says, “Been coughing for five days straight. It’s much worse than the flu. So if I had it to do over get me the vaccine.”

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11 thoughts on “Announcing The Score

  1. george. you’re way too suspicious of your opponent calling out the
    score when you’re serving and it’s ad out. we might do that in a
    social match with a good friend as a joke. but it’s hard to believe
    that someone in a serious match would use that bit of gamesmanship.
    there are a lot of other ways to apply pressure to the server when it’s
    a game point. ha.

    Joe – see me and i will tell you which of our mutual tennis friends usually does this! george

  2. … and here is another question: if there is a penalty for not calling out the score, in an unofficiated match, can the opponent impose the penalty (after several warnings)?!?!

  3. Hey, George!
    First, thanks for sending me your newsletter. Here’s hoping I don’t dominate the comments section. After all, I am half-Irish and suffer from terminal diarrhea of the world of words — both spoken and written.
    Re: the topic of calling out the score.
    1. I, too, am often shocked at the number of very experienced players — both tournament and social — who fail to do so.
    2. I find myself offended when a player calls out the score right after winning a point rather than as s/he is addressing the serve; especially when s/he fails to call out the score when s/he is behind in the score.
    3. Calling out the score in an audible to your opponent allows for correction at that point if there exists a discrepancy in your opponent’s opinion. This allows for a review of the previous point rather than attempting to remember what happened three or four previous points. Also, calling out the set score at the time of the first serve after a change-over performs the same function. (I have had occasions when my opponent actually thought the set score was reversed — 2-3 v. 3-2 — which results in a two game swing and can easily mean the loss of a set, just as a one point swing can result in the need to win two or more points when the loss of a point due to a misunderstanding of the score can mean multiple ads and deuces until the game is settled.
    4. And last but not least, when exhaustion or fatigue sets in after about two hours on the court I can often only remember the score by hearing what I called out echo in my head. When my opponent is in the habit of not calling out the score then I do so for my own benefit. Sometimes inaudible to my opponent but memorable in that echo in my head.
    I’m now thinking it would be the gentlemanly thing to do when playing someone who does NOT call out the score if he would mind if I did. Of course, that means I, as the receiver of his serves, must now focus on game score rather than playing each point ignoring the score. Ah well, better that than to have the score result in arguments or an extended halt in play while attempting to remember what happened over the last two, three, four or more points.
    You know, George, I’ve been playing this game for many, many decades and am still amazed at the new things I learn about the rules, the code and the odd things that can affect the game. I’ll look forward to other interesting topics you bring up in your newsletter/website.

    Bernie, thanks for your excellent comments. Re #4… i too tell myself the score to hear “the echo” in my mind at the next point! george

  4. Calling out the score , keeps a clear picture of the game results and the set standings, w/o such clarifications confusion could happen.

  5. I play many players that before serving either do not call out the score or call it out so low that I cannot hear it (I have a hearing problem). After reading this blog, I have decided to not be shy about telling my opponent to call out the score louder as I have impaired hearing.

    Dave, glad to be of service! george

  6. Over a decade back, I used to play tennis a fair amount with a guy (I will call him “Sven”) who lived in Princeton and had a private tennis court in his back yard. Sven was a solid 4.5 level in ability (I think he had played Division 1 in college for a few years, although he was in his 50s when I knew him). We would play singles and doubles, always at his invitation myself and some other guys to come over and play. It was a beautiful court, canopied by tall oak, maple and sycamore trees that blocked out the sun and, so, it was never all that hot in the summer and the sun’s positioning was not a problem. The court was also next to an in ground pool that he invited everyone to jump in when play was over. (He even supplied the towels.) AND to make things even nicer, his wife used to come bring us freshly made lemonade or ice tea along with cheese and crackers or home made cookies to munch on court side on changeover games. It was idyllic.

    Sven was a high level corporate and governmental consultant and a well known author of very serious books — the kind that were studied in political science or economics classes at the University. He also appeared regularly as an expert on economic and current affair issues on NPR and television. (Thus the need here for a pseudonym.) He was not a stupid man and, as far as I could tell, there was nothing wrong with his memory. In fact, when we would sometimes get into deep intellectual discussions while sitting around relaxing by his court or pool after a match, he would dominate the conversation with the sharpness of his mind and his recall about all sorts of obscure stuff. Like the exact date and resolution number of some United Nations resolution that was passed 12 years earlier dealing with some heady, and obscure, international trade issue.

    However, when he was playing tennis, Sven had this most annoying habit of almost never calling out the score correctly. There is nothing all that unique in that, but at least 75% of the time he actually called the score wrongly in his OPPONENT’s favor and not his own. If he was serving at 40-15, he would invariably call the score at 30-30 or, even more strangely, 15-40. If he was up a service break and was serving for the set at 5-4, he would frequently reverse the game score and announce it as 4-5. If he actually won that service game, he would then announce the score as 5 all, instead of claiming the set that he had, actually, just won.

    It used to drive me crazy. As his opponent, I would try to gently suggest that he had gotten the score wrong, only to have him respond with something like, “Are you accusing me of being a cheater?” How do you respond to that and tell the guy the only person he is cheating is himself? But where it really got bad is if you were his partner in doubles. I don’t mind losing a game, set or a match legitimately, but it used to make me see stars when he would call the score for our TEAM wrongly and literally give away points, games and sets to our opponents. Of course, any attempt to argue with him that he was wrong would then cause our opponents to grin and say something snarky like, “Well, if you guys have a difference of opinion, the proper thing to do is give us the benefit of doubt.” The opponents were completely aware that Sven was wrong too, but who wouldn’t want to accept gifts like this if they were being offered?

    Anyway, despite all of the good things about playing on Sven’s court, I eventually started declining his invitations to play and, after a while, I guess he got the hint and stopped asking. I felt sorry but his nuttiness about getting the score wrong all the time was beginning to mess with my own mind. I wonder if anyone else has encountered this kind of odd behavior?

    By the way, upon reading Bernie Palmatier’s comment, I think I may have found a long lost brother from another mother. Those who are used to my “brevity” will know what I mean.

    Marty, i used to play a guy who would regularly play your long serve as good. Sure, he is being nice; but you know when your serve is long and are not ready to play the next shot. You end up with a similarly strange argument that “Hey, my serve was out!” george

  7. I was quite shocked when a friend of mine told me players got unhappy with me because I always announce the scores either serving or receiving… I know server has the responsibility to call the scores, but is it really that aggravation when receiver call the scores too? Do you think that is gamesmanship?

    BigJ, that is how it is perceived. george

  8. When I was 8 years old and attended a summer tennis program I was told that tennis was “gentleman’s sport” and that the hallmark of a true gentleman who engaged in a sport was a “sense of fair play”. Other points which emphasized included avoiding profanity, giving your oponent the “benefit of the doubt” on line calls and complementing him on particularly well executed shots. We were also told that a gentleman always calls out the score before serving. To me it’s a real shame tennis hasn’t continued to emphasize these values.

    Paul, well said! George

  9. I was the official that issued the “Code Violation”, “Failure to observe and official’s directive”. “Point Penalty”. I was not “roaming”. I was a “Roving Umpire” that was called to the court because of several disputes over line calls and scoring disputes. The “gentleman?” that received the point penalty was the one that insisted that an official remain on court. While being stationed at the net I made several requests that he call out the score before putting the ball into play. I also reminded him several times as he set up to serve. “Score, please.” I quietly approached him at the base line and informed him that it is the server’s responsibility to call out the score. The rules states that the server “shall” call out the score before the ball is put in to play. I also made it very clear that I was no longer going to issue reminders nor requests. The next time, he would receive a code violation. As I left him to return to the post, before I could turn at the post, He put the ball into play. At that time the score had been deuce. He lost that point. It is now add out. He proceeds to serve again without announcing the score. I then issued the “Code Violation”. That loss of point resulted in his opponent winning that particular game. It was not set point. I made no mention about subsequent loss of a game or match. However, game point, set point, and or match point, should not influence when “Code Violations” are applied to unsportsmanlike conduct. By the way, ITF has a “Warning step” in it’s Point Penalty System, the USTA does not. I would like to refer you USTA REGULATIONS IV D on page 106 of the “Friend at Court”, and Table 14 on page 108. It is interesting that you interviewed two people that were not even remotely involved with the match. The morning after the players dinner I heard many rumors about the incident. I attempted to address them and correct the misconceptions. When you inquire to someone about the rules I would like to suggest that you consider speaking to a “Certified Official”. There are many in the Fort Myers area who are members in good standing of Southwest Florida Tennis Officials. Respectfully submitted, Gerry Ethier, a certified official since 2002.

    Gerry, thanks for the full story! Don’t get me wrong… at first, it seemed like an over-reach; but three things come into play that reverse the feeling: with your standing there and telling him the proper rule and his not following + most all of us NOT knowing there was even a rule (or potential penalty) + most of us WANT the score called out and are frustrated by those who refuse to do so. All things considered, looks like the correct call to me! Thanks for helping to make our senior tournaments better. George

  10. We are in a “one rule that fits all” catch 22. Should there be the same rule for 3.0 league players who are relatively new to the game and 40 year veteran top open age group level players? Most of my opponents and partners rarely call out the score and sometimes seem nonplussed when I do, like it is an unnecessary distraction. They know what the score is almost robot like. Embarrassingly for me as a CPA, I lose track of the score regularly and call out the score in order to check that everyone else agrees before the next point starts. Usually I adapt to what seems most comfortable for the others on the court. As had never seen or heard of this rule being enforced before, I will have to see it enforced consistently before changing to calling the score before serving every point.

    Winder, Bob Wilkie just told me that he recently played dubs vs a team that did not (would not) announce the score and got into a debate over what the correct score should be two times. Both times they “gave in” to their opponents only to be told by their wives afterwards that they should have argued more, because they were correct. After the first disagreement, the opponents had agreed to call the score… but would not. So, what do you do??? george

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