Man on the Court!

collisionIf a player chases an angled shot onto the adjacent court, can they call a “let” when they have to stop for fear of running into a player on that court?

Mike Dahm was playing in the St. Pete CAT II doubles (where the courts are close together, with no dividers in between) and one player chased an angled overhead onto the adjacent court. The player on the other court was about to hit a shot of his own; so they both stopped playing.

One Sure Let

For sure, the player on the adjacent court can call a Let when this other guy came running onto his court (and almost into him); but what about the “ball chaser,” can he also call a let?

One argument says, Yes, they both can. The other side says “once you leave your court, you can’t call a let or hindrance.”

Which is true?

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11 thoughts on “Man on the Court!

  1. I would think the player leaving his own court could definitely not be able to call a let!

  2. I’m curious to know what the actual rule is. In everyday get together tennis, gentleman being gentleman, we would most probably accept “lets” from both players

  3. I can’t find anything about this in the official rules, but I tend to agree with Fred. I don’t think a let, or hindrance, can be called when a player leaves his (or her) own court.

  4. I confess to not knowing the rule on this, if indeed there even is one. But this is a situation where logic tells me what I think the answer should be regardless of whatever the rule may actually be.

    Logically, the player chasing the angled overhead beyond the boundaries of his own court should not be able to call a let — whether there are players on an adjacent court who might “interfere” with his ability to make a shot or not. The logic comes from the fact that any different result would mean that the player who HIT the great angled overhead, instead of being rewarded for making a great shot, would be literally punished for making a shot that is “too good.” That is, if he had not hit his overhead with such power and angle that it actually traveled to an adjacent court, the opposing player would have no basis even to attempt to call a let in the first place. Where is the reward in that? Isn’t tennis supposed to be, ultimately, about rewarding superior skill and shotmaking?

    However, we all know that tennis rules do not always follow logic. Therefore, I will be curious to learn whatever may be the actual rule. In the meantime, I can think of several possible responses:

    1). There is no rule and it is a situation left to be worked out on a case by case basis. (Unlikely I think, but possible.)

    2). The adjacent court, including the players who happen to be playing on it, are treated as if they are a permanent fixture and, therefore, once the angled overhead breaks the vertical plane demarked by the edge of the adjacent court, the ball is no longer in play and the player who hit the overhead automatically wins the point so no let can even be called. In other words, the overhead is treated the same as if it was so powerfully struck that it bounced over the fence after striking the ground in the opposing court. (I sincerely hope this is the actual rule because it is the only potential rule that comports with logic.)

    3). The answer lies in a subjective determination of whether the player chasing the overhead would have the ability to reach the ball or not. If he theoretically might have gotten to the ball, then a let could be called if he stopped short to avoid colliding with a player on an adjacent court, or merely wanted to avoid getting in the way of the adjacent players. But if the overhead was so well struck that a determination could be made that he never would have reached it anyway, then he would be deprived of the ability to call a let. (While I can imagine the possibility of such a rule, I question how it could ever be enforced in the absence of an official due to the subjective component, so I would hope the actual rule is not this.)

  5. I’m on the other side guys. I think that both players can call a let as they were both hindered from playing their ball. If we worry about players leaving their own court, it would be impossible to interpret how far is too far — one foot past the sideline, ten feet?

  6. I would suggest that a player on another court that may interfere with you getting a ball would be treated just as any other off-court obstacle would be. Say for instance there’s a players bench next to the court, or a player’s bag, or even a short fence. A player is certainly free to jump over or run around a small obstacle to chase a ball, or reach over the fence to attempt to get a ball. But he can’t call a let just because his opponents shot is so good that he can’t get to it.

  7. I think there are cases where the player can call hindrance let. For example, playing doubles back retrieving overheads and you go into next court. However, in trying to get the ball a player on that court is blocking you from reaching the ball. I believe you could call let from hinderence .

  8. We had the very same thing happen at St Pete a few years ago. I was the one who hit the “winning” angled volley and our opponent ran into the adjacent court and upon almost colliding with the player on that court, stopped and called a let. I said it was our point, but our opponents and my partner (thanks partner!!) said we should play a let, so I was out-voted and we did. This question was answered a couple of months later in a May 9,2013, Tennis Magazine “Court of Appeals” article by a guy named Rebel Good:

    “Q: While playing doubles, I hit a crosscourt shot that was in and bounced wide into the adjacent court. The player on that court was getting ready to return serve, and when she saw the incoming ball she swatted it out of her way. My opponent asked for a let on the basis of a hindrance. We gave it to him, but I am still wondering if he was entitled to it. – Janet Johnson, Rockford, Ill.”

    “A: Wonder no more, it should have been your point. A player on an adjacent court would be a “permanent fixture” under Rule 2, and under Rule 13 the point ended when it hit her (or she hit it.) Rule 26, which covers hindrances, specifically excludes calling a let because of a permanent fixture. However, had your opponent been interfered with in the space between the two courts he could claim a hindrance and a let would be played.”

    Since Mike Dahm apparently was actually on the adjacent court seems like no let should have been played. However, since Mike is such a gentleman and sport, and because he’s a lot bigger than me, I probably would have gone along with a let!

    David, thanks for the most definitive answer yet! george

  9. Hindrance. Rule 26. P.13. The point shall be replayed if the player is hindered by something outside the player’s own control. The player on the invaded court definitely is entitled to a let.
    There is no known written rule covering the “invader”, however, tennis etiquette was breached by the overhead chaser. He should not enter a neighboring court while a point is in progress. He intentionally caused the hindrance. He should concede the point.

    Gerry (USTA official) gives us the ruling! thanks, george

  10. Actually, I think the breach of etiquette was caused by the ‘hitter’ who sent the invader over there in the first place. If the invader does the polite thing and stops to avoid disrupting the point in progress it doesn’t seem right he should get penalized. I think fairest answer is Marty’s #3 above with a let called if the players can’t agree.

    Otherwise, seems a strict interpretation of that rule means that the invader should just go crashing through other matches (and players) since a let is not available if he doesn’t. And if I can hit slice serve way out wide (George you may remember a few of those from camp a few years back:) it actually benefits me to to try to time it so it enters the adjacent court while a point is going on (instead of waiting like I do now). My opponent will soon learn that if he is courteous he loses the point. I, on the other hand, get rewarded. Interesting, although it would have to be an awfully sour match for me to even try it 🙂

    Now, there is some interesting logic! thanks, george

  11. Oh, I could take that even one step further. If the rule is that you actually win the point outright if you can hit someone on the other court (after bouncing on yours) and if you can send someone over there they can’t call a let that opens up all sorts of possibilities for a no-holds barred grudge match.
    Lets say you are playing a team doubles match on adjacent courts. The guy on the right court keeps serving wide serves into the deuce court to try to pull the returner over toward the other court to receive. Then his teammate who is serving on the left court serves out wide on the ad side. Distract-o-rama!
    Or if you see an opposing player from a neighboring court head in your direction to follow a shot, you just call your own let and then go charging at him since he can’t call one. All sorts of fun! Although you’d probably need a rulebook in your bag to both cite the rule and to use in self-defense when you get punched… I like this blog, George, I am learning a lot 🙂

    Glad you like. thanks, george

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