Ball From Your Pocket

What's wrong with this picture?
What’s wrong with this picture?
What happens when a ball falls from a player’s pocket during a point? That question comes to us from Naples player Phil Ludwig…

We were playing a match and our opponents were serving. It was ad out and the server hit the ball to me, which I returned to him. Just as he was ready to hit my return, a ball fell from his partner’s pocket at which time he called a let. My partner said it’s our point and the game.

What do you say on this one??


Phil, sorry to say that your opponent was correct (this time). The rule states:

The first time a hat flies off, a ball drops from a pocket, or some other item of clothing (including a towel) falls off, a let shall be called regardless of whether the item lands in or out of the court. The official shall caution the player that any subsequent similar incident shall result in a loss of point for deliberate hindrance.


Congrats to #2 seeded Larry Turville, who beat the #1 seed at the 65 National Clays to win another Gold Ball. Larry, how many is that? For the full results of the 60 and 65s singles and dubs, click HERE

The Picture? That is my New Hampshire buddy Bob Wilkie, who came to a match without his tennis shoes; sooooo he played barefoot (and split sets with two teaching pros)!

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9 thoughts on “Ball From Your Pocket

  1. Was his partner jumping around at net when the ball came out? Hope all is going well, George.

    Mark. Good teaming with you! George

  2. Oldie but a goodie…….this question (ball, hat, towel…) comes up soooo often.

    As for playing barefoot…….one of the great joys in tennis is barefoot on grass!!!! Amazing. I’ve played shoeless on red clay in Europe and S America but never on HarTru.

  3. What’s more amazing about the picture is that the barefoot guy was able to beat the other team all by himself 🙂

    (Says his partner)

  4. From USTA website “Improve your game” area:

    A let SHOULD be called immediately when this occurs by the opponent (NOT the player who “dropped” the ball). Only the opposing player can make this call though, and- again- it should occur immediately.

    In an officiated match, when a ball falls from a player’s pocket (or a hat blows off his head), then they will be warned. If this scenario happens again, then the offending player will lose the point.

    Janet, good clarification! thanks, george

  5. Forgetfulness seems to come with age!

    Whitey, that is true, but relative to what? George

  6. George, thanks for the mention. Both Padge Bolton and Paul Wolf were tough opponents. It was good to get my A game back…Larry

    Larry, as Mae West said about sex, “when it’s bad, it’s still pretty good!” See you at Longboat. george

  7. The person or team that drops a ball during play may not call a let. In the case above the team that caused the hindrance by calling a let loses the point. The opposing player or team may, however, it must be done immediately. If the ball is struck before requesting the let, one may no longer call a let and must live with the results. If a let is called immediately on the first occasion, the point is replayed. It is considered to be an unintentional hindrance. Upon a let being called on a second occasion, it is then considered an intentional hindrance and results in loss of point. An official in direct observation of play should immediately call a let. Instruct the players to replay the point, informing the offending player that the next occurrence will result in a loss of point.

    Gerry, thanks for the official word. Have you had a chance to look at the “Wiggling Willy” ruling? george

  8. It is important to note the word ‘may’!
    If you or an opponent’s hat falls off for the first time, just as you have an easy put-away, you may want to hold off calling a let because you have to replay the point.
    If it is ‘game point’ to me and my opponent’s hat fell off, I would take the point not a let.

    Allan, good advice! thanks, george

  9. I am serving to ad court in doubles. My opponents partner in deuce court moves in exaggerated fashion on his side just as I toss the ball for serve. Is this a hindrance?

    Ralph, i believe it is the same logic/rule as in the earlier “Wiggling Willy” post… if the INTENT is to distract, then it is a hindrance. george

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