Redo or Point Taken?

Wendall Walker

Veteran Florida pro, Wendall Walker raises the question as to when an OUT call is really an OUT call based on the movement of a player’s arm.

“The scenario:

  – The serve is hit.

  – Receiver’s Partner thinks it is long, and starts to raise his hand, sees the serve hit the back of the line, stops his hand on the side of his face, does not verbally call the serve out.

  – Receiver returns the ball.

  – Server stops play, thinking the Receiver’s Partner has signaled the serve out.

  – Discussion ensues.

  – They play the point over.

– What do you think?  Good decision?  Wrong decision?”

“A certified USTA official was consulted by phone, and had these comments:

   – He said that he would have ruled the partial arm movement to be a “hindrance” to the server, that caused the stop in play.  He would have awarded the point to the serving team.  They should not have played the point over.

   – There are no longer any scenarios on line calls that warrant deciding to “play two” (play the point over).  You make the call one way or the other, with an emphasis on “giving the benefit of the doubt to opponents”.

– It is very likely that many players in social tennis, when encountering an uncertain line call, may offer/decide to play the point over.  That’s certainly alright; it is gracious; it is considerate; it is social; people have been doing this for decades.

– However, in league/tournament/official tennis matches, there is no longer a “do-over” on line calls.  Make the call, one way or the other.

Wendall Walker, Ed.S, MBA.
(C) 727-687-8512
USPTA Tennis Pro
St.Pete/Clearwater, FL

I agree with both the “make a call” philosophy and the loss of point; but for a different reason … Gone are the days of “let’s play two.” Once the receiver’s partner made the move with his arm to call the serve out, the point stops.  If the mark showed that the ball was in, it is loss of point for the receiving team.

Your thoughts?

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6 thoughts on “Redo or Point Taken?

  1. If the raising of the hand has been accepted as an out call, which in most cases it is, then the ball was called out and should be given to the server as a point and no do over, as there no do overs. I think the rule book states that you should avoid using the word out as it constitutes stoppage of play. Not sure I would give the point as it is a misleading call.

    Bill, thanks. george

  2. Let’s look at singles and a late line call(?) or what was an interesting situation in a ladder challenge match. The server hits his serve, the ball is returned and the server then hits the ball back over the net when the receiver calls the serve out which it was. So, whose point is it or do you play a second serve? In this match, the server challenges the timing of the call as a late call and the receiver loses his cool and leaves the court. The two players haven’t played each other since. Funny things happen in a competitive situation.

    Gene, seems like it was way too late to make that OUT call. I would give the point to the server because the opponent stopped play. george

  3. I’m wondering how many servers are looking at the receivers partner at the moment the receiver is returning serve? I also don’t know many players that signal out calls without an additional voice statement.

    Fred, I saw that exact call in a pro match on TV where the doubles partner just started to raise his hand and they awarded the point to the server. Thanks, GEORGE

  4. Yes – the old “Let’s Play Two” rule went away maybe 5 years ago, or so, but many people continue to want to use it. Especially those playing “social” tennis. Kind of like the old format of starting the next set immediately if the set-score was even, instead of taking a set-ending break no matter what the set-score was.

    Terry, or playing “first ball in” or taking serves one at a time in a doubles match. Thanks George

  5. While this is not a comment directed exactly at the topic, I think it relates:
    Some years ago I had a situation where my opponent was deep in his forehand court when he hit a shot deep to my forehand. I made the mistake of pointing to the mark and saying “Out”, but as it turned out my call was not sufficiently loud enough as several points later, when I called out the score as I was serving, my opponent took exception to the score. He said, “You made a ‘good’ sign with your hand. He had seen my hand and to him it appeared to be a flat hand signal and said he didn’t hear my call. Of course, he didn’t question my score call on the next serve, it was one or two points later. I guess he couldn’t hear my score calls as well — and that is something I never fail to do as I address the serve. (Maybe I should check early on in a match to assure the fact that my opponent can hear my score call, eh? Then, if not, call it louder until he agrees he can hear it.) As it was, I was sure of my call and I kept the point and score as I had called it at the time he objected. Wow! Did that ever cause a problem which we successfully resolved within 24 hours. (Still a bit of tension when we meet at tournaments; but all-in-all we settled our conflict like adults and the gentlemen we’re expected to be in the game of tennis.

    Bernie, i am amazed at the number of players who do not even call out the score before each service point. As we get deeper and deeper into “senior tennis,” it becomes more and more important. thanks, george

  6. Tennis definitely has some rules issues, many of which don’t seem to have great hopes for being resolved satisfactorily. Some of us are more OCD than others. 🙂

    Kevin, join The Club! george

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