Calling Your Own Line

Joel Drucker

You are running towards the wide angled shot and the ball lands “near” the line.  According to the late Vic Braden, your eye balls are bouncing in your head and there is no way you can really see the ball accurately; so what do you do?

“How did you see it?”

If you are not sure, should you ask your opponent for help? Famous tennis writer Joel Drucker, writes, “To me, this is a rather gutless move. The person who’s asked the question is saying: I’d like to call your shot out, but I don’t have the nerve to do it myself. Please become my accomplice in helping me cheat you.”

The Five Second Rule

My rule of thumb when you are playing on HarTru, if my opponent stares at the mark for up to five seconds, that ball is too close to call OUT… so tell me my shot was good and get on with the match.

Joel Drucker continues (in his excellent article on this subject for Tennis Channel) “Recently, though, my friend BJ has brought to my attention the “Making Calls” section of The Code. Though The Code is not part of the official ITF rules, for years it has been an unofficial companion, comprising, in its words, “The Unwritten Rules of Tennis.”

Rule 5: “Player makes calls on own side of net. A player calls all shots landing on, or aimed at, the player’s side of the net.”

Rule 8: “Ball that cannot be called out is good.”

So what do YOU do on a close line call on your side?

January Tournament Update:  As of this writing, one club expressed interest in picking up the tournament opening.  The issue being that it is a club in Sarasota, which would mean that the Naples/Ft. Myers area would lose one and only have three tournaments, while up the coast, they could have five.

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8 thoughts on “Calling Your Own Line

  1. George, have Larry reach out to Denny Rager at Bonita National on Bonita Beach Road. That might be a possibility for the senior tournament in January.

    Jim, thanks, george

  2. I remember Luke Jenson saying ” when the ball is on the line and your opponent calls the ball out, don’t bother asking him if he’s sure! … He’s sure!”

    Jim, yes, but when he is NOT sure, that is the question! Thanks, george

  3. George — I think Mr. Braden was giving the human brain way too little credit. The fact that a human can hit a fast-moving tennis ball with precision should be pretty convincing by itself that your eyes aren’t bouncing in your head so much that you can’t make good visual judgments.

    Marc, maybe some of my opponent’s eyes bounce more than others! 🙂 george
    and check out:

  4. Guys,

    I have read the input and am working to put the 2018 SSGP schedule together. Its a work in progress and several issues to navigate but will have the schedule released sometime this summer. Continue to follow this blog as I’ll make sure George gets the correct and factual information…….

    Mark Taylor
    USTA Florida
    Florida Cup Commissioner

    Mark, we hope that Naples/ Ft Myers ends up with a fourth tournament home! Thanks, george

  5. To me, the most important thing is to get the call right. If my opponent hits a down-the-line shot and is still camped on the line when it lands – and I don’t get a good look at the ball – then I will ask if he saw it. This happened a lot more when I used to play on hardcourts more. Now I usually play on clay and it’s not an issue so much. AND, if (I mean when) I hit a down-the-line ball that lands wide I will immediately call it wide. I believe the code says we should call balls against ourselves when we know it’s out.

    Terry, I do the same! Thanks, george

  6. I agree with Terry … AND, if the ball is NOT unquestionably out then you must call it good.

  7. When the player calls a ball on their own side of the net, that does not preclude including in their call information from their opponent! If you did not see the ball out –
    register a space between the ball and the lines in real-time – or did not see, after the fact, a clear mark with space between the mark and the line(s) – then, you either call it “good” if you did not see their ball out, or, if your opponent may have had a clearer view, you can and should ask for their opinion. You assume that your opponent will offer an honest opinion if they saw the ball clearly or had a better view than you. They respond to your invitation to provide their view.

    Tennis is meant to be cooperative. We are meant to call balls as we see them, and if we do not see them, find out if your opponent had a clear(er) view, and if so, what that view was – and accept it.

    Regarding the space between the line and the ball which your eye registers when you make a call in real-time, there is evidence that a ball may in fact be good even if the eye registers a space between the line and the ball. So, a player may still not be certain whether their call is correct. I call a ball “out” if I my eyes register a space between the ball and the line(s). But, if I think that the ball may be too close to call (though I registered it as out), then, I can offer my opponent a chance to opine their view.

    A true experience: I made a “bad call” when I saw a ball out, but my opponent saw the ball “good”. He questioned my call, and pointed out that he had a clearer view than I. I did not reverse my call, as I should have. (After the match, which I won, I offered to replay the match; but he conceded that probably that call did not change the outcome. But it was still a “bad call”; of course, it may have changed the outcome.)

    Tennis does demand a high, but possible, ethical standard. In general, I have seen this among tennis sportsmen I have met over the years.

    The best calls are those that are made in “real time” with verification by examining a mark after the fact valuable only when there is real doubt, to confirm the call. Those that look at and circle a mark on a regular basis for a few seconds after their call, may invite questions about their sportsmanship, rather than reassurance that their call was correct.

    Nick, thanks for your thoughtful answer; but as a “mark circler,” i am not sure what you mean by the last point. george

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