Toss and Catch?

“Commissioner” Gilbert

A long-time Newk camp friend writes, “What are the rules and what should you do if you play a guy who tosses and tosses up the ball for serve and catches it over and over?”

His Story

“It is really annoying as you can imagine.  What are the rules?   I like to take a split step as the toss goes up and prepare for the return.  But when a server gives you false start after false start.   You are thrown off when it finally comes in.   You get no rhythm on a return with that distraction.

I have a buddy that does this when we play for fun so I am a lot more tolerant.  But I encountered this at a district match and it really affected my returns.     On one serve he tossed it up over 7 times.  Then the hard flat serve came in and almost aced me.

After the match I felt like I should have called the USTA referee over to clarify the situation.  Your comments?”  Mike

The Rule (change?)

Sorry Mike, there is no rule that prevents repeated ball tosses (or in Djokovic case, ball bounces); so he can toss and toss.  If Brad Gilbert had his way, he would change the rule to make the serve BEGIN with the toss of the ball; and therefore, it would be a Fault, if the server then caught the toss.

But, I am like you and try to time my move in on the server’s toss; so I also get thrown off by repeated tosses.  Not sure that anything can be done to stop it.

Other opinions?

Personal Update: It is now seven weeks since my hip replacement and we are up in New Hampshire for the summer.  I have used the ball machine, in Florida and here, five times so far and will hit with an actual person (Bob Wilkie) for the first time on Friday!

Rehab and recovery seem to be going well; but it is truly amazing how out of condition I got limping around for two months before the surgery, having the surgery, and seven weeks of rehab!  I am TRYING to be patient.

Know someone who should read this?  Send them a link and if you are not on my “new posting alert email list” and want to be (I promise, no other uses of your email address!), just drop me a note at GeorgeWachtel@gmail.com

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8 thoughts on “Toss and Catch?

  1. I agree with Brad Gilbert that the point should begin when the ball is tossed. Repeated tosses are as distracting as shrieking each time the ball is hit.
    Bob Wilkie is not just an actual person – he is Superman. I have seen him play several sets in his bare feet. Glad to hear that the recovery is moving along. Conditioning will take a while longer.

    Michael, thanks. Hope all is well with you. george

  2. There is no rule limiting the number of tosses that a server catches.
    One match at the Australian Open, Agassi was playing against a young player. It was a windy day. The wind was swirling in the stadium. Agassi was very annoyed by the frequent toss and catches and screamed to the chair umpire: “How many damn times is he allowed to do that?” The chair umpire replied with a wry smile: “As often as he likes.”

    Gerry, still, no less frustrating as a receiver! thanks, george

  3. I’ve got a teaching pro friend that I play who does this with an added twist. After getting lulled to sleep waiting for the serve to finally get hit, he will occasionally, and usually on a big point, bounce the ball only once or even not at all and then serve.
    Talk about messing with your timing.
    I have a solution. After waiting forever for your opponent to serve, just step out of the box every time he tosses the ball more than a reasonable amount of times. If your willing to do this enough, he will get the message. It may take a few conversations.

    Al, I like it! thanks, george

  4. I agree with Brad Gilbert. And while you are changing rules, eliminate lets. After the serve the ball is in play when the ball hits the net cord why not the serve too.

    Ted, i am with you! thanks, george

  5. Ted, have you never had a serve that hit the net and just dribbled over. Is that the way we want someone to win Wimbledon. It was needed in College because to many aces were called,lets. However, not needed in the pros or senior tennis. Forget about it!

    Larry, sorry, i am with Ted … how about a net court dribbler that ends a good rally? The same situation. george

  6. Exactly the same situation whether for a terrific 20 point rally or a serve, the net cord dribbler may be a tough way to lose a point, but fair for both sides.

  7. You can win or lose by a dribble over the net at any time. By being consistent, we will
    get used to it, and it will be better tennis.

  8. George,

    Hang in there with your conditioning. The rule is for every week you are limited by injury or rehab, it takes twice as long to regain full recovery. Obviously, you are working at the right pace to get there, just be patient (easy for me to say)!

    Larry, wow! that is a long recovery period. thanks, george

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