Ball on the Court

There are always questions about tennis balls rolling to and from one court to another.  Here are two common situations …

Whose Call is it?

George, with our opponent serving on the court next to you, after he had hit and missed his first serve, a ball from your court rolled onto our court behind him. Neither the server or his partner noticed the ball, nor was it in a position to cause injury.

As he prepared to hit his second serve numerous players from your court yelled to him, which of course stopped play. We awarded him with a first serve.

While this was totally insignificant to our match, I could see this type of thing could blow up into something bigger in a tight tournament match.
Do you think the players on one court have the right to “call a let” on another court?”  George Dalphon

My Opinion…

George, in answer to your question, NO, in my opinion, players on the next court can’t tell you to play a Let; but you were right that we did not “call a let,” but yelled out his name because one of our balls was rolling behind him.

The rule interpretation used to be an automatic “play two”; but I think it has now changed to be given ONLY if it actually interrupts the server’s motion.  Your opponent was in between serves, so he could have ignored our calls and you could have chosen NOT to offer two serves.

A similar situation would be where you return a close first serve; but immediately call it OUT.  Your returned ball then hits the fence behind the server and rolls a couple of feet toward him; and you ask, “Is that ball OK?”  He says it is OK where it is.  You then can offer a first serve or stay silent and let him serve his second.

Other thoughts?

“Hold the ball!”

The almost opposite of that situation happened in a Longboat Key tournament match I was watching.  An errant first serve rolled onto the next court; and while the server had then put the second serve in and play was continuing, a player from the next court picked up the ball and blithely tossed it back onto the court from which it came, stopping play.

This is not a question of rule interpretation, but common sense.  Players should THINK before tossing a ball back to the next court.

Other thoughts?

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6 thoughts on “Ball on the Court

  1. common sense says hold the ball until a break in play. It automatically causes a let on the court that the ball was tossed onto, poor choice.

    But Bill, you are assuming that all players have common sense! thanks, george

  2. George is right player from another court should not interfere with play on an adjoining court, it is in the code.

  3. I’ve had this discussion many times with players at my club. They often yell “BALL ON THE COURT” as soon as it happens. I explain that if it’s just a friendly game and it’s a safety issue they’re concerned about, that’s something they have to agree upon. However, in a sanctioned team match, they need to know they are not allowed to interrupt play on another court. If they do, the team that yells “ball on the court” is subjecting their own team to a hindrance and loss of point. It’s a touchy situation balancing the safety concerns as opposed to following rules.
    My feeling is to let the players on the court determine if a let should be called, but that’s me.

  4. In a tournament once my singles opponent stopped play, calling a let because he “thought” a ball was going to roll onto our court just behind me. There was a fence between courts though, so no way was the ball going to come onto our court. Does it count if you just “think” the ball is rolling onto your court? And no, I’m not making this up.

    Mike, we covered this exact situation eight years ago! check out

  5. I was playing a match one time, and a ball went from our court onto the neighboring one. Since the ball was heading right for their service line, I ran toward their court, yelling “stop, stop.” The guys on the side of the ball were grateful, but one of the other guys across the net was so angry with me for interrupting the point. I said “one of these guys could have been out for 6 months….that’s worth a point????”
    Some people are just too competitive.

    John, I am with you! Thanks. George

  6. Question: We were in the middle of a match and the server said the score is 30-15. I claimed it was 30 all. We went back and forth and I relented. He won the point to take us to 40-15. then he suddenly remembered it should have been 30-30. He claimed the point he had just won counts and the score should be his ad. I said no, it should be 30 all. Who was right?

    Adam, sorry to say that he was correct. The rule is “all points played in good faith stand.” Which means that last point was valid. George

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