Two Bites of the Apple

If you are playing on soft courts and there is a clear mark that the ball was out, is it a given that you can make that call?  Not always.

Too Late

In the semifinals doubles match at Longboat Key, I was serving into the ad court in a critical game in the third, and deciding set, and hit a ball down the middle “right near the center service line.”  My opponent, who was standing near the alley to hit his powerful forehand, lunged towards the center and hit his return onto the next court.

As I walked to pick up that ball, he said to his partner, “Wasn’t that out?”  They checked the mark and both said “Out!”  I quickly replied that they couldn’t do that, because he returned the ball and no one called it OUT.

Two Bites of the Apple

I called the referee over and explained all that had happened.  He didn’t even check the mark – because at that point it was immaterial – but said that our opponents had played the ball and cannot then go back and check the mark.  Had they called it OUT, it would have been a fault; but they don’t get “two bites out of the apple.”

Your thoughts?


Hank Irvine won both the 75 singles (over his doubles partner Evert Jonsson) and doubles this past week at the Palm Air CC tournament.  That makes it an incredible THREE TOURNAMENTS IN A ROW that he has accomplished that feat!!  Congratulations.

For all results to that tournament, click HERE

For the seeds and draws for next week’s CAT II in St. Pete, click HERE

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5 thoughts on “Two Bites of the Apple

  1. In an event recently we had a call of out after 3 hits of the ball being out. No to double jeopardy.

    Bill, that is waaaay late! george

  2. What if your opponent had not made contact with the ball? Could your opponents then examine the mark, and make the call? It would sure be nice if all the line calls were made electronically, and this would never be an issue.

    Doug, good question. I think if he had attempted to return it and missed, then no; but if there was no attempt, then yes. george

  3. The same thing happened to me in a SWFTT match at Lighthouse Bay over a week ago.
    I served the ball to a very well known pro who plays nationally and inter-nationally,
    he returned the ball, my partner poached at the net and put the ball away. He then said, “The ball was out”. We had some discussion on being too late, and he responded with some nonsense about we should have noticed that his return was not among his best.
    His status as a player and pro overpowered our objections, and we replayed the point.
    It was not clear that the ball was out and it was not clear that he would have called the ball out if they had won the point. He was just too late with the call.

    Rick, i agree with you … he played the ball. thanks, george

  4. George, I would agree on your example but I think there is a gray area. On fairly hard serves that are close to the line you have to attempt a return until you know whether in or out. My feeling is you can make the return, but then call it out and make no effort to continue the point. Larry

    Larry, yes, there is that fine line between “no time to call it” and trying to return it and realizing you did not. thanks, george

  5. On hard courts there seldom is a clear mark where a ball lands (especially when we old guys, who can no longer hit a ball hard enough to leave a scuff mark on a hard court, are playing). But on clay there can be a clear mark. The issue, it seems to me–and this is peculiar if not unique to tennis–is not what the rules allow but what is the correct, hence fair, call. On clay, if there is a mark that all four players can agree is the correct mark, then that agreement, rather than how quickly the call is made, should dictate the call. We are, after all, amateurs who don’t have a “hawkeye” to determine calls.
    I remember a key point in the third set when Jack Moter & I were playing Fred Drilling & Clive Kileff several years ago. Fred hit a ball into Jack’s alley that Jack lunged for. As Jack scrambled back, Fred’s next shot was behind Jack. Jack couldn’t see where the ball landed, and he was between the ball and me so I couldn’t see where it landed. We looked at each other other, realized that we couldn’t make the call, and conceded the point. Fred then reversed our call because he could see that the ball had landed barely outside the line. The rule that you cite, George, would have allowed Fred to accept a point that he knew shouldn’t be his.

    Tom, i agree with good sportsmanship and four guys agreeing. But when do you follow the rules and when do you choose not to? thanks, george.

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