What’s the Ruling?

After losing the first set in doubles, you and your partner decide to “change a losing game” and switch deuce/ad returning sides.  But during the next set, you forget and go to the wrong return side to play a point.  What is the ruling?

Our Story

I wrote to Tennis Magazine rules guru Rebel Good and said…

Hi Rebel,

We just finished a friendly Saturday morning doubles match and had this come up …

  • At the start of the second set, my partner and I switched returning sides
  • But in our second receive game, we, of course, forgot; and he stood in the deuce court, where I should have been
  • Our opponent’s first serve was a fault, when I remembered and took my position in the deuce court.
  • They said it should be their point since the wrong person was receiving serve; but I countered “all points played in good faith stand”; so it could actually be his SECOND serve.
  • But I said, “I actually don’t know the ruling, so just take a first serve.” (with me moved into the deuce court)

Rebel, what should we have done?

The Ruling

“If they bought that, play on.

But rule would be that you should have stayed lined up like that for the remainder of that game, then switched back the next game you received.”

Rebel Good

What do you think of this situation?

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One thought on “What’s the Ruling?

  1. Interesting. I would have thought that players should have corrected their line-up as soon as they realized it was wrong. However, I can see the logic of completing a game with the wrong line-up before correcting it – that way the stronger receiver doesn’t get to return 2 points in a row. BUT, on the flip side, if that ruling stands for the SERVING team serving in the wrong order, it would let the stronger server serve two GAMES in a row. (And maybe even 3, depending on when you correct the serving rotation. That CAN’T be right!)

    Terry, i am with you … i would have switched immediately. thanks, george

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