Using Singles Sticks?

Most all club players never use singles sticks when they play non-tournament singles matches; but face them when playing tournaments.  A reader asks, are they obsolete or traditional?

A Reader’s Question…


Most tournaments use a ‘doubles’ net with singles sticks. There are precious few ‘singles’ nets on courts in the world and in recreational play we all use a doubles net with no sticks for singles play. I would be interested your views, and those of your readers, on the use of singles sticks.”

Allan Thompson

First, The Stats…

  • The net at the center strap is 36 inches
  • But at the net post it is 42 inches (3ft 6 ins).
  • Singles sticks are the same height as the net post
  • They are placed 3ft (36ins) from the singles sideline.
  • And, they must be placed on different sides of the net (one facing each player).

Next, The Opinions …

In my opinion, the use of sticks is a tennis tradition that will “stick” around for another few years in amateur tournament play; but will eventually be phased out as no longer necessary.  Which I agree with because it is like practicing all your matches indoors and then being forced to play all your tournament matches outdoors in the sun and wind (which is what we Florida players love to see in January, when the visitors come south!!).

What do YOU think… do you ever use singles sticks in practice?

Allan also provides several unusual singles sticks rules …

  • If there is a hole in the net between the net-post and the net and a ball passes through that hole without touching the net, then the ball is considered still in play.
  • If a singles stick falls to the ground in a rally then a ‘let’ is played… but if a singles stick is hit with a ball from a serve, then the serve is a fault.
  • If a player’s return of serve hits a singles stick and hits the ground in the correct court – then the return is considered ‘good’.
  • If a ball touches the net between the singles stick and the net post then the point is over and the last player to hit the ball loses the point…. and most surprisingly..
  • If a player runs for a drop-shot and their momentum carries them into the net between the singles stick and the net post, they are allowed to push off the net or net-post to recover position and carry on the rally – as long as the net-stick remains in position and doesn’t fall to the ground. That is why seasoned officials weave the net-sticks through the net… it saves arguments about whether a ‘let’ should be called.

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5 thoughts on “Using Singles Sticks?

  1. I do not see why the singles net height should effectively be lowered in a few years by removing singles stakes when the net posts are set at doubles width. It would help down the line slice shots and be more “convenient” but I am old enough to resist change without a compelling reason.
    When I am healthy enough to compete in singles, I bring singles stakes with me for practice matches so no difference when playing tournaments. If you have singles ambition, that is a small part of what you can do to give yourself the best chance for success.

    Winder, you are a rare breed (in many ways)! thanks, george

  2. As you might remember George, my Dad uses singles sticks in his court.

    Eric, i do remember … and having trouble hitting over the high part of the net! thanks, george

  3. I don’t mind singles sticks when they are there. They take a few games to get used to but then I forget they are present. However, one thing that drives me crazy is singles courts. I absolutely hate them. Such courts do not need singles sticks because the net posts are placed where the sticks would be and there are no alleys.

    There is something visually about a tennis court that has no alleys that really screws up my brain. I tend miss a lot of balls that are near the sidelines on such a court because, I think, my mind is so used to seeing a doubles alley that I get disconcerted when it is not there. I also have a lot more trouble judging the distance to the opposite sideline when hitting cross court shots on a singles court. I tend to hit the crosscourt balls too shallow (therefore into the net) or way too wide.

    One tournament match against a guy that I had easily beaten on a regular court with singles sticks a week earlier, but our second match in a different tournament was on a singles-only court. I virtually gave the match away with unforced errors because the court bothered me so much. I then trounced him in the very next tournament on a regular court with doubles alleys and singles sticks.

    If I played on singles courts more often they would not bother me so much. But they do. Fortunately they are rare.

    Marty, i feel the same way… and some tournaments now don’t sweep the lines; and that bothers my visual as well. thanks, george

  4. George, it’s interesting to me that, coincidentally, you are discussing this topic in your blog today as I noticed that there were no singles sticks used at the US Open. I brought this to the attention of a few friends. It puzzled us. I suggested that perhaps the Mercedes logos which were placed on the nets somehow served that function. Anybody know?

    Alan, i believe, as the writer indicated, they were not using a “doubles net” (that had its posts on the outside doubles line); but were using a “singles net”, with the post where the sticks would be. Check it out and let us know. george

  5. Yeah, hate singles sticks! They are unfair for everyone for the reasons you lucidly explain, but maybe even more so for us infrequent tournament players. I’m nervous enough just to be in a tournament, and experienced players have one more psychological edge, as if they need it.

    Rick, like walking on the court to face the Fed or Rafa… players are down at least two games before the first ball! thanks, george

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