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Court of Appeals: Missing the Mark

Monday, November 26, 2012 /by

Our doubles opponent called a shot near the baseline out, winning the game. He circled the mark in the clay. We then changed ends and my partner and I saw the mark he circled and it was half on the line. When questioned, he said the mark didn’t matter because he saw it out and it was his call. Did the mark he circled matter?—Gordon Paulus, Gulf Breeze, FL

The problem here is timing. First, with no officials present, players make all calls on balls landing on their side of the net (The Code, Item 5). That’s what your opponent did. Second, you can’t immediately prove him wrong because, according to Standards of Conduct, Item 9, “A player shall not pass the net to inspect a ball mark.” You checked the mark during the changeover, which is legal, but by that time you had accepted that the game was over. Yes, your opponent violated The Code, Item 21, in reading the mark: “If any part of a ball mark touches a line on a clay court, the ball shall be called good.” But after he stiff-armed you on your protest, it was too late to do anything, other than remembering it when you marked your ballot for the “Sportsmanship Award.”

 Except where noted, answers are based on the ITF Rules of Tennis and USTA's The Code.

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