Court of Appeals: Sweat Serve

by: Rebel Good January 06, 2013

Before every first serve my opponent wipes the sweat from his brow with the ball. Won’t the ball, weighted with the sweat, react oddly when struck, like a spitball in baseball? Apart from the fact that it grosses me out, is the sweat serve legal?—Benjamin Farmer, Houston, TX

Not at all. USTA Comment 3.2 states that a player “may not take any action that materially changes the condition of the ball; therefore, a player may not use a ball to wipe off perspiration.” Tell your opponent to invest in a hat, headband, bandana or all of the above.

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

Got a question? Email it to:

More Stories

Welcome to the new!

Enhanced scores. New tournament view. And much more.

All 102 courts at USTA National Campus to be outfitted with PlaySight technology

Live-streaming technology, analytics and multi-angle video analysis will be available across the breakthrough facility.

VIDEO: Turn defense into offense

A well-placed lob can turn a doubles point around.