Several Rules of Tennis concerning serving are designed to level the playing conditions: players and teams alternate serves, and doubles partners must take turns as servers (Rule 14), and as receivers (Rule 15). Ends are switched on a regular basis, per Rule 10, which states that “The players shall change ends at the end of the first, third and every subsequent odd game of each set. The players shall also change ends at the end of each set unless the total number of games in that set is even, in which case the players change ends at the end of the first game of the next set. During a tiebreak game, players shall change ends after every six points.”


Chad Twedt is a 4.0 player and the events coordinator at his tennis club in Reno, Nev. He hates serving into the sun. Chad is concerned he’ll suffer permanent eye damage by being forced into looking “almost directly at an ongoing nuclear explosion in the sky with nothing more than illusory protection of our dumb little sunglasses and hat.”

His solution? He would add this onto Rule 10: “If both players agree before a match is played, players may opt to change ends after every game in order to avoid serving into the sun.”

Belinda Bencic serving into the Charleston sun.

Belinda Bencic serving into the Charleston sun.



It’s true that most of us have experienced the uncertainty of tossing the ball, looking up and flailing wildly at a glowing fuzzy yellow orb, wondering whether we’re swinging at the ball or the sun. But there are ways around that, such as altering your stance or placement along the baseline. Or, by serving underhanded—which Chad does, but thinks “changes the game far more drastically than allowing the players to change ends after each game.”

Not all players would agree to one end serving. Left-handers generally aren’t affected as much. Others might simply not be bothered and sense an advantage. And under Chad’s rule, they could veto its implementation. There’s nothing wrong with two (or four) players deciding to make things easier on themselves in a casual match—but where does it all end? Do we need a similar rule if there’s a steady breeze from one end? Or a glare off the backdrop on indoor courts? And with a high sun, should the players have the option of invoking a no-lob rule?

Winning at tennis requires players to overcome adversity—and that adversity isn’t merely the opponent. It can be the elements, or the highway just outside the fence, or a partner who seems prone to double faulting on key points. Tennis is a better game for forcing us to confront those issues head on, rather than masking them.

Got an improvement to the Rules of Tennis or The Code? We invite you to join in. Send in your suggestions to and put “Breaking the Rules” in the subject line.