Emma Practice Swing

With the beginning of May comes the perfect weather for playing tennis, and the return of pick-up matches, summer leagues and plenty of recreational tennis action. That also means the return of debates over lines and serves, questionable calls and the perennial query: What does The Code say?

Court of Appeals is here to clear the air. Rebel Good, a past editor of Friend at Court, the USTA’s handbook of rules and regulations, has taught officiating for more than 30 years and will resolve all your rules questions and quarrels.

On Clearance:

“If a first serve misses and lands in the net, under what circumstances can the receiver request the ball to be cleared away before the second serve? If the receiver asks for a first-serve fault to be cleared, is that grounds for granting a first serve, due to time?”

—Steve Leblanc, Reston, Va.

Clearing stray balls is a big deal for some players, not so big for others. Don’t let it start arguments. Bottom line: a stray ball on the court before a point starts must be cleared if a player requests it.

The Code, #40, says “a player must honor an opponent’s request to remove a ball from the court or from an area outside the court that is reasonably close to the lines.” But granting a first serve for this act? Not generally.

The Code, #30, says that “the time it takes to clear a ball . . . between the first and second serves is not considered sufficient time to warrant the server receiving two serves unless this time is so prolonged as to constitute an interruption.”

The receiver is the judge and jury on that.

—Rebel Good

Got a question? Send it our way. Email your question to courtofappeals@tennis.com