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Court of Appeals: Space-Time in Tennis
Tennis Magazine’s resident rulebook expert Rebel Good is here to resolve all your rules questions and quarrels.
Published Aug 06, 2022
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The tennis summer swing is in full force across all surfaces, and with the return to hard courts comes more 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.
Space-Time in Tennis
When can a let be called? I hit a service return winner between my two opponents, but the server said he called a let before I hit my return. The let was about a ball that was rolling from two courts over. It did not get to our court until after my winner struck the back tarp, but the server contested that he saw it out of the corner of his eye and was distracted. If he can do this, we could call many, many lets each match when the court next to us is being used.
—Matt Brady, New Hudson, Mich.
You have entered the space-time continuum. For a stray ball from another court to cause a hindrance it must enter your court’s “playing area” (i.e., space) while your opponent had a play on your return (i.e., time). Your court’s playing area is defined as the space inside the fences or backstops and the space between an adjacent court, but does not include the adjacent court or its doubles alley. So if that stray ball entered your “playing area”—not your “court”—while your opponent still had a play, he’s entitled to the let. If it was close, you should give it to him.
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