The Code of Tennis
The following Rules and Cases and Decisions are the official Code of the International Tennis
When a match is played without officials, the ITF Tennis Code shall apply in any situation not
covered by the rules.
Except where otherwise stated, every reference in these Rules to the masculine includes the feminine
Before reading this pamphlet you might well ask yourself: since we
have a book that contains all the rules
of tennis, why do we need a code? Isn't it sufficient to know
and understand all the rules?
An answer to these questions could come from this hypothetical situation. Two
strangers, A and B, are playing a tightly contested tournament match
without officials. On one of B's shots A says: "I can't be sure
if it was in or out; therefore, the point is yours." Three
games later on one of A's shots B says: "I'm not sure how it
was; let's play a let." In two identical situations there are
different decisions. If no one else is in favor of a code that works
the same on both sides of the net, you can be sure that A is!
There are a number of things not specifically set forth in the rules that are covered by
custom and tradition only. For example, everybody knows that in case
of doubt on a line call your opponent gets the benefit of the doubt,
but can you find that in the rules? Further, custom dictates the
standard procedures that players will use in reaching decisions.
These, then, plus some other similar ones, are the reasons why we
need a code, the essential elements of which are set forth here.
One of the difficult aspects of tennis is that when a match is played without officials
the players themselves have the responsibility for making decisions,
particularly line calls; but there is a subtle difference between
their decisions and those of an umpire or a linesman. A linesman
does his best to resolve impartially a problem involving a line call
with the interests of both players in mind, whereas a player must be
guided, in this case and in all other cases, by the unwritten law
that any doubt must be resolved in favor of his opponent.
A corollary of this principle is the fact that a player in attempting to be scrupulously
honest on line calls will find himself frequently keeping in play a
ball that "might have been out" and that he discovers --
too late -- was out. Even so, the game is much better played this
In making a line call a player should not enlist the aid of a spectator. In the first place,
the spectator has no part in the match and putting him in it may be
very annoying to an opponent; in the second, he may offer a call
even though he was not in a position to see the ball; in the third,
he may be prejudiced; and in the fourth, he may be totally
unqualified. All these factors point decisively toward keeping out
of the match all persons who are not officially participating.
It is both the obligation and prerogative of a player to call all shots landing
on, or aimed at, his side of the net, to help his opponent make
calls when the opponent requests it, and to call against himself
(with the exception of a first service; see par.
32) any ball that he clearly sees out on his opponent's side of
the net. If A just got to B's shot, hitting it several inches above
the ground, and there is a question whether A's shot went directly
over the net or bounced over, the best determinant is the presence
or absence of forward roll on A's shot, with the presence of forward
roll being an almost certain sign that A's shot bounced over. In a
case like this, B has the prerogative of decision. (For calling
service lets, see par.
The prime objective in making line calls is accuracy, and all participants in a match
should cooperate to attain this objective. When a player does not
call an out ball (with the exception of a first serve) against
himself when he clearly sees it out -- whether he is requested to do
so by his opponents or not -- he is cheating.
9. All players being human,
they will all make mistakes, but they should do everything they can
to minimize these mistakes, including helping an opponent. No player
should question an opponent's call unless asked. When an opponent's
opinion has been requested and he has given a positive opinion it
must be accepted; if neither player has an opinion the ball is
considered good. Obviously, aid from an opponent is available only
on a call that terminates a point. In accordance with the laws of
parallax, the opinion of a player looking down a line is much more
likely to be accurate than that of a player looking across a line.
9.1. When you are looking
across a line don't call a ball out unless you can clearly see part
of the court between where the ball hit and the line. This means if
you are half a court or so away and a ball lands within two inches
of a line it is almost impossible for you to call it with accuracy.
A player who stands on one base line and questions a call concerning
a ball that landed near the other base line is probably being
9.2. Unless you have made a
local ground rule designed to save chasing balls that are obviously
going out, when you catch in the air a ball that is in play you have
lost the point, regardless of whether you are inside or outside the
10. Any call of
"out", "let", or "fault" must be made
instantaneously; otherwise, the ball is presumed good and still in
play. In this connotation "instantaneously" means that the
call is made before either an opponent has hit the return or the
return has gone out of play. Most important: a ball is not out until
it is called out.
11. The requirement for an
instantaneous call will quickly eliminate the "two chance"
option that some players practice. To illustrate, C is advancing to
the net for an easy putaway when he sees a ball from an adjoining
court rolling towards him. He continues his advance and hits the
shot, only to have his supposed easy putaway fly over the baseline.
C then makes a claim for a let, which is obviously not valid. C
could have had a let had he stopped when he first saw the ball
rolling towards him, but when he saw it and then continued on to hit
the easy shot he forfeited his right to a let. He took his chance to
win or lose, and he is not entitled to a second one.
12. Another situation
eliminated by the instantaneous call requirement is that in which a
player returns the ball, at the same time yelling: "I don't
know." This sort of call constitutes a puzzle which should not
be thrown at any opponent.
13. In living up to the
instantaneous call requirement it is almost certain that there will
be out balls that are played. On a fast first service, for example,
sometimes the ball will be moving so rapidly that the receiver has
hit the ball and it has gone into play (maybe for a placement) or
into the net before an out call can be made. In such cases, the
receiver is considered as having taken his chance, and he is
entitled to only one, whether he made a putaway or an error.
Likewise, when the server and his partner thought to be out the ball
which was good and didn't play their opponents' return, they lose
the point. The purists' argument that a ball that is out cannot be
played under any circumstances falls before the practicality of the
player's responsibility to make calls. Otherwise, after a point
involving a long rally had been concluded a player could discover an
out mark made at the beginning of the point and ask that the point
he had just lost be awarded to him. It is only fair that any time
you cause your opponent to expend energy he should have a chance to
win the point; and when you fail in your duties as a linesman you
pay by letting an out ball stay in play. From strictly the practical
view, the instantaneous call rule will eliminate much indecision and
14. Any ball that cannot be
called out is presumed to have been good, and a player cannot claim
a let on the basis that he did not see a ball. If this were not so,
picture your opponent at the net ready to tap away a sitter. As he
does so your back is to him. Can you ask for a replay because you
didn't see where his shot landed? If you could, the perfect defense
has been found against any shot that is out of reach: close your
eyes before it touches the court.
15. One of tennis' most
infuriating moments occurs when after a long hard rally a player
makes a clean placement and hears his opponent say: "I'm not
sure if it was good or out. Let's play a let." Remember that it
is each player's responsibility to call all balls landing on, or
aimed at, his side of the net, and if a ball can't be called out
with surety, it is good. When you ask for a replay of a point
because you say your opponent's shot was really out but you want to
give him "a break," you are deluding yourself; you must
have had some small shred of doubt and that doubt means the point
should be your opponent's. Further, telling your opponent to
"take two" is usually not so generous as it might sound.
16. When time and the court
surface permit, a player should take a careful second look at any
point-ending placement that is close to a line. Calls based on a
"flash look" are often inaccurate, and the "flash
look" system has a high probability of being unfair to an
17. In doubles when one
partner calls a ball out and the other one good, the doubt that has
been established means the ball must be considered to have been
good. The reluctance that some doubles players have to overrule
their partners is secondary to the importance of not letting your
opponents suffer from a bad call. The tactful way to achieve the
desired result is to tell your partner quietly that he has made a
mistake and then let him overrule himself. If it comes to a
showdown, untactful honesty is preferable to tactful dishonesty.
18. Normally, asking for a
replay of a point is a sign of weakness and of failure to exercise
line calling responsibilities, and should occur only on rare
occasions. One of these is as follows. Your opponent's ball -- a
serve or otherwise -- appears out and you so call, but return the
ball to his court. Inspection reveals that your out call, which
stopped play, is in error. Since you actually returned the ball a
let is authorized. Had you not returned the ball the point would
have been your opponent's. (See last sentence in par.
19.) Another possible replay situation occurs when, just as C is
returning A's good shot, A's overzealous partner, B calls A's shot
out. If C hits a placement he wins the point; otherwise, the point
should be replayed.
18.1. When you are hindered
attempting to return a shot that you could not have returned even
had there been no hindrance, a let is not authorized. Incidentally,
a request for a let does not mean that the let is automatically
granted. For example, a request for a let because you have tripped
over your own hat should be denied.
19. Once an
out (meaning a ball has landed outside the court), fault, or let
call is made play stops, regardless of what happens thereafter. This
policy is sound, though sometimes maddening. For example, with you
at the net your partner serves a bullet that the receiver barely
gets to the net for an easy setup which you whack away, but the
receiver has yelled "fault" as he was returning the
service. Inspection reveals that the service was good. You first
feel that your putaway shot should count for the point. But suppose
that you had missed the putaway. Your immediate cry would have been
for a let because the out call distracted you and made you miss. A
rule can't work one way one time and work another way another time.
It is unfortunate that a miscall was made on such a good service,
but you must trust your opponents' intentions to be fair, remember
that since they are human they are going to make some mistakes, and
realize that since they returned the service a let may be called.
The validity of the principle here notwithstanding, most good
players who have made a weak giveaway type of return because of an
opponent's good forcing shot will give the opponent the point in
spite of the out call. The important thing is that a player should
not let his ineptitude as a linecaller cause his opponent to fail to
win a point that he almost surely would have won had the correct
call been made on his forcing shot.
20. All points in a match
should be treated with the same importance, and there is no
justification for considering a match point differently than the
first point. Also, some players will insist that on occasion even
though a ball is good they want it to be out so badly that they will
unconsciously call it out, this reasoning is difficult for a
strong-willed fair-minded player to accept.
20.1. All points played in
good faith stand. For example, if, after losing a point, you
discover that the net was four inches too high, the loss stands. If
the third point of a game is played in the ad court, there is no
replay. If you lose a match using a 9-point tie-break, then discover
the tournament was using 12-point tie-breaks, the loss stands.
20.2. As a general guide, when
it is realized during a point that a mistake was made at the
beginning, e.g., service from the wrong court, the point will not be
interrupted, nor will corrective action be taken until the point is
20.3. Each player is
responsible for "housekeeping" on his own court. If he
fails to remove stray balls and other objects he may expect to pay
for the consequences.
20.4. When a player is injured
in an accident caused by his opponent, it is the player who must
suffer with respect to the match, not the opponent. For example, A
accidently throws his racket and incapacitates B so that B is unable
to resume play within the time limit; even though A caused the
injury, it was accidental, and B must be defaulted, not A.
21. As a driven ball -- in
contrast to a ball dropping vertically -- strikes the ground (or
asphalt or cement, but not grass) it will leave a mark in the shape
of an ellipse. If this ellipse is near a line and you cannot see
court surface between the ellipse and the line, the ball is good. If
you can see only part of an ellipse on the ground this means that
the missing part is on the line or tape. Some players will call a
ball of this kind out on the basis that all of the mark they can see
is outside the line; this thinking is fallacious. An ellipse tangent
to a line literally, touching the line at only one point) still
represents a good ball; this is tantamount to saying that a ball 99%
out is 100% good.
22. Notwithstanding the
ellipse theory, on courts which have tapes for lines, occasionally a
ball will strike the tape, jump an inch, then leave a full ellipse.
This is frequently the case with a hard service when the server will
see a clear white spot appear on the service tape, only to have the
receiver call "fault" and point to an ellipse an inch back
of the line. To attain accuracy in such situations is difficult. The
best that the receiver can do is to listen for the sound of the ball
touching the tape and look for a clean spot on the tape directly
between the server and the ellipse; if these conditions exist he
should give the point to his opponent. Sometimes sound alone can be
misleading, particularly when the hearer is some distance -- across
the net or otherwise -- from the sound. Also, an inch and a half is
about the maximum that a ball will jump off the tape.
23. In returning service the
partner of the receiver should call the service line for him, with
the receiver calling the center line and the side line, although
either partner may make an out call on any shot (service or other)
that he clearly sees out. It is difficult for the receiver, who is
looking across the service line, to call with accuracy a shot that
lands near that line. This is the reason why in singles a receiver
will frequently find himself unsure of a serve and put it in play
even though later it is determined that it was out.
24. Returning a service that
is obviously out (accompanied by an out call) is a form of rudeness,
and when the receiver knows that in making these returns he bothers
the server it is gamesmanship. At the same time it must be expected
that a fast service that just misses the line will frequently with
justification be returned as a matter of self-protection, even
though an out call is made. The speed of deliveries is such that if
the receiver waited for a call before he started to make a return he
would be overpowered. Probably the most difficult shot in tennis to
call accurately is a hard flat service, aimed directly at the
receiver, that hits within an inch of the service line in a grass
court singles match.
24.1. Returning a first
service that is obviously out without an out call in an attempt to
catch an opponent off guard is cheating. At the same time, if the
receiver in good faith gives the server the benefit of the doubt and
returns an out ball, the server is not entitled to refuse the
benefit of the doubt and ask for a let on the basis that since he
saw the serve out the return caught him by surprise.
24.2. When the server causes a
delay between the first and second serves, he has one serve to come.
When there is a delay between serves that interrupts the natural
flow of the match and when the delay is caused by the receiver or
outside interference, the server has two serves to come. The
receiver determines whether the delay has interrupted the natural
flow of the match.
25. A USTA rule interpretation
authorizes the receiver or his partner to call footfaults on the
server after the server has been warned once and a request for an
umpire has failed. This call should be made only when the caller is
absolutely certain, with the footfaulting being so flagrant as to be
clearly perceptible from the receiver's side of the net. While in
doubles the partner of the receiver may be in a fair position to
call a normal fooffault, in either singles or doubles the receiver
himself would be able to make this call only in flagrant cases.
25.1. When you feel that your
opponent, a netrusher, is footfaulting but his violations are not
sufficiently flagrant for you to be sure and to call, the situation
can be irritating. Compliance with the footfault rule is very much a
function of a player's personal honor system. The plea that he only
touches the line and doesn't rush the net is not acceptable. If he
doesn't footfault when there is an umpire but does when there is no
umpire, the time has come for him to examine his own sense of fair
play to see if he is the type of person who will cheat provided he
thinks he can go undetected or unpunished, and, if he is, to try to
make a change. Habitual foot faulting, intentional or careless, is
just as surely cheating as is making a deliberate bad line call.
26. Even if no ethics were
involved, from the practical view it behooves a player to avoid
footfaults. It is not uncommon in a match having officials for a
chronic fooffaulter to become so upset by the frequent footfault
calls against him that his whole game disintegrates.
27. A player who hits a weak
shot and then, when the ball is moving towards his opponents' court,
utters an exclamation such as "back, partner!" has
violated the ethics of good play. His opponent, provided he does not
play the ball because of the exclamation, is entitled to the point
on the basis of having been hindered. However, if the opponent goes
ahead and plays the ball and misses, the "two chance" rule
holds. There is such a thing as the exclamation coming forth just as
the opponent is making his shot. It is then properly a matter for
the opponent to determine whether or not he is entitled to a let,
for only he can judge if the hindrance came before his shot, after
it, or simultaneously with it. If he is going to request a let he
should try to make the claim before he sees the outcome of his shot,
though this is not always possible. A certain type of player will
wait and request a let if he has made an error, but will forget
about the let if his shot has turned into a freak placement; this
practice is not ethical. The main thing is that if the opponent was
hindered, then had an option to stop or to make the shot, then
attempted the shot, whether he missed it or not is immaterial, he is
considered to have played the ball and there is no basis for a let.
28. In general, any
conversation between partners while the ball is moving toward their
opponents' side of the net is taboo; once either you or your partner
has hit the ball, don't say anything until an opponent has hit it.
Even when a ball is moving toward two partners conversation between
them should be minimized, with about the only words permitted being
such exhortations as to try hard for a ball ("run!") or to
let one pass ("out!"), etc. Incidentally, "out"
as advice to a partner to let the ball drop does not suffice for the
normal "out" call necessary when a ball has landed outside
29. With respect to a player
moving when a ball is in play or about to be in play, in general he
is entitled to feint with his body as he wishes. He may change
position on the court at any time including while the server is
tossing the ball to serve. Movements or sounds that are made solely
to distract an opponent, such as waving the arms or racket, stamping
the feet, or talking are prohibited.
30. A ball from your court
going into an adjoining court or a ball from an adjoining court
coming into your court can provide the basis for a let. In handling
these balls here are some things to remember. When play is in
progress don't go behind another court to retrieve a ball or hit a
loose ball to that court; this may mean holding a ball for several
seconds while a point is being finished. Don't ask for one of your
balls until the point in play on the adjoining court has stopped. In
returning a loose ball to another court don't hit it aimlessly as if
you didn't care where it goes as long as it leaves your court.
Instead, pick up the ball and hit it so that it goes directly to one
of the players on the other court, preferably the server, on the
first bounce; this might be termed "Rule One" of court
etiquette. As a corollary to this rule, except when so doing will
delay play unnecessarily, collect the match balls that are on your
side of the net and either give them to the next server or place
them on his baseline.
31. In the general area of
common courtesy and consideration for others violations are too
frequent. Some players in loud tones have a post mortem on each
point, to the dismay of the players on the adjoining courts. Some
players complain of the type of shots an opponent hits (e.g., too
many lobs); what he hits are his business as long as they are legal.
Don't embarrass a weak opponent by being overly gracious or
condescending. Don't spoil the game for your partner or opponents by
losing your temper and using vile language or throwing your racket.
After losing a point don't slam a ball in anger; a ball boy once
lost an eye from this sort of action. And don't sulk when you are
losing; instead, praise your opponent's good shots. Above all, try
to make tennis a fun game for all participants.
31.1. Be neat in your dress,
and wear proper tennis clothing; no blue jeans, loud sport shirts,
or jogging shoes. If you are going to a strange club with whose
rules you are not familiar you can never be wrong dressing in
all-white. Carry a spare racket; if one breaks you are not allowed a
delay to find a replacement, but instead must continue with what you
have courtside, broken or not. If you break a string and change
rackets, practice shots with the new racket are not permitted. And
don't place towels or clothing over the net or on the court.
31.2. If there is a clothing,
shoes, equipment or racket malfunction during a point, the point
will be finished before any corrective action is taken. After the
point is over a reasonable delay may be allowed for a player to
leave the playing area to repair or replace shoes, clothing, and
equipment, but not rackets.
As mentioned in paragraph
7, neither the server nor his net man should make an out call on
a first service even though he thinks it is out, because the
receiver, not being sure of the ball, may give the server the
benefit of the doubt and then hit a placement. In this instance the
prerogative of the receiver to give the benefit of the doubt and
make a return should not be usurped. However, either the server or
the net man should volunteer a call on any second service he clearly
sees to be out for his call terminates the point. In doubles the net
man is usually in the best position to hear a service touch the net,
though custom supports the calling of a let in singles or doubles by
any player who hears an otherwise good serve touch the net. For a
call of a service let to be valid, it must be made prior to the
return of serve either going out of play or being hit by an
33. Calls involving a ball's
touching a player, a player's touching the net, a player's touching
his opponent's court (invasion), hitting an opponent's return before
it has passed the net, and a double-bounce, can be very difficult to
make. Any player who becomes aware that he has committed a violation
in one of these areas should announce the violation immediately in
order to avoid unnecessary expenditure of energy by his opponent.
33.1. In all of the above
areas the prerogative of decision belongs to the player or team
involved. To illustrate, A thinks B's shot is a double- bounce,
catches B's shot and claims the point. B, however, feels sure there
was no double-bounce; since B has the prerogative of decision the
point is B's. On occasion even though B thinks there was no
double-bounce he will defer to A's judgment because A was in a
better position to see what happened.
33.2. After a point has been
finished A might give B an opportunity to admit, for example, a
double-bounce that was not called during the point. If B accepts A's
thinking he should give him the point, even at that late time. The
decision, of course, is still B's. A better example would be where A
thinks that B has invaded A's court, but B hasn't called the
invasion. After the point is over, if A can point out half of one of
B's footprints under the net it would be difficult for B to refuse
to give A the point.
33.3. Done without
deliberation and with one continuous forward swing of the racket, a
double-hit and a carry are legal shots. When done with deliberation,
or when there is a definite 'second push' of the racket, each of
these shots is illegal, with consequent loss of point that the
striker, who has the prerogative of decision, should call promptly
34. Some players confuse
"warm-up" and "practice." While it is not
mandatory, normally a player should provide his opponent five
minutes (ten minutes if there are no ball persons) of warm-up,
making a special effort to hit his shots directly to his opponent.
Five minutes warm-up is adequate even on a chilly day, although it
may not be adequate for him to practice his shots as much as he
would like. If he wants to practice more than five minutes he should
do it prior to the match. Courtesy dictates that you not practice
your service return when your opponent practices his serve.
Incidentally, even a windy day does not justify taking warm-up
serves from both ends of the court. If partners want to warm each
other up (at the same time their opponents are warming up), they may
34.1. Many players want to
practice or to warm-up their serves just before they serve the first
time, even though the match is then one game or more old. Once a
match has started there is no basis for further practice or warm-up.
It would be just as logical to hit practice serves before the tenth
game as it would be to hit them before the second game.
35. If you feel that you, as a
receiver, are being victimized by a server who serves without
hesitation (frequently, a server who serves when you are getting
ready rather than when you are ready) the person to blame is most
likely yourself. This is true because in any discussion over whether
a receiver was ready or not the sole criterion is the receiver's own
statement, and if he wasn't ready a let is in order. In reality,
while there are unsmart receivers, there is no such thing as a quick
36. The receiver should make
no effort to return a serve when he is not ready if he wishes to
maintain valid his right to a let. On the other hand the server is
protected from the "two chances" receiver under the same
rule, this rule states that if a receiver makes any attempt to
return a service he is presumed to have been ready.
37. A recent Comment under Rule 12
provides that once the receiver has
indicated that he is ready he cannot become unready and claim a
let-- anymore than he could become unready during a point-- unless
there is some outside interference. This negates the gamesmanship
practice some receivers have had of indicating ready, then, just as
the server starts to serve, announcing that they are unready in an
attempt to upset him.
38. When the receiver has
indicated that he is ready and the server serves an ace, the
receiver's partner cannot claim a let because he (the partner of the
receiver) was not ready. The receiver's indication of being ready is
tantamount to indicating that his team is ready. While no server
should serve if he sees either of his opponents is not ready, he is
not expected to check both opponents before each serve. It is the
receiver's responsibility to signal ready only when both he and his
partner are ready. Likewise, the server should check his partner's
readiness before he serves, for his serving is an indication that
his team is ready.
39. When a server requests
three balls to be in his hand prior to each point he is to serve the
receiver should comply with this wish when the third ball is readily
available. Since only two balls are normally needed for a service,
the receiver should not be required to get the third when it is some
distance away, nor, under the continuous play rule, should a server
during a game be permitted to retrieve a distant third ball himself.
The distant balls should be retrieved at the end of a game. When a
tournament specifies a new can of balls for a third set, it is
mandatory that the new balls be used unless all the players agree to
use the old balls.
40. In any argument about
facts it should be remembered that the position of each side has
equal weight. For example, regardless of how sure you are that the
score is thirty-forty, your opponent may be just as sure that it is
forty-thirty (or five games to three versus four games all). The
preferred, but not mandatory, method of settling a scoring dispute
is to count all points and games agreed on by the players, with only
the disputed points and games being replayed. Another method is to
go back to the last score on which there was agreement, then resume
play from that point. If no agreement can be reached in a dispute,
whatever the disagreement may be, it should be settled by tossing a
racket. Certainly, it would be undesirable to have the players
depart in a huff.
40.1. To eliminate arguments
about the score the server should announce, in a voice audible to
the players and spectators, the set score (e.g., 5-4) prior to his
first serve in each game, and the game score (e.g., thirty-forty)
prior to serving each point. This is important.
40.2. No matter how obvious it
may be to you that your opponent's shot is out, it may not be
obvious to him. He is entitled to a prompt hand signal or call; give
it to him.
41. You have had contact with
the primary form of stalling when your opponent in an official match
purposely arrives 25 minutes late, hoping that those 25 minutes will
have provided you with ample opportunity to tense up. Some opponents
attempt an excessively long warm-up to achieve the same result.
Another form of stalling is provided by the player who walks and
plays at about one-third his normal rate, thereby, among other
things, taking much of the fun out of the match. Another form is the
excess time taken between games when the authorized delay is doubled
due to extra toweling, drinking, taking of pills, and sitting down.
Another form is the taking of time at the end of a 6-4 first set;
the rules say play shall be continuous except for specified breaks,
which do not include one at the end of the first set that ends on an
even number of games. Another form is the server's waiting at the
net -- instead of going to the baseline -- while the receiver is
retrieving a ball to give to him. Another form is taking more time
than the authorized ten minutes break at the end of the second set
in a three-set match. Another is the starting of a discussion to
permit a player to catch his breath. Another is the action of the
receiver in clearing an out first service that doesn't need to be
cleared, such as one that ends up six inches from the backstop.
Another is bouncing the ball ten times before each serve. These are
some of the more common forms of stalling, a type of gamesmanship
aimed at upsetting an opponent. What is the answer to the problem?
Again, like footfaulting, it is a matter of a player's personal
honor system. From a practical view, if you try to outstall a
staller you may upset yourself even more, and from an ethical view
you may damage your own reputation. With it all, you can be firm in
waiting for a late opponent only a reasonable period (as you
interpret the meaning of the word under the circumstances involved)
before departing, and in other cases refusing to continue play
without an official. The best players are not known as stallers.
41.1. If your opponent is a
chronic footfaulter or makes a larger number of what you feel sure
are bad calls, what should you do? There is only one answer: calmly
call for an umpire and refuse to continue until the umpire arrives.
While normally a player may not leave the playing area during a
match, an expeditious visit to the referee to request an umpire is
authorized. Incidentally, also authorized is a bona fide toilet
41.2. Grunting (or other loud
noises) can be the basis for a let or loss of point, and should be
avoided. Fortunately, a player can usually adjust to his opponent's
grunting so that it does not become a distraction; unfortunately,
grunting can be an annoyance to players on an adjacent court.
41.3. Don't enter a tournament
and then withdraw when you discover some tough opponents have also
entered. Don't be a cup hunter and search for tournaments where all
the entrants will be of a much lower caliber than yourself. If you
must default a match notify the referee at once so that your
opponent may be saved a trip. If you withdraw from a tournament
don't expect the return of your entry fee unless you withdrew before
the entries closed.
42. When your serve hits your
partner stationed at the net is it a let, fault, or loss of point?
Likewise, what is the ruling when your serve before touching the
ground hits an opponent who is standing back of the base line? The
answers to these questions are obvious to anyone who knows the
fundamentals of tennis, but it is surprising the number of players
who don't know these fundamentals. All players have the
responsibility of being familiar with the basic rules and customs.
Further, it can be distressing to your opponent when he makes a
decision in accordance with a rule and you protest with the remark:
"Well, I never heard of that rule before!" Ignorance of
the rules constitutes a delinquency on the part of a player and
often spoils an otherwise good match.
43. What has been written here
constitutes the essentials of "The Code" the summarization
of procedures and unwritten rules which custom and tradition dictate
all players should follow. No system of rules will cover every
specific problem situation that may arise, but if players of good
will follow the principles of The Code they should always be able to
reach an agreement, at the same time making tennis a better game and
more fun for all participants.