The Rules of Tennis
The Singles Game
The Doubles Game
Appendix I - Regulations for Making Tests Specified in Rule 3
Appendix II - Rules of Wheelchair Tennis
Appendix III - Tie-Breaks and No-Ad Scoring
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
The court shall be a rectangle 78
feet (23.77m.) long and 27 feet (8.23m.) wide.
It shall be divided across the middle
by a net suspended from a cord or metal cable of a maximum diameter
of one-third of an inch (0.8cm.), the ends of which shall be
attached to, or pass over, the tops of two posts, which shall be not
more than 6 inches (15cm.) square or 6 inches (15cm.) in diameter.
These posts shall not be higher than 1 inch (2.5 cm.) above the top
of the net cord. The centers of the posts shall be 3 feet (0.914m.)
outside the court on each side and the height of the posts shall be
such that the top of the cord or metal cable shall be 3 feet 6
inches (1.07m.) above the ground.
When a combined doubles (see Rule
34) and singles court with a doubles net is used for singles,
the net must be supported to a height of 3 feet 6 inches (1.07m.) by
means of two posts, called "singles sticks", which shall
be not more than 3 inches (7.5cm.) square or 3 inches (7.5cm.) in
diameter. The centers of the singles sticks shall be 3 feet
(0.914m.) outside the singles court on each side.
The net shall be extended fully so
that it fills completely the space between the two posts and shall
be of sufficiently small mesh to prevent the ball passing through.
The height of the net shall be 3 feet (0.914m.) at the center, where
it shall be held down taut by a strap not more than 2 inches (5cm.)
wide and completely white in colour. There shall be a band covering
the cord or metal cable and the top of the net of not less than 2
inches (5cm.) nor more than 2.5 inches (6.3cm.) in depth on each
side and completely white in colour.
There shall be no advertisement on
the net, strap, band or singles sticks.
The lines bounding the ends and sides
of the Court shall respectively be called the base-lines and the
side-lines. On each side of the net, at a distance of 21 feet
(6.40m.) from it and parallel with it, shall be drawn the
service-lines. The space on each side of the net between the
service-line and the side-lines shall be divided into two equal
parts called the service-courts by the center service-line which
must be 2 inches (5cm.) in width, drawn half-way between, and
parallel with, the side-lines. Each base-line shall be bisected by
an imaginary continuation of the center service-line to a line 4
inches (lOcm.) in length and 2 inches (5cm.) in width called the
center mark drawn inside the Court, at right angles to and in
contact with such base-lines. All other lines shall be not less than
1 inch (2.5cm.) nor more than 2 inches (5cm.) in width, except the
base-line, which may be 4 inches (10cm.) in width, and all
measurements shall be made to the outside of the lines. All lines
shall be of uniform colour.
If advertising or any other material
is placed at the back of the court, it may not contain white, or
yellow. A light colour may only be used if this does not interfere
with the vision of the players.
If advertisements are placed on the
chairs of the Linesmen sitting at the back of the court, they may
not contain white, or yellow. A light colour may only be used if
this does not interfere with the vision of the players.
ITF Note 1: In the case of the
Davis Cup or other Official Championships of the
International Tennis Federation, there shall be a space behind each
base-line of not less than 21 feet (6.4m.), and at the sides of not
less than 12 feet (3.66m.). The chairs of the linesmen may be placed
at the back of the court within the 21 feet or at the side of the
court within the 12 feet, provided they do not protrude into that
area more than 3 feet (.914m).
ITF Note 2: In the case of the
stadium courts in the Davis Cup World Group and the
Federation Cup Main Draw there should be space behind each baseline
of not less than 27 feet (8.23m) and at the sides of not less than
15 feet (4.57m).
ITF Note 3: At club or
recreation level, the space behind each baseline should be not less
than 18 feet (5.5m) and at the sides not less than 10 feet (3.05m).
The permanent fixtures of the Court
shall include not only the net, posts, singles sticks, cord or metal
cable, strap and band, but also, where there are any such, the back
and side stops, the stands, fixed or movable seats and chairs round
the Court, and their occupants, all other fixtures around and above
the Court, and the Umpire, Net-cord Judge, Foot-fault Judge,
Linesmen and Ball Boys when in their respective places.
ITF Note: For the purpose of
this Rule, the word "Umpire" comprehends the Umpire, the
persons entitled to a seat on the Court, and all those persons
designated to assist the Umpire in the conduct of a match.
The ball shall have a uniform outer
surface and shall be white or yellow in colour. If there are any
seams, they shall be stitchless.
The ball shall be more than two and a
half inches (6.35cm.) and less than two and five-eighths inches
(6.67cm.) in diameter, and more than two ounces (56.7 grams) and
less than two and one-sixteenth ounces (58.5 grams) in weight.
The ball shall have a bound of more
than 53 inches (135cm.) and less than 58 inches (147cm.) when
dropped 100 inches (254cm.) upon a concrete base.
The ball shall have a forward
deformation of more than .220 of an inch (.56cm.) and less than .290
of an inch (.74cm.) and a return deformation of more than .315 of an
inch (.80cm.) and less than .425 of an inch (1.08cm.) at 18 lb.
(8.165kg.) load. The two deformation figures shall be the averages
of three individual readings along three axes of the ball and no two
individual readings shall differ by more than .030 of an inch
(.08cm.) in each case.
For play above 4,000 feet (1219m) in
altitude above sea level, two additional types of ball may be used.
The first type is identical to those described above except that the
bound shall be more than 48 inches (121.92cm) and less than 53
inches (135cm) and the ball shall have an internal pressure that is
greater than the external pressure. This type of tennis ball is
commonly known as a pressurized ball. The second type is identical
to those described above except that they shall have a bound of more
than 53 inches (135cm) and less than 58 inches (147cm) and shall
have an internal pressure that is approximately equal to the
external pressure and have been acclimatized for 60 days or more at
the altitude of the specific tournament. This type of tennis ball is
commonly known as a zero-pressure or non-pressurized ball.
All tests for bound, size and
deformation shall be made in accordance with the Regulations in the
Rackets failing to comply with the
following specifications are not approved for play under the Rules
(a) The hitting surface of the
racquet shall be flat and consist of a pattern of crossed strings
connected to a frame and alternately interlaced or bonded where they
cross; and the stringing pattern shall be generally uniform, and in
particular not less dense in the center than in any other area. The
strings shall be free of attached objects and protrusions other than
those utilized solely and specifically to limit or prevent wear and
tear or vibration and which are reasonable in size and placement for
(b) The frame of the racket
shall not exceed 32 inches (81.28cm.) in overall length, including
the handle and 12.5 inches (31.75cm.) in overall width. The strung
surface shall not exceed 15.5 inches (39.37cm.) in overall length,
and 11.5 inches (29.21cm.) in overall width.
(c) The frame, including the
handle, shall be free of attached objects and devices other than
those utilized solely and specifically to limit or prevent wear and
tear or vibration, or to distribute weight. Any objects and devices
must be reasonable in size and placement for such purposes.
(d) The frame, including the
handle and the strings, shall be free of any device which makes it
possible to change materially the shape of the racket, or to change
the weight distribution in the direction of the longitudinal axis of
the racket which would alter the swing moment of inertia, during the
playing of a point.
The International Tennis Federation
shall rule on the question of whether any racket or prototype
complies with the above specifications or is otherwise approved, or
not approved, for play. Such ruling may be undertaken on its own
initiative, or upon application by any party with a bona fide
interest therein, including any player, equipment manufacturer or
National Association or members thereof. Such rulings and
applications shall be made in accordance with the applicable Review
and Hearing Procedures of the International Tennis Federation,
copies of which may be obtained from the office of the Secretary.
Case 1. Can there be more than
one set of strings on the hitting surface of a racket?
Decision. No. The rule clearly
mentions a pattern, and not patterns, of crossed strings.
Case 2. Is the stringing
pattern of a racket considered to be generally uniform and flat if
the strings are on more than one plane?
Case 3. Can a vibration
dampening device be placed on the strings of a racket and if so here
can it be placed?
Decision. Yes; but such
devices may only be placed outside the pattern of crossed strings.
Server and Receiver
The players shall stand on opposite
sides of the net; the player who first delivers the ball shall be
called the Server, and the other the Receiver.
Case 1. Does a player,
attempting stroke, lose the point if he crosses an imaginary line in
the extension of the net,
(a) before striking the ball,
(b) after striking the ball?
Decision. He does not lose the
point in either case by crossing the imaginary line and provided he
does not enter the lines bounding his opponents Court (Rule
20 (e)) In regard to hindrance, his opponent my ask for the
decision of the Umpire under Rules
21 and 25.
Case 2. The Server claims that
the Receiver must stand within the lines bounding his Court. Is this
Decision. No. The Receiver my
stand wherever he pleases on his own side of the net.
Choice of Ends and Service
The choice of ends and the right to
be Server or Receiver in the first game shall be decided by toss.
The player winning the toss may choose or require his opponent to
(a) The right to be Server or
Receiver, in which case the other player shall choose the end; or
(b) The end, in which case the
other player shall choose the right to be Server or Receiver.
The service shall be delivered in the
following manner. Immediately before commencing to serve, the Server
shall stand with both feet at rest behind (i.e. further from the net
than) the base-line, and within the imaginary continuations of the
center-mark and side-line. The Server shall then project the ball by
hand into the air in any direction and before it hits the ground
strike it with his racket, and the delivery shall be deemed to have
been completed at the moment of the impact of the racket and the
ball. A player with the use of only one arm may utilize his racket
for the projection.
Case 1. May the Server in a
singles game take his stand behind the portion of the base-line
between the side-lines of the Singles Court and the Doubles Court?
Case 2. If a player, when
serving, throws up two or more balls instead of one, does he lose
Decision. No. A let should be
called, but if the Umpire regards the action as deliberate he may
take action under Rule
(a) The Server shall
throughout the delivery of the service:
(i) Not change his position by
walking or running. The Server shall not by slight movements of the
feet which do not materially affect the location originally taken up
by him, be deemed "to change his position by walking or
(ii) Not touch, with either
foot, any area other than that behind the base-line within the
imaginary extensions of the center mark and side-lines.
(b) The word "foot"
means the extremity of the leg below the ankle.
It is improper for any official to
warn a player that he is in danger of having a foot fault called on
him. On the other hand if a player in all sincerity, asks for an
explanation of how he foot faulted, either the Line Umpire or the
Chair Umpire should give him that information.]
Delivery of Service
(a) In delivering the service,
the Server shall stand alternately behind the right and left Courts
beginning from the right in every game. If service from a wrong half
of the Court occurs and is undetected, all play resulting from such
wrong service or services shall stand, but the inaccuracy of station
shall be corrected immediately it is discovered.
(b) The ball
served shall pass over the net and hit the ground within the Service
Court which is diagonally opposite, or upon any line bounding such
Court, before the Receiver returns it.
The Service is a fault:
(a) If the Server commits any
breach of Rules
(b) If he misses the ball in
attempting to strike it;
(c) If the
ball served touches a permanent fixture (other than the net, strap
or band) before it hits the ground.
Case 1. After throwing a ball
up preparatory to serving the Server decides not to strike at it and
catches it instead. Is it a fault?
Case 2. In serving in a
singles game played on a Doubles Court with doubles posts and
singles sticks the ball hits a singles stick and then hits the
ground within the lines of the correct Service Court. Is this a
fault or a let?
Decision. In serving it is a
fault because the singles stick the doubles post and that portion of
the net or band between them are permanent fixtures. (Rules
2 and 10
to Rule 24.).
After a fault (if it is the first
fault) the Server shall serve again from behind the same half of the
Court from which he served that fault, unless the service was from
the wrong half, when, in accordance with Rule
9, the Server shall be entitled to one service only from behind
the other half.
Case 1. A player serves from a
wrong Court. He loses the point and then claims it was a fault
because of his wrong station.
Decision. The point stands as
played and the next service should be from the correct station
according to the score.
Case 2. The point score being
15 all the Server by mistake serves from the left-hand Court. He
wins the point. He then serves again from the right-hand Court
delivering a fault. This mistake in station is then discovered. Is
he entitled to the previous point? From which Court should he next
Decision. The previous point
stands. The next service should be from the left-hand Court the
score being 30/15 and the Server has served one fault.
The Server shall not serve until the
Receiver is ready. If the latter attempts to return the service, he
shall be deemed ready. If, however, the Receiver signifies that he
is not ready, he may not claim a fault because the ball does not hit
the ground within the limits fixed for the service.
In all cases where a let has to be
called under the rules, or to provide for an interruption to play,
it shall have the following interpretations:
(a) When called solely in
respect of a service that one service only shall be replayed.
(b) When called under any
other circumstance, the point shall be replayed.
Case 1. A service is
interrupted by some cause outside those defined in Rule
14. Should the service only be replayed?
Decision. No the whole point
must be replayed.
If a delay between first and second
serves is caused by the Receiver, by an official or by an outside
interference the whole point shall be replayed; if the delay is
caused by the Server, the Server has one serve to come. A
spectator's outcry (of "out", "fault" or other)
is not a valid basis for replay of a point, but action should be
taken to prevent a recurrence.]
Case 2. If a ball in play
becomes broken, should a let be called?
The "Let" in Service
The service is a let:
(a) If the
ball served touches the net, strap or band, and is otherwise good,
or, after touching the net, strap or band, touches the Receiver or
anything which he wears or carries before hitting the ground.
(b) If a service or a fault is
delivered when the Receiver is not ready (see Rule
In case of a let, that particular
service shall not count, and the Server shall serve again, but a
service let does not annul a previous fault.
Order of Service
At the end of the first game the
Receiver shall become Server, and the Server Receiver; and so on
alternately in all the subsequent games of a match. If a player
serves out of turn, the player who ought to have served shall serve
as soon as the mistake is discovered, but all points scored before
such discovery shall be reckoned. If a game shall have been
completed before such discovery, the order of service remains as
altered. A fault served before such discovery shall not be reckoned.
When Players Change Ends
The players shall change ends at the
end of the first, third and every subsequent alternate game of each
set, and at the end of each set unless the total number of games in
such set is even, in which case the change is not made until the end
of the first game of the next set.
If a mistake is made and the correct
sequence is not followed the players must take up their correct
station as soon as the discovery is made and follow their original
The Ball in Play
A ball is in play from the moment at
which it is delivered in service. Unless a fault or a let is called
it remains in play until the point is decided.
Case 1. A
player fails to make a good return. No call is made and the ball
remains in play. May his opponent later claim the point after the
rally has ended?
Decision. No. The point may
not be claimed if the players continue to play after he error has
been made, provided the opponent was not hindered.
Server Wins Point
The Server wins the point:
(a) If the ball served, not
being a let under Rule
14, touches the Receiver or anything which he wears or carries,
before it hits the ground;
(b) If the Receiver otherwise
loses the point as provided by Rule
Receiver Wins Point
The Receiver wins the point:
(a) If the Server serves two
(b) If the Server otherwise
loses the point as provided by Rule
Player Loses Point
A player loses the point if:
(a) He fails, before the ball
in play has hit the ground twice consecutively, to return it
directly over the net (except as provided in Rule
24(a) or (c));
(b) He returns the ball in
play so that it hits the ground, a permanent fixture, or other
object, outside any of the lines which bound his opponent's Court
(except as provided in Rule
24(a) or (c));
volleys the ball and fails to make a good return even when standing
outside the Court; or
playing the ball he deliberately carries or catches it on his racket
or deliberately touches it with his racket more than once; or
(e) He or
his racket (in his hand or otherwise) or anything which he wears or
carries touches the net, posts, singles sticks, cord or metal cable,
strap or band, or the ground within his opponent's Court at any time
while the ball is in play; or
(f) He volleys the ball before
it has passed the net; or
ball in play touches him or anything that he wears or carries,
except his racket in his hand or hands; or
throws his racket at and hits the ball; or
(i) He deliberately and
materially changes the shape of his racket during the playing of the
Case 1. In serving, the racket
flies from the Server's hand and touches the net before the ball has
touched the ground. Is his a fault or does the player lose he point?
Decision. The Server loses the
point because his racket touches the net while the ball is in play (Rule
Case 2. In serving the racket
flies from the Server's hand and touches the net after the ball has
touched the ground outside the proper court. Is this a fault or does
the player lose the point?
Decision. This is a fault
because the ball was out of play when he racket touched the net.
Case 3. A and B are playing
against C and D. A is serving to D. C touches the net before the
ball touches the ground. A fault is then called because the service
falls outside the Service Court. Do C and D lose he point?
Decision. The call
"fault" is an erroneous one. C and D had already lost the
point before "fault" could be called because C touched the
net whilst the ball was in play (Rule
Case 4. May a player jump over
the net into his opponent's Court while the ball is in play and not
Decision. No. He loses the
Case 5. A cuts the ball just
over the net and it returns to A's side. B, unable to reach the
ball, throws his racket and hits the ball. Both racket and ball fall
over the net on A's Court. A returns the ball outside of B's Court.
Does B win or lose the point?
Decision. B loses the point (Rule
20 (e) and (h)).
Case 6. A player standing
outside the service Court is struck by a service ball before it has
touched the ground. Does he win or lose the point?
Decision. The player struck
loses the point (Rule
20 (d), except as provided under Rule
Case 7. A player standing
outside the Court volleys the ball or catches it in his hand and
claims the point because the ball was certainly going out of court.
Decision. In no circumstances
can he claim the point.
(1) If he catches the ball he
loses the point under Rule
(2) If he volleys it and makes
a bad return he loses he point under Rule
(3) If he volleys it and makes
a good return the rally continues.
Player Hinders Opponent
If a player commits any act which
hinders his opponent in making a stroke, then, if this is
deliberate, he shall lose the point or if involuntary, the point
shall be replayed.
Case 1. Is a player liable to
a penalty if in making a stroke he touches his opponent?
Decision. No, unless the
Umpire deems it necessary to take action under Rule
Case 2. When a ball bounds
back over the net the player concerned may reach over the net in
order to play he ball. What is the ruling if the player is hindered
from doing this by his opponent?
Decision. In accordance with Rule
21 the Umpire may either award the point to the player hindered
or order the point to be replayed (See also Rule
Case 3. Does an involuntary
double hit constitute an act which hinders an opponent within Rule
Ball Falls on Line
A ball falling on a line is regarded
as falling in the Court bounded by that line.
Ball Touches Permanent Fixtures
If the ball in play touches a
permanent fixture other than the net, posts, singles sticks, cord or
metal cable, strap or band) after it has hit the ground, the player
who struck it wins the point; if before it hits the ground, his
opponent wins the point.
Case 1. A return hits the
Umpire or his chair or stand. The player claims that the ball was
going into Court.
Decision. He loses the point.
It is a good return:
(a) If the
ball touches the net, posts, singles sticks, cord or metal cable,
strap or band, provided that it passes over any of them and hits the
ground within the court; or
(b) If the ball, served or
returned, hits the ground within the proper Court and rebounds or is
blown back over the net, and the player whose turn it is to strike
reaches over the net and plays the ball, provided that neither he
nor any part of his clothes or racket touches the net, posts,
singles sticks, cord or metal cable strap or band or the ground
within his opponent's Court, and that the stroke is otherwise good,
(c) If the
ball is returned outside the posts, or singles sticks, either above
or below the level of the top of the net, even though it touches the
posts or singles sticks, provided that it hits the ground within the
proper Court, or
(d) If a
player's racket passes over the net after he has returned the ball
provided the ball passes the net before being played and is properly
(e) If a player succeeds in
returning the ball, served or in play, which strikes a ball lying in
Note to Rule
24: In a singles match, if, for the sake of convenience, a
doubles Court is equipped with singles sticks for the purpose of a
singles game then the doubles posts and those portions of the net,
cord or metal cable and the band outside such singles sticks shall
at all times be permanent fixtures, and are not regarded as posts or
parts of the net of a singles game.
A return that passes under the net
cord between the singles stick and adjacent doubles post without
touching either net cord, net or doubles post and falls within the
court, is a good return.
Case 1. A
ball going out of Court hits a net post or singles stick and falls
within the lines of the opponent's Court. Is the stroke good?
Decision. If a service: no,
10 (c). If other than a service yes, under Rule
Case 2. Is it a good return if
a player returns the ball holding his racket in both hands?
Case 3. The service, or ball
in play, strikes a ball lying in the Court. Is the point won or lost
Decision. No. Play must
continue. If it is not clear to the Umpire that the right ball is
returned a let should be called.
Case 4. May a player use more
than one racket at any time during play?
Decision. No; the whole
implication of the Rules is singular.
Case 5. May a player request
that a ball or balls lying in his opponent's Court be removed?
Decision. Yes, but not while a
ball is in play.
Hindrance of a Player
In case a player is hindered in making a
stroke by anything not within his control, except a permanent
fixture of the Court, or except as provided for in Rule
21, a let shall be called.
Case 1. A spectator gets into the way
of a player, who fails to return the ball. May the player then claim
Decision. Yes, if in the Umpire's
opinion he was obstructed by circumstances beyond his control, but
not if due to permanent fixtures of the Court or the arrangements of
Case 2. A player is interfered with as
in Case No. 1, and the Umpire calls a let. The Server had previously
served a fault. Has he the right to two services?
Decision. Yes: as the ball is in play,
the point, not merely the stroke, must be replayed as the Rule
Case 3. May a player claim a let under
25 because he thought his opponent was being hindered, and
consequently did not expect the ball to be returned?
Case 4. Is a stroke good when a ball in
play hits another ball in the air?
Decision. A let should be called unless
the other ball is in the air by the act of one of the players, in
which case the Umpire will decide under Rule
Case 5. If an Umpire or other judge
erroneously calls "fault" or "out", and then
corrects himself, which of the calls shall prevail?
Decision. A let must be called unless
in the opinion of the Umpire, neither player is hindered in his
game, in which case the corrected call shall prevail.
Case 6. If the first ball served, a
fault, rebounds, interfering with the Receiver at the time of the
second service, may the Receiver claim a let?
Decision. Yes. But if he had an
opportunity to remove the ball from the Court and negligently failed
to do so, he may not claim a let.
Case 7. Is it a good stroke if the ball
touches a stationary or moving object on the Court?
Decision. It is a good stroke unless
the stationary object came into Court after the ball was put into
play, in which case a let must be called. If the ball in play
strikes an object moving along or above the surface of the Court, a
let must be called.
Case 8. What is the ruling if the first
service is a fault, the second service correct, and it becomes
necessary to call a let either under the provision of Rule
25 or if the Umpire is unable to decide the point?
Decision. The fault shall be annulled
and the whole point replayed.
Score in a Game
If a player wins his first point, the
score is called 15 for that player; on winning his second point, the
score is called 30 for that player; on winning his third point, the
score is called 40 for that player, and the fourth point won by a
player is scored game for that player except as below:
If both players have won three
points, the score is called deuce; and the next point won by a
player is scored advantage for that player. If the same player wins
the next point, he wins the game; if the other player wins the next
point the score is again called deuce; and so on, until a player
wins the two points immediately following the score at deuce, when
the game is scored for that player.
Score in a Set
(a) A player (or players) who
first wins six games wins a set, except that he must win by a margin
of two games over his opponent and where necessary a set is extended
until this margin is achieved.
(b) The tie-break system of
scoring may be adopted as an alternative to the advantage set system
in paragraph (a) of this Rule provided the decision is announced in
advance of the match.
In this case, the following Rules
shall be effective:
The tie-break shall operate when the
score reaches six games all in any set except in the third or fifth
set of a three set or five set match respectively when an ordinary
advantage set shall be played, unless otherwise decided and
announced in advance of the match.
The following system shall be used in
a tie-break game.
(i) A player who first wins
seven points shall win the game and the set provided he leads by a
margin of two points. If the score reaches six points all the game
shall be extended until this margin has been achieved. Numerical
scoring shall be used throughout the tie-break game.
(ii) The player whose turn it
is to serve shall be the server for the first point. His opponent
shall be the server for the second and third points and thereafter
each player shall serve alternately for two consecutive points until
the winner of the game and set has been decided.
(iii) From the first point,
each service shall be delivered alternately from the right and left
courts, beginning from the right court. If service from a wrong half
of the court occurs and is undetected, all play resulting from such
wrong service or services shall stand, but the inaccuracy of station
shall be corrected immediately after it is discovered.
(iv) Players shall change ends
after every six points and at the conclusion of the tie-break game.
(v) The tie-break game shall
count as one game for the ball change, except that, if the balls are
due to be changed at the beginning of the tie-break, the change
shall be delayed until the second game of the following set.
In doubles the procedure for singles
shall apply. The player whose turn it is to serve shall be the
server for the first point. Thereafter each player shall serve in
rotation for two points, in the same order as previously in that
set, until the winners of the game and set have been decided.
Rotation of Service
The player (or pair in the case of
doubles) who served first in the tie-break game shall receive
service in the first game of the following set.
Case 1. At six-all the
tie-break is played, although it has been decided and announced in
advance of the match that an advantage set will be played. Are the
points already played counted?
Decision. It the error is
discovered before the ball is put in play for the second point, the
first point shall count but the error shall be corrected
immediately. If the error is discovered after the ball is put in
play for the second point the game shall continue as a tie-break
Case 2. At six all, an
advantage game is played, although it has been decided and announced
in advance of the match that a tie-break will be played. Are the
points already played counted?
Decision. If the error is
discovered before the ball is put in play for the second point, the
first point shall be counted but the error shall be corrected
immediately. If the error is discovered after the ball is put in
play for the second point an advantage set shall be continued. If
the score thereafter reaches eight games all or a higher even
number, a tie-break shall be played.
Case 3. If
during a tie-break in a singles or doubles game, a player serves out
of turn, shall the order of service remain as altered until the end
of the game?
Decision. If a player has
completed his turn of service the order of service shall remain as
altered. If the error is discovered before a player has completed
his turn of service the order of service shall be corrected
immediately and any points already played shall count.
Maximum Number of Sets
The maximum number of sets in a match
shall be 5, or, where women take part, 3.
Role of Court Officials
In matches where an Umpire is
appointed his decision shall be final, but where a Referee is
appointed, an appeal shall lie to him from the decision of an Umpire
on a question of law, and in all such cases the decision of the
Referee shall be final.
In matches where assistants to the
Umpire are appointed (Linesmen, Net-cord Judges, Foot-fault Judges)
their decisions shall be final on questions of fact, except that if
in the opinion of an Umpire a clear mistake has been made, he shall
have the right to change the decision of an assistant or order a let
to be played. When such an assistant is unable to give a decision he
shall indicate this immediately to the Umpire who shall give a
decision. When an Umpire is unable to give a decision on a question
of fact he shall order a let to be played.
In Davis Cup matches or other team
competitions where a Referee is on Court, any decision can be
changed by the Referee, who may also instruct an Umpire to order a
let to be played.
The Referee, in his discretion, may
at any time postpone a match on account of darkness or the condition
of the ground or the weather. In any case of postponement the
previous score and previous occupancy of Courts shall hold good,
unless the Referee and the players unanimously agree otherwise.
Case 1. The Umpire orders a
let, but a player claims that the point should not be replayed. May
the Referee be requested to give a decision?
Decision. Yes. A question of
tennis law, that is an issue relating to the application of specific
facts, shall first be determined by the Umpire. However, if the
Umpire is uncertain or if a player appeals from his determination,
then the Referee shall be requested to give a decision, and his
decision is final.
Case 2. A ball is called out
but a player claims that the ball was good. May the Referee give a
Decision. No. This is a
question of fact, that is an issue relating to what actually
occurred during a specific incident, and the decision of the
on-court officials is therefore final.
May an Umpire overrule a Linesman at the end of a rally if, in his
opinion, a clear mistake has been made during the course of a rally?
Decision. No, unless in his
opinion the opponent was hindered. Otherwise an Umpire may only
overrule a Linesman if he does so immediately after the mistake has
Case 4. A Linesman calls a
ball out. The Umpire was unable to see clearly, although he thought
the ball was in. May he overrule the Linesman?
Decision. No. An Umpire may
only overrule if he considers that a call was incorrect beyond all
reasonable doubt. He may only overrule a ball determined good by a
Linesman if he has been able to see a space between the ball and the
line; and he may only overrule a ball determined out, or a fault, by
a Linesman if he has seen the ball hit the line, or fall inside the
Case 5. May a Linesman change
his call after the Umpire has given the score?
Decision. Yes. If a Linesman
realizes he has made an error, he may make a correction provided he
does so immediately.
Case 6. A player claims his
return shot was good after a Linesman called out. May the Umpire
overrule the Linesman?
Decision. No. An Umpire may
never overrule as a result of a protest or an appeal by a player.
Continuous Play and Rest Periods
Play shall be continuous from the
first service until the match is concluded, in accordance with the
(a) If the first service is a
fault, the second service must be struck by the Server without
The Receiver must play to the
reasonable pace of the Server and must be ready to receive when the
Server is ready to serve.
When changing ends a maximum of one
minute thirty seconds shall elapse from the moment the ball goes out
of play at the end of the game to the time the ball is struck for
the first point of the next game.
The Umpire shall use his discretion
when there is interference which makes it impractical for play to be
The organizers of international
circuits and team events recognized by the ITF may determine the
time allowed between points, which shall not at any time exceed 20
seconds from the moment the ball goes out of play at the end of one
point to the time the ball is struck for the next point.
(b) Play shall never be
suspended, delayed or interfered with for the purpose of enabling a
player to recover his strength, breath, or physical condition.
However, in the case of accidental
injury, the Umpire may allow a one-time three minute suspension for
(c) If, through circumstances
outside the control of the player, his clothing, footwear or
equipment (excluding racket) becomes out of adjustment in such a way
that it is impossible or undesirable for him to play on, the Umpire
may suspend play while the maladjustment is rectified.
(d) The Umpire may suspend or
delay play at any time as may be necessary and appropriate.
the third set, or when women take part the second set, either player
is entitled to a rest, which shall not exceed 10 minutes, or in
countries situated between latitude 15 degrees north and latitude 15
degrees south, 45 minutes and furthermore, when necessitated by
circumstances not within the control of the players, the Umpire may
suspend play for such a period as he may consider necessary. If play
is suspended and is not resumed until a later day the rest may be
taken only after the third set (or when women take part the second
set) of play on such a later day, completion of an unfinished set
being counted as one set.
If play is suspended and is not
resumed until 10 minutes have elapsed in the same day the rest may
be taken only after three consecutive sets have been played without
interruption (or when women take part two sets), completion of an
unfinished set being counted as one set.
Any nation and/or committee
organizing a tournament, match or competition, other than the
International Tennis Championships (Davis Cup and Federation Cup),
is at liberty to modify this provision or omit it from its
regulations provided this is announced before the event commences.
(f) A tournament committee has
the discretion to decide the time allowed for a warm-up period prior
to a match but this may not exceed five minutes and must be
announced before the event commences.
(g) When approved point
penalty and non-accumulative point penalty systems are in operation,
the Umpire shall make his decisions within the terms of those
(h) Upon violation of the
principle that play shall be continuous the Umpire may, after giving
due warning, disqualify the offender.
During the playing of a match in a
team competition, a player may receive coaching from a captain who
is sitting on the court only when he changes ends at the end of a
game, but not when he changes ends during a tie-break game.
A player may not receive coaching
during the playing of any other match.
After due warning an offending player
may be disqualified. When an approved point penalty system is in
operation, the Umpire shall impose penalties according to that
Case 1. Should a warning be
given, or the player be disqualified, if the coaching is given by
signals in an unobtrusive manner?
Decision. The Umpire must take
action as soon as he becomes aware that coaching is being given
verbally or by signals. If the Umpire is unaware that coaching is
being given, a player may draw his attention to the fact that advice
is being given.
Case 2. Can a player receive
coaching during an authorized rest period under Rule
30(e), or when play is interrupted and he leaves the court?
Decision. Yes. In these
circumstances, when the player is not on the court, there is no
restriction on coaching.
ITF Note: The word
"coaching" includes any advice or instruction.
In cases where balls are to be
changed after a specified number of games, if the balls are not
changed in the correct sequence, the mistake shall be corrected when
the player, or pair in the case of doubles, who should have served
with new balls is next due to serve. Thereafter the balls shall be
changed so that the number of games between changes shall be that
The above Rules shall apply to the
Doubles Game except as below.
The Doubles Court
For the Doubles Game, the Court shall
be 36 feet (10.97m.) in width, i.e. 4.5 feet (1.37m.) wider on each
side than the Court for the Singles Game, and those portions of the
singles side-lines which lie between the two service-lines shall be
called the service side-lines. In other respects, the Court shall be
similar to that described in Rule
1, but the portions of the singles side-lines between the
base-line and service-line on each side of the net may be omitted if
Order of Service in Doubles
The order of serving shall be decided
at the beginning of each set as follows:
The pair who have to serve in the
first game of each set shall decide which partner shall do so and
the opposing pair shall decide similarly for the second game. The
partner of the player who served in the first game shall serve in
the third; the partner of the player who served in the second game
shall serve in the fourth, and so on in the same order in all the
subsequent games of a set.
Case 1. In doubles one player
does not appear in time to play, and his partner claims to be
allowed to play single-handed against the opposing players. May he
Order of Receiving in Doubles
The order of receiving the service
shall be decided at the beginning of each set as follows:
The pair who have to receive the
service in the first game shall decide which partner shall receive
the first service, and that partner shall continue to receive the
first service in every odd game throughout that set. The opposing
pair shall likewise decide which partner shall receive the first
service in the second game and that partner shall continue to
receive the first service in every even game throughout that set.
Partners shall receive the service alternately throughout each game.
Case 1. Is it allowable in
doubles for the server's partner or the Receiver's partner to stand
in a position that obstructs the view of the Receiver?
Decision. Yes. The Server's
partner or the Receiver's partner may take any position on his side
of the net in or out of the Court that he wishes.
Service Out of Turn in Doubles
If a partner serves out of his turn,
the partner who ought to have served shall serve as soon as the
mistake is discovered, but all points scored, and any faults served
before such discovery, shall be reckoned. If a game shall have been
completed before such discovery, the order of service remains as
Error in Order of Receiving in Doubles
If during a game the order of
receiving the service is changed by the Receivers it shall remain as
altered until the end of the game in which the mistake is
discovered, but the partners shall resume their original order of
receiving in the next game of that set in which they are Receivers
of the service.
Service Fault in Doubles
The service is a fault as provided
for by Rule
10, or if the ball touches the Server's partner or anything
which he wears or carries, but if the ball served touches the
partner of the Receiver, or anything which he wears or carries, not
being a let under Rule
14(a) before it hits the ground, the Server wins the point.
Playing the Ball in Doubles
The ball shall be struck alternately
by one or other player of the opposing pairs, and if a player
touches the ball in play with his racket in contravention of this
Rule, his opponents win the point.
ITF Note: Except where
otherwise stated, every reference in these rules to the masculine
includes the feminine gender.
1. Unless otherwise specified
all tests shall be made at a temperature of approximately 68�
Fahrenheit (20� Centigrade) and a relative humidity of
approximately 60 per cent. All balls should be removed from their
container and kept at the recognized temperature and humidity for 24
hours prior to testing, and shall be at that temperature and
humidity when the test is commenced.
2. Unless otherwise specified
the limits are for a test conducted in an atmospheric pressure
resulting in a barometric reading of approximately 30 inches
3. Other standards may be
fixed for localities where the average temperature, humidity or
average barometric pressure at which the game is being played
differs materially from 68� Fahrenheit (20� Centigrade), 60 per
cent and 30 inches (76cm.) respectively.
Applications for such adjusted
standards may be made by any National Association to the
International Tennis Federation and if approved shall be adopted for
4. In all tests for diameter a
ring gauge shall be used consisting of a metal plate, preferably
non-corrosive, of a uniform thickness of one-eighth of an inch
(.32cm.) in which there are two circular openings 2.575 inches
(6.54cm.) and 2.700 inches (6.86cm.) in diameter respectively. The
inner surface of the gauge shall have a convex profile with a radius
of one-sixteenth of an inch (.16cm.). The ball shall not drop
through the smaller opening by its own weight and shall drop through
the larger opening by its own weight.
5. In all tests for
deformation conducted under Rule
3, the machine designed by Percy Herbert Stevens and patented in
Great Britain under Patent No. 230250, together with the subsequent
additions and improvements thereto, including the modifications
required to take return deformations, shall be employed or such
other machine which is approved by a National Association and gives
equivalent readings to the Stevens machine.
6. Procedure for carrying out
(a) Pre-compression. Before
any ball is tested it shall be steadily compressed by approximately
one inch (2.54cm.) on each of three diameters at right angles to one
another in succession; this process to be carried out three times
(nine compressions in all). All tests to be completed within two
hours of precompression.
(b) Bound test (as in Rule
3). Measurements are to be taken from the concrete base to the
bottom of the ball.
(c) Size test (as in paragraph
(d) Weight test (as in Rule
(e) Deformation test. The ball
is placed in position on the modified Stevens machine so that
neither platen of the machine is in contact with the cover seam. The
contact weight is applied, the pointer and the mark brought level,
and the dials set to zero. The test weight equivalent to 18 lb.
(8.165kg.) is placed on the beam and pressure applied by turning the
wheel at a uniform speed so that five seconds elapse from the
instant the beam leaves its seat until the pointer is brought level
with the mark. When turning ceases the reading is recorded (forward
deformation). The wheel is turned again until figure ten is reached
on the scale (one inch [2.54cm.] deformation). The wheel is then
rotated in the opposite direction at a uniform speed (thus releasing
pressure) until the beam pointer again coincides with the mark.
After waiting ten seconds the pointer is adjusted to the mark if
necessary. The reading is then recorded (return deformation). This
procedure is repeated on each ball across the two diameters at right
angles to the initial position and to each other.
Rules of Wheelchair Tennis
The game of wheelchair tennis follows
the same rules as able-bodied tennis as endorsed by the
International Tennis Foundation except the wheelchair tennis player
is allowed two bounces of the ball.
Competitive Wheelchair Tennis Player. The only eligibility
requirements for an individual to become a competitive wheelchair
tennis player is that he must be medically diagnosed as having a
mobility-related disability. In other words, he must have
substantial or total loss of function in one or more extremities.
If, as a result of these functional limitations, this person would
be unable to play competitive able-bodied tennis (that is, having
the mobility to cover the court with adequate speed), then the
person would be eligible to play competitive wheelchair tennis in
sanctioned IWTF tournaments.
(a) Quadriplegic division
players shall be characterized as one who has limited mobility,
power and strength in at least three limbs due to accidents, spinal
cord injuries and other related diseases. Also included in this
division are walking quadriplegics, power wheelchair-users and
triple amputees. Players who cannot use both arms to move the chair
are allowed to use their legs. In case of doubt it is up to the IWTF
to make a decision if the player is allowed to use his legs.
If there is reason to doubt an
individual's eligibility to participate as a competitive wheelchair
tennis players, the IWTF rules committee reserves the right to
screen any player being considered for ranking. A verification of
quadriplegic status may be required, when in doubt.
2. The Ball
In wheelchair tennis the ball is
allowed to bounce twice before being returned.
(a) If the ball is taken on
the first bounce, it must bounce within the bounds of the court.
(b) If the ball is taken on
the second bounce, the second bounce can hit the ground either
within the boundaries of the court or outside the court boundaries
before being returned.
(a) The ball served may, after
hitting the ground in the service court, hit the ground once again
within the bounds of the court or outside the court boundaries
before being returned.
(b) The server shall
throughout the delivery of the service:
-- Not change position by rolling or spinning. The server shall not
by slight movements of the wheels which do not materially affect the
location originally taken up by him, be deemed "to change his
position by rolling or spinning."
-- Not touch, with any wheel, any area other than that behind
the baseline within the imaginary extension of the center-mark and
(c) If the player deliberately
uses any part of his lower extremities as brakes or as stabilizers
while delivering service, the service is deemed a fault.
(d) If conventional methods
for the service are physically impossible for a quadriplegic player,
then another individual may drop the ball for such a player.
4. Player Loses Point. The
wheelchair is part of the body. All applicable rules apply. A player
loses the point if:
(a) The ball in play touches
him or his wheelchair or anything he wears or carries, except his
racket in his hand(s). This loss of a point occurs regardless of
whether the player is inside or outside the bounds of his court when
the ball touches him.
(b) A served ball hits him or
his wheelchair or anything he wears or carries, except his racket in
his hand(s). If the server hits his own partner with the served
ball, then it is a fault.
(c) He deliberately uses any
part of his feet or lower extremities as brakes or as stabilizers
while delivering the service, stroking a ball, turning or stopping.
(d) He fails to keep one
buttock in contact with his wheelchair seat contacting the ball.
It is legal for a player to hit a return, fall out of his chair and
then get back into his chair to make the next return.
Tennis. Where a wheelchair player is defined in Rule
1 above is playing with able-bodied persons, then again the
rules of tennis shall apply.
In this instance, however, the
wheelchair player is allowed only one bounce and Rules 2
above shall therefore not apply.
Tie-Breaks and No-Ad Scoring
1. Tie-Break Use Mandatory.
Use of the 12-point tie-break is mandatory in all sanctioned
tournaments in all sets.
2. Twelve-Point Tie-Break
Singles. Player A, having served the
first game of the set, serves the first point from the right court;
Player B serves points 2 and 3 (left and right); A serves points 4
and 5 (left and right); B serves point 6 (left) and after they
change ends, point 7 (right); A serves points 8 and 9 (left and
right); B serves points 10 and 11 (left and right); A serves point
12 (left). A player who reaches seven points during these first 12
points wins the game and set. If the score has reached six points
all, the players change ends and continue in the same pattern until
one player establishes a margin of two points which gives him the
game and set. Note that the players change ends every six points and
that the player who serves the last point of one of these 6-point
segments also serves the first point of the next one (from right
court). For a following set the players change ends and B serves the
Doubles. The same pattern as in
singles applies, with partners preserving their serving sequence. In
a game of A-B versus C-D, with A having served the first game of the
set, A serves the first point (right); C serves points 2 and 3 (left
and right); B serves points 4 and 5 (left and right); D serves point
6 (left) and after the teams change ends, D serves point 7 (right);
A serves points 8 and 9 (left and right); C serves points 10 and 11
(left and right); B serves point 12 (left). A team that wins seven
points during these first 12 points wins the game and set. If the
score has reached six points all, the teams change ends. B then
serves point 13 (right), and they continue until one team
establishes a two-point margin and thus wins the game and set. As in
singles, they change ends for one game to start a following set,
with team C-D to serve first.
3. Experimental 12-point
tie-break. The experimental 12-point tie-break is the same as the
present 12-point tie-break except that ends are changed after the
first point, then after every four points, and at the conclusion of
the tie-break game.
4. When experimental 12-point
tie-break is authorized. For experimental purposes, a section may
authorize any tournament below the National Championship level to
use the experimental 12-point tie-break. For experimental purposes,
the USTA Sanctions and Schedules Committee may authorize the use of
the experimental 12-point tie-break for any other tournament. Any
tournament electing to use the experimental 12-point tie-break must
announce the election before the start of tournament play.
5. Recording the tie-break
score. The score of the tie-break set will be written 7-6(x) or
6-7(x), with (x) being the number of points won by the loser of the
tie break. For example, 7-6(4) means the tie-break score was 7-4,
and 6-7(14) means the tie-break score was 14-16.
6. Changing ends during the
tie-break. Changes of ends during a tie-break game are to be made
within the normal time allowed between points.
7. Ball changes. If a ball
change is due on a tie-break game, it will be deferred until the
start of the second game of the next set. A tie-break game counts as
one game in determining ball changes.
8. No-Ad scoring. The No-Ad
procedure is simply what the name implies; the first player to win
four points wins the game, with the seventh point of a game becoming
a game point for each player. The receiver has the choice of
advantage court or deuce court to which the service is to be
delivered on the seventh point. No-ad scoring is authorized for
tournaments at the sectional championship level and below. A
tournament electing to use no-ad scoring must announce the election
before the start of the tournament play except as set forth in paragraph
Note: The score-calling may be either
in the conventional terms or in simple number, i.e., "zero,
one, two, three, game."
Cautionary Note: Any ITF-authorized
tournament should get special authorization from ITF before using
9. Change to
No-Ad scoring. The referee can switch to no-ad scoring from regular
scoring in any round without prior notice on the entry blank when in
the referee's discretion the change is necessary to complete the
tournament after inclement weather or other factors cause the
tournament to fall behind its published schedule.