Q. If a server addresses the line, and the receiver addresses the line, and then the server instead of bouncing the ball and performing the toss and serving normally…. stares at you intently for 15 to 20 seconds until he sees you relax or otherwise lose interest… and then proceeds to serve immediately, Is that legal?
A. If the wait is too long, the receiver may indicate they're not ready by holding up their hand and backing off. Cat and mouse games in these instances can become complicated and aggravating. Just remember, the server cannot serve until the receiver is ready and the server and receiver must make certain that play is continuous.
Q. If you cannot hear the server call the score out, and he/she serves without you hearing it, can you tell him/her, “Wait, I didn't hear you say the score,” if you tap the ball to put the ball out of play? Can you ask the server to repeat the score when you clearly didn't hear it being said?
A. If the point has not begun and you hold up play to ask the server the score, that is permitted. If the point begins, you must finish that point and then ask.
Q. At what moment is the ball first actually "in play"? Is it the moment at which the server strikes the ball, or is it the moment at which the serve lands inside the service box? In a doubles match, if the ball is "in play" at the instant at which the server strikes the ball, then in the rare occurrence when an errant first serve hits the server's partner without first bouncing, then shouldn't the serving team lose the point, rather than only be charged with a fault? After all, if a serve hits the receiver's partner without first bouncing, the receiving team loses that point.
A. In this case for the point to be “in play,” the ball must cross the net and have an opportunity to land in the service box.
When a first serve hits the server’s partner, it is a fault, not loss of point. The ball never crossed the net. It would be like serving the ball into the net.
If a ball crosses the net properly (no service let) and the ball then hits the receiver or the receiver’s partner before the ball lands, it is a loss of point to the receiving team. The ball on the serve crossed the net, and the receiving team did not allow the opportunity for the ball to land in the service box.
If on a let serve the ball touches a player on the receiving team before it lands on the court, it is a let, and the server repeats that serve.
Q. I was playing a match with no-ad scoring. At a very important 3 all point, my opponent called my first serve out. After, he corrected the call and called the serve in. What should have been done in this situation? We played 2 and I ended up losing the point. Should the point have been mine because of the missed call by my opponent?
A. If the receiver returns the ball in play, then replay the entire point. First serve. We want to encourage players to correct erroneous calls. (Note: If the return was a weak sitter, the receiver should concede the point.) If the receiver did not return the ball in play, it is the server’s point.
Q. In a doubles match, my partner was serving and on his first serve he hit me. Our opponents said we lose the point. Is this right?
A. It is a fault if the ball from the server hits his/her partner.
Q. I am a recent "convert: to tennis from racquetball and have a question that I can not find in the rules.
What, if any, is the penalty for serving when the receiver is signaling "Not Ready" (off court, hand raised, back to server, etc)? I know from my years of tournament play in racquetball that it is a fault (rule 3.5.b), but it seems to be an accepted practice in tennis to try to quick serve and hope the receiver is "too nice" to complain. Am I missing something?
A. If the server hits a serve while the receiver is holding their hand up to show that they are not yet ready to receive the serve, then that serve does not count and that serve should be repeated.
Q. Which takes precedent--the server's right to serve at his/her own pace, or the receiver's right to take his full 25 seconds between points?
A. In most events (with the exception of collegiate events) the receiver must play to the reasonable pace of the server and may not take 25 seconds between points.
Q. Is there a certain amount a person must not exceed when serving? I have run into a few cases where the server tosses and tosses, then misses, and starts the process again. It is very distracting to wait and wait for the serve.(at least 45 seconds at times!).
A. Play must be continuous. With officials on court, the server may have 20-25 seconds between points depending upon the event. With no officials, the act of consistently catching tosses that holds up play from being “continuous” is not acceptable. An errant toss from time to time is acceptable. Constant errant tosses that hold up play is not acceptable.
Q. What is the rule about running or stepping into the serve motion?
A. Serving the ball as one would in volley ball with a big step leading into the serve is not legal. The front foot should be stationary at the start of the service motion behind the baseline and the foot cannot touch the line while the player is in the service motion. It is permitted to jump in the air from a stationary position with the front foot on the serve when hitting the ball but the foot may not come down into the court or on the line until the ball is struck.
Q. In professional ATP tennis there is 25 (or was it 20???) seconds between the time the judge states the score and the next serve. Is this the time between when the judge states the score and when the server starts to serve OR the time between when the judge states the score and the server hits the ball?
The reason I ask is I noted Novak Djokovic likes to bounce the ball a lot. It takes him 0.49 second a bounce (a very rough estimate). If he bounces 30 times, that's 13.7 seconds. Is that time included in the 25 seconds rule?
A. Different events have different time procedures. In general, it is 20-25 seconds between points. The time starts from the end of the previous point to the time that the first serve is struck on the next point. It is not dependant on the chair umpire stating the score. It is probably just enough time for Novak’s service preparation.
Q. I am curious the amount of time a player has to call a serve in or out. If the receiver returns the ball and it goes over the net at what point is it a late call and what is an acceptable time frame.
A. The call must come immediately. A player cannot wait until they see the result of the return. I hard serve coming in is always tough for the receiver and everyone’s response time varies. However any call that feels very late probably is.
Q. I have a friend who serves with both balls in her hand. I find it distracting to return when I can still see the second ball in her hand moving. Is there a rule that says that a ball must be put in a server's pocket or be out of sight? I realize we all play with balls pushed towards the net but it is distracting to see a yellow ball in constant motion until the point is complete. While I put up with this from my friend, I would rather not have this done in a match.
A. A player is permitted to carry the second ball in their hand. Such an action is not considered a hindrance. The player may not throw the second ball to the back of the fence during the point.