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Winning the Toss

Q. The winner of the toss is entitled to either serve, receive, choose a side or defer the first 3 choices (serve, receive, or side) to the opponent. Who gets to serve if neither chooses serve/receive as an option? For example, I win the toss and defer the choices to my opponent, who chooses a side; is the ball back in my court (so to speak) and I get to choose between serve/receive, or I automatically get to serve, or do we toss again to decide who gets to serve (if so, does the 2nd toss winner start with the 3 choices of serve/receive/defer, as the side has already been determined by the 1st toss?).

A. One more time!!!

The rule is that if a player(s) win the coin toss (racket spin), that player(s) may:

Choose to serve or receive in the first game of the match, in which case the opponent(s) shall choose the end of the court for the first game of the match.

Choose end of the court, in which case the opponent(s) choose to serve or receive first.

To REQUIRE the opponent(s) to make one of the above 2 choices; to either serve or receive first OR to chose end of the court to begin the match.

The player(s) who won the toss initially and chose to defer to their opponent(s, may now make one of the two above choices, to choose either end of the court OR to chose to serve or receive first, which depends upon the opponents choice of #1 or #2.

The winning of the toss does not entitle player(s) to make all decisions. Once you require your opponent to make the initial decision, it is like they won the toss. However, the one thing they cannot do is to defer back to you. The must choose either #1 or #2.

The advantage of winning the toss and requiring your opponents to make the initial decision has to do a player’s preference in serving, especially in doubles. In doubles, many players prefer to serve from a particular side of the court. Some serve well into the sun, others do not. By requiring your opponents to make the initial decision, you control the side that you and your partner prefer to serve from throughout the first set.

Q. In the official rules of tennis it states "the player winning the toss may choose or require his opponent to choose: a) the right to be Server or Receiver...or b) the end....Does this mean that if I win the toss I can "defer" and require my opponent to make his choice of serving or receiving, or the end?

A. Yes, you may make your opponent make the initial decision of serve, receive, or side.

Q. I would just like to clear this up because I can interpret this two ways, can I force my opponent to make the decision of side, then after he has chosen, I choose to serve or receive?

A. No Austin, but nice try. If you defer, your opponent now gets the same initial choices that you would have had if you did not defer: serve, receive or side.

Q. I had submitted this inquiry some time ago to the USTA and received a terse answer. I have a copy of the "2004 Official Rules of Tennis." Unless something has changed in more recent editions, my point applies.

I call your attention to Rule 9. Choice of Ends & Service. I contend that 9.c. is ambiguous and subject to a couple of interpretations. It is a matter of semantics.

The point is that 9.c. can mean one of the following:

1. I win the toss, and I choose NOT to elect to serve or choose a court. Instead, I instruct my opponent to select an option from 9.a exclusively.

2. I win the toss, and I choose NOT to elect to serve or choose a court. Instead, I instruct my opponent to select an option from 9.b exclusively.

3. I win the toss, and I choose NOT to elect to serve or choose a court. Instead, my opponent has the option of selecting from 9.a OR 9.b.

A. Thanks for your question. For years, players have read too much into this rule and have come up with some interesting interpretations.

The rule (Rules of Tennis: Rule 9) is that if a player(s) wins the coin toss (racquet spin), that player(s) may:

1. Choose to serve or receive in the first game of the match, in which case the opponent(s) shall choose the end of the court for the first game of the match.

2. Choose end of the court, in which case the opponent(s) choose to serve or receive first.

3. To REQUIRE the opponent(s) to make one of the above two choices; that is to either serve or receive first OR to choose the end of the court to begin the match. The player(s) who won the toss initially and required that their opponent(s) choose one of the two above choices, now choose either end of the court OR to serve or receive, depending upon the opponent’s choice.

Q. In the official rules of tennis it states "the player winning the toss may choose or require his opponent to choose: a) the right to be Server or Receiver...or b) the end....

Does this mean that if I win the toss I can "defer" and require my opponent to make his choice of serving or receiving, or the end?

A.Yes, you may make your opponent make the initial decision of serve, receive, or side.

Q. The rule book says that a player may defer and give his opponent the choice of serve, receive or side. In a recent match, my opponent deferred. When I chose to serve, he said he was then entitled to choose the side. I said this would give him a second choice. He disagreed. If a player defers, how do you decide who serves if the other player chooses the side?

A. One more time!!!

The rule is that if a player(s) win the coin toss (racket spin), that player(s) may:

Choose to serve or receive in the first game of the match, in which case the opponent(s) shall choose the end of the court for the first game of the match.

Choose end of the court, in which case the opponent(s) choose to serve or receive first.

To REQUIRE the opponent(s) to make one of the above 2 choices; to either serve or receive first OR to chose end of the court to begin the match.

The player(s) who won the toss initially and chose to defer to their opponent(s), may now make one of the two above choices, to choose either end of the court OR to chose to serve or receive first, which depends upon the opponents choice of #1 or #2.

The winning of the toss does not entitle player(s) to make all decisions. Once you require your opponent to make the initial decision, it is like they won the toss. However, the one thing they cannot do is to defer back to you. The must choose either #1 or #2.

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