What happens if someone serves out of a turn during a match?
© Juan Ocampo
Have you ever had a dispute with a fellow player over a call on the court that you couldn’t settle? Or have you ever wondered why a certain ruling was made during a match you were watching? Maybe you’re just curious about how some scenarios, from the common to the ridiculous, are resolved.
USTA Director of Officials Richard Kaufman is here to answer your questions. He selects a few submissions at a time and supplies the definitive rulings through a Q&A.
Have a question of your own? Write to The Final Word!
Subject: Serving out of turn
Question from Scott: I was playing in a USTA Men's Open tournament this past weekend. I won the first set, 6-4, and broke to go up 2-1 in the second. We switched sides, my opponent then served again and won the game. As he hit the balls over for me to serve I realized that he just served out of turn. We both did not know what to do so we agreed to just continue the match at 2-2 with me serving. What is the proper thing to do in this situation?
KAUFMAN: Since you completed the game you did the correct thing: You would now serve. The order of serve shall continue as altered. If you had discovered the error during the game, you would correct immediately and all points would stand and you would now serve the completion of that game. If there was a fault, you would start serving with a first serve. See Rule 27, Rules of Tennis, CORRECTING ERRORS.
Subject: Hindrance to a returner
Question from Tony: A guy was serving and faulted, with the ball hitting the net and rolling back into the middle of his side of the court. The returner asked him to remove the ball, but the server said that it was his decision and did not want to remove it. Can the returner ask the server to remove a ball on the server's side of the net? If so, does the server get a first serve or a second serve?
KAUFMAN: The server must remove the ball that may create a hindrance during a point if requested. Then, after it is removed, it is a second serve.