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.
The USTA constantly receives these types of questions from players and fans, so we figured it’s about time we provided a forum in which queries about rules can be answered. Thus, we present to you The Final Word.
Readers can send their burning questions about the rules of tennis along with their name and town to FinalWord@USTA.com. Each week, we will select submissions and supply the definitive rulings through a Q&A with USTA Director of Officials Richard Kaufman.
On to this week's questions and responses...
Q: Anything in the rules about a player using gloves while playing? Like a baseball or golf glove?
Keith M. (from New York, NY)
KAUFMAN: It is permitted to wear a glove.
Q: If a ball hits the hand that is holding the racquet and the balls goes over the net, is that a good return or not? Why?
Steve Z. (from Seattle, WA)
KAUFMAN: If the ball hits the hand holding the racket or any other part of the body, it is loss of point. The Rules of Tennis do not consider the hand as a part of the racket.
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.
KAUFMAN: 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: In a doubles match, the server served out of turn in a tie-breaker. The receiver knew it was the wrong server and stood there (in a relaxed position) waiting for the opposing team to figure it out. However, the server proceeded to serve and claimed the point. What’s the ruling here?
Rinda (Brasov, Romania)
KAUFMAN: There are all sorts of procedures for correcting mistakes for serving, receiving, tiebreaks, sides, rotation, etc. However one thing always is the case: Any point played to its conclusion stands. In your case no one said anything. The point was played. The mistake was then confirmed. The error is corrected according the Rules. However that point played still stands.
Since 1997, Richard Kaufman has served as Director of Officials for the USTA and Chief Umpire of the US Open. He's an ITF Certified Gold Badge Chief Umpire and an ITF Certified Silver Badge Referee, and has been a USTA Certified Official since 1977. Kaufman has also worked as the Chair Umpire for the US Open men's final (1983, 1987, 1996), US Open women's final (1988, 1995), the Australian Open men's final (1987), the Wimbledon men's doubles final (1987), the French Open men's doubles final (1988), and the Masters Cup final (1985-96).
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