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Q. How many bathroom breaks can a player take in a match? Is it OK to take bathroom breaks to irritate your opponent?

A. There is one permissible trip to the toilet for the men, and two for the ladies.

If/when a player needs an additional bathroom break during a tournament match, then he/she may take it on a changeover- with the understanding that he/she has 90 seconds to get back on-court for the start of the next game or he/she is subject to a delay of game warning, and then a penalty point.

Leaving the court for a bathroom break should never be done to “irritate” your opponent. Doing this to gain a competitive advantage is a shameful example of gamesmanship.

Q. I'm a competitive junior tennis player and I want to know if you are allowed to listen to your iPod during changeovers. Is this allowed or not?

A. This is legal. Actually, it is not a bad idea. If you can choose some music that settles your nerves or, alternately, psyches you up, then it makes perfect sense to listen to your iPod on the brief change of ends after odd games or at the end of a set. During the changeovers, you want to take care of the following items:

1. To rest and get your heart rate down.

2. To drink a little (water) and, when necessary, nibble on some “energy” food.

3. Dry your perspiration.

4. Assess what is going on out on the court: Who is doing what to whom?

5. Decide on the correct tactics that you will need to implement for the best chance of success.

6. Does this leave you time to put your iPod earphones in? I think that it does. It might clear your mind momentarily and help you to get, or stay, focused. Ultimately, you will need to experiment to see if this works for you though.

B. CORRECTION TO ABOVE ANSWER: “Effective immediately, USTA has adopted the International Tennis Federation (ITF) policy relating to electronic devices. ITF policy bans the use of all electronic devices by players at any time during a match, even if the device is only used to play music. So from now on, make sure all iPods, cell phones, Blackberrys, laptops etc. are stowed away before you go on court. Written material may be consulted during a match on the changeover, but remember, you only have a maximum of 90 seconds for a changeover starting with the moment that one point finishes to the time the first serve is struck for the next point. At the end of each set, there is a 120 second break, the same parameters applying.”

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