On Court Player Towel

Speed Logo Zone Hat


Peace & Love T-shirt

Calling a Let

Q. Yesterday I was playing doubles and serving. My first serve hit the net and I thought it rolled to a stop. It did not, but I threw my second ball up to hit it anyway at which point the opposing side said “stop.” Once the ball stopped rolling, I asked for two serves, as they stopped me in the middle of serving. They would not give it to me as it was my serve that was rolling. It was on our side of the net, so it was not impeding them.

It was just a friendly game, but we wanted to clarify in case it came up on League play.

A. If you had waited for the ball to stop moving, and then started your motion and THEN your opponents stopped you, you would have a case for a first serve. However the ball was still rolling. Your opponents were not certain where that ball was going to settle. You started your motion before clearing the ball or waiting for it to stop or move off of the court. They had a right to stop you and not give you a first serve in this case.

Q. Two cases regarding self-officiated match code interpretation:

1. A legal serve is returned hard and near sideline for a winner. Server realizes he served a ball that had rolled from adjacent court, which was less lively than the ones they had been playing with, and after the point requests to do the point over. Should he get it over?

2. Just before a second serve, receiver calls time due to stray ball; server proceeds with serve. Does he get two serves or one?


1. The point stands as played with the ball from the adjacent court.

2. If the server began his/her service motion and play is suddenly stopped due to outside hindrance, the server gets a first serve. If the server was not in the second-service motion and there is not a long delay between the first and second serve, then the server only gets the second serve.

Q. This fall I was involved in a match during the final match of the 5.0 Men’s Nationals in Palm Springs. I was involved in a third set super breaker at #1 Doubles. I was serving to the Deuce Court up 7-5 in the breaker. I hit a long first serve that my opponent hit into the side fence of the court, I served my second serve. Upon serving my second serve he returned the serve and announced that he was not ready and that I could serve another second serve. It is my understanding that when you make an attempt to return a serve then you are deemed ready and you lose the point. Or at the very least give your opponent two serves. The roving umpire did not know the rule. Fortunately for my team we ended up winning the National Title- but what is the correct rule. Can the player return the ball and tell you they are not ready? Thank you for your answer.

A. Any serious attempt to return any serve forfeits your claim that you were not ready to receive serve.

Q. If my opponent serves and I call a let, but he does not agree, who has the final say?

A. Few people know this, but according to "The Code, a Players' Guide to Unofficiated Matches", any player (in singles or doubles) can call a service let (ball touching the net). It must be done promptly. Usually the receiver(s) make the call and many players on the serving side decide not to get involved with the call thinking maybe they were mistaken.

If the server hears a clear let and the receiver does not call it, it is best for the server to call it ASAP. Otherwise, the server hears a let and the receiver hits a winner, and after some hesitation, the server asks "Did you hear a let?" That is always difficult situation to resolve after the point has been played.

Q. I play in a mixed-doubles group. I was receiving. The server's first serve was a fault. The ball bounced off the back fence and rolled into my playing area. I stepped out of receiving position to pick up the ball and put it in my pocket. Before I could remove my hand from my pocket the server began service. The ball was in, but I made no attempt to return it calling a "Let" since I wasn't ready. Does a receiver have an obligation to call out, or hold up a hand when he believes he is being quick-served by an opponent?

A. The server may not serve until the receiver is ready. The server must look to see if the receiver is ready. If the receiver is not ready it is recommended that the receiver holds up their hand or says “wait please.” In this way there is no doubt that the receiver is not ready.

Q. I'm playing doubles, and I'm serving to the deuce court. The receiver's partner is standing very close to the "T". I try and serve to the "T", but my serve is a little off, and the ball hits the receiver's partner in the chest. Is this a fault with a second serve coming, or does the server get the point?

A. The server wins the point. Any serve that hits an opposing player prior to the bounce no matter where they are standing, is point to the server. A let that hits an opponent prior to the bounce is a let.

Print Article Email Article Newsletter Signup Share

In This Section:

Click here to send your burning questions about the rules of tennis along with your name and town.

Knowledge Areas: 

USTA Membership
Learn More or Login
Learn More or Login
Newsletter Signup

Copyright 2017 by United States Tennis Association. All Rights Reserved.

Online Advertising | Site Map | About Us | Careers | Internships | Contact Us | Terms of Use | Umpire Policy | Privacy Policy | AdChoices

Connect with us! Facebook-38x39 Twitter-38x39 Youtube-38x39