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The Final Word: Changing Ends and Serve Rotation

September 19, 2013 03:17 PM
Can you switch the rotation of serves in a tiebreaker?
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!
Topic: Rotating Serves

Question: We split sets and played a 10-point tiebreak instead of a third set. Are you allowed to switch the rotation of serves in the (match) tiebreak or do you have to keep the same rotation you had in the last set?

KAUFMAN: In a set tiebreak (first to 7 and win by a margin of 2), the order of serve remains the same as it did during the set and may not be altered. The match tiebreak (first to 10 by a margin of 2) is played in lieu of a third set, so it is different. The team that was meant to start serving first if there was a third set is the team that starts serving for the match tiebreak. That cannot be altered. However, as is the case in determining which player on a team serves in a new set, the team may alter which player serves first on that team to start the match tiebreak since it is treated like a new set.

Topic: Changing Ends
Question: After winning the first set of a doubles match, 7-5, I was told that I needed to serve without the 120-second set break because a change of end was not needed. I thought there was always a break between sets whether or not a change of ends was necessary?

KAUFMAN: There is always a 120-second set break after any set, no matter what the score is and even if there is no change of ends due to an even number of games played. Remember, when it is an even number of games after the completion of a set (7-5, 6-4, 6-2, 6-0), be certain that you return to the side you were on prior to the 120-second break since there is not a change of ends after an even number of games played in a completed set. If the score was 7-6, 6-3, 6-1 (odd number of games), then you would change ends after the 120-second set break.


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