In an officiated match, if your hat falls off, the umpire will call a let.
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: Calling Lets
Question from Judy: If your hat falls off during play of a point, do you automatically lose the point; or do you continue play?
KAUFMAN: In an officiated match, a let is called by the umpire if your hat falls off, a ball comes out of your pocket, a towel falls from your side, etc. If something like that happens again then the player loses the point. In an un-officiated match, only the opposing player may call a let immediately. If the opposing player continues the point then NO let can be called as the point continues nor at the conclusion of the point.
Question from George: In a practice match, my opponent hit a ball to me. I reached for it, and my racquet slipped out of my hand and fell on the court. My opponent immediately stopped playing, said that it was a hindrance, and therefore claimed the point. I thought that a let should have been played, and my opponent should have another first serve. What's the correct answer here? Let's take the above situation one step further. What if the racquet is in the hand of the player when he hits the ball, flies out of his/her hand, comes over the net to the opponent's court?
KAUFMAN: The racquet flying out of the hand of a player is not considered a hindrance and play should continue, as long as the racquet was in the hand of the player when he or she hit the ball. If the racquet lands in the opponent’s court or the net while the point is still in play, that is invasion and loss of point.