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The Final Word: Serving Motions

Can you change position on the court after a first serve fault?
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: Serving

I played against a player who stands close to the center divide when serving. When he serves to the deuce court, he starts in the proper position, but during the swing, most of his body clearly crosses the center divide before he hits the ball and before his foot touches inside the court or the other half of the court. Is his serving action within the rules? 

KAUFMAN: Once the service motion begins, the server may not touch the court across the center divide. However, if the server's body swings across that line after the motion begins and his or her body is in the air and not touching the court across the center divide, then it is legal.

Question: I played a doubles match recently where the server faulted on the first serve and then moved from the T to the doubles alley of the baseline for his second serve. Are you allowed to move locations between you first and second serve?

KAUFMAN: Yes. The server can move into the doubles alley in doubles, or to the singles sideline in singles. He or she CAN change positions for the second serve after a first serve fault.


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