What's the call? Playing with a broken ball

March 12, 2020

Have you ever had a dispute with a fellow player over a call on the court that you couldn’t settle? Maybe you’re just curious about how some scenarios, from the common to the ridiculous, are resolved.


Question: I started my social league match by hitting a hard low shot at my opponent's feet while she was approaching the net.  My opponent attempted to hit the ball back but the ball bounced twice on her side of the court and kept rolling.


I thought I had just hit a great shot to win the first point, but she immediately picked up the ball and said it was broken and had no compression. She asked for a let but I stated that I had won the point already. What is the correct call?


Answer: If gone unchecked, a broken ball can be easily overlooked. A good rule of thumb is to always shake and squeeze the balls when you take them out of the can. Unfortunately, even if you hit a great shot, you will need to replay it because the ball is broken. On the other hand, if the ball is soft, the point stands. It is reasonable for a ball to bounce if it is broken because there could be a tear in it or a piece of plastic in the ball that is rattling. 


In both cases, you should make sure to take the ball out of play.


A broken ball is not necessarily one that is ripped but it also one that has no compression. A ball can become broken during the point or may be broken at the start but it wasn't notice right away. There have been times where a point starts and a player doesn't notice there is no compression. 




For the "Friend at Court" handbook and more information on the rules of tennis, visit the rules and regulations homepage.



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