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What's the Call: Retrieving errant balls

January 24, 2016 10:15 PM

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.

The USTA Tennis Rules and Regulations Committee is here to answer your questions. Have a question of your own? Write to What's the Call!

Question: In a doubles match, my partner was receiving serve. The first serve was out and rolled on to the adjacent court. My partner went all the way over into the adjacent court to retrieve the ball while we were all waiting for her. The server had been ready to serve all along.  When my partner returned, I told the server to take two serves, and this upset my partner. I believed that my partner should not have left the court to retrieve the ball and so I offered two serves as a courtesy. If I understand correctly, that ball should have been retrieved at the end of the game. Can you please tell me the ruling? (submitted by Dianne)

Answer: You exhibited good sportsmanship by offering the server two serves in this situation, as contemplated by Code 30. As explained in Code 29, a receiver is required to play at the reasonable pace of the server. That ball should have been retrieved after the point was over, not between the first and second serves.


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