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What's the Call: Returning a serve before it bounces

February 24, 2016 11:21 AM

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: During my match, my opponent’s second serve was consistently hit short with a lot of backspin. On one such second serve, I rushed forward and took the ball in the air before it bounced into the service box. Is this legal? (submitted by Harold T.)

Answer: Nice idea, but that is not a legal shot. You lose the point because, according to Rule 24.e, a point is lost if the receiver returns the service before it bounces.


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