In a doubles match, my opponent’s first serve hit the line and I returned it. The server apparently thought his serve was out and seemed to stop playing the point. He swung at the ball, but didn’t move. The ball hit his racquet frame, clipped the top of the net and dropped in. We didn’t make a play. The server’s partner claimed they won the point. We claimed that the server stopped playing the point. We saw his reaction and thought he assumed his serve was out, even if we did not make a call. We asked for a let but his partner insisted that they won the point. Who is right?  

— Kemal Atesmen, Santa Barbara, CA

All that thinking and assuming cost you and your partner the point. Check out Rule 11: “Unless a fault or a let is called, the ball is in play from the moment the server hits the ball, and remains in play until the point is decided.” Did you call a fault? No. Did you return his shot that cleared the net? No. That’s the definition of losing a point. Your opponent doesn’t have to look like he is trying. He just has to hit the ball in. Pay more attention to yourself rather than your opponent next time.


Except where noted, answers are based on the ITF Rules of Tennis and USTA's The Code.

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