Player A was advancing toward the net for a swinging volley. His volley struck his opponent (Player B) in the leg. Player A’s follow-through caused him to hit the net with his racquet and then his body, as he could not stop his forward momentum. Player B acknowledged that the ball had struck him. Player A acknowledged that he had hit the net. Player A thought that the ball had hit Player B’s leg before Player A’s racquet hit the net. Player B thought that Player A had struck the net before the ball hit his leg. If neither player retreats from their stance, who makes the call?
—Mike Gajewski, Tucson, AZ
Thank you for a unique situation that some of my officiating compatriots are still arguing over. It would be so easy to throw up your hands and play a let, but if you use The Code and a little logic you’ll arrive where I did: Player A wins the point.
Why? A player’s shot is “in play” until one of three things happens: It lands outside the lines of the opponent’s court; it lands in the opponent’s court and then bounces a second time or touches a player or permanent fixture; or it strikes a player or permanent fixture on the fly (Rules 11 and 24). Under The Code, Item 19, a player must concede the point when he or she touches the net while the ball is “in play.” Thus, that player has two determinations: Did he touch the net, and did that touch occur while the ball was “in play”? Here Player A answered “yes” to the first, but “no” to the second, so he does not concede the point. Meanwhile, also under The Code, Item 19, Player B must acknowledge if the ball touched him. He did. So if Player B acknowledges that the ball touched him, and Player A determined that it was before he touched the net, Player A wins the point.
Except where noted, answers are based on the ITF Rules of Tennis and USTA's The Code.
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