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Posts Tagged ‘ITF’

PostHeaderIcon Playing to the Rules versus Playing for Fun


What happens when the server in doubles hits the receiver’s partner at the net with a serve?

Of course, the correct answer is that the point goes to the server (Friend at Court 2013: page 17, #24 case 7). It’s rare, because usually the net person avoids the hit. In fact, I’ve never seen this situation until today when I inadvertently hit the receiver’s partner at the net who was crowding the “T” in an effort to intimidate me from aiming down the middle on the ad-court. (It was a lower leg hit, so there was no injury.)

As I hit him, he jokingly said, “I guess your point, huh?” My partner said yeah and started walking to the other side. After previously giving us the point, albeit jokingly, he started in on my partner about how this was supposed to be a “fun” set, and that we should just “take two” – meaning take a first serve on the point.

My partner was insistent on taking the point, correctly stating that what happened was correct via the rules of tennis, and that we don’t just follow the rules we want to follow when it’s convenient or advantageous.

Meanwhile, the receiver chimed in on the ridiculousness of my partner’s actions in taking the point since I’d clearly served to the wrong service box, and that you couldn’t win a point in that manner. (My inner official tried to gently say that these were the rules but his own logic wouldn’t let him hear it.)

So what started as one of those fluke moments in doubles quickly escalated into chaos. The receiver was miffed at my partner for wanting to take the point. His partner, the one who’d been hit, argued that we shouldn’t nitpick like this in a social set of tennis, my partner was (as it turned out) very upset for feeling attacked on a correct call to take the point for the hit, and I just wanted to keep playing for fun and “take two”.

My partner sat down after an exchange of words with the receiver and said he didn’t want to play anymore. The receiver, miffed that my partner would call something so ludicrous, put his racquet in his bag and left. Me and the guy I’d hit were left on court with “WTH just happened?” expressions on our faces. And a couple of other “next up” guys who’d been watching the whole episode were left feeling extremely uncomfortable.

To make matters worse, a woman who lives in an apartment building across from the courts came down to ask us to keep it down, because we’d woken her up. Mind you, these courts are located adjacent to an all-weather soccer field, a playground with a summer session for kids, and construction that includes jackhammers. Even with all of that going on, WE were the tipping point for her.

The whole episode, including a misunderstanding of the rules and questions on whether to apply them to a social set of tennis, was unfortunate. And in my opinion, the outcome of one person sitting down and the other leaving was needless. Particularly when playing social dubs like we were playing.

Granted, the ITF rules and “The Code” are there for a reason, but there’s one question that got missed in today’s incident.  That question is: are the rules more important than the fun? If they are, then you need to apply them all consistently. That includes calling foot faults, not catching balls that are flying out, and other similar rules that are mostly overlooked in social tennis settings.

I was reminded of the old adage: “Would you rather be right, or would you rather be happy?”  When it comes to tennis, I’ll take the happy.

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