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Final Word: Serves and Lets

June 17, 2013 03:53 PM
What if an errant ball interrupts your serve?
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.
USTA Director of Officials Richard Kaufman is here to answer your questions. He selects a few submissions at a time and supplies the definitive rulings through a Q&A.
Have a question of your own? Write to The Final Word!
Topic: First or Second Serves

Question: I was playing a doubles match, and on the court beside us was another doubles match. One of my opponents served to me and missed the serve. However, before he served the second serve, a ball from the other court came onto my court side. I immediately called a let and he did not serve, but then he wanted the first serve again. Is that the rule?
KAUFMAN: If your opponent had not started the service motion for the second serve and the delay was not long, then it is a second serve. If you stopped your opponent from serving during the service motion, or if the delay was very long, then the server is entitled to a first serve.
Topic: Who can call a let?
Question: I served the ball, heard it hit the cord and my opponent returned it. I stopped immediately and did not return the ball, explaining to my opponent that it was a let since the ball hit the net. She insisted she did not hear the ball hit the cord. I asked to play a let but she refused since she said the one receiving the serve calls the let, not the server. Who's correct?
KAUFMAN: In The Code: Part 2, Friend At Court, #27, page 48: "Any player may call a service let. The call shall be made before the return of serve goes out of play or is hit by the server or server’s partner. If the serve is an apparent or near ace, any let should be called promptly." In most cases the let call on serve is made by the receiver, but the procedure for unofficiated matches is that any player may call a service let.


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