Stump The Ump

//Stump The Ump
Stump The Ump2020-08-31T19:48:33+00:00

Can you call a let for a sneeze? Can you ask your opponent to remove their bright neon yellow jacket because it’s distracting?

Now is your chance to ask all those burning league questions.  We’ll get you the answers, or will your question be the one to Stump The Ump?

You’ve read his Court of Appeals column in Tennis magazine, and now Rebel Good is coming to WWTA! Rebel Good has officiated tennis for close to 30 years. and has worked at more than 20 US Open events, two Olympics and numerous Davis Cup and Fed Cup events.  Can you stump Rebel with your question?  

Submit Your Question

Order of the Day

If doubles partners accidentally switch receiving sides, they do not correct until next game receiving (must complete current receiving game as is and can correct next receiving game in that set)? So what about accidentally messing up service order? Server completes serving current game but partner now serves next service game? Do they serve twice to correct or just once?

Nope, if an error in service order is discovered you “correct immediately”(Rule 27.c.), unless the game was completed out of order, in which case the service order remains as altered.

Hearing Voices

My opponent hit a shot and, thinking that her ball was going out, commented on hitting it out, loud enough that we also believed the ball was going out. My partner and I stopped play based on her comments. The ball ended up landing in. We felt that it was our point since she talked during the point, no matter what she said. She agreed that she did indicate that the ball was going out but felt that because it landed in and we didn’t return it that it was their point. Who was right?

You were. Under The Code, #34, “doubles players should not talk when the ball is moving toward their opponent’s court.” Because you stopped play, you can claim the point for a deliberate hindrance (Rule 26).

Benefit of the Doubt

My partner returned a short ball. It possibly bounced twice (it was very hard to tell, but we both thought it was not a double bounce); she did NOT call a double bounce. Our opponent hit a hard shot back across the net while calling out, “Was that a double bounce?” The ball came right to me. I called a hindrance instead of making an attempt to hit it back as I was distracted by her talking. I said the ball was still in play as we didn’t make a call conceding the point. Instead of giving us the point for the hindrance, the opponents harangued my partner until she conceded it might have been a double bounce. It was game point. How do you handle a situation like this when you are the only player to understand the rules? A let isn’t an option. You can’t interrupt an active point in progress to question a call.

You’re forgetting one “rule”: The Code, #6, requires that you give the opponent the benefit of the doubt on any call. Your partner acknowledged she was unsure of her call. That makes it their point. The opponents were within their rights to question her call. Had she simply responded, “I got it on the first bounce,” it would have been your point.

Wicked Spin

I got lucky with a smash at my feet. I framed it and created incredible spin (all by accident), and with the wind, the ball went over the net to the opposite alley, just barely in, and the backspin brought it back over to our side of the net. My opponent knows the rules and tried to reach the ball without touching the net, but could not and we won the point. But we wondered, could she have gone around the net post and touched the ball on the other side? If that was allowed and she was able to hit the ball to make it land in the court, what would be the rule be for getting back to the other (her) side of the net?

If a shot bounces back over the net a player may reach over or run around the net to hit it. However, they may not touch the net or their opponents’ court (in this case defined by the doubles lines) while the ball is in play (Rules 24.g., and 25.b. and c.). It’s tricky, but it can be done. And if she runs around the net for the shot she can run back around after, so long as she doesn’t touch the net or the net post.

Full Contact Tennis

My doubles opponent hit a lob that bounced only inches from the net on my side. As I prepared to hit the overhead, the opponent’s partner charged the net, staying on her own side, but was an arm’s length away from me. It was a gutsy move to distract me. I am a club player and decent person, so I just could not allow myself to pummel her and likely seriously injury her, electing instead for the drop volley angle winner. My question, though, is if I had proceeded with hitting the overhead winner, hitting her in the process on my follow through without hitting the net, would that be legal?

Yes. Your racquet can break the plane of the net on your follow-through — and strike your opponent — without it costing you the point, so long as you don’t touch the net or your opponent’s court. Be sure to smile when you do this (Rule 25.e.).

Blinded by the Headlights

During a recent doubles match our opponent called a let when a car’s headlights came on in the adjacent parking lot. We replayed the point as the lights surely did affect their side of the court. However, I contend that this “hindrance” did not occur ON the court and should not have been eligible for a let call. And, the same thing could’ve happened to us upon switching sides. I compare this scenario to a car honking in the middle of a serve. But, what’s the call?

First off, you agreed to the let so it doesn’t really matter whether an official would have ruled this a hindrance or not. You agreed it was. That said, lights coming on or horns honking or cars backfiring (do they even do this anymore?) are not a legitimate reason for stopping play and claiming a let. The next time your opponents do so, refuse the let and claim the point.

First Serve – Yes or No

My first serve missed and rolled over on the next court. My opponent turned to the other court and waited for them to send her the ball back. I felt I should have been given a first serve since she interrupted my service by having the ball sent from the next court. Should I get a first serve?

That’s up to your opponent. According to The Code, #30, when there is a delay between first and second serve, “The receiver is the judge of whether the delay is sufficiently prolonged to justify giving the server two serves.”

Play Delay

When I was on the baseline ready to serve, the opponents continued to stand together chatting for a couple minutes and I had to wait and it went on this way throughout the match. Should the game go at the pace of the server or can the opponents spend some time chatting and have the server wait?

In theory the receivers must play to the “reasonable pace” of the server, which generally is interpreted to mean that after 15 seconds or so the receivers must be ready if the server is ready. If there’s an official available they can enforce this rule (Rule 21). However, with no official you’ll need to use diplomacy to get your opponents playing promptly.

Who Can Make The Call

Our opponents hit a ball that appeared to be out but we both couldn’t call it with certainty. We asked our opponents if they saw the ball in or out since it was on the sideline where one of their player had a direct sightline to the ball. She said it was out so we claimed the point. She said that since we weren’t sure, we had to call it good. We didn’t argue and agreed to call it good, but felt that we should be able to go with her call. Who was right?

Under The Code, #11, you can ask your opponent for their opinion, and then their call stands. Also, under The Code, #13, a player is obligated to call their own shot out (except a first serve) if they clearly see it out.

Doubles Service Order Error

If doubles pairing accidentally switch receiving sides, they do not correct until next game receiving per a recent Stump the Ump question (must complete current receive game as is and can correct next receive game).   So what about accidentally messing up service order? Does the server complete serving current game and partner now serves next service game?  Or do they correct right when they realize the mistake?  If they complete the game serving out of order, do they serve twice to correct or just once?

An error in the service order is corrected immediately, provided the game has not been completed “out of turn.” If the game has been completed, the order of service continues “as altered” (Rule 27.c.).

Serve Ready

During a singles match, I called the score and proceeded to serve.  My opponent returned the ball into the net, then claimed that she hadn’t been ready for the serve. I honestly didn’t pay attention to what she was doing when I began my service motion, but shouldn’t she have called out that she wasn’t ready when I called the score and bounced the ball?

When your opponent returned the ball into the net she gave up the right to claim she was unready. However, before you start your service motion you should look at the receiver and make sure they are ready.  

Falling Objects

During play, one my opponents had a ball fall out of his pocket onto the court.  Does he immediately lose the point, or do you just play on as normal?

How about neither? If there is no official watching the court when this happens, you can call a let and replay the point if a ball falls out of your opponent’s pocket. Or you can choose to play on. Your opponent cannot call a let because you can’t “hinder yourself.”  Note:  If the offender drops a ball a second time, it is loss of point.

Bounce Away

Not long ago I was playing a doubles match where one of our opponents bounced her ball at minimum 30 times before she served every serve. It took a great deal of time. Is there a time limit to serve?

The time between points is 25 seconds. A second serve is supposed to be delivered “without delay.” That said, without an official present this is next to impossible to enforce. Try speaking with your opponent about her delay of play. Ask her if she could limit her bounces to, say, 15.

Look But Don’t Touch?

During a doubles’ match, the player scrambled forward to get to a drop shot. She was able to hit a hard crosscourt forehand winner well out of either players’ reach. However, she ran into the net. She claimed that the point was over before she touched the net. While I agree that the opposing team could not have gotten to the ball, I contend that the point isn’t officially over until the ball bounces a second time. What’s the rule?

The point isn’t over until it bounces the second time (Rule 24.b), but the player who touched the net makes the call on whether that happened before or after the second bounce (The Code, #19).

Let Me Bee

If, during a point, an insect interferes (bee/wasp is buzzing near me or a mosquito bites me or an insect lands upon me), may I stop play by calling “let,” claiming a hindrance?
Sure, you can try that. But if I were the opponent I wouldn’t grant you a replay without evidence. Frankly, an insect buzzing nearby or a mosquito landing/biting shouldn’t rise to the level of a hindrance. Play on.

Finish What You Started

If you start a match on a particular surface, say hard court and the match is delayed for rain to another day, does it matter if it is finished  on a different  surface?

If at all possible, it should be finished on the same surface.

Keep Your Ears Open

I was playing a doubles match and serving to a player who grunted a lot when they returned the serve. There were several serves that looked like they may be out, and receiver grunted and returned. Both my partner and I thought he was saying “no” or “out” so we stopped play. The receiver stated it was a grunt, not an out call, and the serve was good. But we had stopped play so we gave them the point. This kept happening on every close serve throughout the match and was very distracting and we gave away a lot of points. Is there a rule concerning a player who sounds like they’re calling things out when they grunt?

This is going to take some diplomacy. You should probably play a let the first time this happens and have a discussion with the opponent. Ask them to give an example of their out call and how it differs from their grunt. Then you’ll know which is which.

Instant Replay?

In doubles during a long rally a player is running back to their baseline to get to a lob. A stray ball from another court rolls onto the court near the feet of the player. The player’s partner calls “let” just before the lobbed shot drops a foot long. Since a “let” was called, would play be stopped immediately and the point replayed? Or, should the team that lobbed long concede the point, since the point was certain to have been lost by them?

The opponents could concede the point, but are under no obligation to do so.The “let” call stopped play. Note that had the opponents called the let they would have lost the point because their shot eventually landed out.

Practice Makes Perfect?

Between sets are you allowed to practice? For example, can you work on your serve? We were playing a match and during a changeover our opponent began practicing her serve. This was a doubles match and one player went to use the restroom and the other practiced her serve.

Players may practice while their opponents go to the restroom, but they may not use the match balls.

Two Wrongs Don’t Make A Right? (Part 2)

In the 4th game of a set, my partner and inadvertently switched receiving sides and we realized this after the first point of the game. Do we make the correction for the next serve (meaning one player will receive two in a row) or do we finish the game that way. We know that the point stands but when and how do we correct?

Wait until the start of the next game you are receiving before correcting (Rule 27.e.)

Two Wrongs Don’t Make A Right?

In a Combo match after six points had been played in a set tiebreak my partner realized we weren’t on the correct sides — she was receiving in the ad court and me the deuce. We identified our error and switched back, but the opposing team said we couldn’t, that we had to play the rest of the tiebreak in our “wrong” positions. Otherwise, they said, we would have an unfair advantage because the ‘stronger player’ would now be returning serve twice in a row. We know “all points played in good faith stand,” but should we have switched back or stayed put?

Under Rule 27.3., once you played a point when you were lined up wrong, your team must continue receiving in the “wrong” court until the end of the tiebreak. When you start the next set you can receive in any order.