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SERVER AND RECEIVER

The players shall stand on opposite sides of the net; the player who first delivers the ball shall be called the Server, and the other the Receiver.

 

CHOICE OF SIDES AND SERVICE

The choice of sides and the right to be Server or Receiver in the first game shall be decided by toss. If the winner of the toss chooses the right to be Server or Receiver, his opponent shall have the choice of sides. If the winner of the toss takes the choice of sides, his opponent shall have the right to be Server or Receiver.

 

HOW SERVICE IS DELIVERED

The service shall be delivered in the following manner: Immediately before commencing to serve, the Server shall stand with both feet at rest behind the base line, and within the imaginary continuation of the center mark and side line of the singles court in single play, or the side line of the doubles court in doubles play.

The Receiver may stand wherever he pleases on his own side of the net. However, he must allow the ball to hit the ground before returning service. The Server shall then throw the ball into the air and strike it with his racket before it hits the ground. Delivery shall be deemed complete at the moment the racket strikes the ball.

 

SERVICE DELIVERED FROM ALTERNATE COURTS

In delivering the service, the Serve shall stand alternating behind the right and left courts, beginning from the right in every game. The ball served shall pass over the net and hit the ground within the service court which is diagonally opposite, or upon any line bounding such court, before the Receiver returns it. If there is any doubt, it is customary for the Receiver to determine whether the service is good or not. If the ball is erroneously served from the wrong half of the court, the resulting play shall stand, but service from the proper court shall be resumed immediately after discovery of the error.

 

FAULTS

The Server is at fault if:

  • The Server swings at and misses the ball in attempting to serve it.
  • If the ball does not land in the proper service court.
  • If the ball served touches a permanent fixture other than the net, strap or band.
  • If the Server foot faults.

 

SERVICE AFTER A FAULT

After a fault (if it is the first fault) the Server shall serve again from behind the same half of the court from which he served the fault, unless it was a fault because he served from behind the wrong half, when he shall be entitled to deliver one service from behind the other half. A fault may not be claimed after the next service has been delivered.

 

BALL NOT SERVED UNTIL RECEIVER IS READY

The Server shall not serve until the Receiver is ready. If the latter attempts to return the service, he shall be deemed ready.

 

A LET

During the service, a ball touches the net but lands in the proper court is termed a "Let" and counts for nothing, another service being delivered. If the ball touches the net when going into the proper court during a rally, it is good. There is no limit to the number of let balls that may be made on the service, and the Server continues serving in the same court until a good service is delivered or two faults are made.

 

FOOT FAULT RULE

The Server shall throughout the delivery of the service -

(a) Not change his position by walking or running. (Slight movements of the feet which do not materially affect the original positions are permissible.)

(b) Keep both feet behind the base line when starting to serve.

(c) A foot fault is called when the server steps on the base line or into the court before his racquet meets the ball. When serving, stand a little behind the line to avoid foot faults.

(d) Jumping off the ground in hitting a serve is no longer considered a foot fault. Server's feet may swing over the baseline but must not touch the ground before the ball is hit.

 

WHEN THE PLAYER LOSES POINT

A player loses the point if -

  • He fails before the ball in play has hit the ground twice consecutively, to return it directly over the net; or
  • He returns the ball in play so that it hits the ground, a permanent fixture, or other object, outside any of the lines which bound his opponent's court; or
  • He volleys the ball and fails to make a good return even when standing outside the court; or
  • He touches or strikes the ball in play with his racket more than once in making a stroke; or
  • He or his racket (in his hand or otherwise) or anything which he wears or carries, touches the net, or the ground within his opponent's court at any time while the ball is in play; or
  • He volleys the ball before it has passed the net; or
  • The ball in play touches him or anything that he wears or carries, except his racket in his hand or hands; or
  • He throws his racket at and hits the ball.

WHEN SERVER WINS POINT

The Server wins the point if the ball is served, having cleared the net without touching it, touches the Receiver or anything which he wears or carries before it hits the ground.

 

WHEN RECEIVER WINS POINT

The Receiver wins the point if the Server serves two consecutive faults.

 

BALL FALLING ON LINE IS IN COURT

A ball falling on a line is regarded as falling in the court bounded by that line. It is customary for each player to make the calls on all balls hit to his side of the net.

 

WHEN RECEIVER BECOMES SERVER

At the end of the first game the receiver shall become server, and the Server receiver; and so on alternately in all subsequent games of a match. If a player serves out of turn, the player who ought to have served shall serve as soon as the mistake is discovered. All points scored before discovery shall be reckoned. If a game shall have been completed before such discovery, the order of service shall remain as altered.

 

A GOOD RETURN

It is a good return -

(a) If the ball touches the net, posts, cord or metal cable, strap or band, provided that it passes over any of them and hits the ground within the court; or

(b) If the ball, served or returned, hits the ground within the proper court and rebounds or is blown back over the net, and the player whose turn it is to strike reaches over the net and plays the ball, provided that neither he nor any part of his clothes or racket touches the net, and that the stroke is otherwise good; or

(c) If the ball is returned from outside the post, either above or below the level of the top of the net, even though it touches the post, provided that it hits the ground within the proper court; or

(d) If a player's racket passes over the net after he has returned the ball, provided the ball passes the net before being played and is properly returned; or

(e) If a player succeeds in returning the ball, served or in play, which strikes a ball lying in the court.

 

INTERFERENCE

If a player, while the ball is in play, is interfered with by the gallery, by a ball coming into the court or by any disturbance not within his control, a let shall be called.

 

SCORING

If a player wins his first point, his score is 15; on winning the second point, his score is 30; on winning his third point, his score is 40; on winning his fourth point he has won the game, except as follows:

If both players have won three points, the score is called Deuce; and the next point won by a player is scored Advantage for that player. If the same player wins the next point, he wins the game, if the other player wins the next point, the score is again called Deuce; and so on, until a player wins the two point immediately following the score at Deuce, when the game is scored for that player.

The word "love" is generally used in tennis to mean zero, or NO points, games or sets won by a player. In calling the score, the Server's score is given first. Example: "30-love" means two points for Server, none for Receiver.

 

HOW WINNER OF SET IS DECIDED

The player who first wins six games wins a Set, except as follows: If both players have won five games, the score is called Games-All, and the next game won by a player is scored Advantage Game for the player. If these same player wins the next game, he wins the Set; if the other player wins the next game, the score is again called Games-All; and so on until player wins two games more than his opponent; when the Set is scored for that player. By mutual agreement, players may chose to play a "tie breaker" at six games all.

 

WHEN PLAYERS CHANGE SIDES

The player shall change sides after the first game, and after every two games thereafter, throughout the entire set.

 

MAXIMUM NUMBER OF SETS

The maximum number of sets in a match shall be five, or, where women take part, three.

 

THE DOUBLES GAME

ORDER OF SERVE

The pair who have to serve in the first game of each set shall decide which partner shall do so, and the opposing pair shall decide similarly for the second game. The partner of the player who served in the first game shall serve in the third; the partner of the player who served in the second game shall serve in the fourth, and so on in the same order in all the subsequent games of a set. The order of service having been decided shall not be altered during the set, but it may be changed at the beginning of a new set.

ORDER OF RECEIVING

The pair who have to receive the service in the first game of each set shall decide which partner shall receive the first service and the opposing pair shall decide similarly in the second game of each set. Partners shall receive the service alternately throughout each game and the order of receiving the service having been decided shall not be altered during the set, but it may be changed at the beginning a new set.

SERVICE OUT OF TURN

If a partner serves out of his turn, the partner who ought to have served shall serve as soon as the mistake is discovered, but all points scored, and any fault serve before such discovery, shall be reckoned. If a game shall have been completed before such discovery, the order of service remains as altered.

ERROR IN ORDER OF RECEIVING

If during a game the order of receiving the service is changes by the receivers, it shall remain as altered until the end of the game in which the mistake is discovered, but the partners shall resume their original order of receiving in the next game of that set in which they are receivers of the serve.

BALL TOUCHING SERVER'S PARTNER IS A FAULT

The service is a fault if the ball served touches the Server's partner or anything which he wears or carriers; but if the ball served, having cleared the net without touching it, touches the partner of the Receiver or anything which he wears or carries, before it hits the ground, the Server wins the point.

RETURN BY ONE PLAYER ONLY

In making a return, only one member of a double team mayhit the ball. A return made by the second player after his partner has touched the ball is an illegal return.

 

"TIE-BREAK" PROCEDURES

The USTA has authorized procedures for quickly determining the winner of a set which has reached the "deuce" score of 6-games-all. Its purpose is to prevent the "endless set" which may extend a match beyond the allotted or available time. Two alternative methods are now in common use. The USTA supports the 7-out-of-12-points procedures.

Singles: This is the tie-breaker often seen on televised pro matches when games reach 6-all. If it is Player A's turn to serve the 13th game, he serves first point from the right court; Player B serves Points 2 and 3, starting in left court; Player A serves Points 4 and 5, also starting in left court. B serves 6th (left) and players change sides. B serves 7th (R); A serves 8th and 9th (L and R); B serves 10th and 11th (L and R); A serves 12th (L). The first player to win 7 point wins the set at 7-6. If the points reach 6-all, players change sides again and continue in the same pattern, changing sides after every six points, until one player leads by two points where-upon he wins the set 7-6. They "change for one" to start the next set, with Player B and first server.

Doubles: (A and B vs. C and D) follows the same pattern, with partners preserving the sequence of their serving, as the service alternates from team to team. A serves the first point (R); C serves Points 2 and 3 (L and R); B serves Points 4 and 5 (L and R); D serves Point 6 (L) and, after teams change ends, Point 7 (R); A serves points 8 and 9 (L and R); then C serves Points 10 and 11 (L and R), and B serves Point 12 (L). If points reached 6-all the teams again change ends and continue in the same pattern until one team gets a two point lead. The teams "change for one" at start of the next set, with team C and D at first server.

Notes: At Wimbledon the tie-breaker occurs at 8-all in a set and is not used in the third set of a best-of-three match or the fifth set in a best-of-five.

Also, the "change every six points" provision, always and indoors, may be modified to "change every four points" in outdoor play, especially where severe sun and/or wind conditions prevail.

A variation of the "7-out-of-12" tie-breaker is also tentatively approved by the USTA. For details refer the USTA Official Tennis Yearbook and Guide.

Note: When all players agree, the 9-point tiebreaker may be used. See 1980 Yearbook, page 57, for description.

 

 

Special Topic:

NO-AD SCORING

The USTA has also approved a variation of the conventional scoring system for the purpose of shortening the duration of a tennis match. It is called "no-ad scoring," and is simply and precisely what the names implies.

Singles or Doubles: A game is won by the first player or team to win 4 points; that is, if the score goes to 3-points-all (or deuce) the next point decides the game. There is no "advantage" point. Receiver decides to which court the service is delivered on 7th point. When games reach 6-all an approved tie-breaker is used.