Hindrances Caused by Players
Q. I am coaching high school tennis, and we are to use USTA rules. My question is that someone from a team we played was standing with one foot in the service box and then moving as the ball was being served. Could we call a hindrance?
A. The receiver’s partner may stand anywhere, even in the service box. Once the receiver’s partner takes a position, he/she should remain there until the ball is struck. If the receiver’s partner suddenly and abruptly moves away before the ball is struck by the server, then it could be deemed that the only reason they initially took such a position was to hinder the server, and that is not allowed.
Note: The receiver may change positions to receive serve at any time prior to the serve and may even stand in the service box. Waving the racquet, making noises or stomping the feet is not permitted by any player.
Q. I tried to serve and volley, but pushed off too hard on the slick court as the serve left my racket. That in combination with nerves led me to slip and take a tumble. I recovered as quickly as I could, and got up in time to see him net the return. It wasn’t until after the point was over that he claimed it was his point because he thought I only dropped my racket (without falling) and it distracted him. I didn’t agree because it was an accident and the racket was always in my hands. So since he didn’t speak up until after the point was over,
should it have been my point? If he had spoken in time, then should it been a let?
A. This is not a hindrance situation.
If both cases were accidental, that is considered part of play and cannot be deemed a hindrance. If your racket or your body touches the net or invades your opponent’s court while the ball is still in play, you lose the point.
Q. I was in the finals of a doubles tournament. My partner was receiving. The non-serving opponent complained that I was spinning my racquet before her partner’s serve and that it was a hindrance. Her partner, the server, said she hadn’t noticed.
My position was that 1) the ball wasn’t in play, 2) she could not possibly claim hindrance since first her partner and then mine must hit the ball before she could and 3) racquet spinning seems to be done all the time, even by a receiving player, without hindrance being called.
My opponent called for a ruling by the Tournament Director before she would continue play. The Tournament Director wouldn’t make a decision either way. I’m hoping you can shed some light for me on this matter. Thank you for your time.
A. Spinning the racket in your hand would not normally be considered a hindrance. If the spinning of the racket is exaggerated and done in such a way that the racket was leaving the player’s hand or the racket is moving through the air that would make it appear that a player was waving the racket, then that may be considered a hindrance.
Q. We have several ladies who use the white plastic clip ball holder. One lady wears the ball clipped to the back of her waist. The other wears the ball prominently clipped right in the front. The ball is visible at all times. Several people have found looking at another tennis ball a distraction. Is there a rule that covers this type of situation?
A. Usually ball clips are worn on the back so an opponent does not see another ball when a player faces them while hitting a shot.
This is not addressed specifically. However, one could make the case that this could be a distraction and request that the player put the ball clip on the back.
Q. Is it legal for the receiver’s partner to stand in the receiver’s service box and wave her racket during the server’s motion, then move out of the box when the ball is struck?
A. Players may not make motions that are meant to intentionally distract the opponent.
The receiver’s partner may stand anywhere, even in the service box. Once the receiver’s partner takes a position, he/she should remain there until the ball is struck. If the receiver’s partner moves away before the ball is struck then it could be deemed that the only reason they took such a position was to hinder the server, and that is not allowed.
Waving your racket or stomping your feet is not permitted.
Q. I have a few questions regarding a recent doubles match. After every point, the team that we played had a discussion. They would huddle together for several seconds and then take their positions. This finally ended after the third game.
Later in the match, an opposing player would return the ball and yell out something that was incoherent. Is it legal for your opponent to yell out just when you are getting ready to return the ball?
When this same player was playing the net and during our serve, he would kneel down on the center line and then pop up! Is this legal?
A. Players may not yell out when their opponents are about to hit the ball. That is a hindrance. During the service, a player on the receiving team cannot make big sudden motions or loud noises just prior to the serve. That is a hindrance.
Q. The opponent hits the ball and in so doing her racquet goes flying off to the side, making a large noise and distracting me as I am about to hit an easy ball at the net. I want to call a hindrance. Can I?
A. Losing your racket accidentally in an attempt to play a shot is considered part of play and is not considered a hindrance.