May 11, 2022  ·  Barbara Wyatt

“That ball was in!” she yells at a USTA playoff game. Her competitor, who stands four feet from where the ball landed, says, “My partner and I called it out at the same time. It is our call. The ball was out.” 

“The ball was in!”, the player repeats and stomps her feet. On the sidelines, her teammates are yelling “Do-over! Do-over!” 

The server puts her hand up and says, with a sigh, “I’ll serve again.” 

As a player standing on the sidelines, I was fuming. The yelling, stomping player needs to learn The Code, Rule 5, which states, “Player makes calls on own side of the net.” The word, “do-over”, is used by players who don’t understand the rules. 

Have you ever seen these examples in your tennis career? 

Noel hits a winning angled shot into Dave’s court. Dave is unable to reach the ball. While the ball is still in play, Noel’s racquet slips out of his hands and lands at his feet with a bang! Do-over? Hardly! Noel’s point. A racquet dropped on the court is not enough to claim a let: The Code, Rule 36. 

Kim hits a volley headed to the sweet spot on Sheri’s racquet. While the ball is still in play, Kim’s racquet slips out of her hands. Sheri holds up her hand and says, “Hindrance.” Do-over? Yes, but the official will use the term, “let”, and start the point over. Sheri could have returned the ball except for the racquet drop: The Code, Rule 36. 

Denise hits a ball that lands at Jill’s baseline. Jill thinks it may have been out. Jill was right on top of where the ball landed, but not sure if it was in or out. Do-over? Hardly! It is Denise’s point. The opponent has the benefit of the double, according to The Code, Rule 6. 

Pete returns the ball over the net into Denise’s court. While the ball is still in play, Pete’s racquet falls out of his hands. Denise ignores the unintentional dropping of the racquet. She charges the net and slams the ball to win the point. Pete holds up his hand and says, “Hindrance.” Do-over? Hardly! Players can’t call a hindrance on themselves: The Code, Rule 36. 

Sheila hits a glorious cross-court return and wins the point. Antoinette picks up the ball and recognizes the ball has gone flat. Do-over? Hardly! Sheila wins the point. The ball was soft, not broken: ITF Rule 3. Replace the soft ball as soon as it is discovered. 

As Andrea is slicing a return, her cap flies off her head. Barb holds up her hand and says “Hindrance.” The ball lands at Barb’s feet with an awesome backspin. Do-over? Yes, but the official would say, “Let. Start the point again.” Barb was distracted by the flying cap, and could have finessed a return, so she immediately called a let: The Code, Rule 36.

The word “do-over” does not exist in the USTA Friend at the Court 2018, ITA Regulations 2018, 2018 ATP Officials Rulebook, or WTA 2018 Official Rulebook.

Published New York Tennis Magazine, January/February 2019.