“Weird” Tennis Rules: Changing Your Call On The Serve

Have you ever called an opponent’s serve out, realized you were wrong and then changed your call?  What happens next?  Do you apologize for jumping the gun and play a let, generously giving your opponent another chance at that serve?  Sorry, but no let for you.  In that situation, your honesty is rewarded with a loss of the point.

I wonder how many tennis players are unaware of this Code revision that happened in 2011?  Section 12 of the Code used to provide that, if you “corrected” your call after “mistakenly” calling a serve out, the point would be replayed.  But there were some extenuating circumstances in there.  Like if your return resulted in a “weak sitter,” you were supposed to give your opponent the point (it didn’t say whether or not your opponent had to put away your weak sitter, presumably they did).  And if you failed to make a good return, you were supposed to give your opponent the point.  And if your mistaken call was on the second serve, you were supposed to give your opponent two serves.  Lots to think about. Just imagine the arguments over whether or not a return was a “weak sitter.”  No wonder they made this change.

The new version of the Code is clear and to the point:

Out calls reversed.  A player who calls a ball out shall reverse the call if the player becomes uncertain or realizes that the ball was good.  The point goes to the opponent and is not replayed.

Change your call?  Lose the point.  End of story.

It no longer matters if you attempt to make a return, or what the quality of that return is or whether its the first or second serve.  If you reverse your call from out to in, your opponent takes the point.

I’m bringing this up because this actually happened in a match I played.  And no one on the court, but me, knew about this change to the Code.  Unfortunately, I was on the side where we had to give our opponents the point.  And I can assure you, the other three people on my court seemed more than a little baffled by the result and just kind of relied on my seemingly up-to-date knowledge of the Code.

BUT – be ready for this because it might happen to you.  Watch out for players changing their calls and then trying to nicely “give” you a let.  Don’t fall for that!  Know the Code.  Know the rules.  Be prepared to take every tennis point to which you’re entitled, no matter how you get it!  (And it would probably help to carry around an up-to-date version of the Code in case you have to pull it out.)

 

 

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© Kim Selzman 2012 All Rights Reserved

 

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