Just a few days ago, we talked about what happens when you drop a ball during a point: Tennis Lets – Get It Right! The precise issue was – if a ball falls out of your skirt or shorts during a point and you thereby cause a let, can you call a let? And the answer is, of course, no. You can't call a let when you've caused it. Your opponent can call it but you can't.
So what if you're playing doubles, your partner is serving, you're at the net, and your partner drops a ball that is now rolling around at your feet, unbeknownst to you? Can your partner who dropped the ball call a let when you're the one in danger of stepping on the ball?
The answer is, sadly, no. In doubles, you live and die as a team and the actions of your partner are imputed to you as a team. So if your partner's having a great day, playing out of her head, good for you! You get the benefit of her great play too. If your partner's having a bad day and can't seem to hit a winner to save her life, well, you go down with her. AND, if your partner is back there dropping balls, she can't call a let for your team. Your only hope is that (1) you'll see the ball and not step on it, (2) the other team will be concerned enough to call a let, or (3) your partner likes you enough and is concerned enough about your safety to stop play and give up the point.
This actually just happened to me a few days ago. My partner's shorts were loose and she dropped a ball behind me. Fortunately for me, she followed scenario 3 above, stopped play and we gave our opponents the point. After that, I held the balls for her to avoid a repeat of that situation.
© Kim Selzman 2009
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