I recently played a doubles match where my partner was serving and she double faulted. Our opponents called her first serve out, loud and clear. But on her second serve, they kind of hesitated. One opponent made a half-hearted attempt at calling it out – “I think it was out??” The other opponent said nothing until her partner questioned her and then she replied with, “I wasn't really watching but I think it was out.”
Now, MY partner immediately took the position that if our opponents weren't sure it was out, then it was in. And the point was our's. And to some extent, she was right. How do we know?
While the ITF Rules of Tennis don't address this situation, The Code that my league plays by (and most do) does have something to say. First, it tells us, in Section 8, that “Any ball that cannot be called out is considered to be good. A player may not claim a let on the basis of not seeing a ball.” Thus, arguably, since our opponents were not 100% sure the ball was out, it should have been considered good.
But, and this is the big but that no one else seemed aware of, another part of The Code, Section 13, has this to say:
Player calls own shots out. With the exception of the first serve, a player should call out the player's own shots if the player clearly sees the ball out regardless of whether requested to do so by an opponent. The prime objective in making calls is accuracy. All players should cooperate to attain this objective.
So what was the problem in my match? Well, unfortunately, I saw that my partner's second serve was out. Definitely. No doubt about it. Therefore, I followed The Code and conceded that the serve was out and the point was our opponents'.
I guess, technically, one might argue that I didn't have to say anything. The Code does say that “a player should call out the player's own shots” and this was not my own shot. But I think the other language in Section 13 (“The prime objective in making calls is accuracy. All players should cooperate to attain this objective.”) required me to admit what I saw – that the serve was out.
Was my partner happy about this? No. Was I happy about this? Hell, no!
But, fortunately or unfortunately, I knew this provision of The Code and, since I'm not a cheater even by omission, I felt I had to give up the point. (The good news is, we ended up winning the match so it wasn't like I gave up the match point.)
What do you think? Was I right to give up the point? Or should I have kept my mouth shut in this situation? Am I upholding the spirit of The Code and fair play in tennis? Or am I giving away free points? I'd love to hear what you think in the comments below.