Isn't it fun playing doubles? You have the best partner in the world. You both play the same way, following the same strategy. You never disagree on what your tactics should be or who should have got that ball down the middle. And you never, ever disagree on calls.
What? That's not how your tennis partnership works? Well, frankly, I doubt if anyone's partnership works that well. In fact, I bet even the Bryan Brothers have disagreements at times.
So, what do you do when you and your partner disagree on a call? What if one partner calls a serve in and the other calls it out? Is it a let? Do you just replay the point? Is there any kind of rule on this?
I bet it's no surprise to hear that not only is there a rule, but I know about it because I've been in this situation. More than once. So what do you do?
While the ITF Rules of Tennis don't address this situation, The Code does. It states, in Section 14:
Partners' disagreement on calls. If one partner calls the ball out and the other partner sees the ball good, the ball is good. It is more important to give opponents the benefit of the doubt than to avoid possibly hurting a partner's feelings. The tactful way to achieve the desired result is to tell a partner quietly of the mistake and then let the partner concede the point. If a call is changed from out to good, the principles of Code Section 12 apply.
Thus, if one partner calls the ball out and the other calls it good, the ball is considered good.
Here's what has happened to me. I played a doubles match where my partner was receiving and called a serve out. But I was standing on the service line and I saw, with no doubt whatsoever, that the serve was in. I was 100% sure. So I immediately said, “No, it was good. Your point,” giving the point to our opponents (it was a second serve). Needless to say, my partner was unhappy but I knew I was right about this and I told her so. I explained to her what The Code says about partners disagreeing on calls and told her that the serve was definitely in so we had to give them the point. We're still on speaking terms so it all worked out.
Now, here's another way this came up for me and I wasn't so happy with this outcome. I hit a serve that I was sure was out. My opponent returned the serve and we played out the point. But, throughout that point, I kept having this internal conversation with myself about whether or not my serve was out because I just knew it was. And, of course, we lost the point probably because I wasn't paying enough attention to what was happening on the court. When the point was over, the non-receiving partner said, “well, I'm glad you played that out because your serve was out but I didn't call it quickly enough.” What????? I was kind of pissed off about this and said something to my partner but there was nothing to be done. Even under The Code, my serve would have been called good so it was my own dang fault for not focusing on the point.
Bottom line – don't get too worked up here. This conflicting calls situation doesn't happen too often. And when you're on the side where you have to give your opponents the point, well, it's just the one point. BUT – be ready for this in case it happens to you. Watch out for those conflicting doubles calls and don't fall for any of this mamby-pamby “Oh, let's just play a let.” Know the Code. Know the rules. Be prepared to take every tennis point to which you're entitled, no matter how you get it!
© Kim Selzman 2012 All Rights Reserved