I'm talking about literally hitting the ceiling in tennis (not just hitting a figurative ceiling in your game).
I play in an indoor league and during a recent warm-up, I hit the ceiling when feeding lobs. I asked the other players what happens if I hit the ceiling during the match and no one knew. Maybe you already know the answer to this one and think this is a stupid question with an obvious answer. But I've been playing in this indoor league for about 4 years and nobody out there that day knew what happens when a ball hits the ceiling during play.
So here's the answer!
According to Rule 2 of the USTA's Official Rules of Tennis, the ceiling over a tennis court is a permanent fixture (as are the backstops and sidestops, the spectators, the stands and seats for spectators, all other fixtures around and above the court, the chair umpire, line umpires, net umpire and ball persons). Rule 13 then explains that “If the ball touches a permanent fixture after it has hit the correct court, the player who hit the ball wins the point. If the ball in play touches a permanent fixture before it hits the ground, the player who hit the ball loses the point.”
So if I hit a lob and it touches the ceiling before coming down on my opponent's side of the net, I lose the point. If I hit a ball those touches their side of the court and then somehow bounces up and touches the ceiling, the ball is good and can be played. (I guess I need to work on hitting overhead smashes that somehow bounce up and touch the ceiling.)
I think the lesson here is – hit some lobs to your opponents during warm-up to get an idea of just how high the ceiling is and then make sure you don't hit it!
© Kim Selzman 2009
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