The Final Word: Carrying the Ball & Rulings

November 1, 2010 02:41 PM
Carrying the Ball & Rulings

Have you ever had a dispute with a fellow player over a call on the court that you couldn’t settle? Or have you ever wondered why a certain ruling was made during a match you were watching? Maybe you’re just curious about how some scenarios, from the common to the ridiculous, are resolved.

USTA Director of Officials, Richard Kaufman, is here to answer your questions. Each week, he will select a few submissions and supply the definitive rulings through a Q&A.

Have a question of your own?  Click here to submit your question to The Final Word.

* Please note, due to the volume of emails Rich receives, he is not able to answer every email.


Subject: Ruling when ball hits the ceiling
This happens quite often in USTA indoor matches.  We all know if the ball we hit "obviously" hits the ceiling the point goes to the opponent.  However in two recent indoor team felt they hit the perfect lob....their opponents disagreed. and claimed it "grazed" the ceiling. Neither team could agree.

Who makes this decision or what is the "official" ruling. .I feel this should be addressed in "The Rules" or "Friend of the Court" so that it can be looked up when needed.   


KAUFMAN: When the ball is hit legally by your opponents and is headed your way, and then the ball touches the ceiling, you would make that call against your opponents.

The Code #20 and #21, Friend At Court (page 47-48)


Subject: Who gets the call?

My partner and I were playing a USTA mixed doubles match on clay. When our opponents returned a shot, I called it out, my partner called it good, then we walked over to the mark and it was out. However, the opponent argued that since we both called differently, the point was theirs, regardless of the mark in the clay. My partner, who's played many years longer than I said his men's teams have always let the mark in the clay decide the call. What is the protocol in this situation?

KAUFMAN: KAUFMAN: Your partner should have said nothing, and since he/she did not, doubt should now be resolved in favor of the opponents.  The opponents had a right to stop play when they heard the out call and play can not be resumed because a partner thought (correctly) the ball was in.  An erroneous call thus disrupted the point, and The Code has it right that the partners should talk privately and then concede the point since there was disagreement. 

With the disagreement that the opponents witnessed, they now may be some legitimate doubt on the mark you both decided to check.  Therefore, whether on clay or hard courts, when partners disagree, the opponents receive the benefit of the doubt.

The Code #14, Friend at Court (page 47)



Subject: "Carrying" the ball
We were playing doubles and one of the players we were playing against carried the ball.

I called it a carry and we stopped play thinking that it was our point.

The lady who did the carry first stated that they were the only ones that could call a carry (the team that actually committed the carry and then went on to say that she did nothing wrong.  So my first question is:  Who can call a carry and my next question, is it illegal?  I was always taught that you could not carry the ball with your racquet but she stated the rule has been changed.  Can you please clarify?

KAUFMAN: As long as it is not deliberate with a deliberate second swing, and the swing is one motion, then it is a legal shot even if the ball hits the racket more than once.

If it is a deliberate attempt to hit the ball twice then it is not a legal shot and the player who committed the illegal shot would call it on his/herself.

This rule on double hits changed in the 1970s.

The Code #20 and #21, Friend At Court (page 47-48)

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