The Final Word: Important 2011 Procedure Change

January 24, 2011 03:08 PM
Richard Kaufman, USTA Director of Officials, answers your questions.
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: 2011 Procedure Change
I understand that there has been an important change in the procedure for 2011 for correcting out calls to good.

Can you confirm this?

Jennifer, Orlando, FL

KAUFMAN: Yes, see 2011 Friend At Court, page 47, # 12.  The Code: Players Guide for Matches When Officials Are Not Present

Prior to 2011, if the correction on a serve or in a rally was made immediately and the player returned the ball back into the court, then a let was played.  

However starting in 2011, the USTA Tennis Rules and Regulations Committee has determined that any call on a serve or in a rally corrected from out to good is loss of point to the player or team that corrected the call, even if the ball is put back into play.  An out call on any ball (on a serve or in a rally) that is corrected to good is considered to have created a hindrance to play and it is loss of point due to this hindrance.

NOTE: The only exception is on the first or second serve that is a service let (i.e. the ball hits the net before it lands in the service box).
Let serves that occur on first or second serve and called out and are then corrected to good result in the replay of the entire point, thus a first serve to the server.

Additional Comments from Rich Kaufman:
This procedural change to 2011 Friend At Court, page 47, # 12.  The Code: was debated for many years by the USTA Rules and Regulations Committee before the change was made.

It was concluded by this Committee that:

1.     Most honest corrections are point ending shots or very weak returns in which case under the previous procedure the point is lost to the team that corrected the call.  So in fact this new procedure does not in any way affect those situations.

2.     Weak returns lead to many arguments and contentious debates on what constitutes a "weak return in play."  The previous procedure for those players correcting out calls to good was that they should concede the point if it was a weak return in play.  In these cases the opposing team would have won the point if no call had been made.

3.     In many cases cheaters never seem to change their calls. Their integrity in an unofficiated match is always in question under the old and new procedure. 

4.  In the final analysis, if the ball is that close to the line then players should bite their tongues and play it as good and continue the point rather than create a hindrance to play with an incorrect call.  If there is any doubt about a call being in or out then the ball must always be considered "in."  Code 6 states that a player is NOT supposed to be calling close balls out.