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© Copyright 1999, Jim Loy
I got angry a couple of times, during tennis this year. And one of our tennis balls was never seen again. I did that rather than throw an expensive racket. People don't know the rules. I guess that is not their fault. But, they take advantage of their opponents and neighbors.
Sometimes people will not see the ball well enough to make a line call. And they often say, "I didn't see it. Play it over." Wrong! You didn't see it, it is IN! That is even spelled out in the rule book.
By the way, at the beginning of a new set, you can change places with your partner, and you can change the serve order of your team.
One strange way to play is FBI (first ball in or first serve in). This is often done at the beginning of a match. The server serves practice serves until one is in. This method is not in the rules, of course. A fast serve is a huge advantage with this method. Just keep blazing serves at the lines (the corners actually), until you get an ace. People don't normally take full advantage of this method. But they might.
People often walk onto my court (or behind the playing area) during a point. Stay off. I'll get your ball for you; just ask for it. Walk though between points. And people won't return my ball which rolled onto their court. I yell "help please," over and over. And they don't respond. I had to walk onto one lady's court and and find her ball before she would return my ball (it had the same number). She refused to believe that I had seen her pick up my ball.
People take time outs during my serve. That is when I blew my top this year. They will huddle with their partner, or go get a ball between first and second serve, or even go get a drink of water. Sometimes they are trying to break my rhythm. That is illegal. The little-known law is that you have to play to the server's pace. You cannot delay unreasonably. You should be ready when the server is ready. If my first serve rolled onto someone else's court, I am serving the second serve right away. Don't be looking to the neighbors for the ball. If it is my serve, I am ready to serve, and I am calling you a cheater, under my breath. Am I being a jerk. I suppose I am. But I am having enough trouble with my serve without my opponents interrupting me when they have no right to. Of course the server can't quick serve you; he/she has to give you time to get into position for the serve.
And, if the first set was an even number of games, it is not a changeover. You do not have time to get water (unless you need it for medical reasons).
If a ball rolls onto your court, you should call time out. Avoid those injuries from stepping on a ball. If it interrupts play, or if it was from another court and it disrupts the server's pace, then the server should get two serves. If it is your own ball, the server should probably not be given an extra serve because it was his/her mistake to allow a ball to roll around between serves.
If you touch the net, before the ball has bounced twice on the other side, you lose the point. If you reach over the net to hit the ball, you lose the point, with one exception. If the opponent hits the ball with enough backspin to make the ball come back over to his/her side of the net. You can reach over the net to hit the ball. Otherwise, if you reach over the net, call it on yourself, as your opponent usually cannot be sure of the call.
I caution people to not try to hit their opponents. But, hitting at them (at their feet or very close to them) is often the best shot. And the fools who stand right where you want to hit your overhead deserve to eat yellow felt, I guess. But, I still say, try not to injure people.
If you are tied, six games apiece, you are either continuing to play the set until you one of you is two games ahead (as in the olden days), or you are playing a tie-breaker. People don't seem to know how to play a tie-breaker. You are playing to seven points. The first player/team with seven points, but at least two points ahead, wins the tie-breaker, and the set. The player whose turn it is to serve, serves the first point, to the deuce court. Then each person serves two points in the same order that they have been rotating throughout the set, first to the ad court, then to the deuce court. You switch sides of the net every six points, which is in the middle of one player's serve. This switch of sides is not a changeover; you should not take extra time (to get a drink) between these points. The tie-break game was the service game of the first player to serve in the tie-breaker. The opponents serve first in the next set. This method is sometimes called a twelve-point tie-breaker; don't use that name; it only confuses.
The following happened several times yesterday: Our ball rolled through our neighbors' court, during their point, and they didn't stop play, as they should have; and after the point, not one of the four realized that someone wanted a ball back. This must have happened at least a half-dozen times. Altogether, we had to go onto their court over a dozen times to get our balls. They, and other neighbors, walked behind our court in the middle of points several times. I get a very low opinion of people's intelligence, when they are that unaware.
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