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You’re out of line!

September 1, 2010

Recently, my husband and I were having dinner with some friends. My husband and the other gentleman had started to play tennis with each other about once a week. I was very happy that he had picked up a racquet and daydreamed that we could actually play in a doubles tournament one day if he kept it up.

If you ask him, his interest in tennis was a little less enthusiastic. His philosophy was, “if you can’t beat ’em, join ’em”. It appeared to my husband that everyone around him had been bitten by the tennis bug including me, of course, but also his son.  He resisted the fact for a very long time that his son actually preferred tennis over football. After months of failed attempts to sway his son over to football, he decided to give tennis a shot himself.

Anytime he mentioned that he was going to play tennis with his friend, I strongly encouraged him pushing him out the door with his racquet. I didn’t think to give him much advice about tennis, after all he was a good athlete himself and played football in college. I realized this was mistake when his tennis opponent asked me a question during dinner. Let me also preface this by saying that my husband had yet to beat his friend which really was starting to bug him.

“Is there a rule about where you can stand during a serve in a singles match?”, his friend asked. I told him “yes”, behind the base line on either side of the mid court hatch mark, rotating on either side after each point. “Let me clarify, is it ok if someone stands behind the corner of the double’s alley as far over as possible during a single’s match?”. Puzzled, I tried to clarify his description as this sounded ridiculous and surely my husband would not choose to stand in such an absurd location. No, he was accurate the first time.

I told him that I didn’t know the exact ruling because I have never seen nor heard of anyone ever doing this. I then gently suggested to my husband that perhaps he could benefit from a private lesson or two, which he thought was absurd. So, I had to leave it as a big “I don’t know” to the service question.

The other day, I was thumbing through a Tennis Magazine and read the ruling on a similar question from a reader:

In a doubles match, one of our opponents served from behind the baseline but beyond the doubles sideline. I argued that this was an illegal serve. Was I correct?

Correct you were. As Rule 16 states, “The server shall stand at rest with both feet behind (i.e. farther from the net than) the baseline and within the imaginary extensions of the center mark and the sideline.” In singles, the server must stand within the boundary of the singles line.

So, there it is for any of you that have had a similar incident. I told my husband he could stand as far over as he liked as long as it wasn’t in the double’s alley during a singles match and in the alley, but not beyond sideline during a doubles. I think I have a good idea for a stocking stuffer this year for him, tennis lessons!

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