Tennis Rules – About Service and Return

Federer

Server & Receiver

The players/teams shall stand on opposite sides of the net. The server is the player who puts the ball into play for the first point. The receiver is the player who is ready to return the ball served by the server.
Case 1: Is the receiver allowed to stand outside the lines of the court?
Yes. The receiver may take any position inside or outside the lines on the receiver’s side of the net.

Choice of Ends & Service

The choice of ends and the choice to be server or receiver in the first game shall be decided by toss before the warm-up starts. The player/team who wins the toss may choose:
a. To be server or receiver in the first game of the match, in which case the opponent(s) shall choose the end of the court for the first game of the match; or
b. The end of the court for the first game of the match, in which case the opponent(s) shall choose to be server or receiver for the first game of the match; or
c. To require the opponent(s) to make one of the above choices.
Do both players/teams have the right to new choices if the warm-up is stopped and the players leave the court?
Yes. The result of the original toss stands, but new choices may be made by both players/teams.

Change of Ends

The players shall change ends at the end of the first, third and every subsequent odd game of each set. The players shall also change ends at the end of each set unless the total number of games in that set is even, in which case the players change ends at the end of the first game of the next set.
During a tie-break game, players shall change ends after every six points.

Ball in Play

Unless a fault or a let is called, the ball is in play from the moment the server hits the ball, and remains in play until the point is decided.

Ball Touches a Line

If a ball touches a line, it is regarded as touching the court bounded by that line.

Ball Touches a Permanent Fixture

If the ball in play 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.

Order of Service

At the end of each standard game, the receiver shall become the server and the server shall become the receiver for the next game.
In doubles, the team due to serve in the first game of each set shall decide which player shall serve for that game. Similarly, before the second game starts, their opponents shall decide which player shall serve for that game. The partner of the player who served in the first game shall serve in the third game and the partner of the player who served in the second game shall serve in the fourth game. This rotation shall continue until the end of the set.

Order of Receiving in Double

The team which is due to receive in the first game of a set shall decide which player shall receive the first point in the game. Similarly, before the second game starts, their opponents shall decide which player shall receive the first point of that game.
The player who was the receiver’s partner for the first point of the game shall receive the second point and this rotation shall continue until the end of the game and the set.
After the receiver has returned the ball, either player in a team can hit the ball.
Is one member of a doubles team allowed to play alone against the opponents?
No.

The Service

Immediately before starting the service motion, the server shall stand at rest with both feet behind (i.e. further from the net than) the baseline and within the imaginary extensions of the centre mark and the sideline. The server shall then release the ball by hand in any direction and hit the ball with the racket before the ball hits the ground. The service motion is completed at the moment that the player’s racket hits or misses the ball. A player who is able to use only one arm may use the racket for the release of the ball.

Serving

When serving in a standard game, the server shall stand behind alternate halves of the court, starting from the right half of the court in every game.
In a tie-break game, the service shall be served from behind alternate halves of the court, with the first served from the right half of the court.
The service shall pass over the net and hit the service court diagonally opposite, before the receiver returns it.

Foot Fault

During the service motion, the server shall not:
a. Change position by walking or running, although slight movements of the feet are permitted; or
b. Touch the baseline or the court with either foot; or
c. Touch the area outside the imaginary extension of the sideline with either foot; or
d. Touch the imaginary extension of the centre mark with either foot.
If the server breaks this rule it is a “Foot Fault”.
In a singles match, is the server allowed to serve standing behind the part of the baseline between the singles sideline and the doubles sideline?
No.
Is the server allowed to have one or both feet off the ground?
Yes.

Service Fault

The service is a fault if:
a. The server breaks Rules 16, 17 or 18; or
b. The server misses the ball when trying to hit it; or
c. The ball served touches a permanent fixture, singles stick or net post before it hits the ground; or
d. The ball served touches the server or server’s partner, or anything the server or server’s partner is wearing or carrying.
After tossing a ball to serve, the server decides not to hit it and catches it
instead. Is this a fault?
No. A player, who tosses the ball and then decides not to hit it, is allowed
to catch the ball with the hand or the racket, or to let the ball bounce.
During a singles match played on a court with net posts and singles sticks,
the ball served hits a singles stick and then hits the correct service court. Is this a fault?
Yes.

Second Service

If the first service is a fault, the server shall serve again without delay from behind the same half of the court from which that fault was served, unless the service was from the wrong half.

When to Serve & Receive

The server shall not serve until the receiver is ready. However, the receiver shall play to the reasonable pace of the server and shall be ready to receive within a reasonable time of the server being ready.
A receiver who attempts to return the service shall be considered as being ready. If it is demonstrated that the receiver is not ready, the service cannot be called a fault.

The Let during a Service

The service is a let if:
a. The ball served touches the net, strap or band, and is otherwise good; or, after touching the net, strap or band, touches the receiver or the receiver’s partner or anything they wear or carry before hitting the ground; or
b. The ball is served when the receiver is not ready.
In the case of a service let, that particular service shall not count, and the server shall serve again, but a service let does not cancel a previous fault.

The Let

In all cases when a let is called, except when a service let is called on a second service, the whole point shall be replayed.
When the ball is in play, another ball rolls onto court. A let is called. The server had previously served a fault. Is the server now entitled to a first service or second service?
First service. The whole point must be replayed.

Player Loses Point

The point is lost if:
a. The player serves two consecutive faults; or b. The player does not return the ball in play before it bounces twice consecutively; or c. The player returns the ball in play so that it hits the ground, or before it bounces, an object, outside the correct court; or d. The player returns the ball in play so that, before it bounces, it hits a permanent fixture; or e. The receiver returns the service before it bounces; or f. The player deliberately carries or catches the ball in play on the racket or
deliberately touches it with the racket more than once; or g. The player or the racket, whether in the player’s hand or not, or anything which the player is wearing or carrying touches the net, net posts/singles sticks, cord or metal cable, strap or band, or the opponent’s court at any time while the ball is in play; or h. The player hits the ball before it has passed the net; or i. The ball in play touches the player or anything that the player is wearing or carrying, except the racket; or j. The ball in play touches the racket when the player is not holding it; or k. The player deliberately and materially changes the shape of the racket when the ball is in play; or l. In doubles, both players touch the ball when returning it.

After the server has served a first service, the racket falls out of the server’s hand and touches the net before the ball has bounced. Is this a service fault, or does the server lose the point?
The server loses the point because the racket touches the net while the ball is in play.
After the server has served a first service, the racket falls out of the server’s hand and touches the net after the ball has bounced outside the correct service court. Is this a service fault, or does the server lose the point?
This is a service fault because when the racket touched the net the ball was no longer in play.
In a doubles match, the receiver’s partner touches the net before the ball that has been served touches the ground outside the correct service court. What is the correct decision?
The receiving team loses the point because the receiver’s partner touched the net while the ball was in play.
Does a player lose the point if an imaginary line in the extension of the net is crossed before or after hitting the ball?
The player does not lose the point in either case provided the player does not touch the opponent’s court.
Is a player allowed to jump over the net into the opponent’s court while the ball is in play?
No. The player loses the point.
A player throws the racket at the ball in play. Both the racket and the ball land in the court on the opponent’s side of the net and the opponent(s) is unable to reach the ball. Which player wins the point?
The player who threw the racket at the ball loses the point.
A ball that has just been served hits the receiver or in doubles the receiver’s partner before it touches the ground. Which player wins the point?
The server wins the point, unless it is a service let. A player standing outside the court hits the ball or catches it before it bounces and claims the point because the ball was definitely going out of the correct court.
The player loses the point, unless it is a good return, in which case the point continues.

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