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Q. My opponent won the coin toss at the start of the match. He chose the side he wanted to start on and then told us we had to serve first. Did we get cheated or was my opponent correct in choosing the side and forcing us to serve first?
A. Under Rule 6 of the RULES OF TENNIS, the winner of the coin toss can choose either which end he wants for the first game or who serves first, but NOT BOTH (or, in a move of politeness—or strategy—he could defer that first choice to his opponent). Since he chose the side, you should have made the call on who was to serve first.
Q. Before our doubles match, our opponents gave us a really bad warm-up. Every ball they hit was well over our heads or out of bounds. After the match, a spectator said we could have requested to warm up with our partner. Is that permitted?
A. Yes, it’s OK for partners to warm up with each other as long as all four players agree. Although many players will have no objection, some like to get a feel for their opponents during the warm-up and may not want to forego their chance to preview the opposition. In that case, you should warm up with your opponents.
Q. Is it legal to serve underhand?
A. Absolutely. The rules contain no restriction whatsoever on the kind of motion the server may employ (Rule 7, USTA Comment 7.1).
Q. In a doubles match, the server hit his partner in the back of the head on his first serve. Does he lose the point?
A. The server does not lose the point in this case; it is simply a fault. If it had happened on the second serve, it would have been a double fault.
Q. My opponent continually calls balls out before they hit the ground, claiming that he would reverse his call if they landed in. Isn’t the practice of making a line call before the ball hits the ground a rule violation?
A. You’re right. A player should never call a ball out before it lands, even if it looks like it’s on its way over the fence, past the clubhouse, and into the parking lot. The first time he does it, call a let and explain that he’s committed a code violation (actually, a “hindrance”). If it happens again, go ahead and claim the point.
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