Like all professional sports, tennis is a game of honour – especially when you have to call your own lines. The best-loved players at Monkland are the ones who understand our code of ethics and do their best to maintain a fun, easygoing and fair approach to the game.  Because life’s too short to haggle line calls.  Unless there’s a tournament win on the line of course.

Tennis code of ethics

We have fun taking our game seriously

Line Calls and Other Disagreements

  • When a match is played without officials, the players themselves have the responsibility for making decisions, particularly line calls; a player must be guided by the unwritten law that any doubt must be resolved in favor of his opponent.
  • It is each player’s responsibility to call all shots landing on or aimed at his side of the net, and to call against himself (with the exception of a first service) any ball that he clearly sees out on his opponent's side of the net.
  • The prime objective in making line calls is accuracy. When a player does not call an out ball (with the exception of a first serve) against himself when he clearly sees it out -- whether he is requested to do so by his opponents or not -- he is cheating.


  • In making a line call a player should not enlist the aid of a spectator.
  • When you are looking across a line don't call a ball out unless you can clearly see part of the court between where the ball hit and the line. This means if you are half a court or so away and a ball lands within two inches of a line it is almost impossible for you to call it with accuracy. A player who stands on one base line and questions a call concerning a ball that landed near the other base line is probably being ridiculous.
  • In doubles, when one partner calls a ball out and the other one good, the doubt that has been established means the ball must be considered to have been good.
  • Any ball that cannot be called out is presumed to have been good, and a player cannot claim a let on the basis that he did not see a ball.
  • Normally, asking for a replay of a point is a sign of weakness and of failure to exercise line-calling responsibilities, and should occur only on rare occasions.
  • Any call of "out", "let", or "fault" must be made instantaneously; otherwise, the ball is presumed good and still in play.
  • No matter how obvious it may be to you that your opponent's shot is out, it may not be obvious to him. He is entitled to a prompt hand signal or call; give it to him.
  • An ellipse tangent to a line (literally, touching the line at only one point) still represents a good ball; this is tantamount to saying that a ball 99% out is 100% good.
  • Once an out (meaning a ball has landed outside the court), fault, or let call is made, play stops, regardless of what happens thereafter.
  • Any ball that cannot be called out is presumed to have been good, and a player cannot claim a let on the basis that he did not see a ball.
  • Normally, asking for a replay of a point is a sign of weakness and of failure to exercise line-calling responsibilities, and should occur only on rare occasions.
  • Any call of "out", "let", or "fault" must be made instantaneously; otherwise, the ball is presumed good and still in play.
  • No matter how obvious it may be to you that your opponent's shot is out, it may not be obvious to him. He is entitled to a prompt hand signal or call; give it to him.
  • An ellipse tangent to a line (literally, touching the line at only one point) still represents a good ball; this is tantamount to saying that a ball 99% out is 100% good.
  • Once an out (meaning a ball has landed outside the court), fault, or let call is made, play stops, regardless of what happens thereafter.



When to Call a Let

  • As a general guide, when it is realized during a point that a mistake was made at the beginning, e.g., service from the wrong court, the point will not be interrupted, nor will corrective action be taken until the point is played out.
  • All points played in good faith stand.  For example, if the third point of a game is played in the ad court, there is no replay.
  • Each player is responsible for "housekeeping" on his own court. If he fails to remove stray balls and other objects, he may expect to pay for the consequences.
  • When you are hindered while attempting to return a shot that you could not have returned even had there been no hindrance, a let is not authorized. eg. a request for a let because you have tripped over your own hat should be denied.



Warm-up and Practice

  • Some players confuse "warm-up" and "practice."  While it is not mandatory, normally a player should provide his opponent five minutes (ten minutes if there are no ball persons) of warm-up, making a special effort to hit his shots directly to his opponent.
  • Many players want to practice or to warm-up their serves just before they serve the first time, even though the match is then one game or more old. Once a match has started, there is no basis for further practice or warm-up.



Adjoining Courts

  • A ball from your court going into an adjoining court or a ball from an adjoining court coming into your court can provide the basis for a let.  When play is in progress don't go behind another court to retrieve a ball or hit a loose ball to that court. Don't ask for one of your balls until the point in play on the adjoining court has stopped. In returning a loose ball to another court, pick up the ball and hit it so that it goes directly to one of the players on the other court, or roll it to the back of the court.
  • Some players have a post mortem in loud tones on each point, to the dismay of the players on the adjoining courts.


 
Other Infractions

  • Don't place towels or clothing over the net or on the court.
  • Calls involving a ball touching a player, a player touching the net, a player touching his opponent’s court (invasion), hitting an opponent's return before it has passed the net, and a double-bounce, can be very difficult to make.  Done without deliberation and with one continuous forward swing of the racket, a double-hit and a carry are legal shots. Any player who becomes aware that he has committed a violation in one of these areas should announce the violation immediately.
  • When you catch in the air a ball that is in play, you have lost the point, regardless of whether you are inside or outside the court.


 
Disputes

  • The preferred, but not mandatory, method of settling a scoring dispute is to count all points and games agreed on by the players, with only the disputed points and games being replayed. Another method is to go back to the last score on which there was agreement, then resume play from that point.
  • To eliminate arguments about the score the server should announce, in a voice audible to the players and spectators, the set score (e.g., 5-4) prior to his first serve in each game, and the game score (e.g., thirty-forty) prior to serving each point.


 
The Serve

  • In returning service the partner of the receiver should call the service line for him, with the receiver calling the center line and the side line, although either partner may make an out call on any shot (service or other) that he clearly sees out.
  • Returning a service that is obviously out (accompanied by an out call) is a form of rudeness. At the same time, it must be expected that a fast service that just misses the line will frequently be returned, with justification, as a matter of self-protection, even though an out call is made.
  • Returning a first service that is obviously out without an out call in an attempt to catch an opponent off guard is cheating. At the same time, if the receiver in good faith gives the server the benefit of the doubt and returns an out ball, the server is not entitled to refuse the benefit of the doubt and ask for a let on the basis that since he saw the serve out, the return caught him by surprise.
  • When the server causes a delay between the first and second serves, he has one serve to come. When there is a delay between serves that interrupts the natural flow of the match and when the delay is caused by the receiver or outside interference, the server has two serves to come.
  • Neither the server nor the net man should make an out call on a first service, even though he thinks it is out, because the receiver, not being sure of the ball, may give the server the benefit of the doubt and then hit a placement.
  • The receiver should make no effort to return a serve when he is not ready, if he wishes to maintain valid his right to a let.
  • When the receiver has indicated that he is ready and the server serves an ace, the receiver's partner cannot claim a let because he (the partner of the receiver) was not ready. The receiver's indication of being ready is tantamount to indicating that his team is ready.
  • When a server requests three balls to be in his hand prior to each point he is to serve, the receiver should comply with this wish when the third ball is readily available.
  • A USTA rule interpretation authorizes the receiver or his partner to call foot faults on the server. This call should be made only when the caller is absolutely certain, with the foot faulting being so flagrant as to be clearly perceptible from the receiver's side of the net.
  • In general, conversation between partners while the ball is moving toward their opponents' side of the net is taboo, even when a ball is moving toward two partners conversation between them should be minimized, with about the only words permitted being such exhortations as  “back”, “up”, “mine”, ”bounce”.



Fair Play

  • Do not slow the pace unduly; play at a normal rate.  Stalling is unsportsmanlike and may harm you reputation.
  • Don't enter a tournament and then withdraw when you discover some tough opponents have also entered. 
  • Some players complain of the type of shots an opponent hits (e.g., too many lobs); what he hits is his business as long as they are legal. Don’t spoil the game by losing your temper and using vile language or throwing your racquet. And don't sulk when you are losing; instead, praise your opponent's good shots.  Above all, try to make tennis a fun game for all participants.
  • With respect to a player moving when a ball is in play or about to be in play, in general, he is entitled to feint with his body as he wishes. He may change position on the court at any time including while the server is tossing the ball to serve. However, players must not shout, talk, make noise, wave their racquet in the air or try to distract their opponent.  


 
Monkland Specials

  • When your time period is up, leave quickly and do not cross over adjoining courts. Save the postmortem for the clubhouse.
  • When coming onto a court, wait for the end of the point before stepping on the court, and preferably all players together.
  • Do not enter a tournament unless you are free to play on the evenings indicated for tournament play.
  • We have a restriction on the use of only three balls at a time on our courts.  Using more than three increases the chances of injuring yourself or the players an adjacent courts.



Adapted from the Fédération québécoise de tennis Tennis Canada Rulebook and USTA 1992  Version of The Code of Tennis.