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Official Rules of Platform Tennis ©i
With notes, comments, and appendices
Note on Sportsmanship and Etiquette
Sportsmanship and etiquette are fundamental to this sport. Both concepts deal with integrity and respect. The notion of sportsmanship is intended to keep egregious behaviors out of the game, while the subject of etiquette is intended to raise the level of civility on the court.
Webster’s definition of sportsmanship is “conduct (as fairness, respect for one’s opponent, and graciousness in winning or losing) becoming to one participating in a sport."
Unsportsmanlike behavior will not be tolerated. Examples of unsportsmanlike behavior include, but are not limited to, continuous, aggressive questioning of line calls, throwing the paddle, abusive or foul language, retaliatory calls, threatening verbal or physical behavior, and name calling. When dealing with such incidents, tournament directors and the American Platform Tennis Association (APTA) recognize that there are degrees of severity related to these behaviors and will consider that when determining penalties. See Rule 20 for further information.
Webster’s definition of etiquette is “the rules indicating the proper and polite way to behave.” The subject of etiquette is focused more on how to raise the level of civility during play. For a description of expected behaviors, please read Appendix E: The Etiquette of Platform Tennis.
RULE 1. Dimensions and Terminology
1a) Court Dimensions: The court is a rectangle, 44 feet long and 20 feet wide, laid out on a deck with a playing area of 60 feet by 30 feet that is enclosed by a screen 12 feet high. The screen is held taut by a superstructure around the perimeter of the deck. Screens are made of 1-inch hexagonal galvanized or plastic-coated wire mesh.
1b) Net and Post Dimensions: The court is divided across the middle by a net, the ends of which are attached to posts. The posts are 37 inches high and 18 inches outside of the court. The height of the net at the posts is 37 inches and at center is 34 inches. The net is held down taut and adjusted for height by a vertical center strap that is 2 inches wide.
1c) Line Terminology and Dimensions: The lines at the ends of the court, parallel to the net, are called baselines. The lines at the sides of the court, perpendicular to the net, are called sidelines. Two feet inside the sidelines and running parallel to them for the length of the court are the singles sidelines. Twelve feet from the net, on each side and running parallel to it from singles sideline to singles sideline, are the service lines. The segments of the alley lines between the service lines and the net are called the service sidelines. The area between the net and the service lines is divided in half by a line perpendicular to them. This line is called the center service line.
Each baseline is bisected by an imaginary extension of the center service line called the center mark. The center mark appears as a line 4 inches long extending into the court at a right angle to and touching the baseline. The area between the baseline and the service line is called the backcourt. The distance between the baseline and service line is 10 feet. The area between the service line and the net is called the forecourt, which in turn is divided into two service courts, deuce and ad. The area between the doubles sideline and singles sideline is called the alley. All lines are customarily 2 inches wide and all measurements are made to the outside of the lines from the net or the center of the center service line. This line is in both service courts and is itself centered on the imaginary center line of the court. All lines are within the court.
1d) Dimensions Between Lines and Screens: There is a space of 8 feet between each baseline and the back screen and a space of 5 feet between each sideline and the side screen. These spaces are part of the playing area, but they are not part of the court. On either side of the court, or on both sides, an access door is cut into the superstructure. The door is located near the center of the side screen.
1e) Surfaces and Colors: Court surfaces as well as colors for court and playing area must be approved by the APTA Rules Committee.
RULE 2. Court Fixtures
Court fixtures are the posts, the net, the net hand crank, the net cord (or metal cable) that holds up the net, the band across the top of the net, the center strap, the screens, the snow boards, the superstructure, any diagonal corner support beam within the enclosure, the doors, the lighting poles and lights, and, when they are present, the umpire and umpire's chair.
RULE 3. The Ball and the Paddle
The ball is a rubber ball with flocking, conforming to APTA specifications for diameter, weight, bounce, and other standards as set forth in Appendix A. The paddle can measure up to 18 inches in overall length. The paddle is perforated with up to 87 holes of 3/8-inch diameter. The surface of the paddle may be textured. APTA paddle standards are set forth in Appendix B. All paddle and balls used in an APTA sanctioned tournament must have been approved by the APTA Rules Committee. Green and yellow balls are the only balls approved for APTA sanctioned tournaments. Pink and orange balls may be used in non-APTA sanctioned tournaments. A low bounce ball may not be used in PCQ, NRT or National Championship tournaments without permission from the APTA Board.
RULE 4. Use of Paddle and Ball
A player may not carry a second paddle or a second ball during play, although it is permissible to use both hands on the paddle and to switch the paddle from hand to hand in the course of play.
4a) Ball Change: Play should continue with the same ball as long as it is in good condition. In tournament matches, play should continue with the same ball throughout a set, including tiebreaker, and the ball should not be changed during the set unless: (i) the ball becomes clearly defective, such as a crack or split, or (ii) for any other reason all four players agree that the ball should be changed during the set. (To avoid any disputes, it is desirable that the official, or in the absence of an official, the players decide on a specific ball-change pattern prior to starting the match, such as every 5 games or every 9 games, particularly during wet or cold conditions.) At the end of a set, play can continue with the same ball; however, if any one player desires a new ball, a ball change is made.
RULE 5. The Game
Platform tennis is basically a doubles game, and the rules discussed in this booklet pertain to doubles play. Singles is played according to the rules set forth in Rule 19.
RULE 6. Scoring
6a) The Game: A standard game is scored with the server’s points called first. The terminology is as follows:
Zero (no points) = Love
First point = 15 (also called 5)
Second point = 30
Third point = 40
Fourth point = game
For example, if the receiving team wins the first point, the score is "love-15." When both teams score 15, or both score 30, the score is called "15-all" or "30-all." When both teams score 40, the score is called "deuce." The next point after deuce is called "advantage" for the team winning it, thus "advantage server" (or "ad in") if the serving team wins that point, or "advantage receiver" (or "ad out") if the receiving team wins that point. If the team with the advantage wins the next point, it wins the game. If the other team wins that point, the score reverts to deuce. This continues indefinitely until one team wins two points in a row from deuce, winning the game. A game that is won "at love" means the losing team did not win any points. (Tiebreaker scoring is noted in Rule 6d.)
6b) The Set: The team that first wins 6 games wins the set. However, the winning team must have a margin of 2 games, (e.g., 6-4). A set that is won "at love" means that the losing team did not win any games. When the score in games is 5-all, the set continues to 7-5. When the score in games is 6-all, the 12-point tiebreaker (see Rule 6d) should be used, except as noted below.
6c) The Match: A match is usually best of three sets with a tiebreaker in all sets. See Rule 6f for exceptions.
6d) Tiebreakers: The APTA has approved a 12-point tiebreaker and a 10-point super tiebreaker. The 12-point tiebreaker is used to decide sets tied at 6-6. The 10-point super tiebreaker is played in lieu of a third set in certain back draw matches, depending on the type of event.
For a 12-point tiebreaker, the first team to win 7 points, and by a margin of 2 points, wins the set. The set shall be scored 7-6.
For a 10-point super (match) tiebreaker, the first team to win 10 points and by a margin of 2 points, wins the set and the match. The set shall be scored according to points played, such as 10-7 or 13-11.
The service order for the 12-point tiebreaker must stay the same as the set just played. The service order for the 10-point super tiebreaker is changeable, just as a new set service order would be. Once the change in order of serve is made, the teams will continue to serve in that order throughout the remainder of the tiebreaker.
The server of the first point of the tiebreaker will serve only one point, to the ad court. Each player will then, in normal service rotation, serve twice; first to the deuce court then to the ad court. The single point served by the initial server of the tiebreaker results in an immediate change of ends, and teams will continue to change ends in the normal pattern as if the server had served an entire game.
6e) Tiebreaker Example:
Assume the service order was A, C, B, D during the set. At 6-all, it's A's turn to serve again. 1) A serves once from the ad court on the North End. Change ends. 2) C serves twice from North End (deuce court first; ad court second). 3) B serves twice from South End (deuce court first; ad court second). Change ends. 4) D serves twice from South End (deuce court first; ad court second). 5) A serves twice from North End (deuce court first; ad court second). Change ends and repeat this order until one team reaches 7 points or wins by 2 points after each team reaches 6 points.
Note: The team that did not start serving the 12-point tiebreaker will serve first in the next set. Since all sets after 12-point tiebreakers end in odd scores, teams must switch sides from where the first service of the tie-breaker took place. In this example, team C-D would start serving the next set from the North End.
6f) Back Draw Super Tiebreakers: A third-set super tiebreaker (also called a match tiebreaker) may be used in some APTA sanctioned events instead of a third set in back draws only. The tournament director must notify all players prior to the tournament that a third-set super tiebreaker will be used in the back draws. However, in all women’s NRTs and all APTA National Championships, the third-set super tiebreaker will not be used in back draws. In men’s NRT back draw matches (except at Nationals). the third set will be a super-tiebreaker.
6g) Serving Tiebreaker to the Wrong Court/Out of Order: If either server delivers the first service of the tiebreaker from the wrong side of the court and the mistake is not discovered before the service is completed, the point stands. If the service is a fault, it is loss of point to the serving team. If the incorrect position is detected prior to delivering the first service or if a good service is delivered and there is no attempt by the receiver to return the ball, there is no penalty and the server should re-serve from the correct side of the court.
If an incorrect server serves the first point and the point is completed, the point stands as played but that team's service rotation stands as altered (i.e., the server's partner serves next in the tiebreaker rotation). If the incorrect server is detected prior to delivering the first service or if a good service is delivered and there is no attempt by the receiver to return the ball, there is no penalty and the correct server should re-serve from the correct side of the court.
As soon as the error in side or server is detected, it must be remedied on the next point.
6h) No-Ad Scoring: No-ad scoring is used occasionally to speed up play by concluding a game on the next point after both teams have scored three points (referred to as deuce in regular scoring). Points are scored 1, 2, 3, and no points is called "zero." When the score reaches "3-all," the receiving team may decide which partner will receive the service. The winner of that point wins the game.
6i) Agreement on Score: If players cannot agree on a score, they must go back to the score upon which they agree.
Comment: In matches played without an umpire, the server should announce the game score at the beginning of the service game and the point score as the game goes on. Misunderstandings will be avoided if this practice is followed.
6j) Guidelines for Number of Sets: In APTA sanctioned events, there are different rules for the format for different types of tournament.
Women’s National Ranking Tournaments: The format is 2 out of 3 sets with a tiebreaker in all sets.
Men’s National Ranking Tournaments (excluding the Men’s Open National Championships): The format is 2 out of 3 sets with a tiebreaker in all sets; in back draws, the third set will be a super tiebreaker.
Masters National Championships; Junior National Championships, Men's Singles National Championship: The format is 2 out of 3 sets with a tiebreaker in all sets.
Men’s, Women's, Mixed, Husband/Wife National Championships: The format is 2 out of 3 sets, with a tiebreaker in all sets except the third set of the main draw finals, which is played out, winning by two games.
6k) Guidelines for Number of Matches: The number of matches played in NRTs, Grand Prix Series, and National Championships is dependent on a team’s progress through the draw. In Masters National Championships for ages 60 and below, the maximum number of matches per day is four. In Masters National Championships for ages 60 and above, the maximum number of matches per day is three.
RULE 7. Choice of End of Court and Service
The choice of end of court and the right to serve first or to receive first is decided by spinning the paddle. The home team spins and the team that does not spin chooses their option. The team winning the spin has the following options:
1) The Right to Serve First: in which case, the other team has the right to choose from which end of the court to receive.
2) The Right to Receive First: in which case, the other team has the right to choose from which end of the court to serve.
3) The Right to Choose the End: in which case, the other team has the right to elect to serve first or to receive first.
4) The Right to Require the Other Team to Make the First Choice
RULE 8. When Teams Change Ends
Teams change ends at the end of the first, third, fifth, and every subsequent odd-numbered game of each set. When a set ends on an odd total of games (e.g., 6-3), the teams "change for one"; that is, they change ends for one game of the next set, and then change ends accordingly. When the set ends on an even total of games (e.g., 6-4), the teams "stay for one" and then change ends after the first game of the next set.
RULE 9. Serving
After the spin, the teams take their places on opposite sides of the net. The member of the team who elects to serve first becomes the server.
9a) Serving Team Position: The server must serve from a position behind the baseline and between the center mark and the sideline, diagonally crosscourt from the receiver. (See Rule 10 for Receiving.) The server's partner may take any position they choose on their own sides of the net, on or off the court.
9b) Serving Order: The partners decide between them who will serve first in each set. The order of service remains in force for that entire set. At the end of each game of a set, the receiving team becomes the serving team.
If a player serves out of turn, the player who should be serving must take over the serving from the point that the mistake is discovered. All points stand as played. If an entire game is served by the wrong player, the game score stands as played, but the order of service remains as altered, so that in no case may one player on a team serve three games in a row.
9c) Alternating Deuce/Ad Sides: The server alternates serving, first from behind the deuce court into the receiver's deuce court, then from behind the ad court into the receiver's ad court, and so on. (See Rule 6e for service rotation in a tiebreaker.)
9d) Delivery of the Service: The server takes an initial position behind the baseline and between an imaginary extension of the center mark and the sideline (in doubles). The server then projects the ball by hand into the air in any direction and, before it hits the ground, strikes the ball with the paddle. At the moment of impact, the service delivery is completed.
Note: The service may be delivered overhand, underhand, or sidearm as the server chooses. There is no obligation on the server's part to inform the receiver as to the server's intention, and the server may vary the type of delivery.
9e) Receiving Team Must Be Ready: The server must not deliver the service until the receiving team is ready. If the receiver makes any attempt to return the ball, the receiver is deemed to be ready. Also, if the receiver attempts to return the ball, it is deemed that the receiver's partner also is ready. If the receiver claims not to be ready as a service is being delivered, the service shall be played again, provided the receiver does not attempt a return. In such case, the receiver may not claim a fault should the service land in the net or outside the service court.
9f) Good Service: A good serve is any serve where the ball passes over the net and hits the deck within the correct service court.
It is a good service if a player strikes a ball that lands in the service court, rebounds off the back screen or corner, and lands back on the striker's side of the net (in or out of bounds) without being touched by an opponent.
9g) Only One Service: Only one service is allowed (except in singles; see Rule 19). If the service is a fault, the server loses the point.
9h) No Service Let in Platform Tennis: If the service touches the net cord and lands in the correct service court, the ball is in play. (This is unlike tennis, where a "let" service would be called.) If an erroneous let is called on a net cord service but neither team is distracted by the improper call, play can continue. However, if the let call is a distraction that causes either team to stop play, it is loss of point for the team calling the let.
9i) Service Touching Receiving Team: If the service touches the receiver or the receiver's partner or anything they are wearing or carrying before the ball has hit the deck, the server wins the point outright. This ruling applies whether the member of the receiving team is hit while standing on or off the court.
9j) Service Fault: The service is a fault if:
- (i) the server does not take a legal position as described in Rule 9a;
(ii) the server commits a foot fault (see Rule 9m);
(iii) the server misses the ball completely in attempting to strike it;
(iv) the ball served does not land in the correct service court;
(v) the ball served hits the server's partner;
(vi) the served ball touches a court fixture other than the net cord, post, net hand crank, band, or center strap before landing in the correct service court. See also Rule 14m.
Note: Any service that does touch the net cord, post, net hand crank, band, or center strap before landing in the correct service court is in play.
9k) Line Calls and Out Calls on Service: On service, either member of the receiving team may make line calls. Since all parts of the lines bounding the service box are deemed to be in play, a ball that touches any part of a line is good. The usual procedure is for the receiving team to make line calls on its own side of the net (i.e., you call lines on your side; the opponents call lines on their side). If an out call is made, play should stop. If there is a disagreement between the receiving partners as to whether the service is good or out, a let should be played, regardless of whether the service was returned in or was out of play. If an out call is made on a ball that the receiver could not return and the caller's partner believes the ball was in, the point should be awarded to the server. Also, etiquette says that players may assist their opponents with "out" calls in the opponents' court, if requested.
9l) Serving from the Wrong Court: If the server serves from behind the wrong side of the court and the mistake is not discovered before the service is completed (see Rule 9d), the point stands as played, but thereafter the server must serve from the correct side of the court according to the score. If such service from the incorrect position is a fault, it is a completed point and a loss of point to the server. If the incorrect position of the server is detected prior to delivering the service, or after a good service is delivered, but no attempt is made by the receiver to return the ball, there is no penalty and the server should move to the correct position and deliver the service. There may be an instance where the server is serving from the same side twice in a row, if the mistake is realized after the point has concluded and the game has not ended.
9m) Foot Fault: The server shall, throughout delivery of the service, up to the moment of impact of paddle and ball (a) not change position by walking or running; (b) not touch, with either foot, any area other than that behind the baseline within the imaginary extension of the center mark and the sideline.
Note: The server shall not, by the following movements of his/her feet, be deemed to "change position by walking or running": a) any slight movements of the feet that do not materially affect the location originally taken by the server; b) both feet off the deck while serving so long as the feet are not touching the baseline or the court.
In a match not being officiated, the server's opponents may call foot faults. The first call of a foot fault on each server shall be a let. After this grace fault, it is loss of point. Under tournament conditions, if there is an umpire or linesmen, they assume the responsibility for calling all foot faults. At any time in any round of a tournament match, any player is entitled to request a foot fault judge and/or linesman.
RULE 10. Receiving
10a) Receiving Position: The receiver may stand wherever he/she pleases on his/her own side of the net, on or off the court. Likewise, the receiver's partner may take any position they choose on their own side of the net, on or off the court.
10b) Receiving Order: Whoever returns the first serve of the first and second game of each set is deemed to be the deuce player. In other words, the deuce and ad players are determined by who returns the first serve in each set and not by where they are standing to return. Thereafter in that set, the receiving order must remain as established by the first return.
10c) Receiving Team Must Be Ready: As stated in Rule 9e, the server must not deliver the service until the receiving team is ready. If the receiver makes any attempt to return the ball, the receiver is deemed to be ready. Also, if the receiver attempts to return the ball, it is deemed that the receiver's partner also is ready. If the receiver claims not to be ready as a service is being delivered, the service shall be played again, provided the receiver does not attempt to return the ball. In such case, the receiver may not claim a fault should the service land in the net or outside the service court.
10d) No Volleys on Returns: The receiver may not volley the service (i.e., strike the ball before it has bounced). If he/she does so, the receiver loses the point outright.
10e) Receiving Out of Turn: If the receiving team receives from the wrong side of their court (as established in their first receiving game of the set), they must continue to receive serve for the entire game from the "wrong side," but must revert to the original sides of their court in the next game in which they are receivers.
RULE 11. Point in Play
Once a ball is put into play by service, it remains in play until the point is decided, unless a fault or a let is called. The ball is in play until: (i) it hits the screen on the fly, or (ii) it bounces on the deck out of bounds, or (iii) it bounces a second time after first bouncing in bounds, or (iv) it goes over the screen.Note: If the ball in play touches a court fixture (as defined in Rule 2, excluding lighting fixtures and umpire chairs), including the top of the cross beam, after it has hit the deck within the boundaries of the court, the ball remains in play and may be returned, so long as it has not hit the deck a second time within the court or the playing area.
RULE 12. Out Calls/Line Calls
A ball in play (other than a service) is out if it does not land within the court on the correct side of the net after either crossing the net or touching the post, net, net hand crank, net cord, band, or center strap. Since all parts of the lines bounding the court are deemed to be within the court, a ball that touches any part of a line is good. In an unofficiated match, the usual procedure is for the receiving team to make line calls on its own side of the net (i.e., you call lines on your side; the opponents call lines on their side). However, players may assist their opponents with "out" calls in the opponents' court, if requested.
12a) Partners Disagree on Out Calls: If during play, a player makes an out call on a ball that the player could otherwise return, play should stop. If the partner disagrees and believes the ball was in, a let should be played. If a ball is not clearly seen by either player as in or out, or an out call is made on a ball that neither player could retrieve and the caller's partner believes the ball was in, the point should be awarded to the opponents. The same holds true on serves (see Rule 9k). For further discussion, see Appendix E: Line Calls.
RULE 13. Let Calls During Play
In all cases where a let is called, the point is to be replayed.
13a) Overhangs: A ball in play is a let if it hits an overhanging obstruction such as a tree limb.
13b) Broken Ball: A ball in play is a let if the ball becomes broken in the course of a point.
13c) Accidental Occurrences: A ball in play is a let if play is interrupted by an accidental occurrence, such as a ball from another court bouncing into the court, or a door opening during the point.
Note: If a player loses an item of clothing (i.e., hat, glasses, accessory), the opposing team has the option to call a let. This call must be made immediately, or the point will stand as concluded. It is not reasonable to opt not to call a let, strike the ball for loss of point, and then ask for a let to be called.
13d) Screen Malfunction: A ball in play is a let if the ball leaves the court through a hole in the screen, or gets stuck in the screen.
RULE 14. Loss of Point
14a) Two Bounces: It is a loss of point if, as the receiving team, the ball bounces a second time, provided the first bounce was within the court.
Comment: Sometimes it is difficult to determine whether a player attempting to retrieve a ball, especially a drop shot that has bounced once and is about to bounce again, actually strikes the ball before it bounces the second time. Propriety dictates that the player attempting to hit the ball is honor bound to call "not up" if the player feels the ball did in fact bounce twice. A player who has any doubt should ask the nearest opponent, after the point has been decided, "Was it up?" If the opponent says no, the point should be conceded.
14b) Out of Bounds: It is a loss of point if a player returns/hits the ball in such a way that it hits the deck on the other side of the net outside the sidelines or baseline.
14c) Ball Hits Objects: It is a loss of point if a player returns/hits the ball in such a way that it hits any object, other than an opposing player, on the other side of the net outside the sidelines or baseline.
14d) Ball Out Off of Court Fixtures: It is a loss of point if the ball hits the net, the post, net hand crank, cord, band, or center strap and does not then land within the court on the other side of the net.
14e) Standing Out of Bounds: It is a loss of point if a player volleys the ball and fails to hit the ball in the court, even when standing out of bounds.
Comment: A player standing out of bounds volleys at his own risk. It is not proper to volley the ball and simultaneously call it out, for if the ball is volleyed it is in play.
14f) Double Strike: It is a loss of point if a player deliberately carries or catches the ball in play on the paddle or deliberately touches it with the paddle more than once.
Note: Any ball struck more than once using a continuous motion is legal.
14g) Only One Hitter: In the course of making a return, only one player may hit the ball. If both players, either simultaneously or consecutively, hit the ball, it is an illegal return and loss of point. Mere clashing of paddles does not constitute an illegal return, provided that only one player strikes the ball.
14h) Reaching Over Net: It is a loss of point if a player strikes the ball before it has crossed over to his side of the net (i.e., reaches over the net to strike the ball, making contact on the opponents' side of the net.) For exceptions, see Rule 15e and 15f.
14i) Ball Hitting Person/Paddle: It is a loss of point if a ball in play touches any part of a player, including the hand(s) holding the paddle, or his/her clothing. It is also a loss of point if the ball is barely grazed with one’s own paddle.
Note: It does not matter whether the player is inside or outside the court, whether he/she is hit squarely or his/her clothing or paddle is merely grazed, or whether the contact is accidental or purposeful. (See Appendix E: Own Calls.)
14j) Person Touching Court Fixtures: It is a loss of point if a player or anything the player wears or carries, touches the post, net, net hand crank, cord, band, or center strap, or the court surface on the opponents' side of the net, within the boundary lines, while the ball is in play. (See Rule 11.)
14k) Net Pushed into Player: It is a loss of point for the net player if the opponent hits the ball into the net in such a way that it pushes the net against the player's paddle or person. It does not matter that the ball was not going over the net. It is a loss of point because the net player made contact with the net while the ball was still in play.
14l) Thrown Paddle: It is a loss of point if a paddle strikes the ball when it is not in a player’s hand.
14m) Ball Over Enclosure: It is a loss of point if a player bounces the ball over the screen and out of the enclosure, into netting above the cross bar, or into a lighting fixture or light pole, whether or not the ball rebounds back into the court. This rule applies for all shots, including serves, overheads, and lobs.
14n) Back Screen Rebound: It is a loss of point if a player strikes a ball that lands in the court, then rebounds off the back screen or corner, and lands back on the striker's side of the net (in or out of bounds) without being touched by an opponent. (This rule does not apply to the serve. See Rule 9f.)
14o) Catching a Ball: It is a loss of point if a player catches a ball that appears to be going out of bounds and claims the point. The ball must bounce out of bounds before called out.
14p) Ball Between Net and Post: It is a loss of point if the ball is hit through the open space between the net and the post.
14q) Umpire and Chair: It is a loss of point if a player’s ball hits the umpire’s chair, the umpire, or anything attached to the chair.
14r) Light Fixture/Light Pole: It is a loss of point for the striker if the ball hits a lighting fixture or pole.
RULE 15. Not a Loss of Point
15a) Side Screen Rebound: It is not a loss of point if a player hits a ball that lands inbounds, hits the side screen only, and then immediately comes back to the hitter’s side.
15b) Running Past Net Post: It is not a loss of point if, in rushing forward to retrieve a shot, a player's momentum carries him/her past the net post onto the opponents' side of the net (unless the player actually steps inside the opponents' court or interferes with one of the opponents. Mere physical contact with an opponent is not loss of point unless such contact hinders the opponent.)
15c) Continuous Motion: It is not a loss of point if a player strikes a ball more than once using a continuous motion. (See Rule 14f and Appendix E: Own Calls.)
15d) Person Touching Court Fixtures: It is not a loss of point if a player, or anything the player wears or carries, touches the post, net, net hand crank, cord, band, or center strap, or the court surface on the opponents' side of the net, within the boundary lines, after the point has been concluded.
15e) Reaching Over Net: It is not a loss of point if the ball, served or returned, hits the deck within the correct court and rebounds or is blown back over the net, and one of the players on the opposing team reaches over the net and plays the ball, provided that neither the player nor any part of the player's clothing or equipment touches the post, net, net hand crank, net cord, band, center strap, or the deck within the opponents' court, and that the stroke is otherwise good.
15f) Paddle Crossing Net: It is not a loss of point if a player's paddle passes over the net after the player has returned the ball, provided that the ball has crossed to the player's side of the net before being struck by the player and that the stroke is otherwise good.
15g) Ball Played Outside Net: It is not a loss of point if the ball is returned outside the post, either above or below the level of the top of the net, whether or not it touches the post or net hand crank, provided it then hits the deck within the court.
RULE 16. Balls Off Screens
If a ball in play or on the service hits the deck in the correct court and then touches any part of the back or side screens, or both screens, or the horizontal top, rails, or the snow boards, it may be played, so long as it does not bounce on the deck a second time before being hit by the player. A ball taken off the screen must be returned into the opponents' court. It may not be struck back indirectly by being hit from paddle to screen and then into the opponents' court.
RULE 17. Hindrance
Players should not hinder another player in making a stroke.
17a) Colliding with Partner/Court Fixture: If a player bumps into his own partner or is interfered by a court fixture, it is not grounds for a let.
17b) Deliberate Action: In the situations covered by Rule 15e and 15f, if the opponent deliberately hinders the player attempting to strike the ball, the player is entitled to the point by reason of hindrance, whether such hindrance is verbal or physical. However, if it is agreed that such hindrance was unintentional or something outside the player’s own control (not including a permanent fixture), a let should be called.
RULE 18. Continuous Play/Time Allowances
Play shall be continuous from the first service of the first game until the conclusion of the match.
18a) Playing to Sensible Pace of Server: The receiver shall play to the sensible pace of the server and shall be ready to receive within reasonable time of the server being ready.
18b) Time Permitted
- i) Changing sides: When changing sides on the odd games, a maximum of 1 minute is allowed for players to towel off, change equipment, rest, etc.
ii) Between points: During a service game, the server is permitted a maximum of 20 seconds between the finish of play on a point and the delivery of the next service.
iii) Between sets: A maximum of 2 minutes is allowed between sets. However, after discussion with opponents and/or umpire, up to 5 minutes is allowed for a restroom break or special circumstances.
iv) Injury time: In the event of an accident, a fall, collision with a net post, a sprained ankle, and the like, up to a 10-minute suspension in play may be authorized. A default will be mandatory if play is not resumed immediately after the suspension.
v) Equipment adjustment: If a player's clothing, footwear, or equipment becomes out of adjustment in such a way that it is impossible or undesirable for the player to continue, up to a 10-minute suspension in play may be authorized.
18c) Suspension of Play: Play shall never be suspended, delayed, or interfered with for the purpose of enabling a player to recover his strength or to receive instruction or advice. No allowance may be made for natural loss of physical condition such as cramps, faintness, or loss of wind. Tournament officials or umpires will be the sole judge of such suspension, delay, or interference, and after giving due warning, the umpire may disqualify the offender.
18d) Considerations: Consideration may be given by the tournament official or umpire for accidental loss of physical ability or condition (such as a collision or unplayable weather.)
Comment: The intent of the Continuous Play/Time Allowances rule is to prevent unauthorized rest periods for players who are tired and to discourage stalling tactics for whatever purpose. In the event of an accident, the umpire, or tournament officials, shall consider a temporary suspension of play. If a match is adjourned for a legitimate reason (e.g. a sudden rainstorm, power outage), when the match is resumed the teams are entitled to a full warm-up, and the match must begin precisely where it left off, with the same game and point score, same server, same ends of the court, and same order of service.
RULE 19. Singles
The rules for singles are the same as for doubles except for the following: In singles, the game is played within the standard singles court using the singles sidelines (see diagram of Court Dimensions), two services are allowed, and no-ad scoring is used. The no-ad game point is served to the service court of the receiver's choice (see Rule 6d).
RULE 20. Unsportsmanlike Conduct
A tournament director or the APTA Tour Director has full authority to administer penalties for unsportsmanlike conduct during a tournament. Penalties can include a warning, loss of point, loss of game, loss of set, loss of match, or expulsion from the tournament, depending on the severity of the offense. Examples of unsportsmanlike conduct: continuous, aggressive questioning of line calls, throwing the paddle, abusive or foul language, retaliatory calls, threatening verbal or physical behavior, and name calling.
In addition, after the conclusion of any APTA sanctioned tournament, the APTA Board may, at its discretion, mete out penalties to players for unsportsmanlike behavior. Penalties can range from a warning letter to a lifetime ban from all APTA sanctioned events.
A. Ball Performance Standards
The APTA has established the following Performance Standards and Acceptable Tolerances for the ball. The APTA reserves the right to withhold or terminate approval if the Association believes the standards have not been met by a manufacturer and to approve balls for sanctioned play as it sees fit.
|Bounce Test:||Balls should be conditioned at 70 degrees F. and 25%-35% relative humidity for 24-32 hours, then dropped from 90 inches to a concrete slab, and the rebound measured. Bounce to be measured from bottom of ball. This does not apply to low bounce balls.|
|Bounce Acceptable Tolerance:||43.0 inches thru 51.0 inches.
|Weight Acceptable Tolerance:||70.0 grams thru 75.0 grams|
|Diameter Test:||Measure diameter along two perpendicular axes of the ball. Both readings must be within tolerance.|
|Diameter Acceptable Tolerance:||2.45 to 2.55 inches.|
B. Paddle Standards
GRAPHICS COLORS AND APPROVAL: All paddles manufactured after January 1, 2018, may not have green or yellow on the face of the paddle unless approval was given by the APTA prior to that date. Any paddle manufactured after that date with green or yellow will not be allowed in any APTA sanctioned events. Paddles manufactured prior to December 31, 2017, or paddles that have had their design approved by the APTA by that date are allowed and exempt (“grandfathered”) from this new rule.
|Length Acceptable Tolerance:||18 inches maximum|
|Number of Holes Acceptable Tolerance:||87 maximum|
|Hole Diameter Acceptable Tolerance:||3/8 inch maximum|
|Edge (or Rim) Acceptable Tolerance:||May be flush, or wrap-around, with a maximum depth into the paddle face of 1/2 inch and a maximum height above the surface of the paddle face of 1/8 inch.|
|Surface Acceptable Tolerance:||Flat (not curved)|
|Surface Finish Acceptable Tolerance:||Texturing permissible|
C. Default Rules for National Ranking Tournament (NRT)
Men’s NRT Back Draw Default Rules: Any player who finishes his previous match and loses is responsible for playing his next scheduled back draw match. One exception: In all NRTs, which include Grand Prix and National Championships, the quarterfinal back draw is not mandatory. However, the tournament director must be notified.
Men’s NRT Default Penalties: In all Men’s National Ranking Tournaments, players who default a main draw or back draw match for reasons other than injury or emergencies will lose all points for that tournament. (See above for exception.)
Women’s NRT Back Draw Default Rules: Any player who finishes her previous match and loses is responsible for playing her next scheduled back draw match. In Women’s National Ranking Tournaments, playing in the quarterfinal reprieve is mandatory.
Women’s NRT Default Penalties: In all Women’s National Ranking Tournaments, players who default a main draw or back draw match for reasons other than injury or emergencies will lose all national ranking points for that tournament.
D. Umpired Matches
The APTA strives to have umpires for all quarterfinals, semifinals, and finals of the main draw in all Grand Prix Series, Mixed Nationals, and Men’s and Women’s Nationals. Non-Grand Prix tournaments may or may not have umpires; it is up to the tournament director.
The Umpire duties include:
The Spin: Before the start of play, the umpire will flip a coin or administer a racquet spin to determine the choice of end of court and the right to serve first or to receive first.
Scoring: Umpires will announce the score before every point and after each game.
Overrules: If an out call is made and the team who lost the point disagrees, they may ask the umpire for a ruling. The umpire will then either agree with the call and play will continue, or the umpire will overrule the call, which is loss of point for the team who made the call. This is the same for both serves and shots after the serve. To reiterate, the players make all line calls; the umpire will make a line call only if there is a disputed call, and all calls are final.
Violations: Umpires may call violations which are immediate loss of point without a warning: foot faults, double bounce (“not up”), player touching the net, player reaching over the net to strike the ball (assuming the ball has not bounced on striker’s side yet), intentional distractions, and player touched by the ball. All of these violations, except for foot fault, should be called by the player themselves according to the etiquette section, but in case they are not, if the umpire sees it, he/she will call it.
Note: In a non-umpired match, at any time in any round of a tournament match, any player is entitled to request a foot fault judge and/or linesmen. Foot fault judges may be roving between courts and matches, and once a foot fault is called, the call is final and it is a loss of point.
Pace of Play: Umpires are responsible for maintaining an appropriate pace of play. The first offense per team will be a warning. See Rule 18b for Time Permitted.
Note: During the match, a player shall not leave the court area without permission of the umpire; this includes at the beginning of the match and at the end of a set.
Changing Courts Before or During Play: If any player on the court feels play will be or is unsafe (e.g., due to severe weather or changing court conditions), they may ask permission to switch courts or delay play. It is at the sole discretion of the tournament director or APTA Tour Director to make this change. If the tournament official is not available, the hut commander will make the decision. Once made, the decision is final.
E. The Etiquette of Platform Tennis
Platform tennis, often referred to as “paddle tennis,” is a keenly competitive sport and one in which, by tradition, good sportsmanship, integrity, and respect are key elements. It is a game that is played for fun, in addition to offering an active tournament circuit. The game is played in accordance with the Official Rules of Platform Tennis as published by the American Platform Tennis Association.
Etiquette is an area where, unlike rules, there may be different interpretations, and differences of opinion, or judgment may be dissimilar. It is recognized that etiquette does have its “gray areas.” This section offers suggested guidelines of on-court behavior. It is expected that the tradition of the game will be maintained through a continued high degree of sportsmanship and mutual respect. Furthermore, these guidelines will assist in furthering that goal by presenting worthwhile suggestions on personal behavior while playing this rewarding game.
Line Calls/No Umpire: In matches where there are no linesmen, the general rule is that all lines are called by the receiving team (i.e., you call lines on your side, the opponents call lines on their side). Each side should call the ball in or out honestly and without regard to the score. The decision of the team whose responsibility it is to make the call is final.
Etiquette dictates that the opponents’ line calls are to be respected and considered final. If there is uncertainty about a line call, any doubts should be resolved in favor of the opponents.
It is good sportsmanship for players to call against themselves any ball that is clearly out on the opponents’ side of the court, if not called by the opponents.
Foot Fault: It is poor sportsmanship to exhibit anger toward an opponent when a foot fault is called in good faith. It is also poor sportsmanship to call foot faults in an effort to gain a mental edge. It is preferable to alert your opponent during warm up that he or she is foot faulting or early in a match rather than waiting until a critical moment later on in the match. (See Rule 9m on definition of foot fault.)
Own Calls: It is the player’s responsibility to call the following rule violations on himself/herself: Two Bounces (Rule 14a), Reaching Over the Net (Rule 14h), Ball Hitting Person/Paddle (Rule 14i), Person Touching Court Fixtures (Rule 14j).
It is not good etiquette for the opponent to make these calls. They may politely ask if the violation happened, but the determination of whether or not the violation happened is that player’s to make, and his or her integrity and decision in the matter should be respected.
Return the Ball to Server: It is good etiquette to do your part by picking up the ball and getting it to the server in an easy and accommodating manner. Either give it to your opponent’s net player, who can give it to the server, or gently bounce the ball to the server at the next service position, waiting a moment before delivering the ball if the server’s back is turned.
Intentional Distractions: Players should not intentionally distract their opponents. Any talking or sudden movements made before or while the server begins his/her service motion, which has been deemed to be done solely to distract the server, violates the spirit of sportsmanship. This includes, but is not limited to, talking, making loud noises, waving arms or paddles, dancing or jumping, or stomping of feet.
When coaching your partner to let a ball drop rather than hit it, try to use commands such as “bounce it” or “drop it” rather than “out” so as not to confuse your opponents.
As a courtesy, don’t deliberately wear clothing with the intent of making the ball more difficult for opponents to see (i.e., bright yellow or green clothing, or colors that match the ball color).
Note: Fake poaching is not considered an intentional distraction.
On Losing: It is much more difficult to be a gracious loser than a gracious winner. One should be gracious in either case—but try particularly hard to be so in losing. Congratulate your opponents, shake hands, wish them well, live with it, and strive to improve, so you can be a gracious winner. Play all of the back draws with a positive attitude.
In closing, good sportsmanship is expected during all levels of competition.