Ask the Rules Guru - Grazed & Confused


The-Rules-Guru-Rule-BookDear Rules Guru,

In our men’s league, we frequently get into disputes about the ball making contact with a player’s clothing. A well hit drive can nick the opponents' clothing, but they may not feel it because of multiple layers or a baggy fit. In one case, the ball hit a tassel on a winter hat. Naturally, this becomes an issue when the opponents call the ball out and then deny any ball contact because they didn’t feel it. The driving team has the better angle to see the issue, but apparently no ability to claim the point.

In practice, sportsmanship tends to prevail and we usually play a let. In competition, the discussions are longer and neither team will yield a point or a let when they think they are right.

Is it the sole responsibility of the opponents to call illegal contact on themselves? According to the rules, what can the driving team do (besides hitting the ball in) to address the issue?

What advice can you provide on this common problem?

Grazed & Confused

Grazed and ConfusedDear Grazed and Confused,

Yes, it is the sole responsibility of a player to call illegal contact on him/herself. According to the Etiquette of Platform Tennis, IV. Ball Hitting Player: “It is not good etiquette for any player to declare that the ball hit an opponent and thereby claim the point. The player may politely ask if it did, but the determination of whether or not the ball hit the opponent is that player’s to make, and his or her integrity and decision in the matter should be respected.”

Good sports follow both the letter and the spirit of the rules, even in the face of snarky opponents. Good sports also get asked to play more social games, sleep better at night, and may be offered a better quality brew after the match.

Thanks for Asking,
The Rules Guru

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