Ask the Rules Guru - Become One with the Net

Rules-Guru-200October 24, 2012

Net gains and losses are the business at hand
See all 3 questions below.

Dear Rules Guru,

Please, could you provide some guidance on the situation that I faced over the weekend?

A return of serve hit the net cord with the ball remaining on the side of the returner (never crossing over the net). However, when the ball hit the net cord, the net touched my paddle. There was no forward motion of my paddle but the net moved into and touched my paddle. I conceded the point as I "touched the net."  Is that correct? Thanks.

--The Net and I Met

Dear The Net and I Met,

As a believer in metaphysics, it isn’t all that surprising to me that inanimate objects are coming to life.  That net decided to invade your personal space.  The sad truth is that it is always a loss of point if you touch the net before the point is over. And it doesn’t even matter if the ball was going over the net or not.  Rule 18(i) notes the exact situation you describe. [When a player is standing at the net and the opponent hits the ball into the net in such a way that it pushes the net against the player's paddle or person, the net player loses the point. It does not matter that the ball was not going over the net. The net player loses the point because the player made contact with the net while the ball was still in play.] It is so not fair, but you made the right call.

Best to you,
The Rules Guru

 

Dear Rules Guru,

A player hits the ball into the net and the ball falls on to his side. At the same time, the opponent, while rushing toward the net, touches the net with his body (after the ball had already gone into the net). Who wins the point?

--Rushing for Nothing?

Dear Rushing for Nothing

I am always impressed that platform tennis players are willing to flail themselves into all of the stationary objects on the court. Shoulders are thrown into screens, hips into the net cords. But sadly at times it is to no avail. In this situation, touching the net with his body while the ball is in play is a point against the net toucher.  According to Rule 17 [Ball Remains In Play], the ball is in play until it lands in the court, even if the ball doesn’t seem to be going over the net.  And Rule 18 (i) discusses how it’s a no-no to touch the net during play. So next time, apply the brakes and take the point back.

Best to you,
The Rules Guru

 

Dear Rules Guru,

One more question about the net. Sometimes, the net is too long and drapes onto one side of the court. If a player were to step upon the net, would that count as touching the net? (I assume yes, but it really would not be fair that net was too long).

--Drapes Are For Windows!

Dear Drapes Are For Windows

Interior design has never been my strong suit. But, I understand what you mean about droopy nets on the court. It’s like stepping on the bride’s train at a wedding or tripping in the fisherman’s net on the dock and almost going in the drink. It creates a precarious situation and that dreadful ripping sound. If you see droopy nets, the first thing to do is to try to tighten the nets so that they are regulation. Rule 1 states that the height of the net at the posts is 37 inches and at center is 34 inches. If that doesn’t work, make sure the club knows its nets are too long. In the meantime, the rule remains the same. If you touch the net before the play ends, it is the opponent’s point.

However, since the net isn’t regulation, you and your opponents could make the decision before the match how you want to handle this. Either play a let or just continue on when someone trips on the net. As they said on Hill Street Blues, “Hey, let’s be careful out there!”

Best to you,
The Rules Guru

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