Tennis Rules for When the Ball Hits a Player

Your serve is a fault if it hits your partner.

Your serve is a fault if it hits your partner.

Whether it’s intentional or accidental, getting hit by a tennis ball sometimes happens during a match. If you’re a regular player, you probably know the basic rules of tennis, but do you know what happens when someone gets hit or touches the ball? Even if you’re not an official on the women's pro tour who knows every single rule in the book, you can help keep match play fair by learning these lesser-known rules.

Service Fault

The rules set forth by the International Tennis Federation state that your serve is considered a fault if, after serving, the ball touches you or your doubles partner. The rules also state that you have two tries per point at serving. If this happened on your first serve, you can take a second serve. If this happens on your second serve, you lose the point. If you mishit your serve, the ball can't even touch anything you or your partner are wearing -- such as glasses, hat or a towel stuck in your waistband.

Let Serve

Your serve is considered a let if the ball touches the net, the strap or the net's headband and lands in the correct service box. The rules also state if the ball touches any of these net parts and then touches your opponent, your opponent's partner, or anything they are wearing before it hits the court, your serve is also considered a let. Luckily, let serves don't count and you can take them over.

Serve Hits Receiver

If you serve and the ball hits the receiver before it touches the court, you win the point. In doubles, if you hit a wild serve and it hits the receiver's partner before hitting the court, you also win the point. It doesn't matter if the served ball is clearly going to be long or wide of the service box, you win the point.

During Play

At no time during a point can the ball touch you or anything you're wearing -- only your racket. If it does, play stops and sadly, you lose the point. Even if you're standing outside the lines of the court and the ball hits you before it bounces, you lose the point.

Catching an Out Ball

You're standing several feet behind the baseline line, your opponent hits the ball and it's clearly going to land beyond the baseline. If you decide to reach up, stop the ball and catch it before it bounces, you lose the point. Even if everyone on the court knows the ball is going out, you must let it bounce first.

 

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