Rules on a Dropped Tennis Racket

If you drop or throw your racket to hit the ball, you'll lose the point.
i Bryn Lennon/Getty Images Sport/Getty Images

Most times, dropping your racket during a tennis match is unintentional -- you may just have a bad case of butterfingers. Would you know the correct ruling if this happened during one of your Nestie league matches? Depending on the situation, not only would you lose hold of your racket, you may also lose the point. Although a dropped racket doesn’t happen often, knowing the rules might be the difference between holding the trophy and going home empty-handed.

The Rules

    The official rules of tennis state that you will lose the point if you, your racket or anything you're wearing or carrying touches the net, net posts, singles sticks, net cable, net strap or headband while the ball is in play. This applies even if the racket in not in your hand -- you've dropped it. You'll also lose the point if the ball touches your racket when you are not holding it. In other words, when the ball is in play, you must have control of your racket when you hit the ball.

Serving Situations

    You can lose the point or your serve may be considered a service fault if your racket comes out of your hand while serving. The ruling depends on the situation. If, on your first serve, you lose your grip on your racket and it comes out of your hand and hits the net before the ball lands in the correct service box, your lose the point. This is because the ball is considered "still in play." If the same scenario takes place but the ball actually lands in the correct service box and then bounces outside the box before your racket touches the net, it is a service fault and you can take a second serve.

During Match Play

    While playing a point, you may find yourself in a situation where you are stretched wide and the only way you could possibly hit the ball back to your opponent would be to drop and throw your racket toward the ball. Even if the ball manages to cross the net and land on your opponent's side of the net, you'll lose the point. This is because you weren't holding onto your racket at the moment the ball was struck. You'll also lose the point if you drop your racket and it lands on your opponent's side of the net while the ball is still in play. If you are being stretched, you can, however, hit the ball, drop your racket if you must, pick it up and continue to play until the point is over.

Accidental Situations

    There may be a time when your feet get all tangled up, you trip, fall and drop your racket. You might think this should be called a let, or a do-over, because it could be a distraction to your opponent. When you drop your racket unintentionally or accidentally, as in this situation, you should try to gather yourself, pick up your racket and continue to play out the point if you can. The rules don’t consider this a distraction; it’s simply part of playing the point.

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