Elite Sport Club
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A. Introduction

This text is a basis of the Code - a set of rules, unwritten so far, which are prescribed by tradition to be observed by each tennis player. No regulations will cover all situations or problems that can occur during the meeting. However, if all players observe the Code in good faith, they will always come to an agreement in case of dispute, thanks to which playing tennis will give more satisfaction to all participants.


When reading this text you will ask yourself a question for sure - what the Code is for, if we have game rules? Well,  many situations, not provided in game rules, are decided only by tradition and good manners, as for example such that the dubious ball should be decided in favour of opposing player. Similarly with customary methods of settling result in case of a dispute. We will not find it in rules and in such cases the Code is indispensable - especially that most often we do not take advantage of umpire's assistance.


B. Rules

1.    Courtesy.

Playing tennis requires courtesy and tact from all participants. You can express your approval to the opposing player  for a good shot, whereas you should not:

§  complain loudly after losing a ball;

§  complain of opposing player's playing style - drop-shots, lobs etc.;

§  make a  weaker player ashamed by excessive generosity or patronizing  tone;

§  lose one's self-control, swear, throw the racket or shoot the ball  at full tilt;

§  sulk when losing a game.


2.    Scoring points played in good faith.

All balls played in good faith are valid. If, for example, after playing a ball you find that the net is hung too high, a point should be scored. If court sides have not been changed in due time, balls played are not repeated . If, during exchange, you you realize that a serve has taken place from improper side, the exchange should be continued.  All irregularities should be corrected no sooner than after finishing the point, whereas all balls played until the fault has been found are scored.


C. Warming up

1.    Warming up is not a training.

Players are entitled to 5 minute  warming up before a match (10 minutes - in case there are no persons passing the balls). The player who refuses warming up with the opposing player loses a right to his own warming up. Warming up should not be mixed up with a training - try to play to the opposing player, and not  to shot in court corners. In a double play, warming up can be carried out with one's own partner, while the opposing players are also warming up with each other.


2.    Trial services.

You have to carry out services for warming up before the play starts. When the oppsing player performs trial services, return the balls served back to him/her and do not exercise reception by shooting in corners.  



D. Decisions

1.    You are an umpire of your half of a court.

This is a duty of each player to decide of all balls hitting his/her half of a court or served to it.


2.    Doubt in favour of opposing player.

In matches played without an umpire a duty to give decisions, especially with regard to out balls, lies with participants of a match. There is a difference between an umpire's and competitor's decision - while an umpire decides impartially, a competitor goes by a principle that every doubt has to be decided in favour of the opposing player. A player trying to observe this principle thoroughly will often return a ball that could be an out ball or even ascertain afterwards that it was failed in fact. However, such attitude leads to a better atmosphere during the match.


3.    A ball adjacent to the line is a good ball.

If any part of a ball touches the line, a ball has to be recognized as a good one. A ball which is 99% out ball is 100% good ball!

4.    A ball which cannot be called as failed is a good ball.

If a player is not in a position to call an 'out', a ball has to be accepted as a good one. You cannot request repetition of a point only because  you have not seen a ball. The most sure way to make the opposing player mad is ascertaining, after a long exchange ended up by him/her with a ball near the line:  " I don't know how it was, lets repeat the point". Remember - it is your duty to give decision about each ball landing on your side of the net, and if you cannot call an 'out' quite surely, a ball was good. If you ask for repetition of a point since "there must have been an 'out'", you delude yourself. You have had some doubt which means that a point was won by your opponent . In this situation saying "give two" is not any generosity.

5.    View across the line or from a significant distance.

Decision of a player looking along the line will be much more precise than of the one who looks across the line. When looking across the line, do not call an 'out', unless you have seen clearly the distance between a ball and the line. If, standing near your own end line, you bring in question the opposing player's decision about a ball on the opposite side of a court, you are not serious.

6.    All balls in a match are equally important

There are not more and less important balls. There is no reason to attach a different  weight  to evaluation of a match ball than to the first ball in a match - calling a fault only because you wanted very much a ball to go to 'out'  in an important moment  is also unacceptable.

7.    Opposing player's help.

If you have not seen a ball well and request the opposing player for decision, you have to accept it and not call it in question. If none of the players has an opinion about it, a ball should be recognized as good. You can ask the opponent for help only at finishing ball.

8.    Correction of a decision.

If, returning a ball a player has called an 'out' erronously, and then he/she states that a ball was good, the point can be repeated only if its return hits subsequently the court on the opponent's side. Otherwise a point is won by the opponent. If a fault took place at a second service, the server has two balls.

9.    Calling 'outs' after one's own service.

At giving decisions about balls the main purpose is their conformity with facts; this is a task for all participants of the meeting to cooperate at effecting this purpose. Participant who does not call an 'out' noticed by him/her after his/her serve (except first serve) - deceives - irrespective of the fact that he/she might not have been asked for help by the opposing player.

10. Discrepant appraisal of partners in a double play.

If you and your partner differ in evaluation of a ball played by opponents, you have to recognize it as good.  More important than care of not wounding the partner's pride is deciding doubts in favour of the opponents. A tactful way of correcting a partner's fault is pointing it out discreetly so that he/she can correct his/her decision himself/herself.

11. Signal loudly and distinctly.

No matter how obvious, in your opinion, the 'out' was, the opposing player expects a distinctly audible or visible,  immediate signal.

12. Questioning the opposing player's decision.

In case of well grounded doubt with regard to the opposing player's decision,  one can ask him once for confirmation. In case the opposing player confirms his/her decision, it has to be accepted. If he/she ascertains that he/she is not sure, he/she loses a point. By this a discussion should be ended and a play continued immediately.

13. Do not ask viewers for help.

Firstly - no match observer takes part in it, and engaging an outsider may be upsetting for the opposing player; secondly - such a person can give opinion about a ball, though he/she could have not noticed it; thirdly - you cannot exclude lack of his/her impartiality; fourthly - such a person may lack qualifications or competence. All these factors argue definitely for not asking for help of persons not being match participants.

14. Immediate decision excludes a double opportunity to win a point.

A player has to call a failed ball immediately after its touching the court surface  - before a ball has fallen out of game after his/her instinctive return or before the opposing player has done next shot. Immediate calling a fault will eliminate a double opportunity to win a point, practised by many players. To illustrate - prior to playing an easy "poor shot"  at the net, a player notices a ball rolling  from adjacent court, however he/she performs a shot and hits the net. Then he/she demands a repetition. Such a demand is groundless because deciding to make a shot he/she has lost a right to repeat a point - he/she has availed himself of a chance to win a point and is not entitled to another opportunity.

15. Repeating a point when a ball rolls in a court.

Each player who has noticed a ball rolling in the playing field from adjacent court, has to stop a game immediately and repeat a point. A player who delays ceasing the game baselessly, loses a right to repeat a ball.

16. Other reasons of losing a point.

A duty of each player is immediate ascertainment of performing incorrect shot by oneself and granting a point to the opponent in case of any of the following events:

§  touching a ball by any part of body or clothes;

§  hitting a ball above the opponent's playing field, before it has flied over a net;

§  touching a net or opponent's playing field by any part of body or a racket;

§  double shot or pushing a ball with a racket;

§  playing a ball after a second rebound.


17. Opposing player's improper services.

A player's duty is ascertainment of performing an incorrect shot by the opposing player in case of the following events:

§  ball passing through the net (hole);

§  ball hitting, after the opposing player's shot, his/her playing field (before it passes over the net).


18. Checking a ball trace.

If any part of a ball trace touches the line, a ball has to be recognized as good. If only a part of trace is visible, it means that remaining part of trace is on the line. Prior to giving a decision about finishing ball falling near the line, a trace to be checked thoroughly. A player may ask the opposing player for checking the trace at point finishing ball. The ball trace can be used for verification of decision about a ball only on the court with clay surface (of clay powder).


Author of the original text: Colonel Nicholas E. Powel

Translation and adaptation /into Polish/: Jacek Luba

by courtesy of United States Tennis Association



E. Service

1.    Request for a third ball.

A server may request a third ball only when it is within a direct reach of the receiver - otherwise two balls have to be sufficient. Remaining balls can be collected after finishing the game.

2.    Foot fault.

A player may draw the opposing player's attention to visible foot faults made by him . In case foot faults continue to occur, a player may request coming of an umpire. If it is not possible, the opponent's foot fault can be called at visible overstepping the line. Explanations like "I only touch the line and I am not going to the net" are unacceptable. Observing a regulation about a correct performance of a serve should be a matter of honour of each player. Persistent making foot fault, intentional or resulting from degligence only, is a deception, similarly as purposeful calling an 'out' that has not ocurred.

3.    Calling faults in a double play.

The receiver's partner calls the balls on the serving line, whereas the receiver - on the serving centre line and on side lines. Irrespective of this rule - each player may call an 'out' in case of obvious fault.

4.    Calling own faults by a serving pair.

Neither server, nor his/her partner can call a fault at their own first service, because the receivers can recognize a dubious ball as good. But the servers should call each fault seen by them at their own second service.

5.    Calling nets at service.

Each player who has heard a net at service can call it and order a repetition. Net has to be called before the return falls out of game or anyone of the serving pair performs next shot. This is particularly important to call a net immediately at finishing service - service ace.

6.    Obvious fault.

A receiver cannot return an obviously failed service to the opponent's side. It is bad form, it can also be a non-sportsmanlike trial to disturb the server's rythm. On the other hand - if the receiver, not deciding to call a fault and judging a doubt in favour of the server, receives the service, the server cannot request a repetition.

7.    Readiness of receiver.

A receiver has to adapt himself to the speed imposed by the server. If he/she is not ready, he/she cannot try to receive the serve - otherwise he/she, or a receiving pair, will be recognized as prepared for reception.

8.    Delay during a service.

In case of disturbing the second service action (after sending a ball up) by an external factor, for example a ball rolling from adjacent court, a server is entitled to two balls. In case of delay between the first and second service , a server is entitled  to:

§   one service - if a delay is caused by an event being under his/her control;

§  two services - if a delay is caused by a server or external factor.

Time needed for removing a ball rolling from an adjacent court between first and second service is not usually a basis of admitting a first service, unless duration of such a break justifies such decision.  Appraisal of the situation and decision lies on the receiver's side  - also in this case a doubt should be judged in favour of the opposing player.


F. Result

1.    Result to be announced by the server.

The server's duty is to announce a state of play before each game as well as a current scoring before each subsequent ball - in a loud voice, audible for the opposing player and spectators.
Dispute regarding result. All disputes regarding result are to be decided using one of the following optional methods, in the order as given below:

§  approve all points and games with regard to which there are no discrepancies, repeating only those being subject of dispute;

§  return to a play from the last result, with regard to which both parties agree; - tossing to be done.


G. Obstacle in a play

1.    Talk during a play.

After shooting a ball , while it flies towards the opposing player, talking is not allowed. If a player impedes the opposing player performing a good hit, by talking, he/she loses a point. For example - after playing a low lob a player is warning  loudly his/her partner ; if his/her shout disturbs the opponent's concentration, he/she can demand granting a point because of intentional bothering in play. But if the opponent decides to perform a shot and he/she fails to hit the court, loses a point.

2.    Feints in form of body movements.

A player is allowed to make all movements while a ball is in play. He/she can change position on the court , also after sending a ball up by the server. However, any sounds or motions made only in order to distract the opponent's attention, including waving one's hands or stamping are inadmissible..

3.    Repetition due to an obstacle in a play.

A ball cannot be repeated automatically in case of obstacle occurrence - only in the instance when making a correct shot would have been possible, if the obstacle had not taken place. There is also no reason for repeating a ball, if the obstacle was any event being under the player's control, for example tripping against his/her own cap falling from head.

4.    Groans.

Groaning or giving other voices that could make it difficult to the opponent, or players on neighbouring courts, to concentrate should be avoided. In severe cases an umpire's intervention can be requested. Groaning may be recognized as disturbing in play and, depending on circumstances, it may cause repetition or losing  a point.

5.    Contusion caused by the opposing player.

If a player causes, by accident, an injury to the opposing player , consequences of this to be borne by the opponent suffering from contusion. For example, if a racket falls out the server's hand and hits the receiver, causing an injury making it impossible to him  to return to play in regulation time - despite the fact that the injury has been caused by the server, he/she wins the meeting by walkover. However, if the injury is caused by the player's intentional behaviour, a win is due to the opponent. Strong shooting with a ball or throwing a racket has to be recognized as intentional action.



H. Balls

1.    Collecting balls.

A ball rolling from the adjacent court can be a reason to repeat a point. It is worth keeping in mind  several rules concerning such balls:

§  if an exchange takes place on adjacent court, do not step in this court nor throw the players their ball back; sometimes it will be necessary to wait a longer while until a point played is finished ;

§  do not ask the persons playing on adjacent court for throwing your ball back, until they finish their exchange;

§  giving back a ball to the persons playing beside do not throw it nor kick it back thoughtlessly, only to get rid of it from your court; a ball should be picked up and returned towards one of the players, preferably the server, so that he/she can catch it after one rebound; this is presumably no.1 rule of  tennis formality;

§  before changing sides after playing a game from your own service, collect all balls and hand them over to the opposing player who will serve in the next game or leave them on the end line - unless the balls lay in different distant places and collecting them would cause unnecessary delay in play.


2.    Catching balls.

If you catch a ball in hand or on a racket, before it touches the ground, you lose a point irrespective of the fact whether you stay within the court boundaries or outside the court.


I. Miscellaneous

1.    Cancelling participation in a tournament.

After entering  the tournament do not withdraw stating, for example, that you have no chance for winning because of participation of strong opponents. One can withdraw only because of injury, illness or other unexpected situation. Not being able to play a meeting, notify the umpire of the tournament as soon as possible to save the opposing player unnecessary travel to the premises. The player withdrawing from a tournament is not entitled to refund of the registration fee, unless the withdrawal from participation has taken place before tossing.

2.    Delaying a game.

It is not allowed  to delay a course of game, for example by:

§  prolongation of warming up;

§  prolongation of regulation breaks in play ;

§  starting a groundless dispute only in order to gain a time for resting;

§  collecting a ball after failed first service, if it does not pose a real obstacle;

§  rebounding a ball for many times before each service.


3.    Request for umpire's intervention.

Leaving a court before end of the meeting is not allowed, except situations when the player wants to call an umpire - of course if a person performing such a function is present on the courts. The following situations justify request for  umpire's intervention:

§  delaying a play;

§  persistent making foot fault;

§  dressing of injury;

§  dispute regarding result;

§  repeating erroneous opponent's decisions.


4.    Suitable clothing.

It is a good habit to play in a clean, aesthetic and commonly accepted tennis suit. Denim shorts (jeans), beach knee-breeches, undershirts ( T-shirts or sleeve-less undershirts) or cycling shorts are not such a suit. Some clubs can have their own rules concerning clothes - however a classic white tennis suit (shorts and a polo shirt) will be always correct.

5.    Reserve racket.

You must have at least one reserve racket - if a string breaks you cannot request a pause for repair of a stringing or finding another racket. In case of replacing racket a player is not entitled to perform trial shots with a new racket. Tennis Regulations do not allow to continue a play with a racket which has a broken stringing.  

6.    Towels, track suit etc.

Do not hang a towel or track suit on the net - their place is in a bag or on a chair near the court.



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