The Tennis Curmudgeon


Every Time.

Jim Carr: You don’t do that?
Denis Lemieux: Oh, no! Never, never.
Jim Carr: Why Not?
Denis Lemieux: Against the rules. You know, you stupid when you do that. Just some English pig with no brains, you kn0w?

Dialog from the movie, Slap Shot, about rules.

People have been sending me a bunch of emails through the interwebtubes asking why I haven’t chimed in with my opinion about last years disqualification of Serena Williams at the US Open.

As you all know, I’m pretty much a stickler for the Rules of Tennis almost as much as the Code of Tennis and the Rules of Tennis about foot faulting state:

Rule 18. FOOT FAULT
During the service motion, the server shall not:

a. Change position by walking or running, although slight movements of the feet are permitted; or

b. Touch the baseline or the court with either foot; or

c. Touch the area outside the imaginary extension of the sideline with either foot; or

d. Touch the imaginary extension of the centre mark with either foot. If the server breaks this rule it is a “Foot Fault”.

Case 1: In a singles match, is the server allowed to serve standing behind the part of the baseline between the singles sideline and the doubles sideline?

Decision: No.

Case 2: Is the server allowed to have one or both feet off the ground?

Decision: Yes.

Seems pretty straight forward, doesn’t it? Rule stated, rule followed.

If you believe that you’ve never seen the last minute of an NBA game.

I watched the match and saw a foot fault. She was positioned close to the baseline, her foot legally moved but it moved too much and touched the line. It was called. I didn’t think anything about it. Until the announcers were shocked.

“You can’t call that infraction at this time at this level on this stage to a player of that stature while I’m announcing a match of this level on such a stage so close to my birthday!”

Okay, it wasn’t the best time to foot fault but how many times have you seen someone double fault on match point? You’ve never seen gnashing of teeth when the linesperson called that, have you? They just followed the rules.

The uproar was due to the rule itself. It’s probably the most ignored/under called/forgotten rule. We’ve all played people who’ve ignored the rule. I knew a guy who’d slide his front leg into the court. When you’d call him on it he’d freak so, as not to waste precious court time, everyone let him slide.

How’d you like it if you were shorted on inside baseline? Some of the ball was out! That’s not the rule. Some of the ball touches the line it is in. No matter when, where, or to whom it occurs. Just as if some of your foot touches the baseline during a serve it is a foot fault.

Every time.

What about Serena’s reaction? It was overboard but I’ve seen people smash THEN light their racket on fire.

You know what?

Both reactions?

Against the rules.

One of tennis.

The other of decency.

‘Til next time, may your forehands land deep and your backhands full of pace,

Dennis

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