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Please Read the APTA Rules of Etiquette
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Please Read the APTA Rules of Etiquette


01.08.10
Please Read the APTA Rules of Etiquette

The Etiquette of Platform Tennis

Platform tennis, often referred to as “paddle” for short, is a keenly competitive sport and one in which, by tradition, good sportsmanship, integrity, and respect are key elements. It is a game that is played for fun, but there is also an active winter tournament circuit. The game is played in accordance with the Official Rules of Platform Tennis as published by the American Platform Tennis Association.

The main purpose of this section, however, is to discuss the etiquette of platform tennis play. Etiquette is an area where, unlike rules, which are generally more specific, there may be differences of opinion, or judgment may have to be exercised. Since platform tennis continues to attract many new participants, the APTA believes it desirable to provide these guidelines on the etiquette of the game. In doing so, it is recognized that etiquette does have its “gray areas.” Therefore, these comments are offered not as hard and fast rules, but as suggested guidelines of behavior. In any case, it is hoped that the tradition of the game will be maintained through a continued high degree of sportsmanship and mutual respect and that these guidelines may assist in furthering that tradition by offering worthwhile suggestions on personal behavior while playing this rewarding game.

I. LINE CALLS

In matches where there are no linesmen, the general rule is that all lines are called by the receiving team (i.e., you call lines on your side, the opponents call lines on their side). Each side should, obviously, call the ball in or out honestly and without regard to the play situation. The decision of the team whose responsibility it is to make the call is final.

The following refinements are suggested:
1. If an out call is not promptly made, the ball is considered in and play should continue.
2. On service, either member of the receiving team may make line calls. If an out call is made, play should stop. If there is a disagreement between the receiving partners as to whether the service was good or out, a let should be played, regardless of whether the service was returned in or out of play.
3. During play, if a player makes an out call on a ball that the player could otherwise return, and the player stops play but his partner thinks the ball was in, a let should be played. If an out call is made on a ball that neither player could retrieve but the caller’s partner disagrees and believes the ball was in, the point should be awarded to the opponents.
4. Players may assist their opponents with out calls in the opponents’ court, if requested. They should also call against themselves any ball that is clearly out on the opponents’ side of the court, if not called by the opponents.
5. A certain amount of friendly kidding about opponents’ line calls is inevitable. But etiquette dictates that the opponents’ line calls are to be respected and considered final. In the end, questionable calls will usually balance off between the two sides.
6. If there is uncertainty about a line call any doubts should be resolved in favor of the opponents.
7. When coaching your partner to let a ball drop rather than hit it, try to use commands such as “bounce it!” or “drop it!” rather than “out!” so as not to confuse your opponents, who may think you are making an out call.

II. FOOT FAULT

The foot fault is the aspect of the game that demands the greatest amount of self-control by the server. Seldom will fellow players advise another player that he or she is foot-faulting for fear of “offending.” Yet if the server steps on the baseline or on the court before striking the ball, the server is breaking the rules.

Many players may not know they are foot-faulting. This is because in serving, they make a slight movement of the forward foot, which is legal, but in doing so they step on or over the line. A player can find out if he or she is foot-faulting by asking a fellow player to observe the service. Conversely, a polite comment to another player, who may not ask, is not out of order. One subtle way to handle this is to ask the opponents if they would like to have you call foot faults during practice services.

The server is on his honor not to foot-fault; therefore, all players should exercise the self-control necessary to stay behind the line while serving. Apart from the rule-breaking and etiquette aspects of foot-faulting, linesmen may call foot faults in the semifinals and finals of major tournaments, and any player who is in the habit of foot-faulting regularly may have a difficult time adjusting to a correct service procedure under the pressure of tournament competition. The usual result is that the server will lose points on called foot faults or serve a higher percentage of faults in trying to adjust to a legal service.

So, in this area above all others, etiquette says that players must exercise the greatest degree of self-control in order not to break the rules and/or offend others. Practice serving legally, and check with others by asking that your service be watched.

III. NET CORD BALL ON SERVICE

The Official Rules of Platform Tennis state that if the service touches the net cord and lands in the correct service court, the ball is in play (i.e., it is not a let).

It is recognized that many platform tennis players are also tennis players, and in tennis a net cord service is still played as a let. To afford them, as well as new players of platform tennis, the opportunity to adjust to our rules, in non-tournament competition if a let is erroneously called on a net cord service by any of the players, the first such violation by each team may be considered a grace call, and a let played in each instance.

After the first such grace call (one for each team), if an erroneous let is called on a net cord service but neither team is distracted by the improper call, play can continue. However, if the let call is a distraction that causes either team to stop play, it is loss of point for the team calling the let.

IV. BALL HITTING PLAYER

If a ball touches any part of a player’s body or clothing (including any part of the hand) either before landing or hitting the screen on the player’s side or after landing fairly in the court, it results in loss of point. Even if the player is standing outside the boundaries of the court, the point is lost if the ball strikes the player before landing on the deck or hitting a screen. Often a ball striking a player just barely grazes the clothing or hair. It is good etiquette for the player to declare that the ball touched him or her and award the point to the opponents.

It is not good etiquette for any player to declare that the ball hit an opponent and thereby claim the point. The player may politely ask if it did, but the determination of whether or not the ball hit the opponent is that player’s to make, and his or her integrity and decision in the matter should be respected.

V. THE “TICK”

A ball that is “ticked” is barely grazed with the paddle, and often when this happens only the player who ticks the ball can hear or feel it. It is good etiquette for the player doing so to promptly declare that the ball was touched and award the point to the opponents.

It is poor etiquette for a player to declare that an opponent ticked the ball and claim the point. The best person to determine whether the ball was ticked is the player, and it is good etiquette to respect the player’s integrity and decision..

VI. TOUCHING THE NET

Touching the net with any part of the body or the paddle during play is loss of point. A player touching the net should promptly declare the violation and award the point to the opponents.

On rare occasions, a ball driven by a player into the net will force a loosely strung net to strike the paddle of the opposing net person, who may be crowding the net. If this occurs, it is loss of point for the net player’s team since the net was touched before the ball fell to the deck to conclude the point. (Moral – always tighten the lower net strings.)

VII. DOUBLE BOUNCE

If a player knows that the ball has bounced twice before returning it, he should call a “not-up” and the point should be awarded to the other team.

VIII. REACHING OVER THE NET

It is against the rules to reach over the net to strike a ball unless it has first landed in the striker’s court. An over-the-net violation should be called by the violating player or partner as a matter of good etiquette. It is not good etiquette for the opponents to make that call and claim the point.

IX. RETURN THE BALL TO THE SERVER

When a point is completed, if the ball is lying on your side of the court and your opponent is serving, it is good etiquette to pick up the ball and either give it to your opponent’s net player, who can give it to the server, or to gently bounce the ball to the server at the next service position, waiting a moment before delivering the ball if the server’s back is turned.

It is good etiquette to do your part by picking up the ball and getting it to the server in an easy and accommodating manner. If everyone does this it will be easier on you when your turn comes to serve! All too often, players simply kick or push the ball in the opponents’ direction or arbitrarily hit the ball just anywhere over to the other side. This makes the server chase the ball, it is discourteous, and it results in a slower-moving game.

Finally, and above all, resist the temptation of venting aggravation at missing an easy shot by slamming the ball about the court after the point is lost.

X. THE WOMAN IN MIXED DOUBLES

This can be a sensitive subject. However, no document on etiquette would be complete without touching at least briefly on the subject. Specifically, the question is how the man should play against the woman in an opposing mixed doubles team, particularly if the woman is the weaker of the two partners. There are two schools of thought. The first, which is more often applied in friendly games, says that the man should be “gentlemanly” by not driving the ball hard at the woman at net, or in returning her serve, and should not work her corner disproportionately. This does have the advantage of balancing play between opposing partners.

It is “gentlemanly,” and it avoids the accusation of “picking on the woman.” In an otherwise close contest, it can also lead to losing the match.
The other school of thought says that a team is a team, gender makes no difference, and the normal strategy to beat a team that may be unbalanced is to play the weaker partner. If that partner happens to be a woman, so be it. And if the woman does not like that, she need not play (or can get better).

Both viewpoints have merit and both have their strong advocates. It is not uncommon to see a double standard practiced, with the first school of thought being applied in friendly, social games, where winning or losing may be unimportant, or even in an unbalanced tournament match; and the second standard being applied in a keenly contested tournament match. We believe it best to leave this choice to one’s personal discretion.

XI. ON LOSING

It is much more difficult to be a gracious loser than a gracious winner. One should be gracious in either case—but try particularly hard to be so in losing. Congratulate your opponents, wish them well, live with it, and strive to improve, so you can be a gracious winner.

XII. GOOD MANNERS

In closing, a few do’s and don’ts on good manners are included, although most of these suggestions are obvious:

1. Be punctual. The game requires four players, and it is good etiquette to be on time and not inconvenience the other players by being late.
2. Bring a ball.
3. Don’t use bad language during play (or keep it to yourself).
4. Don’t bang the paddle against the net, the side screening, or the deck as an outward expression of self-dissatisfaction.
5. As a courtesy, don’t deliberately wear clothing with the intent of making the ball more difficult for opponents to see.
6. Be complimentary of good play by both your partner and your opponents.
7. When playing in a tournament, recognizing that a great deal of work dedicated to your enjoyment has been done by the tournament chairman and the tournament committee, take a moment before leaving to say “goodbye” and “thank you".

 



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