Whit's Tennis Tips: Line Calls & Tie Breaks

Whether you have a dispute over scoring a match or just looking to improve your game, Whitney Kraft , Director of Tennis at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center, answers your questions on the game of tennis.

From: BB
Subject: Calling the Service Line

When playing doubles I consider my job to call the service when my partner is receiving. I think the line parallel to me to be my most accurate call due to my position on the court, and my partner's most accurate call to be the side lines. I know that either one of the players can over rule the call when it is an obvious mistake, however, I know that when playing singles you play many long serves, again due to your position when receiving serve. On a recent match I was over ruled by my partner, and I could not explain to her why I felt I was in a better position to call that line. Can you please give me some tips on how to handle this situation?

Thank You.

Hi BB,

While rules state that either partner may make a call; the player who is in the best position to view a particular line, should make the call?IF they are sure of what they saw. So, you are generally correct, but only if your position in the described instance was at the "T"

Please note; that it is not necessarily the "job" of the returner's partner to call that line. The returner's partner is, or can be, a very dynamic starting position. The "T" is a neutral position, while "2-back" is defensive, and positions this player in no better position to see the service line than the returner, and in such case, often the returner is watching the ball "better", while the partner is "eyeing" the opposing net player, which is what I would call the primary initial responsibility of the returner's partner. Lastly; the offensive starting position, often used when weak 2nd serve vs. strong return scenario, is well ahead of the service line, thus placing the returner's partner in a very poor line call position (would have to be looking backwards), and counter-productive to "looking" for an opportunity to poach off the server's second shot.



From: Rebecca
Subject: Coman Tiebreak


I have a question as to the Coman Tiebreak, but it is not mechanical but theoretical. Why does USTA League Tennis use a Coman tiebreak (either 7 point for when a set is tied or to 11 in lieu of a third set), instead of the standard tie break used on the pro-circuit. What is the logic of changing sides after 4 points (after 5 games, 9, etc.)? Why not just change after 6 points like the pros (after game 7, 13, etc.)???


Hi Rebecca,

The primary reason the Coman tie break was created was to allow doubles players to serve from the same side of the court during the tie-break as where they served throughout the set. In singles, a player is not "stuck" as long on the wrong side of the sun and/or wind. The main complaint against the Coman comes from players who don't care for the more frequent change of ends.



From: Lee
Subject: Serving Sides after a Tie Break

After a 12 point tiebreaker, which end do you start serving from? I understand that the tiebreaker counts as a single game, thus the score is 7-6 and it is an odd set. And the person/team that served first to began the tiebreaker, receives serve to begin the next set. But do you resume serve from the opposite end that you played the last point in the tiebreaker, or do you resume serve from the opposite end that you served the first point in the tiebreaker?

Hi Lee,

A tie-breaker counts as one game, thus you change sides after the conclusion of a breaker (13th game being an odd game).

The player/s that started the breaker are now the receivers in the first game of the new set and the servers have the choice, as in any set as who will start the first game of the new set. And yes, you would start from the opposite side from where you stood to finish the "buster".

Hope this helps,


From: C

Subject: Rules

If a player is receiving, standing outside the base line, the ball is outside but he hits it.

Is it called out or in?

Hi C,

If the ball hits the player's racquet or body before the bounce regardless of where their standing that player loses the point. If the ball hits the ground before touching player then ball is called out.

Hope this helps,


Whitney Kraft is the Director of Tennis at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in Flushing Meadows, New York. Have a question to ask? Just email Whit.

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