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  • Writer's pictureBen Lacy

Breakfast is Served...

QUESTION: During a pick-up game last week, my partner (who also happens to be my sister) was serving. She recently started using the DROP SERVE because she said it helped with a consistent serve. But her habit is to bounce the ball two or three times before she serves, similar to a tennis player who bounces the ball before tossing it up to serve. She clearly does NOT toss the ball down on her serve, but she DOES let it bounce on the court in front of her. In other words, the place her ball bounces would be considered "IN" if it were a shot from the other team. I hope that makes sense. Anyway, after the game, one of our opponents (who is a really good friend of ours) said something about the ball bouncing on the court and that the bounce had to be behind the baseline, similar to where your feet have to be when you serve. My opponent-friend said she did not say anything because it didn't really make any difference to her during the game, but warned my sister that she could have been be called for a service fault by the other team.

My sister and I are soon to play in a tournament and we want to make sure what she is doing is correct. So, my long-winded question is: What our opponent-friend correct and what does my sister need to do to keep from making a service fault?

ANSWER: Wow! That was a pretty long story, but I think all of your statement was necessary to tell it. So, here's the answer:

Let's start with your opponent-friend's statement about calling a service fault. According to rule 4.A.9. Replay or Fault. ... In non-officiated matches, the receiver has no authority to call for replays or faults for service motion violations.

This simply means your friend was incorrect.

Moving on...According to how you described the situation, your sister's serve is perfectly LEGAL. According to rule 4.A.8.

The Drop Serve. The drop serve is made by striking the ball after it bounces on the playing surface and can be made with either a forehand or backhand motion. There is no restriction how many times the ball can bounce nor where the ball can bounce on the playing surface.

Now, to completely understand the underlined portion, one must be familiar with the term "playing surface," so let's explore that.

3.A.28. Playing Surface – The court and the area surrounding the court designated for playing.

We also need to know how "COURT" is defined.

3.A.4. Court – The area inside the outer dimensions of the baselines and sidelines.

So, the PLAYING SURFACE includes the COURT and the area (out of court bounds) surrounding the court.

Therefore, your sister's drop serve can bounce on the court or off and as you described, is perfectly legal.

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