Meet You At The Faulty Bar
My friends and I only play indoors at our local gym with temporary nets. Our nets have a big support bar that keeps tension on the net and goes from one end to the other in a great big arc. The other day during a rally, a ball (well after the serve) was hit to my team that barely got over the net but had a lot of backspin. Before we could even get to it, the ball went back into the net on our side, slid down and hit the support bar, but it bounced off the bar high enough that my partner was able to dink it back over. However, his momentum caused him to run into the net and knock it over. No one was hurt, everyone laughed and we gave the point to our opponents because he touched the net.
I've heard people talk about that center bar but I don't know enough about it. Did we make the right decision?
Thank you for the question! I'm so glad your friend was not injured! As a retired nuclear engineer, I always talk about safety first when I'm working with new players. We all turn into teenagers on the court and our bodies are asked to do things we wouldn't normally do.
The short answer to your question is NO. You did not lose the rally because your partner touched the net.
You have to go to Section 7 - Fault Rules, Section 8 - Dead Ball, and Section 11.L NET for the explanation.
7.G. A player, a player’s apparel, or a player’s paddle contacting the net system, the net posts, or the opponent’s court, when the ball is in play.
8.C. A hinder called by the referee or player will result in a dead ball.
11.L.5.b. Except on the serve, if the ball goes over the net and hits the center base, or any part of the horizontal bar, or the ball gets caught between the net and the horizontal bar, a replay will be called. Other than on the serve, if the ball goes over the net and bounces on the court and then performs any of the three above listed actions, a replay shall occur.
So, in your scenario, even though section rule 11.L.5.b. does not use the word "hinder," that's what it is. And on a hinder (Rule 8.C.), the ball was dead the instant it hit the center support bar (Rule 11.L.5.b.). Therefore, even though your partner obviously touched the net, it is only a fault if the ball is LIVE (in play) when you touch the net. Since the ball was dead the instant it hit the center support bar, your partner could not commit a fault by touching the net.
Thanks again, and I hope that helps.