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  • Writer's pictureBen Lacy

Was that the RIGHT SCORE????

Question: While playing in a pick-up game last week, my partner, thinking that our opponents called the wrong score, said “We have 9, not 8.” She said this AFTER the serve, but BEFORE she hit the return of the serve. One of our opponents agreed with my partner and caught the ball. She tossed it back to the server who then called what everyone believed was the correct score. She served and we played out the rally.

This whole thing sort of bothered me as I remembered that there were a few rule changes that happened this year (2024) that involved calling the wrong score. It seems that rule changes almost every year and at the time in our game, I could not remember what the specific current rule said, so I did not bring up my confusion during the game. Afterwards, I pulled out the new rule book and read in chapter 4 about the wrong score being called but I’m still confused.

If I had to do it over again, what should I have done?

Please help!


Answer: Please do not feel alone in your confusion. Even we credentialed USAP referees can become confused by the nuances. However, the scenario you detailed has several things going on at the same time. First, let’s talk about the current “wrong score called” rule. That’s rule 4.K.

4.K says:

If the wrong score is called, the referee or any player may stop play before the return of serve to correct the score. The rally shall be replayed with the correct score called.

The important part is “before the return of the serve.” Which means a player has to stop play BEFORE THE SECOND SHOT to indicate the wrong score was called.

4.K goes on:

After the return of serve, play shall continue to the end of the rally and the score correction made before the next serve. After the return of serve, a player who stops play to identify or ask for a score correction will have committed a fault and shall lose the rally.

This part means that in your described scenario, in an officiated game the opponent that caught the ball committed a fault and your team should have been awarded the win for that rally.

Finally, my advise as a referee is IF YOU ARE NOT SURE ABOUT THE CALLED SCORE, KEEP PLAYING. You can always correct the score after the completion of the rally.

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