South Bay Grand Prix
South Bay Grand Prix
Ask The Official

'My opponent foot faults. What can I do?'
by Wil Davila

Q: While watching a "Finals" singles match, I noticed that both players were "foot faulting." Some of the spectators watching the match were commenting on how much worse one player was faulting as opposed to the other player. The worst player was a serve and volley player and it seemed to give him an advantage during play. When and how does a player make an objection to the infraction? How does it get resolved? Thanks, Wil Davila

A: BOTH players are in the wrong! The serve is the most decisive stroke in the game, and there is no justification for a player to knowingly commit a foot fault.

The USTA Rule Book states, "In a non-officiated match, the receiver, or his partner may call foot faults after all efforts (appeal to the server, request for an umpire, etc.) have failed and the foot faulting is so flagrant as to be clearly perceptible from the receiver's side." See USTA Regulation O.2.c (Making calls in matches played without an official).

In the "real" world, depending on the situation (social match, club, or sanctioned tournament, etc.) your actions may differ. I suggest (if the foot faulting really bothers you - they are over the line, and well into the green!) that you appeal to you opponent nicely to correct their foot faulting (e.g., "excuse me, I'm not sure if you are aware, but your foot appears to be well over the line when you serve. Can you make an adjustment? Thanks!").

Give them a chance to correct it. If that doesn't work, explain that the foot faulting really distracts you and would they mind if you try to find someone (even a friend of theirs!) to assist in calling foot faults (on you as well!). If that doesn't work, explain that, according to USTA Regulations, you are permitted to call flagrant foot fault on an opponent (helps to have a Rule Book handy).

If that doesn't work (e.g., your opponent is confrontational), just say that you prefer (or choose) to suspend the match until an official can be present.

If it is social tennis, and foot faulting bothers you, it is probably best to ignore the foot faulting, or play only with people who don't foot fault. You might limit your potential opponent list, but you get to retain your list of friends!

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Jim Flood Jim Flood has been a USTA Professional Tennis Official for many years and has officiated at many of the biggest and most prestigious USTA professional tournaments, including the U.S. Open. He is also a computer instructor and multimedia specialist and also fills his spare time as a commercial actor and voiceover artist. Jim's motto is: "Play by the rules."

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