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WTA Tennis




Cummings and Goings XVIII by Jim Cummings

March 2, 2009 11:35 PM

There are three tiebreaks, right? Set Tiebreak, Match Tiebreak and the Coman Tiebreak? Wrong! There are only two: a Set Tiebreak and a Match Tiebreak. Coman is not a tiebreak; it is a  procedure whereby ends are changed in a tiebreak, either a Set TB or a Match TB, after the first point and every four points thereafter. Everything else is the same. But if you answered three, don't feel bad. The 2009 Friend At Court even has a referral to "Coman Tiebreak" in it (erroneously, I might add).  

Now that you know there are only two tiebreaks, there should be no problem as to which tiebreak to use. A Set TB is always used to decide a set and is 7 points by a margin of 2.  A Match TB is used to decide a match that has split sets and is 10 points by a margin of 2. They are mutually exclusive.

You can use this new-found knowledge by jauntily saying "Set Tiebreak" the next time you are faced with a tiebreak at 6-all and then blithely assume the posture that everybody will know what is going on. Whatever you do, don't say 7-Point Tiebreak. That's crutch language; as if you didn't know that a Set Tiebreak was 7 points by a margin of 2. After all, you don't say, "Let's play a 6-Game Set, do you?" One more thing. For scoring purposes, a tiebreak counts as a game played. That is why on a draw sheet, you see a set that ended  with a tiebreak scored as 7-6 (x) with the (x) being the number of points won by the loser in the tiebreak. In a match that ended with a Match Tiebreak, you will see the two set scores and then 1-0 (x) with, well you know what the (x) stands for.

Conduct Yourself Accordingly

I'm sure you have all watched orchestra conductor's do their thing just before play begins. The players are poised with their instruments and there is an air of expectancy in the audience; all eyes focused on the baton as the conductor, with arms raised, surveys the scene, ensuring all is in readiness. Now, hold that thought.

Let's say you are serving in a match. You don't just go up to the line and whack the ball. No, you first see to it that there are no loose balls on the court that could be stepped on; especially after a first serve. Then you check to make sure the receiver is in the ready position and has his eyes trained on you. If you are playing a doubles match, you also check to be sure your partner is ready; especially after a first serve fault that you hit into the net and he has had to clear. Be sure he has had time to take a ready position also. I have played with partners that seemingly have a hot potato in their hand when it comes to hitting a second serve. Finally you make sure that everybody has the right score by calling it out and then, and only then, do you serve the ball. OK, you can let that thought go now. I think you see where I am coming from. And if it sounds like a handful, it's not. It may take a little getting use to at first, but after a short while, you can be doing it at a glance.

Ready Or Not

There is going to be a time when a receiver is going to let a serve go by and claim they were not ready. Then what? Give the receiver the benefit of any doubt you may have. A first edition of the Code says this, "... in any discussion over whether a receiver was ready or not the sole criterion is the receiver's own statement..." It might be that without realizing it, you were a little to quick on the trigger. You may not serve until the receiver is ready and for a receiver to be ready, the receiver must not only have time to take the ready position but must also have a second or two after that to make eye contact with the server. 

A  couple weeks ago when we were playing, my partner Randy asked about this and said it had happened to him not only once, but twice in one match. He said It kind of got him ticked off. I went through the whole bit with him and reminded him that sometimes the best way to handle a situation is with a shrug and to just say whatever. Fortunately, the good guys outnumber the bad by about 100 to 1, and if you really think about it, the bad ones aren't really that bad. If they are, you can always say no the next time they ask you to play.

By:  Jim Cummings 2/24/2009

Jim Cummings Bio:
   Born in Marinette, WI
   Boyhood friend of the Cook family
   Played varsity tennis for UW-Madison in the 50s
   Officiated at over 25 US Opens as a chair and line umpire
   Served on USTA's Rules Committee when Jack Stahr and Nick Powel were Chairs
   Active senior player and Referee
   Presently helps edit the Friend At Court