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Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Rules Clarification - Items on the Court

If confusion is the first step to knowledge, I must be a genius...

I wrote about my first experience refereeing a match last week and followed that up with an example of court changeover positioning. Today, we will cover the rulings when items fall on the court.

The situation arose in my game when one team had their paddles collide on a mid-court groundstroke. One partner's paddle flew from her hand into the NVZ. Play continued for several more hits until the ball was hit to the player without a paddle. Since she could not return the ball, her team lost the point. As she went to retrieve her paddle, I heard her say "It doesn't matter. We lost the point when my paddle went into the kitchen". I did not think she was right but did not have to make a ruling because the point was lost on the continued play.

The rule covering the situation is as follows.
12.G. Items on the Court. If anything a player is wearing or carrying lands on the court, it becomes part of the court. Therefore, if a ball in play hits the item on the court, the ball remains in play. If the item lands on the opponent’s court, it is a fault. If the item lands in the non-volley zone as a result of a volley, it is a fault.
Note that an item in the NVZ can result in a fault...but only if the item gets there as a result of a volley. A groundstroke hit resulting in a dropped item cannot result in an automatic fault.

The volley rule is very specific.
9.C. A fault will be declared if, in the act of volleying the ball, the player's momentum causes the player or anything the player is wearing or carrying to touch the non-volley zone or touch any non-volley line. It is a fault if the player's momentum causes the player to touch anything that is touching the non-volley zone, including the player’s partner. It is a fault even if the ball is declared dead before the player touches the non- volley zone.
There is an interesting interpretation of the rule involving a non-volleying partner's items. If two partners collide or even touch in the act of volleying, they become a single player for purposes of the volley. Therefore, any item that falls into the kitchen from either player, even the non-volleying partner, is a fault.

This contrasts with an item falling into the NVZ when a player attempts to volley but makes no contact with the ball nor his partner. In that situation, play continues without a fault.

The bottom line is that item falling into the NVZ can be a fault...or not, depending on the situation. Know the rules. The player in my game could have grabbed her paddle and continued to play.

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