I was playing up front in tennis doubles. The server hit a trick shot to my partner in the receiving court. The ball hit in the serve court near the center line, bounced and spun into my side. I returned the ball for what I thought was a point. Everyone else said that's not legal. I said it was legal since the ball was served per the rules, and was in play once it hit the court.

Was my return against the rules?

2 Answers 2


Yes, your return was against the rules. The "receiver" (i.e., the player who returns the serve) is designated, and alternates with each point. See Rule 15 in the ITF Rules of Tennis:


The team which is due to receive in the first game of a set shall decide which player shall receive the first point in the game. Similarly, before the second game starts, their opponents shall decide which player shall receive the first point of that game. The player who was the receiver’s partner for the first point of the game shall receive the second point and this rotation shall continue until the end of the game and the set. After the receiver has returned the ball, either player in a team can hit the ball.

It's not clarified further than that in the rules, but it's consistently interpreted as such.


Apparently, if it was the FIRST point of the set, your move is legal. It's been ruled that way in pro doubles matches.

"This famously happened to John Barrett, a former British tennis player and commentator. Apparently he wasn't happy.


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