When to Call a Let in Tennis

Sue Katra is an experienced senior care manager who currently serves Senior Life Solutions SV in Los Gatos, California. Beyond her work with clients who are elderly or have special needs, Sue Katra enjoys staying in shape by playing tennis.

According to the United States Tennis Association, a “let” allows a do-over of a play with no penalty to either side. Lets are most commonly called when a serve clips the top of the net prior to the ball landing in the correct service box. However, a let can be called in a number of situations.

One scenario in which a player can call a let involves a loose tennis ball rolling across the court. If the ball is coming from a neighboring court or a previous point, a player on either side can simply call a let, pick up the ball, and begin the point again. However, if the ball has fallen from a player’s pocket, and that player has been warned on multiple occasions, that player may be penalized a point.

Players can also call a let during play or during the service motion if players agree that an inadvertent hindrance has occurred. Typical hindrances can range from loud, distracting noises to an insect or animal entering the court. A let called due to a hindrance generally results in a first serve, though if the hindrance occurs between the first and second serve and does not cause a long delay, the server should continue with their second serve as normal.

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