Playing indoor tennis can be tricky. The lighting is usually terrible; the sounds of the other players talking and the rackets hitting the balls is magnified, and the fact that there is a ceiling (though very high) is pretty intimidating. But to me, the courts with net dividers are the worst.
The dividers kind of box you in so that every angled shot seems impossible to get for fear of getting tangled up in them, like what almost happened to me during a league match a few years ago. I moved out wide for a crosscourt angled shot and just as I was swinging through the ball for my return, my racket head “swished” into the net divider. I hit a great return shot, however, our opponents stopped playing, claiming that the point was automatically theirs, not because the ball touched a “permanent fixture”, but because my racket did.
Well, they were partially correct. The net divider IS considered a permanent fixture, and yeah, my racket touched it…but the ball didn’t.
In the ITF Rules of Tennis, it clearly states that:
RULE 24(f). Player loses point: if the player or the racket, whether in the player’s hand or not, or anything which the player is wearing or carrying touches the net, net posts/singles sticks, cord or metal cable, strap or band, or the opponent’s court at any time while the ball is in play.
Nowhere does it say that you lose a point if your racket touches the net divider.
This scenario was new to both me and my partner, and our opponents sounded so much like they knew what they were talking about that we were ready to concede the point. Fortunately, I remembered I had a copy of the ITF rules in my tennis bag and checked it first, just to be sure. And wouldn’t you know…they actually owed us the point!
I can never stress enough the importance of knowing ALL of the ITF rules and those of “The Code”, and keeping copies of them in your tennis bag. It will prevent you from giving up free points to your opponents.