Tennis Rules I’d Like to See

Since starting this blog a couple of months ago, I’ve devoted large chunks of time to thinking about how to improve my game. I’ve pondered how to adjust to playing outside and how to be bolder and how to tailor my game to my opponent. Self-improvement is hard!

But then I got to thinking, maybe I’m going about this all wrong. Maybe it’s the game of tennis that needs some work, not me!

In the spirit of making a lasting contribution to the sport–and having nothing whatsoever to do with the fact that I’m in New York and have no time for a full-blown blog post–I humbly submit three suggestions for how tennis can be a better game.

1. The Reserved FBI Rule. In a social match, we usually just play first-ball-in, rather than spend time warming up our serves. But what happens when your very first serve goes in? You end up losing all those do-overs! One of my tennis buddies floated the idea of a rule change allowing the server to save the unused FBI, like a get-out-of-jail-free card. If the server double-faults later in the match, he can whip out his FBI and keep going for his ace.

2. The Split-Point Provision. Every once in a while, I make an amazing shot–a shot that should be featured on the evening’s highlight reel–only to have the opponent make a stab save and steal my rightful point. In these frustratingly unjust situations, the aggrieved player should be able to call out “Split Point!” Each side would then be awarded a half-point. Caveat: The Split Point may be utilized only once per match by a player or doubles team, and may not be invoked on a match-deciding or set-deciding point.

3. The Double-Fault Exclusion Clause. How many times have you double-faulted when you’re down match point? If you’re anything like me, plenty. It’s the most deflating feeling. In fact, I don’t even like it when it happens to my opponent (although I’ll still take the win). The Double-Fault Exclusion would eliminate these anticlimaxes by allowing the server extra match-point serves. When serving under the DFE clause, the player must serve underhand and to whichever side the receiver chooses.

I think we can all agree these small changes would significantly improve the game of tennis–or at least make it less frustrating.

What rule changes would you like to implement? Or is tennis perfect just the way it is?

11 thoughts on “Tennis Rules I’d Like to See

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  1. Deb, I think I am a full-blown traditionalist and I say nix to all 3, though of the 3, I kind of like reserving your FBI for the moment you think you really need it.

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  2. I love #2 and #3! My only qualm about #2, the split-point provision, is with the scoring. If you’re at 15 all and someone invokes the provision on the next point, the score becomes 22.5 all??

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    1. Yeah, I’m a little fuzzy on the details. I’m more of a “big idea” person. 😅

      I guess I was thinking you’d go from 40-30 to 40.5 to 30.5. Not logical, but neither is a 0-15-30-40 system!

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  3. I like rule number three and I think that those of us who do like it could start using it in social games. Nobody is happy when the final point of a match is a double fault… We want to see someone make a good shot. After a double fault on a match point, requiring the server to serve underhanded is a very fair and elegant idea.

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  4. In my social games, we definitely allow extra serves if we feel the serving team is just getting cheated. Isn’t that fairly common in non-competitive play? Maybe we’re just super nice. But it would be delightful to have that rule in competition.

    I agree with all the idea but am getting stuck on how #2 would be scored. I guess I just get too into the details.

    Fun ideas!

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  5. Sounds like your social game is much nicer than mine! My group of ladies might agree to give you extra serves….but only after establishing that they’d already won the match and we’re just doing these extra serves “for fun.” (They’d be the first to tell you that I’m just as guilty of that myself.)

    In practice, I think the split point would basically nullify the point. Each side would still need to win the same number of additional points in order to win the game as they needed before the split point. So…not very elegant, and I look forward to someone improving on my otherwise stellar idea.

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  6. One more rule “adjustment”: If the server can reserve her FBI, then the receiver gets a FRI (first-return-in.) Seems a fair trade-off, and one goes well with the other!

    And I’m all for a do-over in the case of a double-fault on match point, (especially if my team gets it!!!)

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  7. Yes, FRI is a good one, too!

    Just this week–three days after this post–I won my doubles match when our opponents double-faulted on match point. After we shook hands, I thought, “Hey, I should tell them about my funny double fault exclusion rule!” But they didn’t look like they’d find the humor in it at that moment.

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