What Is A Let In Tennis? Definition + FAQ (Rules+ Records)

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There are several laws and regulations in tennis that are not always immediately obvious to beginners.

Such a rule is how a referee can ask a player to let the ball into his court after serving it.

We will look at this particular tennis law, so if you’re a beginner to the game or seeking to polish up on your information, you can end up with a full understanding.

What Is A Let In Tennis?

In tennis, a let refers to the point that was replayed without players making a complaint.

Depending on the case, a player or referee can call for relief on a let. To begin, we will discuss the service let.

Service Let

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A service let comes in distinct situations or contexts:

  1. The ball makes contact with the net, and then the ball ends up in the correct service area.
  2. The ball touches the receiver(s) or something they’re dressed in before making contact with the ground.
  3. The server strikes the ball, and the opponent is unable to pay attention.

The first example is the most common and easiest to spot because the ball’s trajectory after it has been struck changes after going over the net chord. At times, the ball will make a cracking noise when it cracks the net.

At the local or regional scale, a service let must occur promptly to avoid conflicts and arguments.

If you return a deflected ball for a winner and your opposing player demands the let as the ball travels past them. Likewise, consider when your opposing player aces you and you find the ball out of your range, and it is obviously out of the play area.

Both game situations could become tense, so players must try to call a service let after being disturbed. When unsure, it is recommended to play the point without calling out.

At pro tennis, the service let is evaluated by an umpire using electronic systems deployed on the court.

If a service let happens on the first serve, the entire point must be replayed. However, if a server receives an additional service on the second serve, they get only one extra serve. There is also no restriction to how many serves let calls at any point.

A point is not a let when the ball does not really reach in the correct service box in tennis. In place, it is considered as a fault. In some other less likely situation, maybe while attempting to play singles, a serve strikes the singles racket or the net post while playing doubles, and the ball reaches in the right service box, it is indeed a fault. This is the term defined by the ITF for a fault:

The service is considered a let if:

  1. The ball lands in the service box and is somehow in play; or after contacting the net, band, or service receiver, it hits something they dress or carry before touching the floor.
  2. The service is done when the receiver is still not prepared.

A service let does not result in a discount, and the server must provide the service once more, but a service let doesn’t really cancel a prior mistake.

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Other Let Situations

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As we know, a service let is a replay of a point, but there are also other occasions where the term let is used.

Most commonly, a let should be given when it’s evident that the distraction is interfering with the activity.

In outdoor tennis, a point can be disrupted when an incoming ball enters the court in the middle of the point. When an odd event occurs, it’s best to call a let immediately.

Suppose the let request occurs between the player’s first or second serve. In that case, it’s up to the recipient to assess whether or not the time duration which passed while getting the ball or trying to deal with the disruption justifies the server set to begin the point over with a first serve.

In pro tennis, an example of how often the umpire may rule a let is when a spectator, particularly a player who can see them, is trying to move during a point. As a viewer, it is expected to sit in your seat throughout a changeover in a match.

Why is it termed as let?

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As there is no universally accepted answer, some scholars believe that ‘let’ originated from the Old Saxon word ‘lettian,’ which implies ‘to disrupt.’

Conversely, the word could come from the French word ‘filet,’ which leads to ‘net.’ Since tennis was first created in England, it is feasible that the French word was borrowed and shortened to ‘let.’

One probability is that the term originates as ‘let,’ which can be used to let the striker reiterate the point.

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How Many Lets Are Permitted in a game?

There is no limit to the number of consecutive lets that a player can hit. The server continues to repeat their serve until they either make their serve or hits a fault.

Record for Most Consecutive Lets

After defeating Ayumi Morita in 2013, Williams won four consecutive service games in a row. There really is no restriction on the number of successive lets that can be drawn.

Di Wu, a Chinese player, attain the same number at a Challenger contest as was recorded on camera at the 2017 Anning Challenger in China.

While there are exceptions to this rule, the average number of players’ own wins in professional tennis is four.

Let Response Accuracy

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There are rules in tennis to make sure that a let is always acknowledged, even if the ball only barely touches the net.

We also have the sensors attached to each side of the net, which pick up even the vibrations’ slightest. The approved system is called Trinity, and it is more accurate and precise than other devices.

Indeed, as with most innovation, it not without its flaws. In 2016, Jerzy Janowicz was called let on a serve by Novak Djokovic at the US Open. Video replays reveal the ball flew several centimeters from the net, but the Trinity sensors still determined that it hits the lines.

Despite many advantages, the device still remains popular despite criticism because of the low occurrence of inaccuracies.

“No Let” Rule

The ‘Not Let’ rule can be used as a means of expediting play. Under the no-let law, only fair points are allowed, requiring players to treat a let as in bounds and perform the point.

The 2018 Next-Gen ATP Finals saw the introduction of a new rule that disallowed a let serve. While the study added an aspect of randomness to serves, the policy was eliminated in 2019.

Though infrequently used during high-level tournaments, you’ll often discover this policy mentioned in Appendix 5.

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FAQs

Q1:Who may call a let?

In doubles and singles, any player can call a let.

Q2:What are the consequences if a let is called?

When serving a let, one should repeat one’s serve. If it occurs on your very first serve, you will be awarded two additional serves. On your second serve, just one extra service will be allowed.

If there is a disruption, such as a bouncy tennis ball, it tends to cause a let to be considered, replay the point.

Q3:When must a let be named?

A let must be called as soon as possible once it happens, so the opponent players know what just happened.

Q4:How many lets are allowed in a row?

You can have as many consecutive lets as you want.

Q5:Why is the ball called a let?

The term ‘let’ probably originated from a phrase meaning ‘to hinder.’

Q6:Can you question a let?

Players in professional tennis are not allowed to argue a point call.

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