Ever been involved in a tennis scoring dispute that made you wish you had a referee? Do you know the USTA Rules on scoring disputes?

We are replaying a few of our most popular episodes and this was one of them!

In this episode we discuss scoring disputes and the different ways people handle them – go through all the points, just give in to your opponent, flip a coin, or yell at your opponent, etc. We don’t recommend yelling at your opponent!

We filmed this episode and put it on your YouTube channel. If you’d like to see us in action, click here.

Here’s a transcript of our discussion:

Carolyn: 0:09
Hi, this is Carolyn, and I’m here with Erin and we are going to talk about scoring disputes. I mean, this is what, the time when people are going to playoffs, this is when matches, I guess, matter a little more, and some people have asked us about scoring disputes. Have you had a lot of scoring disputes, erin?

Erin: 0:26
I haven’t had a lot, but I’m sure, like you, because you play singles, it’s a little bit harder in singles because sometimes you just truly forget the score if you’ve played you know, played out a lot of long points. It happens a little bit less in doubles, but I feel like sometimes, when it happens in doubles, there might even be like not more reason for people to get in arguments, but because there’s more personalities on the court. Yes, I’ve had a few matches that I’ve either seen myself in person or been on a court where it’s happened, where if someone’s questioned the score it could just be like what did you say the score was? Or you know, not necessarily like I don’t believe that you said the right score or I’m disputing the score, but just literally like I didn’t hear what you said. Then it tends to like, like you said, especially during playoffs and matches that people think really count, you know, for whatever reason playoffs, or you know, I don’t know any other reason but I do feel like with four personalities on the court, even though it might be a little bit easier to keep track of the score with four people, sometimes those are the ones that actually get more heated because there’s a lot of people to argue about the score. Yes, that’s right, yeah, yeah, don’t you feel that way? Have you had that at all?

Carolyn: 1:45
You know, to be honest, I have more scoring disputes in singles and not in doubles. And I feel like it’s because there are more people on the court.

Erin: 1:52

Carolyn: 1:53
Everybody kind of can go through it together, or you don’t forget any points, you don’t forget the double faults, right, that’s been my experience. But how do you handle it? How do you handle scoring disputes?

Erin: 2:03
Well, you know how I handle it. I try to be extremely friendly and understanding and I try to go through point. You know like you do try to recall. You know this happened and then that happened. The problem is again with singles. That’s much harder if you’ve had a long point and sometimes and oftentimes people remember certain points of like. I’m sure this has happened to you a bunch of times if there has been a dispute. But sometimes someone will go well, remember that point, and then this happened, and then you hit it here and I’m like that was the last game.

Carolyn: 2:34

Erin: 2:35
You know, sometimes you only remember points from other games, right, so that’s tough, but I always, always try to be friendly because that’s just the type of player I am. I have and I think I’ve said it on our podcast before I have had a woman scream at me because she she called the score two times. That I thought was incorrect and, honestly, the second time that it happened, when she really blew up at me, was we had played on a long point. It was doubles. We had played on a long point and I remember, before starting that point, I was thinking because we had already been broken. So I remember specifically thinking, if we win this point, then we will break back and then we’ll be at you know, a different, like I knew the game score. And so when she called the score out and it was like 40, 30 for them instead of 40, 30 for you know, 40, 30 for us and I questioned her on it, I was pretty sure I was right, because I remember thinking if we win this point, then we’ve broken back or we’ve gotten to do so, whatever it was. And when she called the score wrong and I questioned, that’s when she just blew up and started screaming at me Like other people came from other courts to see what was going on. Yeah, and that’s hard, that’s hard, and I tried to diffuse that situation because I do not like to get an arguments on the court, but she kind of had had a really bad day and just kind of blew up.

Carolyn: 3:53
So did you give it to her? Did you let her decide the score?

Erin: 3:56
Did. What did you do? I think we did. I think because we couldn’t go back and you know we couldn’t remember the first point and I said to her I said I really think it’s blah blah because of, you know, we thought we were going to break back and she just stood her ground like argue, argue, argue, like there was no way. I think that day of her life, like she was just in such a mood, I don’t think that we could have convinced her otherwise and I think my partner and I just decided it’s not worth it and we just backed down, right.

Carolyn: 4:24
That’s normally what I do too.

Erin: 4:26
Yeah, didn’t we just talk to someone? We did. We just talked to a guest that said this sort of happened to her, and she ended up giving the woman the game that the woman argued about, and then she still ended up beating her, and so then she said I basically won the match twice.

Carolyn: 4:43
Yes, yes, right yeah, because if it’s game difference, I mean that’s a huge difference, that’s two games.

Erin: 4:50
Really right and I know that happened to you at Tate’s.

Carolyn: 4:52
Yeah, that’s happened to me before, where she asked if she could change the scoreboard because she had had issues in the past with people changing the scoreboard the wrong way. And then that’s exactly what happened at stage. Yeah, and every switch that the wrong way, she switched it the wrong way and then, when I questioned her, she said look at the scoreboard.

Erin: 5:10
Yeah, I will tell you. That’s exactly what happened with the woman who blew up at me. She told me at the end of the match, when she apologized, that the reason she got so angry with me asking her the score a few times was because she had played a match the day before and a woman had questioned her several times on the score, and so she said I didn’t stick up for myself, so I felt like she had to fight anybody from then on that was going to not accuse her of the wrong score but question her on it. And my thought at the end of that was like a woman yesterday asked you I thought you were calling the score wrong. Today we thought you were calling the score wrong. You might be calling the score wrong, right, exactly, exactly. But we did. We backed down because I was like it got so heated and it was so uncomfortable and it was at our club. It could have been at any club and I still would have backed down. Because that’s just, you don’t want to put yourself in that situation. It’s adult rec tennis.

Carolyn: 6:04
Right, right, it’s getting paid. Right, yeah, and it happens. I feel like it happens pretty rarely, so that when it does happen, you are kind of taking it back by it.

Erin: 6:13
Yeah, and it kind of stands out right Because it’s like those ugly situations and to be honest, I didn’t really know the USTA rule on it.

Carolyn: 6:20
So I looked at the rule and I don’t think people do it this way. But OK, so in front of court I’m going to read it to you and you tell me if you’ve ever done it this way, ok, or how you normally do it, ok. So this is on page 41 of Friend of Court.

Erin: 6:34
Friend of Court. First of all is more than 41 pages. Oh, it’s really long. I thought that was like the quick guide, isn’t there like a one page or two page quick guide to the rules?

Carolyn: 6:46
I don’t know. If there is, let me know, because.

Erin: 6:49
I love the one to.

Carolyn: 6:50
But there’s only like a few pages that are applicable to us, because there’s like rules on how long the tennis court should be. Oh, yeah, or like the measurements, like who cares about measurements?

Erin: 7:01
If I had been, if I was asked that question in jeopardy, I would get it wrong.

Carolyn: 7:06
Yes, I know I have no idea. Yeah, I have no idea either, but just in case anybody is looking, this is on page 41 of Friend of Court and it’s number 32. And it’s actually labeled disputes. So this is what. This is what we’re supposed to do. I guess I’ve never done it. I always just back down, like unless I can recall every single point and get them to agree to it. Then I’m kind of like, ok, ok, so it says disputes OK, disputes over the score must be resolved by using one of the following methods, which are listed in the order of preference. Ok, so this is the first way they tell you to do it, which is, count all points and games agreed upon by the players and replay only disputed points or games.

Erin: 7:47
But usually only the last point is disputed. What does that mean? I guess you would replay it right. So you would just replay that point. So let’s say you remembered the point before was deuce, right? But then you’re disputing, hmm, or are you? You’d have?

Carolyn: 8:05
to agree that we were at deuce and she thinks it’s add in, I think it’s add out, and so the point we I guess we agreed on was at deuce, and then I mean that’s going to be hard Okay. So then the next way is play from a score mutually agreeable to all players, which I think is what we do, which is we just back down and we say fine, it’s 40, 15. You right, yeah, if we don’t you truly agreeable.

Erin: 8:35
Yeah, it’s a stretch, but yes, yeah, you’ve just decided that it’s not worth it. It’s not worth it.

Carolyn: 8:40
Yeah, right, okay. And then the last one is spin a racket or toss a coin. Yes, this is the one we just talked about. Yeah, yeah, has anyone ever done this? I wanted to, you ever done it?

Erin: 8:50
I have never seen it, but I actually did know that rule, um and it. This is when I think it comes into play and I hate to think it would be like a. My guess is when these are really disputed and you get to spinning a racket. I mean, I guess it could be a nice situation, but it also could be like I absolutely positively will not agree that that is the score you know type of situation with with an opponent. So to me I think it’s funny after all that time of, I would imagine it takes a little while to kind of go through like well, I remember this point, well, no, she did that, and then your partner did that and you know having a full conversation about it. I can’t imagine all of a sudden someone’s like you know what, let’s just spin a racket. Yeah, I know right, that’s going to solve it and we’re all going to feel good about that.

Carolyn: 9:36
Right, um, but I guess that’s what happens I guess I mean let us let us know if that’s ever happened to you. Um if that’s where you, you got to, or if you just backed down, or if the other person just backed down. I okay, I remember. So I was at six, five states so this was a couple of years ago, cause I think I was a three O and there was a court beside us that was much better than us, um, so it was probably eight, five, I don’t know, but they were much better than our court. But we were pros. They looked yeah, they looked like pros compared to what I was doing. But anyway, we started a game and they were arguing over the score. They were like no, it’s this, it’s not that. So I waited a second to see, but then they all came to the net. This was in doubles. They all came to the net and I was like, well, I better go ahead and start the game, like I was serving. Well, we finished that game and they were still arguing over it and I remember at one point someone said I’m not lying and then the person on the other team said well, I didn’t say you were lying, I’m saying you’re wrong and I was. I don’t know what eventually happened. Um but we actually finished our match with them, kind of. Still it was the last game of the set, but kind of finished the match and they were still, kind of you know, talking about it. So maybe they should have just spun the rocket.

Erin: 10:53
Yeah, oh yeah, exactly. They would have moved things along and then they were probably all kind of rattled or thrown off after that. Anyway, right, you kind of want to move along and get to it. I remember a story of a teammate at our club who played I guess she played a. She must have played. It was a singles match. She played a singles match. This was years ago. She played a singles match. She shook hands at the net with her opponent. She had won the match. She went home she lives really close to the club. She went home, got in the shower, got out of the shower and realized that she had had a call from her captain, so called her back within you know a few minutes and said hey, you know, she thought her captain just wanted to talk about the match and the captain said you’re the opponent. The woman that you just played said you didn’t really win the match. She remembered the score differently. Oh my goodness, at that point I’m sure there’s a rule in the rule book that says if you have shaken hands, right, you’ve walked off the court, you’ve gone home and taken a shower. I think the shower too, I mean you got to add that.

Carolyn: 11:55
I mean there is a rule. I found that yeah.

Erin: 11:58
Comparable to spinning a racket and just deciding that that’s a little nutty. Yeah, that’s crazy.

Carolyn: 12:04
I think once you leave.

Erin: 12:05
Yeah, what’s the rule? Say it’s got to be once you walk off the court.

Carolyn: 12:06
This is on page 38 at Friend of Court. On the code it says shaking hands at the end of a match is an acknowledgement by the players that the match is over. Yes, so that’s really interesting, because that just happened to one of our friends who was playing a match and it was a match tie break, same sort of situation, and they kind of, you know, they were talking about the score, they agreed on the score and then, during the match, tie break.

Erin: 12:31
I remember During the match tie break they were going over points because someone would have to use one word they agreed to it.

Carolyn: 12:37
She played the final point, match was over and then everybody left the court. Well, then she comes running, her opponent comes running up to her and says hey, I talked to my teammates, that score is wrong, Right, and she was just like no, it’s not, you know that’s so awkward. It’s such an awkward situation at that point because I mean, what do they want you to do? Go back on and play it Right.

Erin: 12:59
Oh, let me grab my racket and run back on the court. Yeah, everything too that I will say about that and it has to do with this situation specifically. But I’ve had this happen before where people from other courts have tried to intervene into someone else’s match, which they cannot do. They can’t do that, but that’s the same thing. Is her team like? She agreed to it, she shook hands, she walked off the court. Then, when her teammates told her differently like it’s not the teammates match, it was her responsibility. Even if it was wrong, it was her responsibility to fix it. Before she shook hands and left the court. Right, I would have not run back up to my opponent. I would have just said, oh my gosh, are you serious? Like I messed that up. You know, yeah, but she yeah. That’s a little strange.

Carolyn: 13:41
But she was really our friend, was really happy that she had someone watching the match too. Yes, that could say, no, you guys are right, this was the score, right, this was the last like that was able to relay the last four points and then she was kind of like, okay, but still, it’s really really awkward.

Erin: 13:57
Yeah to need a second opinion. Yeah To need a second opinion. That the score is correct is a little bit strange.

Carolyn: 14:04
Yeah, I think so too. So I would love, I would love to hear.

Erin: 14:06
Now that you know the rules.

Carolyn: 14:07
Are you still just going to back down? Are you going to do anything differently? Well, are you just going to? Probably going to back.

Erin: 14:12
I mean, if somebody, if it’s really like crazy yeah, I’m not going to be like you know what, Now that you’re really heated, let’s spin a racket and see who wins. Who wins the argument, after all. That.

Carolyn: 14:22
If you’re at the roll, we actually need to spin a racket. That’s what we’re going to do.

Erin: 14:26
On page 41,. I’m going to bust out the rule.

Carolyn: 14:29
Well, I think also. But you know, what it made me realize too is when the situation happened to me, and it has happened to others. I mean, even this year we’ve had friends say look, somebody said, no, the scoreboard’s different than what they thought it was. It’s to really, you know, call the score out loud and look at the scoreboard and make sure, because I’ve not had an issue since that, and I’m always. I stop people when I’m said can you say the score again?

Erin: 14:55
I’m sorry, I didn’t hear you because of that, which makes me feel kind of weird and people do think you’re questioning the score when you’re just questioning. I didn’t hear it, or you just want to agree that that’s the score at that time?

Carolyn: 15:11
Yeah, but I’m probably still going to back down, and just I know me too. If you’d like to see an unedited version of us doing this podcast, please check out our YouTube channel, which is Second Serve Podcast. Thanks so much for listening and hope to see you on the courts soon.

Tennis Warehouse’s Tip of the Week

We hope you’ve heard some of our Tennis Warehouse’s Tip of the Week segments with Michelle. Use discount code SECONDSERVE in your Tennis Warehouse cart and get $20 off clearance apparel orders over $100. Clearance apparel can be found here!

For more in-depth discussions about gear, check out Michelle’s Talk Tennis podcast.

We hosted Michelle for several great podcast episodes too. You can find them here:

Ep. 118: Gear Talk with Tennis Warehouse’s Playtester, Michelle (Ep. 1)
Ep. 119: Gear Talk with Tennis Warehouse (Ep. 2)
Ep. 120: Gear Talk with Tennis Warehouse (Ep. 3)