Can the Ball Hit the Net in Tennis? (6 Scenarios Explained)

Tennis is all about hitting the ball and sending it to the other side of the net. The 27 ft court is divided in the middle by a 3 ft high net. It’s where most of the scoring takes place. 

The very first tennis match was played around the 12th century, it developed in a form very close to modern tennis in 1830. Back then, it was called Lawn Tennis.

Modern tennis took shape around 1874. There were tennis clubs, tournaments, and championships. More importantly, the rules were formulated and implemented.  

Here’s one of the first questions people ask when they’re first introduced to tennis: Can the ball hit the net in tennis? 

There are actually six scenarios where a ball hits the net in that exciting game! Read on to find out how each of them affects the match. 

1. The First Serve Hits the Net and Stops

This is a clear fault. The rule states that when a ball fails to clear the net, or bounces in any spot other than the cross-court service box, it’s a fault.  

The game stops completely after a fault to contemplate the next action. This is the first fault, so the player is given a second chance. 

This is not a very pleasant moment for this player, as the first serve is usually a show of power and mastery, and here many players lose their poise. 

2. The Second Serve Hits the Net and Stops

The second attempt is statistically more successful than the first. This time around, players become much more cautious and do their best to send a correct ball. 

The second serve can still be missed, and the ball ends up trapped in the net. This time, the player is penalized as having committed a double fault, and a point is awarded to the receiver. 

These incidents set the tone for the match, and that’s why tennis training puts significant weight on swinging a good serve and scoring an ace

3. The First Serve Hits the Net and Crosses Over

This seems highly improbable, but it’s not. It’s interesting to see how often this event takes place. 

This sliding ball is called a ‘Let’, if it crosses over and lands at the right place in the cross-court service box. It’s not considered a fault, and the player is granted a second attempt. 

The first serve has more incidents like this than the second, and as expected, the players exercise more caution, and the game looks quite mainstream.  

It’s worth mentioning here, that most tennis champions are also serve-record holders. Pete Sampras recorded 1000 aces in one season, and Sam Groth holds the record of the fastest serve of all time. 

4. The Second Serve Hits the Net and Crosses Over

This is highly improbable. It’s like being hit by lightning twice on the same day. However, in real life, it could happen:

At this point, sliding over the net again is not considered a fault, it’s still a let, and there’s a repeat. The other player is not granted the point. 

This is not the same outcome as when the second serve ends up in the net, or in any other fault situation, the umpire then calls it an out and the player loses the serve. 

5. The Return Ball Hits the Net and Stops

This is a fault and the player loses a point. The senders usually hope for this scenario, as they swing their serves. 

It’s a frustrating moment, and regaining focus is essential to avoid the recurrence of faults. The other player can discover the weak points of the opponent if a certain kind of fault is repeated. 

This is usually followed by the player shifting to an aggressive model of playing and hitting that weak side until the game point is reached. 

6. The Return Ball Hits the Net and Crosses Over 

This is a sly and very tricky situation. Unlike the let, a return ball touching the net and spilling over to the cross-court service box is considered a correct ball. 

The thing is, it’s close to impossible to return it back. This scores a lucky point right away for the player. There were rare incidents where a quick-witted player could rush off to the net and save the short ball. 

This takes a lot of luck from both sides, but we’ve seen it happen, and it’s always a moment where the crowds cheer Ahhs and Oohs. 

To Wrap it All Up 

The rules of any game are devised to make it interesting and challenging. Too many rules make it impossible to play, and too few turn it into a boring activity. 

Tennis is one of the sports with a balanced and clever set of rules. It’s popular because most of them make sense, and people easily understand them. 

I hope this quick glance at some of the tennis rules was helpful. The next tennis match you watch or play would be more fun, right?