The referee is the final authority on all questions of tennis law and the referee’s decision is final.
In matches where a chair umpire is assigned, the chair umpire is the final authority on all questions of fact during the match.
The players have the right to call the referee to court if they disagree with a chair umpire’s interpretation of tennis law.
In matches where line umpires and net umpires are assigned, they make all calls (including foot-fault calls) relating to that line or net. The chair umpire has the right to overrule a line umpire or a net umpire if the chair umpire is sure that a clear mistake has been made. The chair umpire is responsible for calling any line (including foot-faults) or net where no line umpire or net umpire is assigned.
A line umpire who cannot make a call shall signal this immediately to the chair umpire who shall make a decision. If the line umpire can not make a call, or if there is no line umpire, and the chair umpire can not make a decision on a question of fact, the point shall be replayed.
In team events where the referee is sitting on-court, the referee is also the final authority on questions of fact.
Play may be stopped or suspended at any time the chair umpire decides it is necessary or appropriate.
The referee may also stop or suspend play in the case of darkness, weather or adverse court conditions. When play is suspended for darkness, this should be done at the end of a set, or after an even number of games have been played in the set in progress. After a suspension in play, the score and position of players on-court in the match shall stand when the match resumes.
The chair umpire or referee shall make decisions regarding continuous play and coaching in respect of any Code of Conduct that is approved and in operation.
Case 1: The chair umpire awards the server a first service after an overrule, but the receiver argues that it should be a second service, since the server had already served a fault. Should the referee be called to court to give a decision?
Decision: Yes. The chair umpire makes the first decision about questions of tennis law (issues relating to the application of specific facts). However, if a player appeals the chair umpire’s decision, then the referee shall be called to make the final decision.
Case 2: A ball is called out, but a player claims that the ball was good. May the referee be called to court to make a decision?
Decision: No. The chair umpire makes the final decision on questions of fact (issues relating to what actually happened during a specific incident).
Case 3: Is a chair umpire allowed to overrule a line umpire at the end of a point if, in the chair umpire’s opinion, a clear mistake was made earlier in the point?
Decision: No. A chair umpire may only overrule a line umpire immediately after the clear mistake has been made.
Case 4: A line umpire calls a ball “Out” and then the player argues that the ball was good. Is the chair umpire allowed to overrule the line umpire?
Decision: No. A chair umpire must never overrule as the result of the protest or appeal by a player
Case 5: A line umpire calls a ball “Out”. The chair umpire was unable to see clearly, but thought the ball was in. May the chair umpire overrule the line umpire?
Decision: No. The chair umpire may only overrule when sure that the line umpire made a clear mistake.
Case 6: Is a line umpire allowed to change the call after the chair umpire has announced the score?
Decision: Yes. If a line umpire realises a mistake, a correction should be made as soon as possible provided it is not as the result of a protest or appeal of a player.
Case 7: If a chair umpire or line umpire calls “out” and then corrects the call to good, what is the correct decision?
Decision: The chair umpire must decide if the original “out” call was a hindrance to either player. If it was a hindrance, the point shall be replayed. If it was not a hindrance, the player who hit the ball wins the point.
Case 8: A ball is blown back over the net and the player correctly reaches over the net to try to play the ball. The opponent(s) hinders the player from doing this. What is the correct decision?
Decision: The chair umpire must decide if the hindrance was deliberate or unintentional and either awards the point to the hindered player or order the point to be replayed.
BALL MARK INSPECTION PROCEDURES
1. Ball mark inspections can only be made on clay courts.
2. A ball mark inspection requested by a player (team) shall be allowed only if the chair umpire cannot determine the call with certainty from his/her chair on either a point-ending shot or when a player (team) stops playing the point during a rally (returns are permitted but then the player must immediately stop).
3. When the chair umpire has decided to make a ball mark inspection, he/she should go down from the chair and make the inspection himself. If he/she does not know where the mark is, he/she can ask the line umpire for help in locating the mark, but then the chair umpire shall inspect it.
4. The original call or overrule will always stand if the line umpire and chair umpire cannot determine the location of the mark or if the mark is unreadable.
5. Once the chair umpire has identified and ruled on a ball mark, this decision is final and not appealable.
6. In clay court tennis the chair umpire should not be too quick to announce the score unless absolutely certain of the call. If in doubt, wait before calling the score to determine whether a ball mark inspection is necessary.
7. In doubles the appealing player must make his/her appeal in such a way that either play stops or the chair umpire stops play. If an appeal is made to the chair umpire then he/she must first determine that the correct appeal procedure was followed. If it was not correct or if it was late, then the chair umpire may determine that the opposing team was deliberately hindered.
8. If a player erases the ball mark before the chair umpire has made a final decision, he/she concedes the call.
9. A player may not cross the net to check a ball mark without being subject to the Unsportsmanlike provision of the Code of Conduct.
ELECTRONIC REVIEW PROCEDURES
At tournaments where an Electronic Review System is used, the following procedures should be followed for matches on courts where it is used.
1. A request for an Electronic Review of a line call or overrule by a player (team) shall be allowed only on either a point-ending shot or when a player (team) stops playing the point during a rally (returns are permitted but then the player must immediately stop).
2. The chair umpire should decide to use the Electronic Review when there is doubt about the accuracy of the line call or overrule. However, the chair umpire may refuse the Electronic Review if he/she believes that the player is making an unreasonable request or that it was not made in a timely manner.
3. In doubles the appealing player must make his/her appeal in such a way that either play stops or the chair umpire stops play. If an appeal is made to the chair umpire then he/she must first determine that the correct appeal procedure was followed. If it was not correct or if it was late, then the chair umpire may determine that the opposing team was deliberately hindered, in which case the appealing team loses the point.
4. The original call or overrule will always stand if the Electronic Review is unable, for whatever reason, to make a decision on that line call or overrule.
5. The chair umpire’s final decision will be the outcome of the Electronic Review and is not appealable. If a manual choice is required for the system to review a particular ball impact, an official approved by the referee shall decide which ball impact is reviewed.