What is a Let Ball in Tennis?

A let ball in Tennis is when a point has to be replayed because an event has occurred during the point that the tennis rules require a let to be called.

When a let is called, neither player wins the point and the point is simply replayed.

Calling a let can be confusing to beginner tennis players but I hope that this article will help you get a better understanding of what a Let is, when it is appropriate to call a Let, and who can call a Let in tennis.

What is a Let Ball in Tennis?

Tennis Let Rules

When can a let occur in Tennis?

There are three main reasons for calling a let in Tennis and they are on serves, when a ball rolls on the court, and due to some other unintentional hindrance.

1. Let called on serves (Let Serves)

A Let Serve occurs when a server hits their serve and the ball hits the net but still lands on their opponent’s side of the net.

A let can also be called on a serve if you hit a serve before your opponent is ready.

A let called on a serve is probably the most common type of let you will hear called and is a common occurrence at the pro and recreational levels.

A let can occur on both your first and second serve and there is no limit to the number of lets you can hit in a row (see video below showing Serena Williams hitting four let serves in a row).

2. Let called when a ball rolls on the court

A let is called when a ball rolls onto your court from an adjacent court and the point you were playing when the ball came on the court is replayed.

If the player serving had previously hit a second serve to start the point, as a let has been called, they will be able to start the point with a first serve.

This is a let that you won’t see often at the pro level but you will encounter it frequently at the recreational level as you will likely be playing at a tennis club with multiple courts side by side.

3. Let called due to unintentional or intentional hindrance

A let can be called if a player believes that something has occurred during the point that has hindered their ability to play.

This hindrance can be unintentional or intentional and the player claiming hindrance should stop play as soon as possible.

Examples of hindrances include a player shouting loudly to their partner to “GET BACK” when their opponents are about to hit an overhead.

This would be considered an intentional hindrance.

An example of an unintentional hindrance would be if a player shouted loudly after injuring their leg.

Another example of a hindrance would be if your opponent’s mobile phone started ringing during a match.

Examples of situations that would not be considered hindrance would be a player’s movement in doubles where they make a fake pouch movement.

You can also not call a let due to hindrance if your own hat or shoes fall off or your tennis racket falls out of your hand.

However, in these situations, your opponent may call a let due to hindrance if they wish.

Shouts of “Out” and other noises made by a crowd watching your tennis match are not considered hindrances, therefore you can not call a let due to noise from the crowd.

Who can call a let in Tennis?

Scenario 1 – A service let

Any player on the court can call a service let but the let call must be made before the return of serve goes out or before the return is hit by the server of the server’s partner.

Any let call on a serve should be called as quickly as possible.

Scenario 2 – A tennis ball rolls onto the court

When a tennis ball rolls onto the court, any player on the court can call a let as soon as they become aware of the other ball on the court.

You lose your right to call a let if there is a long delay in making your call e.g. if a ball rolls on the court but you continue to rally and you only call a let once you lose the point.

In this scenario, you would lose your right to call a let.

Scenario 3 – Unintentional or intentional hindrance

Any player who believes they have been impeded in their play can call a let with any let call being made as quickly as possible.

What is a Let Ball in Tennis FAQ

Can you call a let on a second serve?

Yes, you can call a let on a second serve.

Can you call a let on your own serve?

Yes, you can. Any player on the court can call a let on a serve but it should be done as quickly as possible.

Is a let called anything else in Tennis?

A let is sometimes referred to as a tennis redo but “Let” is the more commonly accepted and used term.

How many lets can you have in a row on a serve?

There is no limit on the number of lets you can have in a row on a serve.

Can you play tennis with no lets on the serve?

Certain tennis formats such as Fast Four Tennis have no lets on the serve, so for example, if you hit a serve and it hits the net and falls dead on your opponent’s side of the net, you will win the point.

Can you call a let if you couldn’t see whether a ball was in or out?

A tennis player can not claim a let on the basis of not seeing the ball.

Is it “Let” or “Net”?

The correct term is “Let” but beginners will often mishear others shouting “Let” as being “Net” and will incorrectly use “Net” when calling a let in their own games..

ITF Rules and Regulations

USTA Rules