It's your trusty wand, the sabre you go into battle with, the stick you rely on for support, but sometimes your racket can turn against you. Here's our guide to making sure your racket doesn't break the rules or let you down at the most inconvenient moments!
Getting carried away
There was a time when double hits were strictly forbidden. Now, they are ok - so long as the double hit is part of one continuous motion. You can even "carry" the ball on the strings so long it is part of one swing and not a deliberate, pre-meditated play. A deliberate double hit, however, is not allowed and you would lose the point if you did this.
Dropping you in it
You might think that if your racket falls from your or your opponent's hand during a point you can call a let and start the point over again. You can't. Lets are strictly reserved for incidents outside your or your opponent's control, so pick up the racket and carry on. Throwing your racket (or even deliberately letting it fall out of your hand) is another matter. That does lose you the point. And in the unlikely event of a racket flying in from a neighboring court, you would play a let.
Your racket must be in your hand when it hits the ball. If you throw your racket, it hits the ball and the ball goes into play, you still lose the point.
Stringing you along
If a racket string breaks during a rally the point may continue and you win or lose the point in the usual way. So, don't get too distracted by the broken string. Instead, try to finish the point as quickly as possible. If your or your opponents' string breaks, you can't call a let or claim the point; it is just bad luck.
Playing the rest of the match with a broken racket is clearly not a good idea. But worse, some tournaments outlaw the practice. You could end up being defaulted.
If you strings break when you are serving (or returning) a first serve which goes out, and you (or your opponent) run off court to get areplacement racket, the server gets another first serve.
You paid for it, use it
So long as it does not hit your hand (or other part of your body or clothing) the ball may hit any part or the racket including the shaft, frame or neck and still be allowed.
Dampening your spirits
Be careful where you put your dinky Local Tennis League dampener. Dampeners "may only be placed outside the pattern of the crossed strings". The good news is you can have more than one dampener on your racket so long as they are "reasonable in size and placement."
Misspelling your racket
Strictly speaking this won't lose you a point, but "racquet" is (IOHO) horrible. It is a misspelling of the French "racquette" and it is a relatively modern affectation. The ITF use and approve "racket" and so what if the USTA use "racquet"? Have you heard what the Americans have done with the rest of our language?