Clinton-Laurens-Newberry Tennis Association

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Throwing in the Towel

by Wilson Smith (The Roving Umpire)

In April and May we might have glistened, but in July and August we sweat. If your grippin’ is slippin’
your shots will be out of control. We need a towel to dry our hands and our grip. But where can I put

You can keep it on your person. If you want to tie it around your neck as you fly about the courts like
Superman, that is your business. But be aware, if you drop it, you can’t call a let. Your opponents may
or may not call a let at their discretion. If you trip on it, slip on it, or the ball touches it inside the court,
it’s all bad for you. If your towel touches the net or the opponent’s court, you lose the point, (and in the
case where it touches the net, to add insult to injury, you are honor-bound and responsible for calling
the infraction on yourself.)

Can’t I just hang it on the net? No. Let me say it again…NO. It is a violation of the rules. Remember
your towel can’t touch the net or the other side of the court during a point.

Can I hang it on the fence at the back of the court? No. It is considered rude to do so because if it is
within the court bounds or extension then it can be a visual distraction for your opponents. But also The
Code (item 46) specifically states: 46. Placement of towels. Towels are to be placed on the ground
outside the net post or at the back fence. Clothing or towels should never be placed on a net.

Most interpretations include the phrase “at the back fence” to specifically prohibit “on the back fence”.
And many interpret the phrase “outside the net post” to include all the way back to the fence. In other
words, all the way to the back fence and then far enough to the sides to be outside the net post.

So, for me personally, if my opponent drops his towel on the ground at the fence, I don’t care. If it gets
in his way and causes him to lose a point, he can’t claim hindrance or call a let. If the wind blows it
around and it distracts me then I can call a let. If it happens more than once then I could call an
intentional hindrance and claim the point. But if he hangs it on the back fence I will probably ask him
very politely to remove it from my field of view. Not that I want to be a “rules Nazi”, but because good
sportsmanship is expected in tennis. Playing to the rules, and not adding an undue distraction are both
requirements of good sportsmanship.