Many players used vibration dampeners on their racquets to reduce the amount of vibration you feel when a tennis ball hits your strings. For me, I primarily use them to get rid of that unbelievably annoying “ping” sound you hear when you hit the ball. And until a few years ago, I had never thought of it as a possible hindrance.
Not long before COVID hit, I was playing an unsanctioned league match, and my partner broke a string on a shot, sending her dampener flying all the way to the court next to us. One opponent returned the shot long, then called a hindrance.
My partner and I thought it was our point because the dampener is not like a tennis ball that falls out of your pocket, and it didn’t land on any part of our court. Plus, she waited until she saw her shot go out before calling the hindrance.
The opponents were so adamant about the hindrance, and no one had a copy of the Friend at Court to look up the rules… so we gave them the point.
Fortunately, my partner had a second racquet, and we played on and won the match. When we got off the court, we went over to where some teammates were sitting and watching the remaining lines play. I told them what happened and asked if anyone knew the rule regarding this. One of our peeps reached into her tennis bag and pulled out her copy of the Friend at Court rule book.
As it turns out, my partner and I were right. The dampener is part of a tennis racquet. If my partner’s dampener had flown into the opponent’s side of the court while the ball was in play, then yes, we would have lost the point:
However, since the dampener flew out of our court and onto another one, that rule doesn’t apply.
The lesson here, ladies, is that no matter how well you think you know the rules, always keep your copy of the Friend at Court in your bag at all times. You never know when you will need it.