Rule Submission TitleRule 5.A.2 Changing Starting Servers Between Games
USAP Board VoteFailure Confirmed
USAP Rules Committee VoteFailed
USAP Rules Committee Vote ReasonThe current rule was adopted in 2022. There is no evidence or experience to warrant reversing this rule.
Existing Rule #5.A.2
Proposed Rule Change

5.A.2. In doubles, teams may change the starting server between games and mustshould notify the referee and change the starting server band prior to the start of the game. In non-officiated matches, the team mustshould notify the opponents if there is a starting server change and change the starting server band prior to the start of the game. Lack of notification and/or not changing the starting server band prior to the start of the game results in a Fault. The starting server for the game remains the player wearing the starting server form of identification at the start of the game.There is no fault or penalty for failure to make the notifications. Once a game has started, if the referee notices a starting server has changed, the referee will annotate the scoresheet accordingly, after the rally has completed.

Original Rule Text

5.A.2.  In doubles, teams may change the starting server between games and should notify the referee. In non-officiated matches, the team should notify the opponents if there was a starting server change. The starting server for the game is the player wearing the starting server form of identification. There is no fault or penalty for failure to make the notifications. Once a game has started, if the referee notices a starting server has changed, the referee will annotate the scoresheet accordingly, after the rally has completed.

Reasoning Behind Suggested Change

The goal of this rule change is to provide:

1. Clear, straightforward rules that can be consistently enforced and simply executed across the referee community.
2. Player Accountability
3. Elimination of Rulebook & Handbook Conflict
4. Fairness for all Players

1. Clear, straightforward rules that can be consistently enforced and simply executed across the referee community.

- There have been lengthy discussions on Referee conference calls to clarify how to apply this rule in scenarios not covered in the Rule book, Referee Handbook and Casebook (e.g. band not changed change caught caught by referee in the 2nd, 3rd, etc. rally). Given all Referee’s are not on these calls it is likely that there is not clarity and consistency on how to handle all scenarios as all scenarios are not documented.

- This rule change will ensure the Referee makes the scorecard complete and accurate prior to the start of the game. Currently when the referee notices the band change the scorecard must get changed quickly during the game. Opportunity for loss of focus and errors are increased.

2. Player Accountability
3. Eliminate Rulebook & Handbook Conflict

Players should be held accountable for knowing and following the rules.

- 2023 Rulebook Rule 3.A.40 clearly states that the ‘the starting server shall wear a visible form of identification determined by the Tournament Director.’

- 2023 Rulebook Rule 5.A.2. clearly states ‘The starting server for the game is the player wearing the starting server form of identification’. Meaning when the referee says the score to start the game (i.e. 0-0-2), the player wearing the starting server identification is by Rule the starting server.

- 2023 Referee Handbook Section 11.15 clearly states ‘The starting server identification must always be worn by the starting server. It is the players responsibility to be fully compliant with the starting server identification requirements.’

Despite the above, the Referee Handbook Section 11.15.c states ‘Allow the players to change the player who wears the starting server identification after the fault is called.’ This is in direct conflict with Rule 3.A.40, Rule Book 5.A.2. and Handbook 11.15 (above) essentially giving the players a ‘pass’ on following the Rules.

4. Fairness for all Players

- This rule change will ensure the opposing team is aware of the starting server change and allow them time to make adjustments as needed.
- 2023 Rule - The players not informing the referee of the starting server change also means that the opposing team is unaware of the Starting Server change. Confusion could ensue.

(NOTE: if this rule change is approved:
- 3.A.40 - Definition of Starting Server should be updated to align with the above.
- Handbook Section 11.15 must be updated to support the above.
- Casebook entry 3-23 can be eliminated.

Rule Book Year2024
Rule Change ID1025
Date CreatedApril 10, 2023
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