How many times have you played a tiebreaker after which everyone tries to figure out who gets to serve at the beginning of the next set? And from which side?
Maybe this has never happened to you. Maybe in every match you've played, everyone knows the rule. But I've played in plenty where the question has come up - most recently in a Girls 16s SuperChamps (and they should know) (and I was officiating, not playing) (as if). So here's the answer once and for all.
1. Who gets to serve after the tiebreaker?
Think of the tiebreaker as a game. Before the tiebreaker, you're tied at 6-all (or in a pro set, you might be tied 8-all, or 11-all, whatever). After the tiebreaker, the score for the set is now 7-6. So the tiebreaker is the 13th game of the set. This means that whoever served the first serve of the tiebreaker, gets credit for serving this 13th game. So the serve for the next set passes to the other player or team. Get it?
In other words, in singles, if I served the first serve of the tiebreaker, you get to serve to start out the next set, even if somehow you had the last serve of the tiebreaker. I started the tiebreaker game so now its your turn to serve.
2. From which side do you serve after a tiebreaker?
Following the logic above, the tiebreaker is the 13th game and that means when its finished, since its an odd game, players need to switch sides. So if I got first serve in the tiebreaker on the East side of the court (for example), now we start the second set with your serve and you serve from the East side of the court. Whether we actually switch sides or not will depend on the score of the tiebreaker. But to know which side to be on, just go back to where that first server was in the tiebreaker game. (Yeah, it might mean some weird switching or no switching, but the 13th game logic applies and helps ensure that no player or team gets an unfair advantage due to sun or wind conditions.)
To sum it up - as long as you remember that the tiebreaker counts as a game and the server for that game is the first person who served in the tiebreaker, you should be able to figure out who serves after the tiebreaker and from where.
© Kim Selzman 2012
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