In the first three months of 2013 the ATP challenger tour will be testing out a new rule, the elimination of the service let. Though there are no immediate plans to implement this rule in a broader scope there is no question that this is the first attempt at doing just that. Would this potential change be a positive thing for the sport? I think so.
The let is a pretty bizarre rule if you think about it. Any other time in a match if a ball were to clip the net cord play would continue which sometimes leads to an exciting swing in momentum and keeps the pace of the match going. Why would you stop play when this happens on a serve? If service lets did not exist each time the ball clipped the net on a serve it would be exciting. I feel as though players would adjust rather quickly to the new rule and it would positively increase the flow of the match. I want tennis to be as accessible and watchable as possible, especially to new viewers and I feel as though the elimination of this archaic rule would make the game overall more consistent and easier to understand with new fans.
At almost all levels of tennis, save professional, players make their own calls. Service lets can sometimes be obvious or nearly undetectable, it is unfortunate but this allows for the potential to cheat servers out of aces by calling lets, with no official on court a let call cannot be overturned. Elimination of the let rule at all levels of play would make for a fairer game.
I have absolutely loved the last few years of tennis, seeing the top four guys dominate the ATP tour and have enjoyed some of the gut wrenching matches lasting over five hours. Unfortunately, with the length of matches, potential for weather delays and the drought of American Grand Slam champions on the ATP it is not too easy to garner new viewers.
Though the let is not a major rule I think that considering this change is important for the ATP because it shows that they are reasonable, and respect tradition, but also care about to future of the sport. I feel as though it is more difficult for tennis to retain new viewers since people who are unfamiliar with the sport tend to have some trouble understanding the bizarre scoring and all of the rules. Eliminating the let, an inconsistent rule that slows the game down and in my opinion makes this less interesting would be a great step in the right direction to make tennis more accessible and understandable to a broader audience.