History and Development
In Japan, where the sport was founded, VI tennis was originally played on badminton courts with all players wearing eye masks. As the sport became internationally popular, various countries adopted their own conventions for court sizes, rules and sight categories.
In February 2014, in McAllen, Texas, USA the first International Congress On Blind Tennis was held, with delegates taking part in a gruelling multi-day negotiation to agree an international framework of rules.
The agreed rules are presented below. At the bottom of the page in the related documents and links section you will find copies of these rules, the ITF rules and ITF documentation relating to the 'Red' and 'Orange' courts specified by the rules.
RULES OF TENNIS FOR BLIND AND VISUALLY IMPAIRED PEOPLE
(Agreed at the 1st International Congress, McAllen, Texas, USA 8th – 13th February 2014 and to be reviewed after 12 months)
The ITF (International Tennis Federation) Rules for Tennis apply with the following exceptions:
IBSA (International Blind Sports Association) sight classifications apply; these are B1, B2 and B3. A standard Paralympic mask to be worn by B1 players.
Rule 1: The Court
B1 – a standard court of 42ft x 21ft (12.8m x 6.1m), tactile lines on all lines except service boxes. B2 and B3 – a standard court of 60ft x 27ft (18.29m x 8.23m)
Rule 3: The Ball
A standard soundball must be used (usually available in yellow or black).
For 12 months from the date of the first international tournament, all countries must use the current Japanese ball. The host country organizers will decide whether to use yellow or black balls depending on the colour of the venue.
Rule 4: The Racket
Any racket accepted by the ITF
Rule 8: Server & Receiver
Both the server and the receiver may ask an umpire or ball person their own positions on court.
Rule 21: When to Serve & Receive
Before starting the service motion the server must call “ready?” and wait for the receiver to reply “yes”. The server then has 5 seconds to serve the ball during which time s/he may not alter their position on the court. The server must shout “play” immediately before hitting the serve.
If the server hits their serve having failed to say “ready?” and/or “play”, or before the receiver has said “yes”, or the server has altered their position on the court after saying “ready”, the service is a let.
Rule 24: Player Loses Point
A B1 or B2 player loses the point if s/he does not return the ball on or before the third bounce.
A B3 player loses the point if s/he does not return the ball on or before the second bounce.
A sighted player loses the point if s/he does not return the ball on the first bounce.
At all times the first bounce must be within the court or, in the case of a serve, within the appropriate service court. Any additional bounces may be inside or outside the court.
Volleying is not permitted.
If a player is struck by the ball whilst standing outside the boundary of the court before the first bounce, it is a point for the player.
If a player is struck by the ball whilst standing inside the boundary of the court before the first bounce, it is a point for the opponent.