"Suspended" and "Suspension" Have Different Meanings in Tennis

"Play may be stopped or suspended at any time the chair umpire decides it is necessary or appropriate," cites the rulebook.

Brandon Charles - Author

May 7 2024, Published 3:12 p.m. ET

A wet umbrella at a tennis game suspended by the weather
Source: Getty Images

The elements matter in most sports. While domes typically mean play will happen at its advertised times, sometimes Mother Nature has a way of sneaking in. There was a bee delay in a dome in the 2024 Major League Baseball season! A bee delay in a dome prevented a game from starting and the insects caused a two-hour delay!

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But bees aren’t the typical reasons games are delayed. Usually, natural occurrences like rain and nightfall are why some games have to be put on hold. If you hear that a tennis game is suspended, in most cases it won't be due to bees.

Tournament workers cover a court due to rain in 2024
Source: Getty Images
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What does it mean if a game is suspended in tennis?

While you can play tennis in the rain and in the dark, it isn't advisable. According to the 2024 International Tennis Federation Rules of Tennis, whether or not a game is suspended is ultimately up to the umpire. "Play may be stopped or suspended at any time the chair umpire decides it is necessary or appropriate."

Obviously darkness and rain can cause a suspension, but so can adverse court conditions. "The referee may also stop or suspend play in the case of darkness, weather or adverse court conditions. When play is suspended for darkness, this should be done at the end of a set, or after an even number of games have been played in the set in progress. After a suspension in play, the score and position of players on-court in the match shall stand when the match resumes."

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While a suspension isn’t typically a good thing, there is one upside. If you aren't playing too well, you can get some advice in addition to a break. The rulebook is cool with advise. “Case 2: Is a player allowed to receive coaching when play is suspended? Decision: Yes.”

A grounds crew works to dry a tennis court in 2024
Source: Getty Images
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A suspended game is different than suspension points in tennis.

While a player isn't docked any points due to a suspension of a game, there are suspension points in tennis tournaments. According to the United States Tennis Association, a suspension point can be anything from unsportsmanlike conduct, refusal to play, no shows, late arrivals, use or possession of drugs, a minor drinking alcohol, destruction of property and anything else an umpire might disapprove of. It's what you probably think of when you hear of a player being suspended.

The point matters when it comes to suspension points. Each violation is given a separate point total. For example, a no-show is worth five points and a late arrival is worth one. If you're consistently late but only nine times in a year, there's no suspension. The USTA FAQ explains the process.

"Q: What Happens When I Get Suspension Points?

If a player receives 10 suspension points within a 12-month period, the player shall be suspended from competing in sanctioned tournaments for three months."

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Tennis crowd leaving due a rain suspension
Source: Getty Images

Simply put, if a game is suspended it's probably due to rain. If a player is suspended due to suspension points, it has nothing to do with the weather.

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