Tennis' Counterpart to Golf's “Mulligan”
A second-chance shot may prevent double-bogeys and more
Social golfers have long enjoyed taking an occasional “do-over” for an errant shot, with the mutual consent of their playing partners. These “second-chance” shots have likely prevented many double-bogeys on the scorecard. “I'm taking a “Mulligan” would initiate the “reprieve” attempt. The term Mulligan seems to have become widespread in the 1940s. Legends attribute its origin to different golfers with the name Mulligan who took a “correction shot.” Others named it a Mulligan. It stuck. (USGA and Wikipedia) Today it has taken an infinite, generic role for all sorts of other situations where people want to replace an unsatisfactory outcome.
I think it's time we social tennis players have our own counterpart to golf's “Mulligan.” I have a suggestion – “Encore.” I also considered: do-over, second-chance, reprieve, re-do, undo, oops, play-over, scratch that, my bad, going again and forgettaboutit. “Encore” was the winner.
Here's my picture of how this might work. With the agreement of all participants prior to starting, each player could have one Encore per set, which would include the set tiebreak. There would also be one for each player in a match tiebreak. You could only take your Encore on a shot that “you” failed to put in play (e. g., hit it long, wide, into the net, short, service fault, hit yourself or your partner, etc.). You could not take it after an opponent hits a winner. And, you must call for it immediately, within a few seconds. If you take an Encore after a double-fault, you would be hitting a second serve.
Obviously, the Encore could not be used in sanctioned competition matches, for leagues and tournaments. It could be used in social settings, friendly matches, round-robin tennis socials and maybe non-sanctioned charity events. I think the Encore could add some fun and creativity to our tennis play, without essentially changing the game. Give it a try. If you like it, tell your tennis friends.