It’s always the server who initiates a point and it’s not the server’s job to make sure everybody is indeed ready. To put a ball into play prematurely is called "quick serving" and it’s dishonest.
Of course, some players just naturally like to play fast and they unintentionally serve too quickly. But you don’t have to put up with the stress; just raise your hand up like a stop sign and declare yourself not ready.
Once you attempt to hit the ball back, however, that constitutes readiness and you can’t reverse yourself; it counts.
So the next time you’re serving, take a glance around and make sure everybody on the court is in the ready position; then fire away!
Gary Sherby is tennis director at Racquets and Togs Tennis Center, 115 Bradford St., just off the downtown square. His tennis tips appear Sundays.