It is said, “you only live once but get to serve twice!”
Well, if you are reading this, it means you love and live for this sport, and so do I. Especially on a hot summer day where you can hit some balls or simply enjoy watching a graceful match of racket swinging.
However, as fun, as it is to either play or spectates, this sport has its unspoken customs, which must be observed at all costs. Unless you own a private court where you can go, rogue, as you please or are watching at the comfort of your screen at home – your home, your rules –when you get to the court, you honor and respect the worldwide community of tennis players.
Therefore, we’ll cover a good range of tennis etiquette you should practice whether you are playing a match or attending to one as a spectator.
Tennis Etiquette for Players
Like you already know (unless it’s your first time), playing tennis is not just about getting to the court and swinging your racket. Maintaining your integrity and good manners are also key to making the most out of your participation.
As a player, kindly keep the following in mind:
1. Get ready
When entering the court, always ensure you have all your equipment ready, neatly packed, and out of the way. This equipment includes towels, water, balls, racket, etc. Have the right shoes with flexible white soles that will protect your feet and also not damage the court.
2. Observe silence
Before commencing a match, ensure your phone is switched off or is in silent mode as your opponent can claim the point as deliberate hindrance to extreme concentration and focus.
Also, avoid talking to your opponent or making distracting noises when playing a singles match. But when playing doubles, you can only communicate with your partner if the ball is hit towards you. Otherwise, you should both be silent.
3. Clear the balls
Part of being a good sportsman is taking responsibility. Always make sure no balls laying around your side of the court before the start of each point. This helps prevent visual distractions. Also, if a ball you were receiving heads off to a neighboring court, do not rush after it or ask another player to return it. Instead, wait until whoever is playing on that court has finished their point, or when your match is on break. Even when walking across, do it quickly.
4. Efficacy of warmup
Warmups are brief periods given before a match to get comfortable, but not to practice! Therefore, strictly keep the five-minute period and ensure your opponent gets to hit a variety of strokes, and they’ll be happy to extend the favor. If you think you will need more than just five minutes, work your schedule for a separate warmup before the match begins. If you schedule a warmup before your warmup and you can’t find someone to play with, then consider using a tennis ball machine. Tennis ball machines are great for providing consistent volleys.
Additionally, if your opponent hits the last warmup serve, it is rude to fire it back at them. Who knows, you might even hit them if you catch them off guard leading to avoidable injuries. So kindly catch the ball.
5. Judging lines
This is one of the major sources of disputes in a court. In most matches, line judging is made by the players. It is, therefore, important to be sure and honest when making a line call to have a fair game and build trust between you and your opponent.
When you are not 100 percent sure the ball was out, the ball is in. Give your opponent the benefit of the doubt, and the favor will be returned. Even so, do not request to play the point again as this will undermine your judgment and also lengthen the game.
6. Keep the score
Before the beginning of each point, the server should call out the score. In case you do not agree, try tracking back the last point you both agree on. In rather professional matches, the umpire keeps the score.
Tennis Etiquette for Spectators
As a spectator, you are neither left out. The following are tips to proper spectating etiquette:
Watching a live match on the court means you are there for support and not to distract or interrupt the match. Therefore, it is important to keep to low whispers if you really have to talk. This gives the players proper concentration during the points.
Nonetheless, short brief cheers and claps can be made for a specific player, but only when the point is over. Unlike other sports, taunting a player in tennis is strictly forbidden and might as well have you thrown out.
2. Keep to your seat
Changing seats, chatting with your friends, even standing to stretch your feet, or dashing to the bathroom can only be done when the players rotate ends. This short break happens after every six points and only lasts 90 seconds, so be quick in your business, or you will be blocked from entering until the next changeover.
3. Observe phone etiquette
Before taking a seat, ensure your phone is switched off or in silent mode. Avoid taking calls during a match to prevent nerving your fellow spectators. Remember, such a much requires intense concentration to maintain a rhythm.
If you need a photo or two, or even a video of the ongoing match, feel free to take some. However, ensure your camera is in silent mode and never use flash photography. Without a doubt, something as meager as a rogue flash is enough to throw a player off rhythm and make them lose a point if your camera is not silent refrain from using it.
All these are pretty easy to uphold and contribute to a fair and just match. Good tennis is all about a match that flows smoothly. It is, therefore, your responsibility as a player, as a spectator to act within your best judgment as to what is fair to those around you.
Although do not go overboard with the seriousness, you wouldn’t want to miss a chance to have fun.