Sportsmanship is a crucial part of building good character on and off the tennis court. There are times when players cheat or do things that aren’t respectful towards themselves or their opponents. This is true for all sports, but today I am focusing on etiquette in the tennis world. Here are a few ways to show respect for yourself and your opponent on and off the court.
Don’t trash talk your opponent. Just don’t. You should never talk bad about anybody anywhere and I feel like that is common sense. Still, for some reason, people think it’s alright to make others insecure or unsure of their abilities by talking about them to others in a rude manner.
Talk about your match until you are somewhere private and quiet. This follows along with the first tip in a way. After you’ve played a match, wait to say anything about it until you’re somewhere quiet and away from your opponent and their family. My family and I always wait to talk about how a match went until we get to the car. Once you get to the car, or wherever you go to, then you can talk about what went well that match and what didn’t. If you had any questions or concerns that weren’t brought up during the match, now would be the time to spill the beans. Still stay away from speaking negatively of your opponent.
Hand the balls to your opponent during changeovers. I know a lot of girls that will simply just tap the balls into the corner or fence after serving and allow their opponent to go get the balls after getting water. I have nothing wrong with that, but it’s a good idea to be courteous and hand your opponent the balls when you’re close together. As a side note on that, if you chose to hit the balls to your opponent from the other side, hit the balls to them directly so that they don’t have to run for the balls.
Show up on time. Whether it’s a practice or a match, show up on time. You can receive penalties for showing up late to a match in a tournament, so don’t let that happen! It is disrespectful to the tournament, your opponent, and other players to show up late.
Know the rules of tennis and abide by them. This is pretty self-explanatory but ignored by many players. Knowing the rules of the game is super important. On top of that, if there is an interruption or interference during a point, call a let. Either you or your opponent can call it. Calling the score loud and making your line calls loud are also important.
Turn off your cell phone. Most clubs prefer that you don’t bring your cell phone onto the tennis court, but if you do it’s not a big deal as long as it is turned off. You don’t want your phone to become a distraction to you or your opponent.
Shake your opponent’s hand at the end of the match, make eye contact, and tell them good match. Regardless of the outcome, you need to be a good person and thank your opponent for playing, let them know how the match went, and wish them good luck with their next match if they have one.
Be kind to yourself. Being the perfectionist I am, I struggle with respecting myself and being kind to myself. If you lose a point don’t yell at yourself or hit yourself in any way. It looks silly when you do this plus you are actually harming your body when you choose to hit yourself. Plus, it becomes obvious to your opponent that they are winning mentally and have the upper-hand. If you do get angry or frustrated with yourself after losing a point, there are other ways to release that anger by tightening your ponytail or gripping your racket tighter. When I start to get frustrated with myself, I do my best to focus on my breathing and getting into a very simple rhythm that can keep my head cool and off of other things.
This list of tips on how to respect yourself and your opponents on the tennis court could go on forever and I know that there are plenty of things that weren’t mentioned here. Just use common sense when you are on and off the court and think about how you would want to be treated. By choosing to be respectful to yourself and your opponent you will probably have a better experience with tennis and you’ll learn much more about your game, physically and mentally, and also learn about all of the potential you have as a person and tennis player.