Many people play tennis in the context of a public or private tennis facility where there are numerous courts and people playing with each other and next to each other. It’s supposed to be about fun, competing with like- minded people for enjoyment, exercise and improvement. Yet, too often, players behave in ways that bother, annoy and generally stress out both those they play with and others around them.

Let’s examine some common “sins” of social tennis and see what might be done to reduce their occurrence.

Sin number one. Cell Phone Mania

Ringing and answering cell phones are a growing distraction to all.

I remember attending a professional tennis match. It was center court and the featured match of the night. As the warm up was winding down, the umpire announced, “Ladies and gentleman, as a courtesy to the players, kindly turn off your cell phones”. During the second point of the match as one of the players was about the serve, a cell phone goes off. The crowd looks around for the culprit. A few seconds later, the server runs up to his tennis bag, finds his cell phone and turns it off! We all had a good laugh. However, its far less funny when partners or opponents interrupt play to respond to cell phone calls or players on other courts get distracted by cell phones going off.

With very few exceptions, no one needs to have their cell phone on for the 60-90 minutes they are on the court. Shut if off or place it on silent mode.

Sin number two. Chronic Lateness.

Arriving late takes away from the limited playing time available. If everyone has already warmed up by the time the latecomer arrives, it’s annoying to have to warm the latecomer up separately. If the latecomer starts to play without any warm up, the initial poor play takes away from everyone’s fun.

Plan your schedule so you can arrive a few minutes early or at least on time. Set your watch 10 minutes later. If all else fails, agree to pay each person you keep waiting $1 per every minute you are late!

Sin number three. Whacko Warm-ups.

Blasting balls when your opponent is at the net, hitting lobs 30 feet in the air and going for “winners” should be left for the match.

The warm-up is supposed to be a controlled rally whereby both you and your opponents loosen your muscles and get a “feel” for the ball, court and conditions.

Focus on keeping the ball in play rather than going for winners or moving your opponent all around the court.

Sin number four. Conversations Across the Net.

Trying to hold conversations with your “friend” across the net means that you are talking loud enough that those on adjacent courts are hearing you. Believe me, they are not interested.

Hold off on small talk until changeovers or better still, when you are back at the clubhouse.

Sin number five. Monopolizing Amenities.

If you are fortunate enough to have chairs to sit on at your courts and tables for your bags, be aware that up to eight people may be sharing this space during the changeovers.

Your towel on one chair, a bag on another and you on a third doesn’t equal “fair”.

Be aware of how much room you are taking and share the space, chairs and other amenities accordingly. At the end of your time, leave things as you have found them.

Sin number six.  Poor Ball Etiquette.

Depending on the configuration of the courts and the skills of the players, errant balls will land on adjacent courts. Saying “Thank You” when someone is about to serve or in the middle of a point is a no-no, unless they don’t see the ball and are about to trip over it.

Wait for their point to end to ask for your ball or to return their ball.

Sin number seven. Complaining, criticizing and whining.

“I got a bad bounce.These courts need to be fixed.” “They strung my racket too loose”. “I got such a weak partner”. “It’s just so hot today”. “I can’t believe I missed that shot!” The list goes on and on.. This type of verbal moaning is a turn off too all those who have to listen to it.

Appreciate the bigger picture: you have the good fortune to be able to play tennis!

Club managers, tennis directors and pros can certainly address these and other issues in a variety of ways including: Posters, newsletters, clinics, informal conversation, “member  of the month award” and other creative ways.

By reducing these and other “sins of social tennis” a better time can be had by all.

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