Common Court Courtesies

Different from WWF wrestling, tennis is a classy game; one that comes with great traditions and civility. Here is the list of the pet peeves that blog readers have suggested that some people follow and others do not. Are YOU on this list?

• Returning loose balls – Don’t pick up a loose ball and send it back to the server in any fashion, sometimes it is not even hit in the direction of the server and it forces him to chase the ball down. The ball should be returned to the server courteously, preferably on one bounce (and be sure they are looking and ready to receive them).

• Who brings the balls? – Bring a new can of balls to every match and be ready to open them when “it’s your turn.”

• Warmup Winners – Don’t hit winners during warmup.

• On the changeover – Pick up the balls on your side and leave them near the baseline. Some people feel you should bring them I and hand them to your opponent; but I prefer the balls are left at the baseline and NOT brought in on the changeover. They frequently get left there when you walk back on the court.

• Announce the score – When the server gets ready, he should announce the point score every time.

• Don’t announce the score – The opponent(s) should give the server a chance to announce the score and not do it themselves – especially when it is something like 15-40.

• Walking on the court – Even if it is “time,” players should allow the people on the court to finish their point and see that someone is waiting, rather than just walking on the court and announcing, “Time’s up!”

• Conversing on court – If you must have a conversation on court, come up to the net and do it quietly. The people on adjoining (or distant!) courts shouldn’t have to listen to you.

• On court lessons – The doubles partner should not give an actual swing lesson in the middle of a game, loudly and way beyond the time to continue play between points.

• Returning missed serves – If the serve is obviously out, the returner should not return it back over the net. Rather, they should let it go by them or (if the opponent doesn’t object, bunt it back into the net).

• Returning practice serves – Official tennis etiquette is to NOT practice your return of serve, while your opponent is hitting practice serves (unless you are done with your practice serves).

• Court clutter – Don’t leave your “stuff” all over the cross-over area. Leave room for your opponent (or next court neighbors) to put their stuff and/or sit on changeovers.

• Spinning for serve – Do this BEFORE taking the court for warm-ups; so that the server will be warming up on the side they will be serving from.

• Retrieving your ball – Do not walk onto someone else’s court to get your ball. Wait for them to finish their point and then politely ask for your ball back.

• Retrieving your ball – If one of your balls goes onto an EMPTY next court or rolls off your court, it should only be retrieved during the game if the server is ok with the delay; otherwise, wait till he is done serving (that’s why we have three balls to play with).

• Returning a neighbor’s ball – Be aware that they may be playing a point or in between first and second serve; so don’t just knock the ball back onto their court and force a “play two” call.

• Clearing the ball – When the opposing player/team asks you to clear a ball before the point begins, do so and do not argue with him/them that it does not bother you. If the ball bothers your opponent/s, then clear it.

• Why I beat you – No matter how good you are (or think you are), do not volunteer to tell your opponent why you are beating them or why you just did. If they ask for advice, then feel free to pontificate.

• Why you beat me – Don’t make excuses after you lose – it diminishes your opponent’s victory (and your reputation). Just congratulate them on a well-played match.

• Arrive on time – Get to the court early enough to do all you need to, so you are ready to play at the appointed time. Especially if it is doubles, don’t assume that it is OK for your partner to warm up two opponents (they will not get an adequate warm up that way).

• Leave on time – When your match is over and another group of players has taken over your court, clear your things and walk away from the court ASAP. Do not dawdle and do not stand there having a conversation with your opponent/s while the new players are trying to warm up.

2 thoughts on “Common Court Courtesies

  1. Shut the Gate! When you walk on public, outdoor courts – close the gate you walked through!

    Ed – YES… and when they leave the court too!! geo

  2. Great reminders. This will be posted on the bulletin board at Sea Oaks Beach and Tennis Club, a 5 star tennis community located in Vero Beach, Fl.

    great – happy to spread the word.

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