Most of us enjoy some “trash talking” during a friendly match; but when does talking and doing things on the tennis court cross the line from being “friendly banter” to “gamesmanship” and finally to “cheating”?

We all do some things that are meant to distract/bother our opponents, but are “legal”…

• Fake poaching at the net is an accepted part of the game
• The return of server standing in close, way back, or to one side is OK
• The server standing wide, but then serving down the middle is OK

But, how about some of these other actions that are really questionable?

• The doubles opponent who “talks to his partner” when you are hitting an overhead?
• The returner’s partner who leans over the center line in doubles when you are serving a big point second serve?
• The nationally-ranked player who stood INSIDE the service box when I was serving to him?
• The other team loudly announcing the score on your service games (especially when they are leading)?
• On changeovers, telling you one of your strokes is “working particularly well today” (not a pure compliment; but to get you thinking about it)?
• The opponent who holds the third ball while you are serving in order to control the tempo (not just as a convenience)?
• The player who doesn’t clear a ball on the court?

What of these and any other “infractions” you have come up against?

3 thoughts on “Gamesmanship

  1. When you serve you can ask for all balls and they must give them to you.
    A player can stand anywhere they like when they are receiving serve ANYWhere.
    Talking while you are hitting an overhead – NO warning needed let the ball drop or catch it and take the point – it is not allowed. Friendly game who cares but in a big match for points you must stop the talking or they will continue. Many payers think they can say whatever they like but if it hinders your shot in any way -take the point.
    I know who you mean regarding the score. These are the same guys that don’t call out the score when they are serving.

    Bill – I know that some actions are within the “rules”, but they still piss me off! tks, george

  2. You’ll get a kick out of this one. During a match at Newks Fantasy Camp this past October, during the change over, our opponents coach, Murphy Jensen, said to me, “Jim, you’re very smooth. When you hit a ball, do you breathe in or breathe out? I think you should think about that.” I confess I laughed out loud, Murphy being Murphy, and responded, “I’ll let you you know after the match”. And I did. “I breathe out Murph. Tough loss for your guys”. Cheers!

    Jim – Great story! george

  3. If my partner is at the net and I accidentally put up a short and weak lob, I’ll call out to my partner, “watch out” to perhaps save his life.

    Crossing the line from annoying to gamesmanship is an opponent who will hit back into your court EVERY long or wide first serve you hit – but you covered this last week.

    Dag – As a frequent short-lobber myself, i also warn my partner. I think if it is done very quickly, it should be ok. george.

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