That is the question asked by tournament player Bernie Palmatier:
“I was playing in Cat II Seniors tournament when, early in the first game, my opponent questioned one of my calls of “out.” He went ballistic shouting everything but what the code suggests (“Are you sure?”). He called the referee and insisted that there had to be a mark within a foot of the baseline center marker.
The referee came to our court and searched for a ball mark of any kind in the area my opponent was insisting it hit and could find nothing, nada, no marks of any kind. The referee’s conclusion: “I didn’t see the point and there is nothing here that would indicate I can overturn his call.” I took the point since I had no doubt about my call.
The referee stayed watching our match for the next two or three games and then departed. Shortly thereafter my opponent came to the net and motioned with his index finger that I should approach him. I did so whereupon he basically threatened me with “Bernie, I’m not going to put up with your games and your B.S. Let’s either play tennis or not play tennis. Etc., etc., etc.”
I tried to tell him the proper way to question a call and he responded “I don’t give a damn about proper or what the rules say, I’m telling you I’m not putting up with your B.S., so play tennis or…”
My opponent has a reputation for being sullen and not a whole lot of fun to play. I’ve played him a number of times and never once found myself enjoying the game that I truly love when faced with him in a match.
So, two questions:
Although I have never heard of this particular opponent doing anything physical to one of his opponents in a match, I have played others who have. When he threatened me with “I’m not going to put up with…” should I have called the referee to make him aware of my perceived threat and, if so, once substantiated could he have been defaulted in the match? (Not that I would have wanted to win in that fashion since I play tournaments so I can play tennis).
My second question: Should I attempt to communicate with my ungentlemanly opponent and try to “mend fences”? Several years ago I had a major conflict with another player I knew I’d be seeing at other tournaments and I determined that a good bit of the joy of playing a tournament he and I would both be entered in would be destroyed by the tension of being in each other space. Therefore, I approached him the very next day and apologized for my part in the conflict. He did the same and we did the old “let by-gones be by-gones.” I’d like that to be the case in this instance. Should I send him a letter, an email, call him by phone (if I can get that information) or do I just drop it and hope the end result of our match doesn’t fester in his mind to the point where he cripples me the next time he and I are in each other’s space at a tournament?”
Bernie, some players use questioning of your line calls as a gamesmanship technique to intimidate you – and influence later line calls in their favor. It doesn’t sound like what he said would warrant calling the tennis police on him to seek a default; but it sure does take the fun out of a fun game.
Assuming that you are not one of the above games-playing line callers, I would wait to see him at the next tournament and take the same approach as you did with your other challenging opponent; just pointing out that “We are all human and do make mistakes”; and while you were confident your call was correct, you are sorry it disrupted the match.
What do you think?
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