We have discussed earlier how to play vs. cheaters. Since the problem will (sadly) never go away, here is a plea from a new senior tournament player…
“I have been training for about a year to enter the 55 senior events and have elevated my game from 4.0 to 4.5.
My first tournament was the east coast swing in January. I played a guy in the first match who was a gentleman and who beat me 6-4 6-0. He asked for my contact info so we can stay in touch. He was a doll.
Then in the consolation match, I played a guy who cheated me so blatantly that the player in the next court whom I did not know, said quietly to me toward the end of the first set “that is the fourth ball he called out that was in.”
This went on and on until when I finally challenged him, he started making a lot of noise and protesting and denying he ever cheats so loudly that I requested an umpire. He came and was not able to do much as this was clearly not his thing. He was clearly out of his element.
Unable to get loose and relax, I lost in the third set tie breaker by two points.
The nastiness of the experience took all the fun out of it. It’s one thing to lose a few points to calls but this guy had elevated cheating to part of his strategy. If no one could see to check him, he called it out.
Today, I played in the next east coast swing 55 tourney. The same thing happened. I played an experienced player who was making fine calls until the match got close. Then he started doing the same thing making bad calls. When I challenged him about a very important call at 5-5 he looked at the mark and said, “it’s out.” I looked at the mark as well and it was clearly touching the line. He said, “my call. It was close but a judgment call”. The mark was clearly on the line.
To make matters worse the Cheater from the weak before was on the next court interjecting his opinion and cheers for my opponent whom he knew. When I told the guy I was playing not to engage that guy he said menacingly “don’t ever tell me what to do”.
When I told the cheater in the next court not to communicate to our court or I would complain, he started yelling at me and went to the umpire to complain I was bothering his match. This was a beautiful strategy for him because it made me look like the bad guy.
As I focused on my match and applied more and more pressure my opponents attitude became nastier and more rude. He closed out the first set tie breaker 7-5 by saying “take that bitch” so loud we got a warning.
I took a 2-0 lead and his cheating intensified. Now he was calling balls out that were not even close and challenging balls clearly out to get under my skin. He stood at the net (all 6-3, 250 lbs of him) screaming like an animal after a point to try to intimidate me. It was surreal.
Unfortunately, the same umpire from the last tourney came and he was no help. He was not able to see the court or focus well. So this gave my opponent more opportunity to challenge obvious balls to his advantage and call balls out.
I was so angry and agitated that I fell off my game and lost 7-6 7-6, missing an easy overhead at the net and double faulting the match away.
The joy and beauty of tennis was destroyed for me. The two opponents I had were without grace or manners and all they cared about was winning. I even said to the last guy after a ridiculous call he made where the mark was on the line and there was no other, around “do you really want to win like that?”
He shrugged his shoulders and smiled. He had no shame. No scruples. No integrity.
My question is this: should I expect this in these senior tournaments or are these two experiences an aberration? I found both entirely unenjoyable and detest being associated with this type of conflict where my name and reputation is tarnished by low level thieves.
Do you have any advice to offer?” Adam Pollock, Dade County, Florida
Adam, first of all, 99 out of 100 tournament players are like you and me: out for a good time, a good match, and good line calls. Those who play tournaments regularly know who the “1 out of 100” are (and I think THEY know that WE know who they are).
So here is what I would suggest…
- Ask politely if they are sure the ball was out (they should circle and leave a mark for you to see on the change-over).
- If the bad line calls continue, you can “fight fire with fire” and start calling ANY of their shots near the line OUT (I have never done this; but other friends have).
- Call an umpire to stand near the court (this will only help temporarily, because they cannot stay there the whole match).
- And finally, QUIT. Under the heading “Life is too short,” there is no reason to allow a cheater to spoil what is supposed to be fun. I think if more people quoted PopEye and said “That’s all I can stands, I can’t stands no more,” and walk off the court, maybe the message would be delivered.
What does anyone else think?
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