Complimenting Your Opponent?

Early Agassi

Many years ago, a long-haired, dungaree-clad Andre Agassi was criticized by his fellow pros for overtly complimenting his opponent on nice shots.  Is there something wrong with doing that?

Times They Are a Changin’

Now, most all pros either give a thumbs up or “racquet clap” when their opponent hits a great shot.  I always do – friendly or tournament match – I have no problem telling my opponent when they have hit a nice shot.

But there are some players who never do.  Is it just their personality, or do they think they will somehow show a sign of weakness?

Compliments Build Confidence

In a friendly, doubles match recently played, my partner (Willy Hoffmann) and I WERE playing very well.  I have pretty good hands at the net and Willy can run almost anything down.  So we were getting just about everything back in play and winning the critical points.

One of our opponents was exuberant in his praise for our play (to the consternation of his partner), telling us “You are getting everything we hit back … and hitting all the lines!”

I do believe the more he complimented us, the more confidence we got, and the better we played (and the more dejected he and his partner got).

I also believe you should regularly compliment your partner – even on missed shots.  If they made a great move to get to the ball, even if they missed the shot, I encourage them to “keep going for it.”

The Faux Compliment

Then, there are the gamesmen who will give you a compliment like, “Wow, you are really serving well today!  What are you doing differently?”  With the objective of getting you to over analyze your own strokes; and therefore, mess up your winning game.

How about YOU … are you a complimentor or the strong, silent type?

This week’s CAT II Tournament

The third tournament in January is taking place this week at the Sanchez/Casal Academy (Naples Bath & Tennis); and Noble Hendrix and I are again teamed up and have slugged our way through the round robin portion.

Being a seeded team (#4) and playing in a group of only three teams, we had just two round robin matches… In the first, we played solidly vs. local team/friends of Phil Ludwig and Ron Mutchnik (6-2, 6-3); but had a real challenge vs. the New York team of Bob Gargiula and Alan Schreiber.

The New Yorkers served for the first set at 5-4 and didn’t convert … then they again served for the first set at 6-5 and didn’t convert … then we won the set tiebreaker.  In the second set, we served for the match at 5-4 and didn’t convert … then we again served for the match at 6-5 and DID convert!

The 75s quarter finals start today along with many other matches on this unusually cold Florida day.  For all the matches/times, click HERE.

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8 thoughts on “Complimenting Your Opponent?

  1. At the club level, one of the best ways to win a point seems to be to compliment your opponent highly on his last shot.

    Rick, Evil! 🙂 george

  2. My dad always told me that both golf and tennis were gentleman’s games so when a great shot comes off my opponent’s racket, I like to acknowledge it!

    Jim, i am with you. thanks, george

  3. Complementing opponents on excellent shots is my preference but there are some players who you know absolutely want no chit chat, just play. There is nothing wrong with that – I try to recognize and honor that preference. Gamesmanship exists of opponents talking to you with the specific goal of distracting you or making you feel somehow guilty about being on and/or lucky with lines, let cords. It only bothers you if you let it.
    Enjoying following the CAT II results – go Al and Brant!

    Winder, yes, talking can work both ways. thanks, george

  4. I always compliment my partner or our opponents for awesome shots. As for Andre Agassi, I applaud him for his kindness & good sportsmanship. He was always a favorite of mine…John McEnroe & Jimmy Connors, not!!!

    Caroline, Andre is probably my all-time favorite player. thanks, george

  5. I always try to complement my partner, anything to improve communication. It’s ok to complement your opponent, but too much becomes a distraction. I try to limit the chitchat.

    Michael, i think complimenting your partner is even more important than with your opponent! thanks, george

  6. I holler out ” Yes ” involuntarily lots of times. It comes from hitting so often in my life with my kids , friends, or anybody else for that matter. Hope to not bother people on adjacent courts , but I guess the benefits outweigh the disruption…

  7. Always feel that tennis is a game of sportsmanship and friendship, above all else, so it’s fine to compliment an unusually good shot by my opponents.

    Scoot, good to hear from you … are you still “down under”? george

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