On-Court Visitors?

Most side-by-side tennis courts have benches, covering and water in between them, where players go during change overs.  But (putting aside the current restrictions on “social distancing”), (when this is all over and we go back to “normal”) is it OK for one of the players/teams to have “guests” sitting there during a match?

What is the Rule?

This comes from a lady reader:

“Good afternoon George,

I was in a match today where their courts are set up 2 and 2 side by side. There were men who were walking in and out of the gates and I finally said something.  They finally sat down. During the change over, he said something to me about what I had said and I also said you aren’t supposed to be in the middle between the courts.  He said he had been a captain for 20 years and that was not a rule!

Help what is the answer??  Are spectators allowed under the awnings in between 2 courts?

I appreciate your thoughts on this subject.”

My Opinion

I am not sure it is an official rule (I searched in Friends at Court), but it is surely under the informal code of ethics that visitors can only be on the court with the permission of all the players.

In any case, if players DO allow visitors to sit there, they should get up during change overs (in case players wish to sit); AND, no coaching allowed.

Does Anyone Know the Rule?

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3 thoughts on “On-Court Visitors?

  1. Good to get a non-virus related question to comment on…

    At tournaments other than the Senior variety, definitely no-one sitting on benches intended for players. Anyone other than players there needs to be moved away.

    As an Official at a seniors tournament… if asked, I would say ‘no’ to guests sitting on the benches between courts.

    Sometimes, however, before an official becomes aware of the situation, a player may have already asked their opponent if they would allow a guest to sit there. Most players agree to this request – but it is difficult to gauge whether they actually ‘agree’ or whether they have been pressured to ‘agree’. After all, most players would feel uncomfortable in refusing the request, especially if the ‘guest’ or ‘companion’ is physically challenged. The request may also create tension at the beginning of the match which does not need to be created.

    If, having agreed to the accommodation, a player asks me, as an official, if it is ok for their opponents guest to sit on the players’ bench, I would say ‘no; and ask the visitor to sit elsewhere.

    On the other hand, if no-one mentions the issue, as an official, I would not intervene and allow the visitor to remain on the players’ bench.

    However, there is also the issue of ‘perception’ to take into account. Would I allow this practice in a final or on a ‘show court’? Definitely not.

    Allan, great and thorough answer!! thanks, george

  2. George, I was reading an article about how Golf Courses are failing especially in Florida. I don’t play golf so I don’t know. The article said they did not reach the millennials. With that said tennis seems to be doing a lot better. If you look at the college matches in comparison to the traditional matches wow what a difference. It probably was rude what happened in her match. But at the end of the day let’s have fun , it might have caused her team to lose , or maybe we all can work on our focus which is easier said than done. We just can’t have rules for everything.

    OhioJack, it seemed to me that the “man” was somewhat asserting his authority as well. Thanks, george

  3. I believe if it is ok with my opponent I have no problem with visitors sitting and watching us play at the courts. However, I did learn an important lesson a couple years ago when I played the Worlds at Lake Nona. My opponent in singles also played on the Netherlands team. After we asked each other we agreed it was ok for both our wives to sit court side and watch. I never talked to my wife during changeovers but my opponent did, I believe in Dutch. I found out later she was a teaching pro on the women’s team. After the match she said to me you have a really good backhand so maybe that was a lesson learned , however, I still think it is up to the players to execute their own plan successfully. One of the things I love about the World Tennis tournament is the interaction with the fans who are right next to the courts. sometimes talking to the players.

    Doug, there’s that “on court coaching” issue again! thanks, george

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