Unwritten Rules

Are there some players you actually prefer to play with/against and others with whom you would rather avoid sharing court time?  Usually, it has less to do with their actual tennis skill and more how they ACT on the court.

Some Key Suggestions

Senior tournament player Gary Pederson has put together a varied list of some “do’s and don’ts” for players to consider….

  • Do not call the night before or the morning of the match to cancel.  It is impossible to find a 4th, not already committed.
  • Arrive on time.
  • Bring a can of new balls to the match every time, whether you open them or not.
  • Do not leave your bag on the bench during play
  •  When you are receiving opponents practice serves, do not practice return of serve by hitting the ball back to server.
  • When taking practice volleys, hit back to your opponent, not to the opposite corners.
  • Do not use the option of “first one in”.  It is not part of the rules and regulations of tennis.
  • If a first serve is obviously long, do not hit it back to the server.
  • After every point is completed always return the third ball to the server’s partner at the net prior to the next service. 
  • Observe and abide by the baseline rule when serving and don’t foot fault.
  • Announce the score after every point and before serving.
  • If you are unsure of whether a ball landed in or out, you should ask opponents if they can make the call.  It is a newer rule but not known by many players.
  • Don’t overcoach your partner on the court – especially on stroke technique.
  • Observe the time limit on change overs. 
  • Compliment opponents if a good shot is made.
  • When match is completed, compliment the opponents.  Do not make excuses for one’s own play.
  • Do not leave any trash of any kind when match completed. 

“These rules really make the match and get together enjoyable and pleasant for all players. And you just might get invited back to play!”    Gary Pederson

Which of these to YOU agree/disagree with?  Other pet peeves?

Medical Update

Got word of two more senior players who “got the message” and, even though they have no symptoms are going to get themselves tested.

For me, the nearly half-gallon of lung fluid drainage has made a huge difference in my breathing, walking and attitude.  I now have a walking rehab plan to increase my distance by a little bit every day; currently, I am up to 4,000 steps and 1.4 miles total.

On Monday, I meet with my new cardiologist, Dr. Julien Javier and we shall see where that leads.  Again, stay tuned.

Know someone who should read this?  Send them a link and if you are not on my “new posting alert email list” and want to be (I promise, no other uses of your email address!), just drop me a note at GeorgeWachtel@gmail.com

My Book: if you’d like to get a copy of “Senior Tennis”, just click on the link on the upper right of this web page to go to Amazon.com, look at the list of places under “My Book” on the bar above, or ask me what clubs are carrying it!

14 thoughts on “Unwritten Rules

  1. It comes down to one thing which I know is the same for you George. Nonjudgmental . It is such a huge factor. And it can come in not just spoken words but grimaces on the face or other obvious signs of upset . The ironic thing is you would think your partner would want you to play well but there is nothing more you could do to drastically effect the play of your partner than judge him or her. It can also be numbing and create such fear of missing the shot that one is incapacitated. Now some people are like steel and can handle it but I think most it really hurts their game. And then its absolutely impossible to have fun in that case. On the other hand I have had many partners who acted as if I was better than Federer haha but it had the completely opposite effect whether they believed you were good or not. It completely elevates one’s game to have that continuous positivity that the whole experience elevates you and even joyful.

    Dave (good to have someone on the other side of the world to respond in the middle of my night, and give me something to do when i cant sleep!). But to your point, simply put: no groaning or faces from your dubs partner when you miss a shot! thanks, george

  2. Comment on court etiquette – No cell phone use, unless an absolute emergency. Checking your stocks or making a lunch date is not an emergency. Michael Schuman

    Michael… agree! i think you can leave it on, in case of emergency (one of the reasons we carry them); but dont take any other calls, thanks, george

  3. George, this is one awesome list! I’m sharing it with my tennis buddies so they know that I am not alone on these `unwritten rules’. My latest pet peeve is players in practice or matches practicing their return of serve on my serves. This is not cool unless of course you are done practicing your serve and your opponent is serving first.

    Laury, i am the same … if i am done with my practice serves and my opponent still wants more, i will hit returns BUT not at him. thanks, george

  4. George, your list omits a couple major items:
    When you’re serving, don’t take all day “preparing” before hitting each serve.
    When you make an error, don’t rage against the Gods and act like you wish you weren’t playing.

    Pete, ,,, and don’t throw your racquet! good additions! thanks, george

  5. BJ Miller made a comment on the noise hindrance piece that reminded me …
    BJ, your comment reminds of another one we should add to the list … “No trash talking.” it is not ok to say to your opponent, who is serving at 5-4, “This is a really big game. I hope you don’t choke.” thanks, george

  6. I agree with everything on this list EXCEPT # 5….how do you ever practice your return of service if you can’t return an opponent’s serve during warmup?
    I always return one forehand and one backhand.

    John, back in the good old days, when i was playing tennis (!) on practice days, we always practiced returns of serve. That being said, i am a proponent of changing “the rule” to allow opponents to return serves during warmup. thanks, george

  7. Gary’s unwritten rules are great. But the one on not returning a clearly out first serve is actually written into The Code (#28–Obvious Faults) and points out that doing so “constitutes rudeness and may even be a form of gamesmanship”. When a thoughtless player practices his return of serve on an obvious service fault, it often creates a loose ball rolling around the court that can slow down the server. When that happens, I think it’s appropriate to ask for a first serve.

    On the medical front, all the “heart surprises” chronicled in your blog inspired me to ask my family physician to order a battery of tests. The important coronary calcium score came back at 748, indicating a high risk of a heart attack within the next three to five years if left untreated. I’ve been referred to a cardiologist for further diagnosis and treatment. Many thanks, George, for increasing our cardiac awareness.

    Experts say if you take good care of your body, it can last a lifetime!!

    Jerry, “another life saved”! do well and be well. pls drop me a note after your tests. thanks, george

  8. George, Another great topic with good advice.

    Also, please let Dr. Javier know that I was his Dad’s athletic trainer when he was with the Reds. Always, like Julian, very nice man and very good player.

    Larry, it is at the top of my agenda on Monday! thanks, george

  9. One of the simplest behaviors to keep a match moving at a nice pace when you are at the receiving end , is to immediately retrieve any ball on your side of the court then MAKE EYE CONTACT WITH THE SERVER and feed the ball into their hand on one soft bounce . It is Common courtesy, and your mom would be proud of you

    Howie, but my Mom had a terrible backhand! 🙂 thanks, george

  10. If I understand the first don’t, I disagree with it. Certainly everyone has a last minute something so cannot be there. I have a long list of potential subs and their contact info. If I have no luck I call the club pro shop and often they have someone, sometimes a gal, who will play with us super seniors, or even a new pro. Then I call one of our regulars to let them know whom I lined up. Proud of how you are creating real value for us tennis nuts from your heart and of course all your other subjects. See you at Newts.

    Dick, getting your own sub is much different from just canceling. i agree. thanks, george

  11. if you return a long first serve (very close) into the net, you should hustle to clear it, not walk casually to clear it. i dont think you should delay the server’s second serve.

    Joe. Agree, thanks, george

  12. Great advice, and fun & helpful comments….but I think it all comes down to “nice guys”…..because the older I get the more important it is to play with “nice guys”….and that’s why I love playing at Spike’s at Wilderness, Matt & George & Ron up at The Strand, and Phil Landauer’s at Tarpon Cove….it’s more important to be nice than it is to be good!….and let’s keep at least a little “trash talking” in the mix….it’s the only thing at which I can beat Doug Welsh!!

  13. Howie Burnett’s comment “MAKE EYE CONTACT WITH THE SERVER and feed the ball into their hand on one soft bounce . It is Common courtesy” clarifies for me an error I have not understood was an error. With the best of intentions as the receiver, I hit the loose ball on my side back to the server. If he has his back to me or just not looking in my direction, I gently and carefully hit the ball close to him so convenient to pick up or leave at back fence. I never understood the glares I would sometimes get. Now I will wait for eye contact to hit the one bounce ball to him. My guess is I have to be prepared to put the ball into my pocket quickly f he begins serve without me getting eye contact.
    As to jomac’s comment on clearing 1st serve ball quickly, I take it a step farther out of consideration to try and play to the server’s timing. If I mishit an attempt to get the ball out of the way on a missed 1st serve and the ball roles into a position where the server has to stop 2nd serve timing while I clear it, I offer a first serve. My error should not handicap my opponent is the logic.

  14. Kudos to Gary for putting together a great refresher list of do’s and don’ts. Gary is a great example of good tennis manners. I agree with Dave Townsend when he mentions being judgmental. There is nothing worse then having a doubles partner groan or comment to you about your missed shot…it takes away your confidence and the joy in competing. I had the misfortune of being asked to team up with another player who I did not know. He was a teaching pro and we practiced once prior to a Naples robin robin tournament. I realized I was a stronger player then him but once our matches started I got the constant on court coaching and signs of agony if I missed. This was in spite of him making constant errors also. That of course led to a lack of confidence, more misses, no team work and wishing I was somewhere else. After my 1st match an opponent said to me he had played with my partner before and never again because of the coaching/criticism. After my 2nd match one of the local top players asked me how much I had paid for the tennis lesson. Again, for us senior players who love the competition, the main goal is to have fun.

    Doug, yup, no fun. george

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