Tennis is a sport in which there are quite a few unspoken rules. Below we cover some key points to be aware of before you hit the court.
Wait to Walk on the Court
Often there is only one gate to get onto multiple courts. If that’s the case and some players are actively participating in a match, wait until the players change ends before entering the court to avoid disrupting them. Also, be sure to shut the gate behind you.
Wear Non-Marking Shoes
It is important to ensure that your tennis shoes have non-marking soles before playing on a hard court. It’s bad form to leave scuff marks all over the court, and even the most inexpensive tennis shoes will offer non-marking soles, so there’s no excuse.
Announce the Score
As the server, announce the score before you begin each point. In professional matches, the umpire declares the score before each point; however, in non-professional matches, the players must keep score. To avoid confusion or disputes, it’s good practice to repeat the score before the start of every point.
Accept Line Calls
Accept your opponent’s calls with good grace. Don’t assume an opponent is cheating because they called your shot out. Part of casual tennis matches is accepting a call of ‘out’ if the opponent is sure the ball was out.
If you’re making the call and you’re unsure of whether your opponent’s ball landed in or out, award the point to your opponent. Be sure to call the ball out quickly and clearly.
Have Good Behavior
Keep swearing and shouting to a minimum. Tennis is a passionate sport, and frustration is common. However, you’re expected to keep your cool out of respect for your opponent and players on nearby courts. Don’t throw or smash your racquet.
Wait Till the Reciever is Ready
Don’t serve the ball until your opponent is ready. Of course, keep in mind that you or your opponent shouldn’t be taking more than 20 seconds in-between points.
Don’t Return Missed Serves
If your opponent misses their serve by a large margin, don’t hit it back at them or use it as an opportunity to practice. If you do, they may have to chase the ball down and remove it from the court and interrupt the flow of their serve. Instead, block the serve off to the side or back of the court.
Clear Stray Balls
Before you begin each point, ensure there are no stray balls on the court or at the net. Leaving balls on the court can be distracting, present a tripping hazard, and on the off-chance, your opponent hits a ball in bounds on your side, they’ll win the point.
If a tennis ball from a nearby court or another object makes it way on your court, call a ‘let’ immediately and replay the point.
Pick Up the Balls
As a courtesy, when you change ends, pick up any balls on the court and bring them to your opponent or keep them for yourself if you serve next.
Give Your Opponent the Balls
If your opponent is serving, check your side of the court and make sure they always have at least two balls. Your opponent shouldn’t have to ask you for them continually.
If a ball ends up on another court, wait until their point finishes before asking them to help retrieve yours.
Pick Up Your Trash
When you leave the court, make sure you bring your trash with you and throw it away. That includes tennis ball cans, drinks, packaging from overgrips, etc. If you don’t, the next players on the court have to do it for you, and it’s poor form.
Silence Your Cell Phone
If you bring your cell phone with you, make sure it’s silenced, so it doesn’t disrupt a point. If you receive a call, don’t pick it up. Wait until the match is over.
Cell phones are not allowed in professional tennis matches.
If you win a hard-fought point, there’s nothing wrong with showing your excitement within reason. For example, don’t shout and scream after every point you win and keep your volume in mind out of respect for your opponent and nearby courts.
If you win a point because your opponent makes an error, don’t celebrate – it’s poor sportsmanship.
After a match, shake hands with your opponent. It’s good sportsmanship, and win or lose shows respect for your opponent.