One aspect of tennis that is unfortunately lost on most players today, is that it is supposed to be a game of etiquette. Etiquette in tennis applies just like in life – the most important thing is to just be polite, and as conscientious as possible about other people.
That being said, here are some basic etiquette points that will help you feel more comfortable out on the court.
- If you are playing a point, and one of your balls rolls onto the court beside you, do not go fetch it. If they are playing a point or a match, your running onto their court is a major distraction, and they will have to replay the point, whereas maybe if it was just the ball rolling behind someone the other players wouldn’t even have noticed. So if your ball rolls onto their court, politely wait for their point to finish, and then ask for them to pass it to you, or quickly get it if that is easier for everyone. If they are clearly just working on drills, then feel free to go get your ball.
- Similarly, if one of their balls rolls onto your court from an adjacent match, don’t just toss it back in their direction — if they are in the middle of a point, you just disrupted it and they may have to replay it because of you. Instead, wait patiently for their point to finish, and then toss it to one of the players. Alternatively, you can place the ball at the back of your court near the dividing line between your two courts. This way if they need to get it for some reason while you are perhaps taking a bathroom break, or are at your bench, it’s easy for them to reach it.
- If you have reserved a court for 10:00, and there are two people playing there, then wait until the official clock strikes 10:00 before you walk onto the court. Before you walk onto the court, wait until their last point has been played. They will know that they no longer have the court reserved, and should be appreciative that you let them play right up to the last minute. Walking on too early is distracting and puts pressure on them for the final few points, which can leave a bad taste in their mouths.
- On the other side – if the clock turns 10:00 and the next group walks onto your court, immediately back up your bags and balls, and exit to the outside of the courts. Don’t try to squeeze in a few more points or games, or linger about on the court talking loudly. This is not your time – they paid for it, so you should vacate the court quickly.
- Some clubs and tennis centers have an ‘all white’ dress code policy. Check what the dress code is before you arrive. You don’t want to have to pay $100 for some white short-shorts at their pro-shop.
- Non-marking court shoes. This is a huge deal, especially if you’re playing at a private establishment. You need shoes specifically made for tennis – anything else can mark up the court as you run, making them ugly and the black lines are hard to clean up.
- Congratulate your opponent on their good shots.
- Apologize if you win a point by sheer luck, or accidentally hit them with the ball. (If it’s a highly competitive match, maybe you don’t want to be overly apologetic.)
- Don’t swear or otherwise throw kiddie tantrums. Don’t whack the ball in frustration.
- When warming up before a match, don’t try to rip winners on every shot. You should have already practiced in the weeks and months before the tournament. The warmup is just to loosen up your muscles, so hit the ball down the middle of the court to efficiently get strokes in. You can rip a good shot here or there if you feel you need to get it out of your system before the match starts, but you should generally be working together during the warmup since you have so little time.
- And finally, just don’t be a jerk in general.