Tennis Industry magazine


Order on Your Courts!

A few bad apples can spoil the fun for all. Help your players by posting these Seven Sins of Social Tennis at your facility.

By Dr. Robert F. Heller

The Seven Sins of Social Tennis

Sin No. 1: Cell Phone Mania

Ringing and answering cell phones are a growing distraction to all. With very few exceptions, no one needs to have their cell phone on for the 60 to 90 minutes they are on the court. Shut if off or place it on silent mode.

At a professional match I recently attended, a cell phone went off during the second point of the match as one of the players was about to serve. We all looked around for the culprit. A few seconds later, the server runs up to his tennis bag, finds his phone and turns it off! We all had a good laugh. However, it’s far less funny when partners or opponents interrupt play to respond to phone calls, or when players on other courts get distracted by cell phones going off.

Sin No. 2: Chronic Lateness

Arriving late takes away from the limited playing time available. If everyone has already warmed up by the time the latecomer arrives, it’s annoying to have to warm the latecomer up separately. If the latecomer starts to play without any warm up, the initial poor play takes away from everyone’s fun.

Plan your schedule so you can arrive a few minutes early, or at least on time. Set your watch 10 minutes ahead if you need to. If all else fails, agree to pay each person you keep waiting $1 per every minute you are late!

Sin No. 3: Whacko Warm-Ups

Blasting balls when your opponent is at the net, hitting lobs 30 feet in the air, and going for “winners” should be left for the match. The warm-up is supposed to be a controlled rally whereby both you and your opponents loosen your muscles and get a “feel” for the ball, the court, and the conditions. Focus on keeping the ball in play rather than going for winners or moving your opponent all around the court.

Sin No. 4: Conversations Across the Net

Trying to hold conversations with your “friend” across the net means that you are talking loud enough that players on adjacent courts are hearing you. Hold off on small talk until changeovers, or better still, when you are back at the clubhouse.

Sin No. 5: Monopolizing Amenities

If you have chairs to sit on at your courts and tables for your bags, be aware that up to eight people may be sharing this space during changeovers. Your towel on one chair, a bag on another, and you in a third doesn’t equal “fair.” Be aware of how much room you are taking and share the space accordingly. At the end of your time, take your trash with you and leave things as you found them, or better yet, cleaner and neater than you found them.

Sin No. 6: Poor Ball Etiquette

Errant balls will land on adjacent courts. Saying “thank you” when someone is about to serve or in the middle of a point is a no-no, unless they don’t see the ball and are about to trip over it. Wait for their point to end to ask for your ball or to return their ball.

Sin No. 7: Complaining, Criticizing, and Whining

“I got a bad bounce. These courts need to be fixed.” “They strung my racquet too loose.” “I have such a weak partner.” “I can’t believe I missed that shot!” This type of verbal moaning is a turn-off to all those who have to listen to it.

Appreciate the bigger picture: You have the good fortune to be able to play tennis!

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About the Author

Dr. Robert F. Heller  is a psychologist and consultant in the areas of performance enhancement and stress management. He is the author of Mental Skills for Match Play and Mental Toughness. For information on telephone consultation, products, and other services, contact,, or 561-451-2731. He is based in Boca Raton, Fla.



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