Tennis Etiquette

 Westerleigh Tennis Club

When tennis first originated, it was played exclusively by the gentry and high class citizens, so the etiquette reflected this. Players would be competitive, but very polite to not to upset their fellow players!

However, as tennis has become more widely adopted across the world, the expectations of etiquette have certainly become more relaxed. Tennis is now a competitive but fun game to play, rather than the stuffy game it used to be.

Despite this, there are still a few fundamental unwritten rules that ensure that you play fair, are respectful and overall have the best experience.


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Keep Quiet Around Other Players!

If you are walking past another court, or playing near another group of players, try to keep your voice down as much as possible! Tennis is a difficult enough game to play as it is, but the last thing a group of players needs to hear is your loud conversation about what you had for dinner last night!

If you need to ask the players on a court when they will be finishing or whether they will be using more than one court, make sure to wait for their point to end, or for a chance in between games to do this. One of the most frustrating things as a tennis player is to be distracted in the middle of a point, when you are trying to be competitive and concentrate.

So be respectful of other players and keep the noise down!.

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Keep Your Balls to Yourself!

One of the most important aspects of playing good tennis is keeping the ball in the court as much as possible. Being consistent is a key part of becoming a better player, so if you can, try your best to keep the ball on your own court as much as possible.

However, if you are playing near other courts and a ball of yours is hit on to another court, don't shout and scream at the other players and distract them unless they are in danger of falling over the ball. If a ball goes on to another court, wait until their point is finished before asking for it back or retrieving it yourself.

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Respect the Line Calls

Disputes over line calls are very common when playing tennis. More often than not, a close call can be up for interpretation, and many players won't intentionally say a ball is in if it is out or vice versa. However, all too often players get angry over line calls that simply aren't theirs to make.

The etiquette here is to respect your opponent's line call, no matter whether you agree with it or not. If your opponent is consistently making controversial calls that you disagree with, then maybe you could get a bystander or coach to watch the line for you, to see if there is a real problem. Aside from that, you should respect the line calls of your opponents at all times.>

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Winning The Game

To win the game you must win a certain amount of sets (best of three for women’s matches and best of 5 sets for men’s matches). Winning a set is simply the first player to reach 6 games but have to be clear by at least 2 games. If your opponent wins 5 games you must win the set 7-5. If the set goes to 6-6 then a tie break is played and it’s simply the first player to 7 points.

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Don't Celebrate Lucky Shots or Net Cords

If you get the net cord and your ball trickles over, or you frame a shot for a winner, it is good etiquette not to wildly celebrate. This is a lucky way to win a point that you may not have anticipated, and almost certainly gives your opponent no feasible chance of winning the point through no fault of their own.

Therefore, being respectful and apologizing for a lucky frame or a net cord will ensure good etiquette on court.

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Don't Walk Behind or Across a Court Without Permission

If there are a group of players on a court and you need to walk past to get to your court, then make sure you wait for them to finish their point and ask if you can go, rather than just walking behind their court without permission.

This is incredibly annoying for players and is very distracting. The best bet here is to wait for the point to end and ask, it's always better to be polite!

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If you Hit Someone, Apologize

During a close quarters doubles rally or when hitting a passing shot when your opponent is at the net, if you happen to hit your opponent by mistake then be sure to apologize! It goes without saying that you shouldn't try to hit your opponent on purpose, but if you happen to hit your opponent by accident then of course say sorry for this and try to avoid them next time if you can.

It can be painful to get hit with a tennis ball, so the last thing your opponent needs when they get hit is someone celebrating or laughing about it!

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Remember the Score!

Another important thing to remember when playing tennis is of course the score! This may not seem like an element of etiquette, but if your opponent or doubles partner constantly has to remind you of the score this can become tiresome.

This is especially tedious if you are playing a competitive match, as the common practice if both players cannot agree on the score is to go back to a point that they both agree on. Whilst this can be a good compromise once in a while, if it happens too often you will end up making no progress in your match and keep going back to the same point over and over again.

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In Conclusion

Tennis is steeped in history surrounding manners and etiquette.

Whilst the game has of course progressed in to the modern day, with people from many different countries, cultures and backgrounds playing the sport, there is a certain level of etiquette that is still expected when we play tennis. Therefore, it is important to take note of our guide to tennis etiquette so you aren't caught out on court.

Follow our simple steps and you'll be the most polite player with the best tennis etiquette and score out there!