There’s no time like the beginning of a new year to atone for our bad behavior. Let’s face it, who hasn’t misbehaved on the tennis court, especially during a league match, the modern-day equivalent of Roman gladiators facing off against ravenous tigers in the Coliseum?
To help us all achieve more equilibrium on the court, I’ve surveyed hundreds of amateur female tennis players across America to arrive at this must-read list of Top 10 Tennis Resolutions for 2020:
1) No more bait and switch.
You know how some people agree to play in a social game, and then get a better offer? They cook up an absurd excuse and cancel the first game to play in the second? Apparently that’s rude, so never be that person again.
2) Master the silent scream.
If you lose a league match, wait until your opponents are just out of earshot before you bellow, “I HATE playing against lobbers who never HITthe freaking ball!”
3) Only strike your opponents when you can score a point.
When you’ve got the balls and it’s your opponent’s turn to serve, wait until she’s actually looking at you before smashing them over to her side of the court.
4) Keep your voice down when you insult your opponent.
If there’s a dispute about the score, use your inside voice when observing that your opponent has the math skills of a second grader.
5) An emphatic high-five will do.
Promise not to shout, “YES!!!” and chest bump your partner every time your opponent makes an unforced error. Upon close scrutiny of the Bryan Brothers matches, they somehow restrain themselves until the end of a winning match.
6) Remember, Barbie is a person too.
Don’t you make fun of women who are tall, blonde, shapely, wear perky ponytails, have a great game, and actually fit into Nike tennis clothes? Just stop.
7) Keep it simple, silly.
If you’re playing on a soft court and normally erase a ball mark after you make a bad call, it’s time to mend your ways. Just leave the ball mark there from now on. No need to act guilty when you really need the point.
8) Be a positive partner!
Sadly, tennis partners aren’t perfect. So when yours makes yet another dumb mistake, try to mask your disgust with subtle eye rolls and disdainful body language. Of course it’s all right to say something comforting like, “Don’t worry. I’m sure you’ll climb out of your slump soon.” Just not in a withering tone. After all, you wouldn’t want to discourage her.
9) Break up kindly.
If you decide to dump your doubles partner, remember it’s a courtesy inform her before she hears about it from your teammates. Then you can point out all her flaws to anyone who will listen.
10) Be inclusive.
You know how sometimes – okay, most of the time – you get a little careless and invite your BFFs to play in a game or to go to happy hour in front of someone you’re not inviting? Starting this year, they’re considering that rude. Go figure . . .
Changing ingrained tennis habits can be difficult, so don’t be too hard on yourself if you only manage to achieve one or two of these lofty behavioral goals. In fact, experts report that the failure rate for New Year’s resolutions is about 80 percent. So, even if you can’t be the queen of etiquette, try repeating this new mantra in your 2020 matches: “It’s only a game. It’s only a game.”