Tennis has always been a game of manners and civility. For decades, players wore crisp white clothing and followed a set of clearly delineated rules. Considered a “gentleman’s game,” it forbade misbehavior.
But players like John McEnroe and Jeff Tarango came along, smashing racquets, insulting umpires, and launching epic, epithet-laden rants. Fast-forward to 2015, with Nick Kyrgios’s legendary taunt to Stan Wawrinka. In the heat of battle, Nick dropped an offhand comment about tennis colleague Thanasi Kokkinakis “banging” Stan’s girlfriend. Say what?!?
Breaches of etiquette wouldn’t be complete without mentioning Serena Williams’s tirades at the 2009 and 2018 U.S. Opens. Justified or not (we won’t debate that here), Serena broke the rules.
Today, scores of women league players across the country have been calling me to report that poor etiquette has trickled down to the local level. Because we lack both match officials and immediate sanctions for misbehavior, I decided to create a handy list of the new and improved Top 10 Ways to Win League Matches. It is my fervent hope that these guidelines will teach club players the modern game:
- Always hit winners during the warm-up to be sure your opponent sees how skilled you are when it doesn’t count.
- Be sure to challenge every out call your opponents make. Then act really pissed off if they question your calls. Who do they think they are?
- Chat with your partner for at least three minutes between points, even if you’re just discussing where you bought your new outfit. Then bounce the ball 48 times in your service ritual.
- Always throw or hit the balls to the serving team when they have their backs to you. Or hit them to a part of the court that’s least convenient for them to retrieve.
- When your partner is about to receive serve, jump around a lot at the net to irritate the server. Sure, it’s illegal. But who cares?
- Always call a foot fault on an opponent’s serve when you realize they’re running away with the match.
- If you “accidentally” hit your opponent with the ball, look apologetic, then turn around and high-five your partner.
- Always return serves that are obviously way out. It disrupts the server’s rhythm and might buy you a cheap point on a double fault.
- When you lose a match, go shake hands at the net and mutter something like, “We were really off today. It’s so hard to play people with games like yours.”
- If you finish your match before your teammates, be sure to sit close to their court and cheer when the opponents make unforced errors.