I started hacking around the tennis court when I was a teenager but didn’t really compete until my early thirties. It was only then that I learned how many strange and annoying habits other players bring to the court.
You know what I mean: The opponent who constantly calls your ball out before it even hits the ground. Or the one who shows up fifteen minutes late to every game.
But while social doubles can bring out a player’s quirks, league matches and tournaments evoke an even more outrageous display.
I was afraid I was just being cranky when I compiled my quick list of 942 top tennis peeves, so I asked a group of fellow players if any behaviors bugged them on the court. After they finished swearing and rolling their eyes, they offered their own version of gross offenses.
Performing a series of complex statistical computations, I arrived at the following definitive list of Top 10 Tennis Player Pet Peeves:
1. The warm-up winner.
We’ve all played against them. Players who never grasped the concept of a cooperative warm-up. Volleys are angled off the court, overheads are pummeled. Even groundstrokes are hit for winners. Hey, warm-up champs: Hope you remember how awesome you were in the warm-up after your ass gets kicked in the match!
2. The exaggerated grunter. Even worse, the delayed grunter.
Yes, Rafa Nadal grunts. He also hits his forehand at nearly 90 mph; so if you can do that, by all means, grunt away! Then there’s the grunter who holds her guttural outburst until just when you’re ready to strike the ball. Desperate much?
3. The ball hoarder.
Don’t we all know that player who puts the third ball up her knickers and never takes it out? You’re searching all over the court for the missing ball and she’s hatching it instead of putting it into play.
4. The ball mark checker.
You call a ball out and she’s leaning over the net pretending she can tell which mark is the one she’s questioning. It’s 350 feet away. “Are you sure that was out?” she’ll ask, a sulky, yet menacing tone in her voice. “Yes, I’m sure,” you want to say. “Just like the other 200 you’ve already questioned today.” But you’re not that kind of a girl. So you just nod and try to look sympathetic. Bitch!
5. The hysterical shrieker.
Somehow you find yourself playing doubles with a partner who shrieks in panic when the ball is coming to you. Now I don’t mind an occasional “Yours!” but the partner who screams, with a note of hysteria, “Short, short!” or “Up, up!” needs to get a grip.
6. The control freak.
Haven’t we all played doubles with a control freak who thinks she’s your coach? “Don’t hit anything to the blonde one.” “Lob over the short girl.” “Don’t try to angle your overhead so much.” “Come back to the baseline with me.” “Hit your return down the line.” Hey, how ‘bout you just worry about your shots and I’ll do my best with mine!
7. The cell phone addict.
Most of us are guilty of checking our phones for missed calls, texts and emails during changeovers. But don’t some players take it a little too far? Do they have to check Facebook, answer the phone, or reply to everyone who’s contacted them during the last five minutes of play? How did we ever survive an entire tennis match without constant contact with the outside world? Don’t even get me started on the Apple Watch!
8. The spitter or snotter.
I used to play next to a guy who would hock his phlegm onto the court or blow his snot into the club towels. Can we just agree on a new rule? Keep your bodily fluids to yourself! It would be so much more civilized. And, no, I’ve never seen a woman commit either offense.
9. The incessant chatterer.
My team was in a critical match and a pair of doubles players on the next court never stopped blathering. Their match was critical too. But that didn’t stop them from sharing tips on how to keep their lip liner from bleeding onto their lipstick and who they wanted to win American Idol. I guess it could have been worse: They could have been on my court!
10. The “out” serve returner.
Who doesn’t like practicing her service return? But hitting serves that are way out is bad etiquette – and narcissistic. When the serve is very long, just catch it or let it go. Players who return out serves disrupt the flow of the match and show disrespect to the server – but they already know that, right?! Resist temptation!
If you have tennis pet peeves that I didn’t mention, feel free to post them in the comments below. Because I’m sure that you, like me, never annoy anyone on the court.