Tennis Etiquette

I saw a Facebook post from a friend of mine over the weekend whose two elementary-school-age sons have recently taken up tennis.  They were playing in their first USTA Junior Team Tennis match, and the mom was rudely informed by another parent that cheering was NOT allowed.  These two brothers also play baseball – where parental cheering is not only allowed but often gets way out of hand – so Mom just assumed she could vocally encourage her boys during their tennis match in the same way.

In the interest of helping other Tennis Parents avoid any untoward (ha!) behavior during their children’s tennis matches, here are some tips:

League Tennis Matches

  • No coaching of any kind is allowed; saying, “Move your feet” or “Hit to her backhand” is considered coaching; so are hand signals!
  • No cheering is allowed other than polite clapping after a good point
  • Do not clap after an opponent’s error such as a double-fault or easy miss
  • Parents/coaches are not allowed on the court during a match
  • Parents are not allowed to speak to their child during a match, not even to ask if they need something to drink
  • Players must bring their own drinks and snacks onto the court – they are not allowed to ask their parent to bring them a drink or snack during the match though they may ask another parent or their team’s captain to do so
  • If there is a dispute between the players regarding a line call or the correct score, the players must settle the dispute themselves; parents are not allowed to intervene (in extreme cases, a team captain may intervene)
  • Refer to the league’s website for rules specific to that league

USTA Sanctioned Tournament Matches

  • The League Tennis tips apply here as well
  • If there are tournament officials (referees and/or umpires) available, one or both players (NOT parents!) may ask for an official to help resolve disputed line calls or scores; the official’s decision is binding though it may be later appealed to the main Tournament Umpire or further up the chain to the Section’s Head of Junior Competition
  • USTA rules of behavior are enforced by tournament staff and officials; violations may be penalized with warnings and/or point penalties and/or suspension points; poor behavior BY THE PARENTS may result in the PLAYER receiving a point penalty or suspension point; 10 suspension points within one calendar year equal a 3-month suspension from all sanctioned tournament play
  • It is in your and your child’s best interest to be respectful and friendly toward all tournament staff, including the on-court officials; believe me, I speak from personal experience!

High School Tennis Matches

  • Cheering is allowed and encouraged though parents and fans are advised to keep the cheering polite and friendly
  • Coaching is allowed BY THE TEAM’S COACH at the side changes and at the end of each set
  • During the regular season, officials are not typically present, so players must resolve their own disputes
  • During playoffs, officials may be present; therefore, USTA rules of behavior may be enforced, including assigning suspension points for poor behavior and/or rule violations
  • Refer to your state high school athletic association’s website for rules specific to your state

College Tennis Matches

  • Cheering is allowed and encouraged though parents and other fans are advised to keep the cheering polite and friendly; fans have been evicted from matches for heckling!
  • Service lets are playable – if a serve hits the net, it is considered in play if it lands within the service box
  • Coaching is allowed BY THE TEAM’S COACHING STAFF at any time during the match though not during a point
  • During the regular season, officials are not typically present, so players must resolve their own disputes
  • During tournaments including the National Tournament at the end of the season, officials are usually on each court and may over-rule line calls and help settle other disputes
  • Refer to the NCAA and ITA websites for more rules

At all levels of play, it is absolutely appropriate for you, the parent, to congratulate your child’s opponent (and the parents) on a match well-played.  However, even if you feel that the match wasn’t played with the utmost sporting behavior from the opponent, it is NEVER okay to confront another parent or child, either verbally or of course physically; take your complaints to the tournament officials if you feel they are warranted.  Just keep in mind how you would like the opponent’s parents to treat YOUR child and, by all means, BE FAIR!

For more information (and this should be required reading for every tennis player and parent!), click here to download and read the 2012 version of USTA’s Friend At Court.

3 Comments on “Tennis Etiquette”

  1. A new low for college tennis –
    ttp://www.wsj.com/articles/new-college-tennis-rule-is-a-scream-1429122012

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