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The Tennis Business Discussion Forum Archive

[tennisbiz] Re: Etiquette, prejudice and line calling

From: Joe Rill <>
Date: Sat 3 May 2003 22:34:15 EDT

Bob Cole said, "This thread raised an old problem on which I'd like your
guidance. I know I've asked this before, but I still don't know how to
teach line calling."

There is only one way for an honorable tennis coach to teach line calling.
"If you did not clearly, without a doubt, see your opponent's shot land out,
you must play it as good. This means that you may not equivocate or try to
steal the point by telling yourself that it may have been out. No matter
what you believe, you have to see the ball land out before you can call it
out. If you violate this basic code of sportsmanship, you are cheating. It
is that simple. If you won by cheating, you didn't win. You stole the
match and do not deserve the pride and good feeling that comes from

For HS tennis team coaches, that's what you teach during practice. Then if
you see one of your players making bad line calls, you call the player over
to the fence during the odd game change over and reinforce your previously
expressed philosophy. If that player makes a subsequent bad call--a call
that you know was bad--you immediately apply the point penalty system (pps)
against your own player for unsportsmanlike conduct and award the point to
the opponent. If your player continues to make obviously bad calls, you
award the opponent the game for the second offense, and then the match by
defaulting your player. Then you tell the opposing coach what you have done
and why. Otherwise you are the one that is cheating and not only are you
guilty of trying to steal the team victory, but you are hazarding the school
reputation; you are not fulfilling your responsibilities to the young people
you teach; and you are subjecting yourself to censure from the other
coaches, Athletic Directors, and your principal. (Hope I didn't alienate
anyone by sugarcoating this...)

That was an easy call for tennis team coaches. But it is harder for coaches
of individual junior tennis players. The pressure to succeed on both them
and their charges is incredibly higher. And because of that pressure,
"hooking" is not uncommon in unofficiated matches. What you teach is the
same--hooking is cheating. But the coach cannot get involved in the pps
during the match. Only the tournament officials can. What I think you
should do is speak to the player after the match--with some players, perhaps
after the tournament... Then you can emphasize that the tennis court is a
stage visible to the other players, the other coaches, the parents, friends,
other spectators, potential sponsors and the officials. And it doesn't take
long for the word to get around among everyone.

Shakespeare said in King Richard II, "The purest treasure mortal times
afford is spotless reputation; that away, men are but gilded loam or painted

Joe Rill
Received on Mon May 05 2003 - 20:21:23 CDT

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