BeFit September 2002
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Relax and Have Fun Part I 

Attn: Jake Nelson





September 17, 2002








“A civilized sport in a brutish world.”



Jay Winik wrote those words for an article on tennis personalities, publicity, and rituals, for the Wall Street Journal. Mr. Winik a Pulitzer Prize nominee, is a product of public tennis courts, and played for the Yale team. Tennis is different from most other sports. It is called “a gentlemen’s game” and the honor system is used for most play, including some tournament matches. There are no referees during most tennis matches. There is nobody to help you know right from wrong as far as rules and etiquette. Every player has a basic understanding but there are countless rules and points of etiquette that should be passed on to every player. Here are some ideas that will help you enjoy being invited to play tennis at a nice club.


Bring a new can of balls when you are called to play a tennis match, even when invited as a guest. It should be a new can. Practicing, or doing drills with used balls is accepted. Tennis balls come in varieties – hard court balls, Championship, and soft court balls or Regular Duty Felt. To most players it may not matter but it helps to buy the proper balls for the surface you will play on.


You will play your best if you are dressed your best. Wear proper clothes, and shoes. Clubs have a dress code; if you are in doubt about acceptable clothes call the club. It would be embarrassing to be told you are inappropriately dressed and are not allowed to play, (or perhaps you could stop by early and be outfitted with great clothes in the club pro shop).


Arrive at the court prepared to play. Court time is valuable and should not be carelessly used up. So be on time, stretched out and ready. The guest should not have to pay any fees, unless asked to when the invitation is made. Check in at the counter and tell them who your host is. When you head out to your assigned court do not disturb players already in action on the courts. Keep the noise level down. Never walk by a court while a point is in play. Players do not like distractions and need to keep their concentration on the game. If you disrupt some players, you may find a stray tennis ball unexpectedly come whizzing by your body at 100mph.


Speaking of stray balls, always politely return any balls that come onto your court, promptly, to the closest player on the court where it came from. It is best whenever giving a ball to someone on the court to send it so it bounces one time in front of them and goes up to about chest height so the player can make an easy catch with their hand or racket.


Always close the gate when you enter the court. It can hurt to accidentally run into an open gate while trying to make a wild play deep in the court.


Try to keep your tennis balls on your court, but if one gets away, never interrupt play to ask for it, or run on their court without their permission. It is best to wait, then ask politely for it, and be ready to catch it when it is returned. Look at the printed number on the ball you are playing with so you can ask for it by number.


Next month we will talk further about how to behave now that we have you politely on court, and warming up.



Tip of the month: To find the last official word on play, tournament regulations, rankings, scoring, and much more contact the USTA for the handbook of tennis rules and regulations called “Friend at Court”.


For further information call Stan Carter, USPTA certified professional, at the Flint Canyon Tennis Club: 818-790-3355 or 213-321-8699.   You are invited to please email questions and comments to

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