Have you ever played an opponent that you thought didn’t have good tennis manners? What kind of behaviors you consider to be good tennis manners? 

Every person has a different opinion about what is considered good or bad manners. That’s what we talk about in this episode.

Tennis—and especially adult recreational tennis—can be a little strange when it comes to etiquette, protocols, and manners. Furthermore, what one person considers bad manners, another person may not.

Erin tells Carolyn talk about opponents who did not exhibit the best tennis manners.

If you enjoyed this topic, here are other episodes you may enjoy:

If you want to read the long-version recap of the show, read on…

On our “Tennis Manners” episode, Carolyn & Erin talk about what they perceive as good or not-so-good manners when playing.

Adult tennis—or just tennis in general—can be a little strange with the many protocols, the etiquette, and the manners involved. There are so many unwritten rules in tennis!

Carolyn & Erin came up with the title of this episode because they remembered an old newspaper column called “Miss Manners”. They are pretty sure that column was written decades ago but has stuck in their heads. They think about it often when playing in USTA matches.

Introduce yourself to your opponents.

Erin talks about something that happened to her during a tennis match. This is not a story about good tennis manners! She was playing a singles match at her club (Hasentree Club in Wake Forest, North Carolina) and she described her interaction with the captain of the opposing team. Their first encounter set the tone (and it was a strange one). It went something like this:

The captain walked onto the court and Erin tried to introduce herself. She was ignored. Erin tried again a few minutes later and asked if they could exchange lineups. After the lineup was exchanged, Erin ended up having to play that same captain. Erin got the vibe that she was not interested in any small talk before (or during!) the match.

Stay in your tennis lane.

Once warmups started, the opposing captain was hitting a lot of balls into the net. She then decided that the net was too high and took it upon herself to measure it before Erin could get the teaching pro/coach at her club on the court to measure or fix the net if it was not set at the correct height. Before Erin knew it, her opponent had already moved the net cord and was adjusting it. It took at least five minutes to get it fixed. The worst part is that the net was set to the correct height in the first place. Grrrr!

Since Erin was the host captain, she found this to be rude. The woman took over as if she was in charge of the courts. When you are a guest at someone else’s courts, you should defer any problem you perceive to the home captain to take care of.

Carolyn noted that she thinks when someone shows up to a match with a measuring device, they are not there to mess around, and you better watch out! She feels like if someone is measuring the nets, in her experience, the match is most likely going to intense. There will be no messing around!

BYOC (Bring Your Own Chair) – or not.

The other thing that happened during that same match was that the opposing captain showed up with her own chair and sat very far away from the bench that was provide. There’s easily enough room for 2-4 players to share the bench but that captain made sure she sat as far away from anyone as possible. Erin said she understood very quickly that there would be no chitchat during that match!

Erin felt like it was odd and awkward in an adult recreational tennis match. Carolyn wasn’t against this practice and, since seeing that happen in Erin’s match, has brought her own chair to matches!

Carolyn said it’s better for her to be far away from her opponents. If Carolyn’s opponents talk to her, she feels like they are then “friends”, and she has a hard time going back into “opponent” mode and feels guilty beating them. And if she gets beat after friendly chitchat, she is even more mad!

The scoreboard: who should change it (and when)?

Another thing Carolyn & Erin talk about on this episode is who they think should be in change of changing the scoreboard. Neither one of them care who does it, if it’s done correctly. Erin said she always defers to the “home team”. Sometimes though, it comes down to superstition – if she’s been moving the scoreboard and winning, she will continue to take initiative to change it. If she’s been changing the scoreboard but is losing the match, she will often ask someone else to oversee it.

Carolyn talked about how she likes the scoreboard to be changed after every game (and on every changeover). However, both agree that changing the scoreboard during set or match tiebreaks messes up the flow if someone insists on changing the scoreboard after each point. Between games is fine but between points is annoying!

Erin said she sometimes changes the scoreboard incorrectly, so she always says it out loud to her partner if she’s playing doubles, or to her opponent if she’s playing singles. There’s nothing worse then messing up the score and being confused later. Carolyn has been cheated out of a game because of a situation like that. And it was at the state tournament!

Carolyn has a doubles partner who refuses to change the scoreboard. That partner thinks it’s bad luck. It’s interesting how each person thinks about it and handles scoreboard changes.

The racquet spin.

Carolyn asked Erin what she thinks the correct (i.e., “good manners”) thing is to do with the spin of the racquet. Erin thinks that should be left up to the home team. Erin said she often asks the home team to spin (or spins her racquet if she’s the home team) to signify they should start the match. Sometimes people lose track of time and don’t realize that a match should get started. Adult recreational tennis players aren’t getting paid to play tennis so matches should start on time! Everyone needs to get back to their real lives. You know, those “real lives” that include having families to worry about, careers to take care of and other responsibilities adult recreational (not pro!) players must worry about.

If you want to hear another funny episode where Erin, Carolyn, and Michelle talk about spinning the racquet, listen to this episode.

Who enters the score of a USTA match?

Carolyn was wondering who’s responsibility it is to enters the scores at the conclusion of USTA matches.

Since Erin has captain many USTA teams over the years, she knew the answer. Erin believes the “good manners” thing to do is to allow the winning captain or someone from the winning team enter scores. The problem is, often with USTA matches, the scores aren’t always entered in a timely fashion. USTA states that anyone can enter scores. Over time, it’s become an unwritten rule that the winning team gets the pleasure of entering scores. The truth is anyone can do it.

You can log into your Tennislink account to enter scores.

Who is responsible for confirming a match?

Another thing that came to Erin’s mind after Carolyn asked about entering USTA scores is that the home or host captain should confirm the match with their opponents. That’s the good “Miss Manners” thing to do. They should confirm court availability (and say what courts they will be playing on if they know), let the other captain/team know if it looks like there are any issues with weather, where the nearest bathrooms are and any other information that would be helpful to a team. Either team can confirm a match but the “good manners” thing to do is have the host captain be the one sending a confirmation text or email.

Play on the court on which you are assigned.

Another way to show “good manners” is to play on the courts you are assigned to. Erin talks about a situation that happened several years ago where a singles player outright refused to play on a hard court (Hasentree has both hard courts and clay courts). The singles player wanted to play on a clay court but there were none available. It took about 15 minutes to convince her that she needed to play where she was assigned, or she would have had to forfeit her singles court. It was just plain rude, and she showed terrible manners. As the opposing team, you do not call the shots for where you are playing. The fact that they had to play on those courts wasn’t a decision made by the home team; it was made by the pro at the tennis club.

The guest player made it an awkward situation. The home team picks where what court the matches will be played on. There’s certainly a lot of courtesy given if certain people don’t like to play on hard courts—maybe they have bad knees, maybe they’re older, maybe they have an injury—but the the nice “Miss Manners” thing to do is the play where you are assigned.


We hope you enjoyed this “Miss Manners” discussion and we hope to see you on the courts soon!