Terms of Engagement
Many players play tennis without knowing the rules. I don’t mean the rules of how to play tennis; I mean the code of conduct under which the game is played. For instance at Wimbledon the events are called the Gentlemen’s Singles Championships or the Ladies' Singles Championships. The assumption is that tennis is a game played by ladies and gentlemen, not boys and girls.
A gentleman or lady is a person whose conduct conforms to a high standard; it is a person who has correct behavior. We must therefore define what this correct behavior is. Here is a list of what these terms of engagement are for tennis.
Tennis is more than a game of skill, it is a game played between ladies and gentlemen. It requires the highest ethical and moral standards from both players. When these high values and principles are displayed the game of tennis then becomes a game whereby ethics and morality are the primary skills being tested and the central skills involved in playing the game. These ethics that are then carried out on court will become more and more ingrained and become a way of life for all other activities.
- All balls hit by your opponent are in unless you can clearly see it is out. Unless this standard is held, cheating then becomes the ultimate weapon to be used; what is then left is chaos.
- In all aspects of the game, you will be ethical to the smallest detail. Without this the game loses its honor.
- All calls made by your opponent are correct, this includes all close calls and big point calls. This gives the respect to your opponent that you would demand for yourself.
- Under no circumstances will you ever try to intimidate your opponent in any way. Without this standard bullying will go on and terrorization will become a practiced skill.
- Under no circumstances will you ever use gamesmanship to “throw off” your opponent. Unless this standard is held, both the sport and the opponent will be manipulated.
- Under no circumstances will you ever throw or drop your racket while on court. This lack of emotional control is belittling and demeaning to the game of tennis.
- Under no circumstances will you ever use foul language. Unless this model is upheld, the on court antics can be degrading, shameful and shocking to those watching.
- When my opponent hits a good shot I will look them in the eye and say, “Nice shot.” This brings elegance and class to the shot just hit or the point just played.
- If a “let” is to be called for any reason, due to a distraction such as a ball rolling onto your court, you will do it with the highest ethical standards and immediately when it occurs. This courtesy given to your opponent brings dignity to the sport and your opponent.
- If your opponent acts disrespectful to you, you will NOT engage in like behavior towards them. This self control demonstrates restraint and courage while at the same time not lowering your ethical standards.
- When the match is over, if you lost, congratulate your opponent with a sincere heart, don’t just shake their hand. If you won be gracious in victory remembering the dignity of the person you just played. This brings class to the effort both players gave.
- Always treat your opponent with honor and respect; they may not always deserve it, but the game demands you give it to them. Without this standard, the integrity of the game is lost.
- Take responsibility for your poor play; don’t make excuses. By giving credit to your opponent, you will give value and worth to the match just played.
- Never ever give up when competing. This brings disgrace to you and discredit to your opponent.
We must play in such a way that each match is a reflection of who we are and what we stand for.