Honor in Recreational Tennis

I’m a tennis coach.  I coach a middle school girls team in the Los Angeles area.  They are great girls who work hard every practice.  Most of them are honorable on the court with their line calls, something that is paramount to our sport.  Tennis is a game of honor, where the players themselves, in most cases, make the decisions that determine the outcome of matches.  Players can choose to cheat, as Andre Agassi says of Jeff Tarango in his autobiography, Open, and there is nothing the opponent can really do about it, even in smaller tournaments.  Without this honor, the game is worthless and we become a wasteland of human degradation.

I over-rule calls made by my girls that are blatantly incorrect.  They are not cheating and that is why they take it in stride.  I commend them for it.  I hope that all players out there, who subscribe to the “when in doubt, call it out” policy, will heed the lessons of 12 and 13 year olds who can take the criticism, and admit they made a mistake, instead of upholding their error in the face of contrary evidence.  As usual, adults can learn a lot from the children around them.  Please make your policy, “when in doubt, call it in.”  It’s not a catchy, but it sure feels better.

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