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Tennis etiquette 101

May 27, 2015
written by: Heather Marrin
written by: Heather Marrin
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…because no one wants to be “that guy” on the court

Andre Agassi may have challenged traditional tennis garb with his unorthodox apparel during his 1990’s reign, adjusting the attitude towards on-court tennis attire forever, but what will never cease to exist are the common courtesies that come with playing the game. Yes, his outfits may have been a little louder than his predecessors, but even post-retirement he is still revered as one of the most gracious and charismatic players in the sport.  So while crispy, starch whites may be a thing of past, on-court etiquette remains the same.

To help shed some light on the dos and don’ts (and the absolutely-don’t-even-think-about-its) we enlisted Certified Club Pro, Mischa Mackesy to take us to school for a quick lesson on tennis etiquette.

  1. DON’T interrupt a ball in play

    When a ball is in play, practice patience. You may feel as though there is enough room to scoot around the players at the baseline to reach the next court; do note, there’s not.  You may think that while they are rallying it’s a great time to ask them who their tennis instructor is; do note, it’s not.  You may think you’re doing them a favour by returning a ball to them mid-point; do note, you’re definitely not.  Always consider your safety and the safety of those around you and wait until the ball is no longer in play to make any moves.

  2. DO be mindful of your volume

    Monica Seles may have been loud and proud on the court, but that doesn’t mean you have to follow her lead and go in screaming.  Don’t yell and do abstain from any abusive language; it’s distracting not to mention disrespectful.  With that said, a little mid-volume grunt doesn’t hurt; it adds a touch of character to your forehand.

  3. DO keep an eye on your watch

    Court times are in place for a reason, adhere to them.

  4. DON’T bring your cell phone on the court

    And one better, turn it off completely or set it to silent if it’s court-side.

  5. DON’T eat a meal on the court

    Eat a meal before, eat a meal after, but don’t eat a meal during. Small snacks are acceptable, such as a protein bar or a banana, but leave the main course at home.  If you’re thirsty, no problem. Beverages in spill-proof, non-glass containers are welcome, or better, encouraged.

  6. DO adhere to the dress code

    As mentioned, Agassi was a bit of a rule bender when it came to the game’s traditional dress code, but let’s make one thing clear: he never defied the game completely.  Dress appropriately.  For most tennis clubs this includes, a shirt, proper bottoms, non-marking tennis shoes and socks.  If you’re unsure if your outfit meets a specific club’s standard, give them call!

  7. DON’T throw a party

    Unless you’re partaking in a group lesson with a certified instructor, keep it to four players on the court at one time.  Any extras can rotate out as spectators.

  8. DO be respectful

    As a spectator, be respectful to those playing.  This includes never talking during a point and never clapping when someone makes a mistake.

  9. DON’T bring more than three balls onto the court

    Again, unless you’re partaking in a lesson with a certified instructor, or you yourself are a certified instructor, there’s no need for more than one can of balls (three) on your court at a time. More than three is considered a safety hazard.

  10. DON’T litter

    Don’t leave without all of your belongings. This includes your garbage.

Feeling more confident about how to approach a tennis court with the proper etiquette? Excellent! Use our court finder to find the nearest court to you. Class dismissed. Your serve!