Last week, I attended the Southern Conference college tennis championships and walked away with several observations. One, the service ‘let’ has been eliminated. Due to rampant cheating, the rule had to be changed. Translation: Most of the kids possess big flat cannonball serves and the balls barely clear the net. If the foe is too competitive, he will yell ‘let’ whether he hears the net cord or not.
What is the downside of the new serving rule? It is conceivable that the hard-serving player may hit the top of the net and it may land gently in the service line for a winner! Believe it or not, I like this new college rule because it eliminates all arguments. Even though we have fun round robin events at my two clubs, the ‘let’ serve has the potential to be a problem. Why? One of the players may have smacked his serve for a potential ace and the opponent might yell, “let,” which negates the winning point and the player must start over.
So, I love this rule for so many reasons including time. As we have heard, one of the bigger obstacles for the great game of golf is time; young people do not wish to play for five hours on a precious weekend day.
Do you know the World Team Tennis doubles let drill? To me, this is genius, and I know it can be fun because myold buddy Ken Flach (former number one doubles player on the ATP Tour) told me it can be strategic and exciting. Ok, we have the returning team placed in two areas: One player is situated right at the service line and the returning service partner at back near the baseline or a little farther away. When the serve hits the net, EITHER player may go after the ball. So, when the rare serve hits the net cord and softly drops over, the net player will move diagonally forward and hit a potentially winning groundstroke. If this rule is not allowed, the returning person is probably standing so far away that he cannot run fast enough to fetch the ball.
Years ago, we implemented this rule in our Pro League and it was a big hit and added more fun to the spectators. In my opinion, don’t be afraid to take chances and make all round robins as fun and entertaining as possible.
With umpire’s line up on every tennis court, the college players no longer trust the call from the opponent and constantly question every single close call. It appears there is no trust; there must be too many ‘cheaters’ so everyone assumes they are getting a bad call and must have it substantiated by the umpire.
Even though most club mixers are not too competitive, some people need to win. In the case of the over-the-top rival, he probably seesthe ball out before it lands. Moreover, most amateurs look up too quickly and are unable to get the proper view to make the perfect call. In this situation, there is little one can do. But, if the fun is impacted negatively, it is wise to communicate and try to solve the issue. There are a few alternatives that one must implement in order to rectify the problem.
One, when the poor line call is made, keep your cool and be polite and ask for the mark on the court. If the foe brushes off the comment as insignificant, remind him that good line calling is essential for the sake of the game. Number two, if the bad calls persist, it might be prudent to call the next ball out when it lands several feet in the court! Why? Without a doubt, the challenger will comfort you on your egregious line call and this will prompt the discussion on what just occurred and perhaps, why. Now one can be straightforward with this person: You call the balls on your side of the net and I will call the balls on my side, right? If the player fails to understand your last awful line call, then you will be allowed to tell him that he has made at least, if not more, two or three poor calls. In a weird way, it reminds us of the person who no longerwishes to be bullied. When we stand up to this bully, we usually solve the current problem and it does not continue to occur. Ignoring the unfortunate line calls does not really unravel the problem as we are avoiding conflict and this can blow up at a later time.
It is inevitable to have live scoring during all CTA/USTA matches but it might be intelligent to not keep track of the fun tennis mixers at your facility. Without a doubt, every athlete experiences poor performances and when they are constantly reminded, it is tough on our self-esteem. Posting results and emailing scores will trigger more bad memories of a bad tennis match – avoid this pitfall.
My top recommendation is to make each social event as much fun as possible and not recording each score is a great idea. Sure, we can use the scoring from round to round but it might be sensible to toss out the results. We come to our facilities for fun and enjoyment and no one wishes to remember our off-days. So, if you have to post something, list a few winners and that’s all!
Doug Browne is the Director of Tennis at the beautiful Hideaway Beach Club on Marco Island and the Director of Tennis at the Boathouse Field Club in Edgartown, Massachusetts. Doug has been writing about tennis for the last 18 years and welcomes your feedback. Feel free to contact Doug via his email address: firstname.lastname@example.org.