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Player to Player is USTA.com’s regular feature in which everyday tennis players are given a forum to ask advice on the sport they love – and their fellow players will dish out advice. We’ll post a number of the best responses we receive to our question of the week.
Player to Player:
This week's question from Hugh:
In regards to the service return, I struggle with quick grip adjustments. I start with a semi-western forehand grip, can easily adjust to a backhand slice return, but struggle adjusting to a flat or topspin grip. (I use a one-handed backhand.) Any match tips or practice tips to help me overcome this?
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Last week's question from Theo
(Please note: There is no need to send additional responses to this question.)
During a USTA match, one of my teammates hit a beautiful shot to end an exciting point. I was a spectator and instinctively yelled, "Yeah! Great shot, Jermaine!" His opponent walked to the line, examined a mark and called the shot out. It was his call to make, and that was that -- nothing more was said. However, some of his teammates later chastised me for cheering the shot. They accused me of trying to intimidate the player into calling the shot in and declared it poor sportsmanship to cheer a shot before a call is made. Is it appropriate to cheer a great-looking shot immediately after the point is over, or should spectators await confirmation from the participant before applauding?
Tony S., Bloomington, Minn.:
As a spectator and teammate, it is fine for you to cheer for an apparent winner, if it is done immediately, if it was called out and you then said good shot, that would be different.
If the match was on a hard court, the person calling the ball out was more at fault. They need to make their call immediately, not after walking to the line and inspecting a ball mark that could have already been there. If it was a clay court, they are allowed to delay their call and inspect the mark.
Joan K., Bellevue, Wash.
I think it is absolutely normal in the heat of competition to applaud what you, the viewer, see as a great shot, even though it would be far more courteous to wait until it's confirmed by the receiving player's call. When I watch a pro match, lots of times a player's box erupts into applause, the player losing the point makes a challenge, and the ball is called out -- so much for the applause from the player's box. We see the announcers doing the same thing... that is, saying something like, "What a great shot!" and then it's called out.
Of course, we all know that we're supposed to wait until a call is made before applauding or not, and I think we also know that it's just plain human nature to react to the moment ("Great shot!!" "Oops..."). On balance, I think it's better to have the fans be excited about matches, and if there's a false positive, as it were, just take it as a normal part of fan participation.
Jake, Clearwater, Fla.:
Your teammate's opponent's teammates were being sourpusses. Nothing in "The Code" -- or common sense, either -- frowns upon a spectator who spontaneously cheers for or groans at what appears for the moment to be a winning shot by or against the player he/she is rooting for. Imagine this close call occurring during a major, officiated match with a large, well-behaved crowd present. Imagine everybody in the crowd holding back their cheers, for fear of being shushed by the umpire for poor sportsmanship, until the shot was ruled in or out. Right; it doesn't happen.
Now, if you are in the habit of cheering mistakes committed by your favored player's opponent, that's a different story.
Theo, sorry, but I agree with your opponent. I don't think spectators should shout before a call is made or anytime during a match. Although most cheering is only meant to be supportive, unfortunately it can be used for intimidation or distraction. I have even heard people shout to coach their teammates. "Great lob" may mean, "Keep lobbing." I think clapping is fine, but leave the cheering for after match point.
Kenny S., Chicago:
From team tennis to USTA tournaments to pro events to Davis Cup and Fed Cup matches, tennis etiquette and sportsmanship are very important, but there are lines that can be crossed and some that can't. I don't think there was much wrong with cheering for the shot after the point was over, even if it was later called out. Cheering for unforced errors is usually not a good thing. Get out the drums and bongos, not just at world matches but even at other events, as long as other courts are not in action. Don't try and distract the players if you're playing or on the sidelines. It is good to even cheer when the player you're not cheering for hits an amazing shot. It is a war out there, but in the end, it is a great sport, and be a good winner or loser or fan.
Maureen H., Florida:
How many times has the crowd at one of the Opens cheered a great-looking shot, to find that when checked with Hawk-Eye, it was out? It happens. I wouldn't feel bad about it.
Reuben F., Murphy, Texas:
You did nothing wrong. When a ball is to be called out, it needs to be done immediately. It seems like there was some kind of a delay between the shot being hit and the ball being called out, which simply means that the point should've gone to your teammate. There should be no need of confirmation from the participant, and if there is such a need, it is simply the participant's fault, and they are lucky that your teammate was lenient enough to give his opponent the point.
*Please note that any advice given out in this forum should in no way be confused with actual medical advice. Before starting any new exercise regimen or altering your existing one, we strongly urge you to consult with your regular physician.
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