USTA League celebrates
Jackie Finn | April 27, 2016
There are many things that distinguish the game of tennis from other sports, but none is more noteworthy than the need to call your own lines and keep your own score. These elements are the epitome of fairness, and they lie at the very heart of the game – and at the very soul of USTA League competition.
USTA League, however, is not alone in emphasizing sportsmanship and a spirit of fair play. It is an integral part of the USTA at every level, from juniors to the senior divisions of adult leagues and tournaments. As USTA President CEO Katrina Adams emphasized, “We are doing our utmost to inspire fair play and sportsmanship at every level of play.”
At the highest level of competition for league players, the USTA League National Championships, there are only roving officials at tournaments to settle disputes, and in regular League matches it is up to the players – and the players only – to call their own lines and track their own score. ADVERTISEMENT In essence, players rely on each other to uphold the rules and play the match fairly.
A league coordinator out of Pacific Northwest Section recalled, for example, an act of sportsmanship witnessed during an Adult 18 & Over Playoff match that really made an impact.
“I had a player that had to make a difficult call on herself on match point during playoffs on Sunday,” said Elece Fiocchi.
“They were in a third-set tiebreaker, and the team match was split 2 and 2, so this was the deciding match. At 8-9 in the tiebreaker, the player had a great get on a drop shot and hit it back for a winner, but they touched the net.
“I am not sure that the opposing team even noticed, but instead of claiming the point, the player raised her racquet and said, ‘I touched the net, that’s your point.’ Instead of being tied 9-9, they lost the individual and team match. This story is an amazing example of honesty and true sportsmanship on the tennis court.”
Fostering good sportsmanship is a key initiative for the USTA. Junior players take a sportsmanship oath before competition, and the USTA celebrates those who uphold it by giving out sportsmanship awards at junior tournaments, the Junior Team Tennis National Championships, Tennis On Campus National Championship and even at the US Open (honorees include Bob and Mike Bryan, Roger Federer and Venus Williams).
This year, the USTA plans to take it one step further. To continue the recognition, pins celebrating sportsmanship will be given out this year during local USTA League play through the national championships.
“Tennis and sportsmanship go hand in hand,” said Jeff Waters, managing director of USTA Adult Tennis, “and we’re really excited to introduce the pins as another way to recognize players for demonstrating good sportsmanship on the court.”
Moreover, many USTA League players are not only players; they are role models – for their kids and for the next generation of players who get their start on local courts, watching the adults and learning how to play the game the right way. Because as USTA League players know – great sportsmanship makes for the best competition.