Tennis Match Etiquette: How To Be A Courteous Spectator

BMW Open

STARNBERG, November 10, 2022 (Guest Post)

Although tennis is considered the ‘sport of kings,’ it’s easy to get carried away when watching a match. With the charisma from the players and tension running high on both sides, you’re bound to get sucked in by the spark of competition in the air. But as eager as you are to express your anticipation during the match, doing so might earn you plenty of odd looks from fellow spectators—or worse, animosity. 

  • Quiet, Please

Having the opportunity to experience a live tennis match calls for a special occasion, especially if it’s your first time going to one. Anyone is bound to get pumped up and excited once they finally get the chance to watch their favorite tennis player in action up close. However, as much as you want to support your favorite, avoid making too much noise throughout the match.

Playing tennis requires complete concentration. After all, reading their opponent’s playset and honing into the ball’s trajectory is no easy feat. Think of tennis as a game of chess. It’s impossible for players to create a sound strategy when so many things are happening around them. 

However, that doesn’t mean you’re forbidden from cheering or clapping. As long as the players are playing for a point, keep quiet to let them focus. Once they’ve scored a point, only then are the spectators allowed to cheer. Pay attention to the player’s body language to know when it’s best to stop cheering. If the player pauses for a moment, that’s the cue for the crowd to start quieting down.

  • No Camera Flashes

Getting a seat in a tennis tournament – much less a famous one – is a rare opportunity to come by. Naturally, you’d want to make memories of your time there, especially if it’s the first tournament you’ve ever gone to. However, before you capture memories of yourself and the match, check if your camera has a flash. Because if it has, make sure to remove it. Otherwise, you might end up catching the player’s attention, which could cost them the game.

  • Stay In Your Seats

Like staying silent and removing any flash from your camera, staying in your seat is another way to express your respect for the players. Similarly, in cinemas, it’s annoying for movie watchers to have anyone stand up and shuffle in front of them to get by. Regardless of whether you have a reasonable excuse, moving out of your seat while the match continues ruins the experience for other spectators, considering how fast-paced tennis is.

To avoid disturbing fellow spectators, time when you want to leave. Fortunately, there are plenty of opportunities you can take. Every time the players switch sides, stand up or take this chance to talk to your companions. Player changeover happens after every six points, which usually occurs at the end of the first, third, and every odd game and the end of each set.

Granted, that information alone might confuse those unfamiliar with tennis terminologies. Therefore, instead of puzzling over which is which, see if the player is allowed to sit. If you see them taking a break while sitting down, that’s a great opportunity to do whatever it is you want to do. But be mindful of the time since breaks only run for 90 seconds.

  • Know Court Etiquette

Those who are only familiar with tennis on the surface might not be aware that there are different unspoken rules for each court (or tournament). For example, Wimbledon is one of the most well-known tournaments that hold tennis in high regard. Considering it’s a big name, many can see how most of the spectators look classy in the audience. But despite this, there’s no dress code in Wimbledon. Hence, it’s up to you whether or not you’re dressing to the nines when watching a match.

Meanwhile, French Open has similar rules when it comes to dress codes—or a lack thereof. Aside from that, both Wimbledon and French Open allow spectators to bring food and drinks inside (as long as they’re below 1.5 liters outside a hard-sided cooler). However, one key difference French Open has is it doesn’t allow alcohol from outside.

  • Cheer Appropriately

As a sport that used to have aristocrats as its spectators long ago, etiquette is a valuable element in tennis. Because of its noble history, it’s only right to honor tradition and hold the same level of respect for the players in a similar fashion from the past. Therefore, taunting or booing is forbidden.

Considering how much pressure the players are under, having someone from the spectators heckling their abilities is bound to ruin their resolve, especially if they’re still new to the world of tennis. Hence, for those who are used to taunting players in other sports, such as basketball or football, make sure to eliminate that habit once you’re watching a tennis match. Otherwise, an usher might throw you out of the match while the crowd cheers on wholeheartedly.

Takeaway

A live tennis match is a completely different experience from simply watching it through a screen. However, because you’re watching it in person, spectators must comply with a set of rules to enjoy watching the match to the fullest. By following these rules, you also show respect and support to the players and the rest of the crowd.