You’ve probably gone through the following scenario before: you are ready to hit the court, but the person ahead of you just emptied the ball machine trying to improve his forehand and now has to pick up enough balls to supply Wimbledon for a decade. It wouldn’t be so bad if he had a tennis ball mower, BUT NOOOOO! He has a basket and you have to wait for this knucklehead to push the basket onto each ball and empty them into the ball machine or the cart about 24 at a time. At this rate, the Chicago Cubs will win another World Series before this joker cleans up after himself.
Then there are the people who have no common sense or self-awareness. This problem manifests itself in a number of ways: the people who talk when standing near to an active game; the guy on the next court who hits your stray ball from the previous point onto your court while you and your friend are playing the next point; the opponent who never walks to pick up a loose ball in the dead time when you are going after a loose ball; the chatterbox who’s walking across your court behind you blabbing on her cellphone about Jersey Shore, totally oblivious to flying projectiles, your swinging racquet and the fact that she’s giving up about 70 pounds to you and won’t fare well in a collision.
Look, no one likes to be in a stuffy environment where the Etiquette Police watch your every move, waiting to pounce on you at the slightest infraction. You know who these people are, the kind who get bent out of shape if the table is not set with the right silverware instead of shrugging it off and making do with a functional, albeit improper utensil. But people need to use common sense when using the courts at the club.
Get up off your keister, walk 100 extra feet and get the tennis ball mower out to clean up after you use the ball machine; If you’re going to watch people as they play, don’t interfere with them by talking or walking behind them during active play; and for pity’s sake, don’t make your friend do all the work retrieving the ball.
If everyone using the courts used a little common sense, it would go a long way towards minimizing the common annoyances. I know I would be willing to overlook the times when people violated the more subtle points of etiquette as long as they made the effort to avoid the obvious ones.
Unlike the millions of nitpicking rules that govern table utensil placement, there are very good reasons for observing etiquette on the tennis court. Just as you want to enjoy playing a round free of annoying interruptions so does everyone else. If you can’t wait to share the latest reality show with your friends, can you at least do it outside? Or text your friend away from an active court where it’s not only considerate, but safer? And for crying out loud! If you have enough strength and fitness to hit 500 balls and pick them up using a basket, could you use that energy to go get the tennis ball mower and use that to pick up the balls instead? I’d like to get home in time to watch the Cubs game!
Christopher Mohr is a freelance writer and tennis enthusiast. Before becoming a writer he worked for several years in IT and customer service.