In this article I will address the following topics:
“Are you sure" questions from players.
How to deal with it from the player and opponent perspective.
At what point should a player ask for a line judge?
What is a line judge supposed to do?"
Let me start this topic of bad calls and line judges with a couple of side notes. First, I do not think there are very many people that play tennis to cheat. Most players attempt to play fairly. And everyone (yes, even you) misses calls. I don’t think it ever helps to go into a match assuming the player across from you is cheating. To take this one step further, if you find that your opponent is always cheating (or at least every time you lose), the problem is quite likely not coming from across the net. If it always seems like your opponent is cheating, keep in mind that all your matches have one participant in common…you.
Moving on from that, when playing someone that seems to be making bad calls consistently, calmly question calls that you think were missed. If questionable calls continue, there is nothing wrong with asking for a line judge at any point. Although, if you are involved in a tournament without officials, this is not really an option. Just understand that the roving officials that are common at many tournaments are always responsible for multiple courts. Thus, it is impossible for him or her to stay solely on your court. You still need a strategy for dealing with bad calls, which relates to my previous article on opponents that use gamesmanship. You can and should continue to calmly question calls that you feel are incorrect (unless you find that this distracts you because in this situation it is rare to see someone change their call).
Otherwise, you should be giving 100% of your focus to the aspects you can control to play your best tennis. If you fall into the trap of getting into arguments and name calling with an opponent who is using this as a tactic to distract you, you have done just what they wanted. You have stopped focusing on your game, and now it stops being about playing good tennis, which is likely what your opponent thrives on. I’ll also add that I do nott agree with the strategy of intentionally making bad calls just because your opponent is. To me, winning a tennis match is never worth sacrificing your character and reputation. I encourage you to be the better person and play with fairness and sportsmanship despite what your opponent may do.
On the other side of things, if your opponent is questioning your calls, or calls a line judge, your strategy ultimately should be the same. Stay calm and focus on what you need to do to play your best tennis. Getting angry, defensive, and argumentative will only take your focus away from competing at your highest level.
Lastly, I’ll cover what officials do and do not do. An important thing they do not do is call the lines for you or your opponent. You are still responsible to make the calls. On top of that, they won’t overrule or confirm a call unless you ask them. So, if you have gone to the trouble of calling an official to your court, don’t forget to ask him or her, “was it out?” when your opponent makes a questionable call. Officials will also help you handle scoring discrepancies and other disagreements that you and your opponent can’t find common ground on, so these are certainly times to call an official to your court. While the official is at your court, they will also call foot faults and time warnings/violations, so keep that in mind.
Generally, I haven’t seen many instances where the line judge comes to the court and starts overruling the player in question, so don’t expect that. It should give you a little extra peace of mind and greater ability to focus on your game, and hopefully if the opponent is making bad calls, they are now judging more fairly with the official there.
In conclusion, dealing with bad calls, and even getting questioned by an opponent are a part of tennis. It almost goes without saying that the better you are at staying calm and focusing on your execution, the better you will play, and you will also have more fun during your matches/tournaments. Do you have a line judge experience you would like to tell me about? Share it below and we can discuss!