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What is etiquette on the tennis courts?

October 26th, 2022 | 3 min. read

By Jen Azevedo

Tennis is a sport that requires not only tremendous athletic skill but also intellectual capacity. Although players need strength, agility, and coordination, they must also think strategically about their moves and anticipate those of their opponent.


Tennis is a social sport as well. Meeting at the courts to warm up before the match, playing the game, and then cooling down and getting a latte afterward are all part of the fun of tennis.


If you are a regular tennis player, you probably know most of the rules. But there are also certain ways to conduct yourself to show good sportsmanship and proper etiquette. 


While sticking to a list of rules about behavior on the court might sound silly and old-fashioned, following the etiquette makes the sport more enjoyable. 


Yes, it will not give you a bigger serve or a better backhand, but it will make it more fun to share a court with you, which is especially important in tennis because of its social nature.


The Paseo Club of Santa Clarita has been a social club offering tennis lessons, youth programs, and events for almost 20 years. 


In this article, we will tell you everything you need to know to show the best etiquette when you play tennis on the courts. We even throw in a couple of tips for the spectators too. 


Top 8 tips for tennis etiquette

1. Keep Quiet!  

When you are in the midst of a match, you are focused on playing. Usually, multiple courts are near one another, with others playing their matches alongside you. Loud shouting, talking on your cell phone, or other behavior that can take away from the play is inappropriate.


2. Bump politely 

When the courts are full, you may need to bump players at your court start time. You should watch the play from outside the court and assess the match that is in play. Do not walk into the court during a point and ask about the match score.  


If players are mid-game, allow the game to finish before walking out. If you are in the process of completing a match of your own, you’ll hope for the same etiquette from those who are bumping you!  


3. Dispute line calls without being rude 

The call belongs to the person nearest the ball (and their partner in doubles). If you disagree with the call, you should ask first, “Are you sure?” This method is considered to be the most respectful way to question a call. If it happens once, let it go. If it becomes a pattern, enlist the help of a linesperson.


4. Keep the balls

When the serve is out, keep the ball on your side of the court if you can. To continue to “play” the ball during an out call is poor etiquette.


5. Celebrate inside 

When you hit the tape and the ball rolls over, it’s luck. Although practice of saying “sorry” has somewhat disappeared in recent years, it is not appropriate to celebrate the win.


6. Say sorry when you hit somebody

Hitting people does happen. It is always polite to apologize when that happens.


7. Keep score  

It is your responsibility to call the score loudly and clearly for your opponents when you are the server. The receiver should also know the score. Keeping track of the score is helpful to everyone on the court. 


8. When in doubt, the call is IN.  

This piece of etiquette cannot be stressed enough. If you do not SEE that the ball is completely out, the ball is in. 99% out is still 100% in. 


Bonus top 4 tips for spectators

1. Cheer after a good point (only)

There is nothing appropriate about cheering for an unforced error or double fault. When in doubt, quiet clapping is a good fallback.


2. Do not help  

When someone is unsure of their call, it is never appropriate to call out to assist.  


3. Do not walk around the court during points

If you need to go through the court, wait until players are on a changeover.  


4. Keep your phone silent

When you arrive at a tennis match, make sure your ringer is off or on vibrate. Do not take calls while players are playing.


Final thoughts on tennis etiquette

Tennis is one of the most popular sports in the world. It can be enjoyed by people as young as 3 and as “mature” as 80 — or even older.


Tennis is excellent for maintaining cardiovascular and respiratory health. It calls on all major muscle groups and is excellent for developing better balance, endurance, and coordination.


One of tennis’s best attributes is the social component. Playing tennis with friends and making new friends at the court is a great way to enjoy one another and expand your community.


To ensure you are playing with the utmost consideration for others, make sure you know the etiquette of tennis.


In this article, we covered all the essential rules for you to know so that you can play with complete confidence - if not in your skill, at least in your manners.


The Paseo Club supports tennis players of all ages and levels of expertise on our 12 courts. Players who want to improve their cross-training, we offer swimming and water aerobics in the junior-Olympic pool and indoor and outdoor gym facilities.


If you are in the area and are not yet a member, come see the club by scheduling a tour.


We love playing tennis! Check out these popular articles to learn more about the sport:




Jen Azevedo

Jen Azevedo is a person of many talents. She is a tennis professional, pickleball professional, personal trainer, group exercise instructor, and the general manager of the Paseo Club. She loves the community at the Paseo Club and that it is also a safe and fun place for her daughter. Jen’s favorite activities are joining her tribe for trail races or her partners for tennis matches. Occasionally Jen slows down to relax with a book — she reads over 100 a year!