The required but insincere apology

Discussion in 'Adult League & Tournament Talk' started by storypeddler, Jul 20, 2013.

  1. storypeddler

    storypeddler Semi-Pro

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    In light of several recent threads on here that deal with proper and improper tennis etiquette, I thought I would pose my own question. I'll say right up front that I have my own opinion about this one, and am not likely to change it based on what others say. I simply am interested in hearing how other players feel about this.

    I hit a pretty flat ball---serves, forehands, backhands, all of them. They don't clear the net by much and they don't come up much at all off the bounce. I have always played this way; it is my own (un)natural style. Because I hit so many shots with so little margin foe error, I inevitably hit the tape a good deal---far more often than most anyone else I ever play, maybe by a ratio of 5-1 or even more. That being the case, I get what appears to be an inordinate number of net-cord balls, a good many of which simply flip up off the top of the net and drop over with little playability. People who play with me a lot are used to it and may laugh or grimace, but usually don't say anything. My question is regarding whether I should feel obligated to apologize or make the "obligatory" hand raise (implying "sorry, lucky shot") whenever this happens? Honestly, I routinely get 3-4 of these every match and have had as many as a half dozen in a set. It happens because all my shots are near the net. Some hit the tape and fall back, some hit it and fall over. Yet, if you don't apologize for what your opponent deems a lucky shot, you are considered unsportsmanlike.

    My opponents virtually never watch one of my flat balls strike the net, fall back on my side, and apologize to me for THEIR "lucky" point. But if I have one slide over, they look at me like I should feel embarrassed for it and feign an apology. Well, even if I said it, clearly I am NOT sorry for winning the point and they would not believe me if I said I was. I don't boast when it happens. I just shrug, turn around, and walk back to begin the next point. I win some of those and I lose some. But I have actually had opponents say something aloud like, "You're going to take that point?" Seriously? If he went for a one-in-a-thousand backhand winner down the line and the ball clipped the outer edge of the sideline, wouldn't he take the point? Would he apologize for making the shot he was attempting? I hit flat balls, and I do so intentionally; it's my style of play and always has been. I recognize my margin of error is smaller, and I live with the upside and the downside of that. Sort of like playing roulette where the odds are longer, but the payoff is greater. So why should I pretend to apologize for something I was, in essence, trying to do? Would you consider it unsportsmanlike NOT to apologize in this situation?
     
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  2. sam_p

    sam_p Professional

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    Personally I think it is fine not to apologize and even to celebrate your luck if it is on an important point in a competitive match. In a social match I'll usually make a smartass comment if I hit one like "I would apologize but I'm not really sorry" or if one is hit against me I'll say something like "Are you really going to take that point?" - all in good fun and with a laugh though.

    A side and slightly related question - what do people think about switching to college rules for lets during serves? In college and WTT they play service lets, might be a fun change in USTA too.
     
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  3. gmatheis

    gmatheis Hall of Fame

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    You apologize because as close to the net as you like to hit your shots, you aren't actually trying to "hit" the net. So hitting the net is a completely unintentional result that often gives the opponent no chance to stay in the point, not because of your skill but because of pure luck.

    Same thing with hitting your frame on a volley and getting a unintended drop shot because of it.

    A common comment with the people that I play when something like this happens is person A says "Sorry". Person B asks "How Sorry?". Person A replies "Well , not quite sorry enough to give you the point, but almost". After a laugh or two we play on.
     
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  4. newpball

    newpball Legend

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    What I think you should do:
    I think you should do what you think is the right thing whatever that is. It does not bother me at all if my opponent does or does not do it.

    What I (usually) do:
    Utter or signal something indicating a sorry.

    What I think of people wanting to dictate what everybody should do
    They should take a hike!

    :)
     
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  5. newpball

    newpball Legend

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    I think they should and I expect eventually they will.
     
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  6. Cindysphinx

    Cindysphinx G.O.A.T.

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    The hand wave or whatever folks do does not not translate as, "Oh, do forgive me. I'm so sorry."

    It translates as, "You have my sympathies that you just lost a point through no fault of your own or anything spectacular that I could have hoped to do. Good luck with that."

    I think it's a nice little tradition, but I don't much care if my opponent doesn't abide. I am usually not even looking at them. I am staring at the net or the ball or my partner or my shoes or my racket . . .
     
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  7. sam_p

    sam_p Professional

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    I agree. One of the flavors of BS artist in USTA is the caller of the phantom let on a great serve. You rarely run into it I find, but it does happen occasionally and it can be hard to tell if is sincere or insincere. This rule change would dispense with that. I believe this is the reason it was removed in college? Since college players are apparently notorious for dodgy calls in matches.
     
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  8. josofo

    josofo Semi-Pro

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    most of the people i have played in my 8-9 years of playing competitive tennis don't apologize on net courts.


    so i don't think op is at all that unique in that regard.
     
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  9. dcdoorknob

    dcdoorknob Hall of Fame

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    Couldn't care less if an opponent raises a hand to me after a net-cord or mishit.

    I raise my own hand sometimes out of habit, but don't give any thought to it. Other times I"ll make eye contact and just sort of shrug, like 'eh what are you gonna do, part of the game' kind of message.
     
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  10. RetroSpin

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    Wow, having to raise your hand in mock apology three or four times a match must be agonizing.

    And the comment about not taking the point, I believe it's called sarcasm.
     
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  11. storypeddler

    storypeddler Semi-Pro

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    LOL. No, not agonizing exactly. But even if I said it out of some feeling of obligation, I wouldn't mean it, my opponent would know I didn't mean it, I would know he knew I didn't mean it...so why play the silly game of pretending to be sorry?

    And no, I've played a couple guys over the years who honestly felt like a player who won a point like that should not take it, but play it over.
     
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  12. darkhorse

    darkhorse Rookie

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    Well, that's just ridiculous, tennis involves a lot of lucky bounces here and there during a match, that's just part of it.

    That being said, I always put my hand up to "apologize" when I hit a netcord during a rally, but it's mostly out of habit. I don't mean it, and sometimes an opponent will jokingly tell me "you're not sorry" or something like that. If my opponent doesn't do the hand gesture I don't get upset, I'm a bit of a traditionalist but that's one thing which never bothers me. If my opponent gets a lucky netcord, I'm usually too busy giving the netcord or the ball the death stare t notice what my opponent does anyway.
     
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  13. kylebarendrick

    kylebarendrick Professional

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    I don't see any reason to give my opponent something that might motivate them. So I raise my hand, mouth 'sorry' and get ready for the next point. I don't care if they do the same or not.
     
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  14. Silent

    Silent Semi-Pro

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    Well, the thing with etquette is that it's not always easy or convenient, that's why it's called etiquette.

    I think Cindysphinx summed up my feelings about this. It's a "gentleman's game" and that's part of it, but personally, I try not to be affected by how my opponent acts. I'd probably get a little aggravated (inside) if my opponent acted as if he was the best in the world because he's doing that. Also, as kylebarendrick said, it's generally a bad idea to give your opponent reasons to want to beat you on a personal level, so there's another reason to observe etiquette on this one.

    The truth is if the nets were us-open tight, more balls would fall on your side than not, so it is definitely luck. You're not trying to do this, it simply happens often because of your style of play. I think most players would avoid clipping the net if they could help it, because then the ball becomes unpredictable.

    All in all, I'm a bit old school in the sense that I try to act as if I've been there before. Sometimes emotions can take over, but I don't force my celebrations. I don't like gamesmanship all that much.

    As for replaying points won luckily ? What a load of BS. If the point was won within the rules, then so be it, end of story. I mean really, these people should give up sport altogether if they feel those points should be replayed.
     
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  15. OrangePower

    OrangePower Hall of Fame

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    I do raise my racquet or hand when I hit the net cord... not really an apology per se, but more of an acknowledgement that I was a little lucky there. Same thing if I frame a ball for a winner.

    It's really not a big deal but I guess it shows a bit of humbleness and recognition that even though tennis is a game of skill, there is still an element of luck involved.

    The contrast is the guy that will celebrate winning a point on a lucky net cord as if he just put a passing shot past Federer on Center Court. That just seems tacky to me but whatever.
     
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  16. chatt_town

    chatt_town Hall of Fame

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    I think the only time to apologize is when I mean it. Like if you step into an overhead that I was trying to hit through the middle and you move to the middle thinking I was coming behind you...or a stab a volley that hits you in the chest, but I'll never say sorry for a let cord. I always say something like "they'll even out in the end" and they normally do. I had a guy hit one my first time playing 4.0 in a tourney in the finals on match point. It actually was going wide down the line and hit the tape and rolled back into the court. You think that guy was sorry after 2 1/2 hours of running back and forth? I say only do it when you are sincere. I mean I don't give the Leyton Hewitt "come onnnnn" or do the lawn mower but I'm not about to apologize for winning a point.lol


     
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  17. chatt_town

    chatt_town Hall of Fame

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    That is exactly my point. I think that's a good fair way to look at it. I think you are being a good sport if you don't give the pump fist behind it to make it worse than it is. I think that is good enough.


     
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  18. NLBwell

    NLBwell Legend

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    I don't say "sorry." I say "I got a lucky shot," or "that was lucky." This is the truth, sometimes they go over, sometimes not.
     
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  19. mikeler

    mikeler G.O.A.T.

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    You can do the apology followed by a fist pump like Bartoli did at Wimbledon this year.
     
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  20. spot

    spot Hall of Fame

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    I will do it it if happens on a huge point or after a great rally. I think that is a nice balance where you aren't doing it all the time but it can acknowledge when some luck plays a part in a highly leveraged situation.
     
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  21. RogueFLIP

    RogueFLIP Semi-Pro

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    #21
  22. Mongolmike

    Mongolmike Professional

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    It doesn't bother me either way... it's part of the game, and if that is going to bother someone that I do or don't offer an apology for a net cord... they are probably not very mentally strong in their game anyway... and that will surface over time.

    That said, seeing this thread today after my play yesterday, I was in the middle of the service box during a point and took a chest high FH rip at a floater. Swinging volleys is not a strength of mine, but in that split second that was the choice I made and I was looking to put it away for a winner. Opponent was on the baseline, my shot hit the cord, popped up 8-10 inches and took a nice easy topspin roll onto his side for an unreachable winner. On a game point for me. I did apologize, not that it made any difference, but it was a higher risk shot for me at a crucial point, and I woulda been satisfied with hitting a straight winner, or him at least getting a racquet on it. I would not have been that upset if I missed it because it woulda been deuce and I knew the risk/reward. But I did feel an apology was appropriate.

    Tho when I think about it... whenever that happens to me... an opponent's apology never makes me feel better about having lost the point... I don't feel cheated, but I also feel that I didn't have a legit chance to return the shot or even track it down.

    It's just part of the etiquette I guess.
     
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  23. darrinbaker00

    darrinbaker00 Professional

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    I just give my opponent the classic Pee-wee Herman line, "I meant to do that." ;)
     
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  24. shazbot

    shazbot Semi-Pro

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    Apologizing is dumb.

    You don't see a basketball player apologize for making a 3 pointer off the backboard.

    You don't see a hockey player apologize for scoring a goal off a lucky double deflection.

    Luck is part of every sport, if you get upset because someone doesn't apologize for getting a little lucky, you shouldn't be playing sports.

    What's next? Apologizing for hitting the outside of a line?...
     
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  25. RetroSpin

    RetroSpin Hall of Fame

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    In matters of tennis etiquette and class, I tend to be guided by Mr. Roger Federer. You may choose to follow the John MacEnroe model if you prefer.
     
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  26. struggle

    struggle Hall of Fame

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    mcenroe wouldn't be caught dead in a gold leaf emblazoned jacket
    touting the number of majors he owns.

    class?
     
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  27. kylebarendrick

    kylebarendrick Professional

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    In pick-up basketball, if you don't call "glass" then you will get a bunch of grief for that shot. "You're not going to count that are you?" That is a fairly similar example - the point counts, you were fortunate how it worked out, some good-natured trash talking may ensue...
     
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  28. Mongolmike

    Mongolmike Professional

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    Good example... well, unless you are Tim Duncan. He doesn't need to call "glass". Ever.
     
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  29. RetroSpin

    RetroSpin Hall of Fame

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    Yes, of course you're right. John MacEnroe has far more class than Roger Federer.

    Thanks for correcting me.
     
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  30. BLX_Andy

    BLX_Andy Professional

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    Well yeah but the nature of how most sarcastic comments are played out, they're unnecessary.
     
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  31. chatt_town

    chatt_town Hall of Fame

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    If he shoots anything beyond 17 feet he needs to apologize...much less hitting the glass from 3 point range....sheesh. I bet he wished he had banked that last one from game seven<grin>


     
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  32. chatt_town

    chatt_town Hall of Fame

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    Sure he would if he had 17, but why would he with 11 or whatever and 2 or 3 more people has more than he does.lol


     
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  33. Gut4Tennis

    Gut4Tennis Hall of Fame

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    there is no good or bad, only perception
     
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  34. The Isomotion31

    The Isomotion31 Semi-Pro

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    I just raise my hand. Do not care if opponents do.
     
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  35. adventure

    adventure Banned

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    The net's part of the game.

    Have you ever seen a basketball player "apologize" when they hit a basket that touches the rim, or rolls around the rim, or bounces off the rim into the basket? Hell no! It's just part of the normal physics of the game of basketball.

    Have you ever seen a soccer player "apologize" because it hit one of the posts first? Never.

    A pitcher in baseball apologizing for a strike that hits the corner?

    How about a homerun where the ball catches the wind?

    No one should ever have to apologize for this play in tennis.

     
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  36. newpball

    newpball Legend

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    It is not compulsory but that does not imply one cannot do it.

    Tennis used to be a gentlemen's sport, for some it still is but for others, well, it isn't I suppose. :)
     
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  37. chatt_town

    chatt_town Hall of Fame

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    For baseball I have to add a homerun that catches the foul pole. lol


     
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  38. chatt_town

    chatt_town Hall of Fame

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    Whatever. Tennis is full of the same cocky @$$es that all the other sports have. Apologizing and then taking the point is just ridiculous. If you are really sorry...then give up the point. I haven't ran across one person yet that said after raising their hand..."you know...that ball would have sailed wide had it not caught the net...it's your point".lol


     
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  39. kylebarendrick

    kylebarendrick Professional

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    I usually say "the shot I meant to hit would have been even better".

    You really aren't apologizing. You are acknowledging that you were fortunate.
     
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  40. roman40

    roman40 Rookie

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    If you hit the net, obviously you didn't do in on purpose. So, yes, you are lucky if you hit a net and win the point as a result. Your opponent is also lucky if he gets an easy put-away as a result. Raising a hand is a tradition, pros do it most of the time. You don't have to do it if you don't want to, and it probably won't make any difference. Also, it's fine to joke about it in friendly matches and do whatever, but in competitive situations, if you celebrate, it will certainly be in poor taste and offensive to most people.
     
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  41. corbind

    corbind Professional

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    It's a big, fat lie -- and we ALL know it!*

    Anyone who raises a hand in apology for a net ball that drops over for a point is just lying if that's supposed to be an apology. People play to win points. Half of those net cords will drop for winners and half for losers. When a ball trickles over the new for a winner the "winner" should not fist pump, yet like they just won the lottery, or do anything to exacerbate the mood. They got lucky so an ostentatious fist pump (when accompanied with a big yell "YES") is punishable by Vito and Rocco busting up the pumper's knee caps.

    * (If you're playing with grandma or a nephew in a social match and you win a net tape point you may wish you did not win it. You want the underdog to get a good feeling in playing and wish the ball would drop in their favor. You can make it up to them on the next point by intentionally hitting a ball out or setting them up with a nice short ball they can crush for a winner.)
     
    Last edited: Jul 25, 2013
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  42. Vlad_C

    Vlad_C Semi-Pro

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    I never apologize in that kind of situation, nor do I understand why anyone would feel the need to.
    If you hit the net cord on purpose, then I can see why you should apologize for it.
    But I don't know of anyone who can do that intentionally.
    It usually just happens, the ball can end up on either side, it's just luck, so what is there to apologize for???
     
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  43. storypeddler

    storypeddler Semi-Pro

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    If I hit the net a dozen times and 10 fall back on my side, my opponent never apologizes for one of them. But if a couple pop over and I win the point, I should apologize? Other than things completely out of a player's control (like a random gust of wind), I don't really buy the "luck" argument. If I attempt a dozen low-percentage shots like this one---shots that should succeed maybe 10% of the time, then I am not lucky when one of the dozen falls over.

    That's like saying if a player serves at 50% when he goes for his kick serve, then he got lucky fives times out of the ten he tried it. No, he didn't. He succeeds at this at a 50% rate, so you expect to see about 5 out of 10 attempts turn out well for him. If I hit a huge number of balls very flat and very low and I get a great number of them within 4-6 inches of the net, you would logically expect some of them to hit the top of the net. Some will hit slightly too low and fall back, some will hit slightly too high and kick up, and some will hit in between and simply roll over and basically die. I am not arguing that I attempt to hit that exact shot---simply that I hit very flat groundstrokes and because of that my style serves to produce a much greater-than-average percentage of groundstrokes that hit the tape. Since so many more hit the tape, obviously a fair number more end up rolling over. It isn't luck. It is a matter of my stroke style and simple percentages. My original question was why should I feel obligated to apologize for something that I am technically responsible for because of my playing style? When players try to hit a forehand perfectly in a corner and it works, do we consider them lucky? Even if that was the shot they were attempting? No, we assume they tried a 5% shot and happened to make the one-in-twenty attempt. It DOES happen.
     
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  44. andfor

    andfor Hall of Fame

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    Saying sorry is so overused and unnecessary on the tennis court.
     
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  45. roman40

    roman40 Rookie

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    If you go for a shot that you hit 1/10 times, then yes, your opponent should be very sympathetic for your poor tennis strategy. However, it's still luck if you hit a net and win a point as a result, because you're not attempting to hit the net. If you ARE trying to hit the net, then your opponent should feel lucky, like you said, for playing someone who will most definitely lose the match.
     
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  46. mauricem

    mauricem Rookie

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    my signature response is "sorry .......(pause) I cant do that more often"
     
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  47. AtomicForehand

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    A lot of you seem to be missing the point of the apology and the reason for offering it.

    This is a subtle thing, so you one-dimensional types, try very hard to understand.

    You are not sorry you won the point. You are apologizing to your opponent that a random event took him/her out of the point and ended it in your favor.

    You won the point not because of your skill in executing a shot or in forcing your opponent to make an error. It was a chance occurrence that happened to give you the point.

    You are merely acknowledging that this is slightly regrettable with the quaint little ritual of holding up your hand and/or saying a quick "Sorry."

    Hard to grasp?
     
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  48. jmnk

    jmnk Professional

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    well, yes, it is hard to grasp.

    Are you suggesting that when you hit a lob and it happens to land right on the baseline even though the opponent was sure it was going out than it is all skills and no luck?

    When you hit a passing shot just a hair outside opponent's reach - that's all skills and no luck?

    When you hit a serve that happened to land right on the 'T' - it was all skills?

    but you never think about 'apologizing' for those shots - do you?

    But the main point is even something else.
    I'll acknowledge luck on the net cord as soon as the opponent, once in my lifetime, acknowledges that he was lucky when I hit a perfect passing shot, only it caught the tape and popped out for easy sitter he calmly pushed over the net for his easy winner. I'm waiting some 30 years now....
     
    Last edited: Jul 27, 2013
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  49. storypeddler

    storypeddler Semi-Pro

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    And THAT sums up my argument completely. Players like to assume that when something unexpected happens TO them and they have no way to compensate for it, it was luck on their opponent's part. But when THEY do the same, they frequently believe they had more than a little to do with it and that luck really didn't factor into it.

    Personally, I believe that if you have a pretty good lob and you use it often, it is not lucky when one lands directly on the line any more than it is unlucky when one lands an inch beyond the line. When players attempt shots of varying degrees of difficulty, some will make more than others. If Fed or Rafa goes for an ill-advised down the line shot and they make it, is it all luck? I probably can't make the same shot, or if I can, it will happen much less frequently. The skill level of the player contributes to the likelihood of an event happening as well as random chance.

    I average 3-4 balls a match that strike the net and fall over, virtually unplayable. I am not trying to make that exact shot, but because I hit a very flat ball, I get more of those than most people. I also have more balls that hit the tape and fall back. It isn't luck in either case---it's a by-product of my playing style. When a big-hitting power player ends up with a lot more unforced errors than his opponents, is it because he is unlucky? No, it's because he plays a riskier, bigger chances/bigger payoff style. He probably also has more outright winners than his opponents. Does that mean he was luckier on those shots? LOL.

    Luck only factors in when something is random and completely out of the hands of the player involved. If a 3.5 player is caught chasing down a lob and attempts a "tweener" which actually works, winning him the point, is he lucky? No---he attempted the shot and made it. The fact that he made a very low-percentage shot doesn't equate to luck. If he tried it again a thousand times and never came close again, would we say he was unlucky? Of course not. The truth is that he attempted a very low-percentage shot and happened to make it. This happened to be the one-in-a-thousand attempt that worked for him.

    Apparently most people don't understand how the math works.
     
    Last edited: Jul 27, 2013
    #49
  50. West Coast Ace

    West Coast Ace G.O.A.T.

    Joined:
    Feb 11, 2005
    Messages:
    13,476
    Location:
    So Cal
    Well said. It evens out if you play enough tennis. Sort of like the crazy things that happen at a blackjack table.

    Another bogus 'tradition' of the game. Some people think we need to ape everything the pros do. Like the people who when practicing try to get another ball in play the nanosecond the current one is hit out or into the net - because they've watched pros practice and that's how they do it.
     
    #50

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