Line calling etiquette

pico

Professional
What is the proper etiquette for line calling? I played a guy today. I called some of his serves out which he thought were in. Then I also played serves that I thought were in but he thought were out. It got awkward. I pride myself on being honest and sportsmanlike. I suppose I felt borderline accused of cheating?
 

zill

Hall of Fame
What is the proper etiquette for line calling? I played a guy today. I called some of his serves out which he thought were in. Then I also played serves that I thought were in but he thought were out. It got awkward. I pride myself on being honest and sportsmanlike. I suppose I felt borderline accused of cheating?
Yeah it sucks. My opinion is if you don't play at the pro level with an umpire than you are stuffed. As simple as that. There is no way around it.

But I suppose if you are a semi pro playing at futures events then your opinion is if you don't play at bigger events with Hawke Eye then you are stuffed lol.
 
There was a recent thread about it here:

The consensus is to play on unless the ball is indisputably out. If there is any uncertainty at all, it's "in."

That's in principle. In reality, I see a ton of bad calls, especially by the less skilled player/s in a match.
 

socalmd123

Semi-Pro
You think that's bad? Just go to any junior tournament, even the high level ones. Line calls are horrendous. Sometimes just blatant cheating. And there's nothing the player can do about it except call a line judge but that's after the fact. Cheating resumes as soon as line judge leaves.
 

Steady Eddy

Legend
You think that's bad? Just go to any junior tournament, even the high level ones. Line calls are horrendous. Sometimes just blatant cheating. And there's nothing the player can do about it except call a line judge but that's after the fact. Cheating resumes as soon as line judge leaves.
I've never played a blatant cheater. But if I did, after about the third really bad call, I'd claim an injury and forfeit. He'd get the win, but not the satisfaction of completing a match. Maybe tournament officials would wonder, "How come you get so many forfeits?"

When I started tennis in the wooden racquet era, cheating wasn't much of a problem. Maybe this is part of a larger problem, people are just giving up on being ethical?
 

SystemicAnomaly

Talk Tennis Guru
I've never played a blatant cheater. But if I did, after about the third really bad call, I'd claim an injury and forfeit. He'd get the win, but not the satisfaction of completing a match. Maybe tournament officials would wonder, "How come you get so many forfeits?"

When I started tennis in the wooden racquet era, cheating wasn't much of a problem. Maybe this is part of a larger problem, people are just giving up on being ethical?
Have had that happen to me. I won the first set fairly comfortably. Line calling was okay for the most part. Second set was a different matter tho. A lot of questionable calls by my opponent, a majority of them on crucial points. Score was close but ended up losing that set. Blatant cheating continued at the start of the third set. I stopped after a particularly bad call and said, "if you really need the win that bad, it's yours". And then just gathered my stuff and walked off.

Tennis in the wood era did seem to be more of a "gentleman's game". But it was also a slower game with far less ball spin. Most rec players were probably hitting serves no faster than 60-80 mph. Probably only a few pro players were hitting 100+ mph.
 
Lots of poor eyesight at the rec-minus level. It's only tennis. May want to educate them sometimes or just let it go at others. If the scores aren't being reported it's not worth making an issue out of it--don't expect help from your partners or opponents. If it's a "competitive" match cheating them back works wonders--they figure you're better at it than they are and stop cheating--it's an art--you don't go to hell for cheating back at tennis, you're just leveling the playing field.
 

Pass750

Rookie
Have had that happen to me. I won the first set fairly comfortably. Line calling was okay for the most part. Second set was a different matter tho. A lot of questionable calls by my opponent, a majority of them on crucial points. Score was close but ended up losing that set. Blatant cheating continued at the start of the third set. I stopped after a particularly bad call and said, "if you really need the win that bad, it's yours". And then just gathered my stuff and walked off.

Tennis in the wood era did seem to be more of a "gentleman's game". But it was also a slower game with far less ball spin. Most rec players were probably hitting serves no faster than 60-80 mph. Probably only a few pro players were hitting 100+ mph.
Well done!
 

golden chicken

Hall of Fame
The flip side is you should be able to win at the rec level without painting the lines. If the guy's hooking you and the ball is clearly 3" inside the lines, that's one thing. But I don't remember many matches with more than a handful of close calls.
 

SystemicAnomaly

Talk Tennis Guru
The flip side is you should be able to win at the rec level without painting the lines. If the guy's hooking you and the ball is clearly 3" inside the lines, that's one thing. But I don't remember many matches with more than a handful of close calls.
I've played a match where my balls, that were easily 6" (15 cm) inside the line, were being called OUT. Tough playing under those conditions. You find yourself going for safety margins of several feet (~1 meter) so that your opponent is not tempted to make as many horrendously bad calls.
 

nyta2

Professional
Ultimately, it's your call, but you should be sure it's out before you call it out.
+1
and no late call shenanigans (ie wait to feel if you got a good return, and if bad, then call it out)...
i call out anyone immediately when they are making late calls (especially when I'm s&v'ing)

Then I also played serves that I thought were in but he thought were out.
so i get accused of this.... i'm short, combined with fast serves... sometimes i can't *clearly* see a silhouette of the line against the ball bounce... so i play it... if i see someone serving fast, while i don't have to, i do give them a heads up that:
a) i can't tell if their balls are in/out, so i will play them
b) i will make a call fast (eg. at my contact at the latest)

and if i get the call wrong (it's in, but i call it out), because i'm trying to call it fast, then i lose the point (no redos, first serves, etc...).
 

Steady Eddy

Legend
+1
and no late call shenanigans (ie wait to feel if you got a good return, and if bad, then call it out)...
i call out anyone immediately when they are making late calls (especially when I'm s&v'ing)


so i get accused of this.... i'm short, combined with fast serves... sometimes i can't *clearly* see a silhouette of the line against the ball bounce... so i play it... if i see someone serving fast, while i don't have to, i do give them a heads up that:
a) i can't tell if their balls are in/out, so i will play them
b) i will make a call fast (eg. at my contact at the latest)

and if i get the call wrong (it's in, but i call it out), because i'm trying to call it fast, then i lose the point (no redos, first serves, etc...).
You know how in weddings they say, "...or forever hold your peace."? It's like that in tennis, you see a shot out, but don't say anything, then don't say anything later. None of this after a 10 shot rally, saying, "You know, I think the serve was out." You had your chance to call it out, if you didn't take it, don't take it later. That ship has sailed.
 
Graphite racquets, poly strings, and OS racquets all contribute to faster play which can make accurate line calling difficult, especially on close calls.

Even when I want to call balls accurately, my location on or off the court, whether I'm moving or not, whether the ball is in front or passing, all can pose challenges as well.

Ultimately, I do my best, and while in principle I try to be generous with calls, I still try to make the most accurate call possible but there is more and more evidence mounting that it is very easy to make mistakes.

Maybe I'm being too much of an apologist, but perhaps most players are like me in wanting to be fair, but when things get tight or when your opponent is clearly superior, I could see how someone could very well resort to fudging calls subconsciously in their own favor.

I do see systematic patterns of errors but I still don't want to say that the players I play with are willfully cheating. For example I know of one older player who has been spotted by multiple players making poor calls in his own favor, but I've seen the same player "play on" either saying so explicitly or just playing on when balls were clearly out.
 

bogdan101

Semi-Pro
It's poor form to question line calls that your opponent makes. I call my side, you call your side; end of story.
 
I always play the ball unless I’m absolutely sure it’s out. Sometimes if I make a call I’m unsure of, and the opponent asks if I’m certain, I concede the point. I’ve called my own serves out many times, too. Never felt good when I’d win a point off a missed serve called good.
 

zaph

Professional
What is the proper etiquette for line calling? I played a guy today. I called some of his serves out which he thought were in. Then I also played serves that I thought were in but he thought were out. It got awkward. I pride myself on being honest and sportsmanlike. I suppose I felt borderline accused of cheating?
The issue is when you call it. If you call it straight away, I wouldn't have a problem as your opponent. The problem is when players call the serve after they have seen the quality of their own return.

I played someone who did this and it is maddening. If he got a good return he wouldn't call serves that were blatantly out, out. However if your calls are in good time, your opponent is being a d**k.

Sometimes karma does get these guys. I played someone who claimed he wasn't ready when he failed to return my first serve, when he was. So he asked me to replay the serve and I aced him down the centre line. Made my day.
 
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