Every match I hear those same three words; the most hated words in tennis. You know, that question that inevitably comes from your opponent on any close line call: “Are You Sure?”
Being a high school coach I hear this question all the time. Each match we play approximately 15 or more matches within the overall match. Imagine walking around with me as I’m frantically trying to coach multiple (up to 8 ) matches at one time. As we walk, you’ll hear this question asked numerous times, court after court after court.
What really bothers me about this question is what it implies. It suggests you are trying to cheat your opponent out of a point. They might as well ask you, “Why are you cheating?” or, for that matter, “Couldn’t you see that was in?”
In fact, just the other day our #1 doubles team was playing a point and just as I came around the corner of their court I saw their opponent’s ball land out just behind the baseline. Our player initially called the ball out and then came the question, “Are you sure?” At which point our player said, “No, I’m not sure, I think it may have been in, your point.” Can you imagine what I was thinking—I was livid! But, what could I say? You’re not suppose to coach until a change over, but I had to say something, and unfortunately I said it to our opponents, “It WAS out, but it’s her call.” Upon which the opponents said, “That’s right, we’re the ones playing the match and it’s our call.” Now to put this into prospective, our player was on the run when she made the call and we were playing the defending state champs; I could tell our players were feeling a little overwhelmed. But still, that’s no reason to change a correct call. At the change over I told our girls to stick to their guns and they were very good at making decisive calls the remainder of the match.
As a team we’ve discussed line call integrity in detail. Our girls have been instructed that if they don’t see the ball out, the ball’s in. And I’m happy to say they’ve lived up to this even when their opponents haven’t. One match in which our #2 singles player was playing in a couple of weeks ago was a great example of following this guidance. Her opponent called four balls out that were blatantly in while I happened to be watching. I can only imagine how many she actually called out when I was off coaching other matches. To our player’s credit, she didn’t let these bad calls bother her, and more to her credit, she didn’t turn to making bad calls to get even. It’s funny, even with all of her opponent’s bad calls, our player still won—because cheating doesn’t pay!
So what’s the point I’m trying to make? It’s to encourage you to make good line calls. If you don’t see the ball out, call it in. If it’s a close line call, error on the benefit of your opponent. And, never, ever ask your opponent, “Are you sure?” You don’t want to question their integrity, because then they’ll question yours.
See you on the courts!
This article was written by admin