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Court-side tennis etiquette for spectators


tennis etiquette for spectators

My soccer mad fanatic brother recently teased me that he now needs my handbook on tennis etiquette for spectators. The funny reason was because; he’s now watching soccer from the house all silent which is way out of the norm.

He ridicules me on how “boring”, we tennis spectators are. However, my all-time defense to that is tennis is a game of kings; decorum and spectator etiquette is part of the drift.

He, like his fellow loud fans can’t go to the stadiums because of the Covid-19 health safety guidelines which are almost impossible to implement in soccer stadiums.

I actually retorted that the fans of the “Sport of Royalty” will be back to the courtside sooner than soccer fans. Even before Covid-19 guidelines, tennis etiquette for spectators has for long guided how we, courtside tennis matches fans carry out our business.

It’s easier for tennis stadium’s managements to implement the heath safety guidelines compared to soccer stadiums. I promised to educate him and take him to “our” courts for the experience before they get a nod back to their loud melees.

Easy guide to tennis etiquette for spectators;

Spectators’ calmness on the bleachers is just one part of whole lot deliberate actions. It’s made possibly by the passion, learning and understanding why, as well as a bit of good planning.

You just don’t find yourself overly silent on the bleachers, and if you have to be forced to, you probably wouldn’t enjoy the fun of the game. Just a few things to help you get excited and psyched-up for a chance in the tennis stadium(s).

How to prepare; Planning and preparing for fun should be fun. Why not, when it offers a sneak peak view of how your match day presence would turn out? Just a bit of it will go a long way in making it worth every minute at the courtside.

Before Match day preparation:

How to prepare involves;

  1. First stop, head to the tournament’s website:

It’s important that you check out for details of the tournament from their website.

You’ll get valuable info on say the venue, dates, and court’s surface details among others. You’ll also know the courts and their scheduled matches and timings.

Further, you’ll also get know what you may or may not bring to the match precincts. All this information and more will help shape your attendance preparation and give you a hint of the game you’d be expecting.

  • Buying of tickets:

As you would expect, match ticket charges will definitely rise as plays progress from the elimination stages upward.

You’ll be surprised to note that there are very breath taking games in those qualification stages.

Get the tickets in good time not to miss out on them. Additionally, these courts for qualifying rounds are small sized and you stand a better chance of even a photo opportunity or even getting an autograph. That is if you lucky. No guarantees.

Actual match day preparation;

When it’s match day, there are a few things you’ll work around. These include:

  1. Deciding on the dress code;

Tennis is a game of elegance and royalty. As such, your dressing should not bring it to disrepute; “pun intended”. However though, there is no officially prescribed dress code.

However smart casual attire is recommend.  Essentially, dress in a way that you are smart and comfortable.

Considering you have appraised yourself on the matches’ details from the website, then you should be able to predict how the weather would be and dress accordingly.

While your attire may have your favorite player’s image, as part of the tennis etiquette for spectators however, some of the attires are strictly prohibited and highly discouraged. These include:

  • dressing with marketing messages not unless approved by the tournament organizers,
  • Dressing with political and controversial messaging. Tennis is for all, personal beliefs and views notwithstanding.
  • Unacceptable language imprints. This may cause you embarrassment when you are escorted out of the court precincts.

A dash of your national flag colors or even a smart face painting is not an issue.

What to wear to a tennis match in hot weather:

Now, I hope you know that tennis matches can last for hours. To sit through and enjoy the matches in the hot sun and high temperatures, you’ll definitely need the following;

  • Your favorite Sunscreen: Can you get a sunburn in the shade? Well, unlike in the sun, it’s definitely a no. However, most games kick-off when the sun is overhead. Therefore, one obvious worry is how to avoid sunburn while on the tennis court bleacher.

If unlucky to be in the sun (majority of the spectators are anyway), you’ll need a good sunscreen. And you’ll need to apply it quite a good number of times.

The best sunscreen should be sweat prof and non-greasy. There are plenty of sweat-resistant sports sunscreens in the stores if you play recreational or cardio tennis in the sun too.

Further, you could do with tech help by having either of the available Apps that will notify you of the maximum exposure to the sun before suffering sunburn.

Based on the timings, you can apply the right quantity of sunscreen. The most reliable app is the QSun available in both android and iOS.                        

  • Good lip balm: You don’t want to let you lips dry and chap under the intense sun. Remember you still got to be elegant and feel good.
  • A sun visor: You may miss all if not most of the serves and back and forth rallies because of the sunrays beaming hard and straight to your face and eyes. It’ a cool sunburn peeling prevention attire for your face.   
  • A good hat/cap: This is one of the easy ways on how to avoid sunburn without sunscreen. The hat should cover your head well and shouldn’t sweat the hell out of you.

However though, it also SHOULDN’T be too big to obstruct the spectators behind you. Be a mindful and courteous spectator.

  • Outdoor sunglasses:   Have them complete your cool look and cover your eyes from the blistering sunrays. Ideally, they should offer you excellent views and protect you from the excessive harmful UV light.

What to wear to a tennis match in less warm weather;

This is purely left to your judgment. Just ensure you’ll be warm if it turns cold and still be comfortable and as elegant as you would wish in warm weather. In a way you won’t feel “odd and out of place”.

In general, the classic route is always the way to go if unsure of how to dress.

2. The right foot-ware:

While your shoes could be classy and elegant for the “occasion”, they should above all be comfortable. You don’t want to have hurt feet and potentially embarrass yourself by wobbling around.

As you make rounds within the stadiums, you’ll definitely be walking on different surfaces and you don’t want mishaps or even injuries.

Be ready to really WALK!!! I trust this gives you a sneak peak on what shoe to wear for a tennis match.

3. Snack Packing:

As is explained here under, part of tennis courtside etiquette for spectators is, strictly no movement and/or disruptions during a match. Such is only allowed during specified timings and breaks.

You’ll definitely need some “juice” in your system to last the extended stays on the bleachers.

Just a heads-up though, drinks and bitings within the grounds are a little pricey. You would consider packing a little of that to keep your energy levels up.

However, glass containers and all corked containers are like contrabands in correctional facilities. Sadly, flasks and travel mugs too.

Just so you are light or even luggage free, chocolate bars, creams and strawberries are a good company for you.  And obviously, don’t liter with trash. Dispose it rightly.

What to and what not to do in the stadium:

When you arrive at the tournament venue, even before finding your way around, ensure to park at the right spot. It would be great to ask the traffic marshals on the directions if not clearly directed.

What to do while on the bleachers;

  • Sit calmly on your seat. It’s not courteous of you to keep distracting other fans by your movements. Sit pretty like in the movie theatres.

A dash to the restroom or any other movement is restricted to during change of ends. Subsequently, if you leave your sit, the return is during the next change.

However though, changes are frequent, lest it looks like being caged and then you chicken out. Don’t worry of being pressed for long.

  • Be silent: Tennis game calls for players’ focus and concentration to be at its possible best always. Any noise (even what you may assume to have no effect) has the potential of disrupting that and ruining their rhythm of play. You definitely don’t want that even on the opponent of your favorite player.
  • Turn-off your phone or switch to silent/vibrate: Refer to point above. Any unnecessary sounds other than from the umpire are considered distracting noise. You want to avoid that.   
  • Get a tennis App: Some of the best are ATP and WTA Live. You definitely wouldn’t mind getting the game’s statistics live as well as individual players’ statistics.

Tennis is a game of numbers which you obviously can’t manually keep up with. Whether it the speed of the hits, the power and many others. The App will do for you.

  • Enjoy the game: If you can have undivided attention while watching the match, you definitely have a great time. The game’s big shots and your favorites are literally right before your eyes.

You could take a few photos and maybe even video record and it will be worth your time and money.

What not to do:

  • Not to have your camera flash on: Getting into rhythm and focus is a player’s must have if s/he wants to stand any chance of a good game.

The intensity in a tennis game is incredibly high.

While you’ll want to carry home some photographic memories, a flashing light from you camera or phone is an unnecessary distraction. It’s likely to throw the players off their rhythm.

Yes, take photos, but the phone or the camera’s flash MUST be off.

  • Never leave children alone and unattended while in the bleacher area. There is the danger of the child getting lost in the crowd in case they can’t sight a familiar face.

Breaching all the tennis etiquette for spectators is also likely as a result of the anxiety on the child. While It may be excusable that disruption is by a child, it’s however not acceptable.

  • No heckling, booing or loud cheers: Absolutely NO cheers in between rallies. This is only possible after the end of a point for just a few seconds, ten back to silence.  

Don’t assume the role of a coach and hurl instructions to your favorite player. Heckling, booing or shouting frustrations with the match proceedings is prohibited.

  • Do not assume Umpire role: Yes, you may not agree with all the decisions or would want to query some judgments and calls. DON’T do it.

I hope you are fully acquainted with these easy to uphold tennis etiquette for spectators and you can’t wait for the stadiums gates to roll open.

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