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Bad Line Calls

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Nearly all players will experience what they perceive as bad line calls by their opponent at some time. You need to be prepared for this eventuality.

First of all, getting a bad line call (or a few bad calls) almost never causes a player to lose a match. However, the way that a player reacts or responds to a (supposedly) bad call will influence the outcome of countless matches.

A simple, three-step process will enable you to maintain your poise when facing this aggravating situation.

1) When you get a “bad call,” give your opponent the benefit of doubt. It is possible that you have not seen where the ball landed clearly, especially when hitting cross-court shots. Often players will make a call in good faith but simply be wrong, so no real need to escalate the tensions at this stage. Instead, prepare for the next point.

2) If you get a second “bad call,” then politely ask them if they are sure about the call. It is unlikely that an opponent will change his/her decision, but at least you have made your position clear: you did not agree with them and will not tolerate another deliberate “bad call,” but that you have done with this in a sportsmanlike manner. After asking the question, take an extra few seconds before beginning the next point to assure that composure is maintained.

3) In a tournament, if you receive a third “bad call,” then stop playing and request that a linesperson come to the court to monitor the match. This should be viewed as a last resort however.

Players need to learn how to effectively cope with adversity. Bad line calling is just one aspect the adversities that can be experienced during a match. Breaking a string in a favourite racket, changing weather conditions, or breaking a favourite racket.

When you are able to beat a cheater, the victory will be all the more sweet. It certainly shows that you can handle unfair circumstances and still thrive.

When John McEnroe was a schoolboy player and a top US junior he was notoriously fair in his line calls. When he felt as though he had been cheated, his resolve would toughen and he would carve his opponent to bits in a way that was fair and square.

If somebody needs to cheat against you to win, then they must lack confidence in their own abilities. Staying mentally tough should this happen will often break the spirit of a cheater.

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Page updated:26 December, 2007

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