Tennis Etiquette

Tennis Etiquette for Non-Umpired Matches


Making calls

When playing without an umpire a player must abide by the unwritten law that says any doubt must be resolved in favour of the opponent. This includes “I didn’t see the ball”.

This means that any ball that cannot be called out without surety is presumed to be good and play continues.

No point should be replayed because a player is unsure whether the ball was in or out.

Spectators should not be asked to make any calls.

It is both the obligation and prerogative of a player to call all shots landing on, or aimed at their side of the net; to help the opponent make calls when the opponent requests it, and to call against themselves any ball that they see out on the opponent’s side of the net (with the exception of the first serve).

Any call of “out”, “let’ or “fault” must be made instantaneously and loudly for the opponent to hear, otherwise the ball is considered good and is still in play.

In accordance with the law of parallax, the opinion of a player looking down the line is more likely to be accurate than that of a player looking across the line. So, the receiver should call the mid-line (centre) and tramline (side lines), and the non-receiver should call the service line.

Once a call is made all play stops immediately regardless of what happened afterwards.

Most importantly a ball is not out until it is called out.

Service calls – If a receiver gives the server the benefit of the doubt and returns an out ball the server is not entitled to refuse the benefit of the doubt and ask for a let on the basis that she saw it was out so the return caught her by surprise.

Doubles - When one partner calls the ball out and the other good the doubt has been established so the ball must be considered good.



If a server or her partner think the serve was out and fail to return the opponents return of serve, they lose the point.



Each player is responsible for housekeeping on their side of the net. Balls should be returned directly to the server quickly and efficiently by rolling them under the net between points.

Players are entitled to request their opponent remove a ball from the court prior to the commencement of the point.

Don’t walk behind another court during a point, across someone else’s court while they’re in the middle of a game or interrupt a point on another court to retrieve a ball.



The server should announce score loudly and clearly prior to serving each point.



Wear appropriate sports gear and shoes for playing tennis. Ensure you have pockets, stretch garments or a tennis ball clip to hold your tennis balls securely.

At Helensville we ask that players representing our club wear the club shirts or singlets.



Be respectful of your opponent.

While it’s fine to celebrate your successes it’s not polite to pump your fists, hiss “yes” or high-five spectators when your opponent makes an error.

Screaming regularly and loudly, whether in relation to winning and/or losing a point is likely to cause interference to play on nearby courts and may be considered unsportsmanlike.

Do not stall, sulk or complain.

Shake hands firmly and congratulate your opponent at the end of the match.