By John Lowell, Mixed Doubles League Vice President
As I write this, Mixed Doubles 2023 is just kicking off. Given that it’s winter in Atlanta, expect to be in shorts and T-shirts one week and bundled up for a storm the next. That’s the way this season goes.
I want to take a minute to focus on sportsmanship. Great sportsmanship is a hallmark of ALTA, but it’s not there in every match, every weekend. So, let’s think about some things we all can do to make ALTA a better experience for our teammates and our opponents.
We’ll start with the basics. A ball that is on the line is in. Even if the ball just barely touches the line, it’s in. If you and your partner aren’t sure if the ball is in or out, I’ll answer that question for you. The sportsmanlike correct call is the ball is in. Even if your opponents just made a horrible call, and during the next point they hit a ball to your side that you see is in, then you must call it in. Don’t call it out. Retaliatory calls are not sportsmanlike and are not allowed.
Tennis is a sport. While this is a recreational league, it’s still competitive. None of us goes out on to the court wanting to lose. We all want to win. Sometimes your opponents will hit a shot you don’t like. This happens particularly in Mixed Doubles where men are often hitting at women and vice versa. In a competitive tennis match, sometimes the best tennis shot is to hit the ball directly at an opponent. It’s exceptionally rare, in my experience, that a player is trying to injure an opponent with a shot. So, if you get hit by an opponent’s shot, that is not justification to curse at them, start a fight with them, or throw a racquet at them. It’s time to move on to the next point.
If you ever encounter that rare situation where you really think your opponents are hitting shots with the intent to injure and you’re not comfortable having the discussion with the opponent, have your captain or representative talk to their captain or representative. If that doesn’t work, call your coordinator.
Speaking of coordinators, they can be your best friends, but remember they are volunteers. They volunteer for ALTA because they love the organization, and they want to give something back. While they might be your best advocate, your coordinator also deserves that same level of sportsmanship or perhaps better said, respect. When your coordinator gives you an answer you don’t like, they are probably just applying a rule. If it will help you, it’s fair to ask them to help you to find the rule so that you can see why they have ruled the way they have. And, if you’re still not comfortable with their interpretation, ask them to escalate the issue to their overall coordinator.
Remember that weather I talked about at the beginning? By the time you read this, I hope we’ve had lots of great weather and very few of those days when you bundle up.
Enjoy the competition, be nice, and I hope your team wins that big plate at City Finals.