By Gina Clance, Senior Leagues Vice President
As a member of ALTA, you obviously enjoy playing the game of tennis for fun. We all joke that we don’t get paid to play, so let’s just have fun! Right? Most of the time, ALTA matches are fun. They are a time for us to get out and enjoy some social time with people who share our love of the game. They are a time to get a bit of exercise and get our competitive juices flowing.
But what happens when ALTA matches turn chippy? When arguments start over a line call? An overzealous shot? A snide comment?
Too many times, matches can take on a sour feeling. We’re not having fun anymore. We just want to retaliate for the “injustice” we feel we’ve been served. Sometimes, serious arguments happen. Foul language is used. Hackles are raised. Tempers flare. This is where choice comes into play.
We have the choice of getting angry or not getting angry when something doesn’t go our way on the tennis court. Our opponent makes what we think is a bad line call. We’re offended by the call. We can choose to question it, or not. I know I’ve questioned calls before — never has my opponent said, “Oh yeah. My bad. I’ll change my call. Your point.” Never. So I no longer choose to question calls. I’ve seen it make my opponent angry too many times. Letting it go is my choice. It keeps the peace in my head and keeps things more pleasant on the court.
Over the past several years, we (collectively) have become offended by more and more everyday things. Being offended by something that happens in a tennis match is a great example of offensiveness getting out of hand. We are fortunate to be able to play recreational tennis! Think back to 2020 when even some tennis courts were off limits. We need to keep things in perspective and be thankful for the opportunity to play this game.
During the recent Senior League City Finals, I heard from captains and players who were offended because their opponents couldn’t accommodate their schedules for makeup matches. They didn’t take into consideration the other team may have had a conflict when they wanted to play. No. The offended team couldn’t accept the fact they weren’t getting their way. They became angry and accused the opponents of cheating. One situation escalated into a screaming match courtside. What should have been a fun night of tennis turned into a team packing up their tennis bags and refusing to play, because they were offended.
Being offended is a choice. I just read a book called “Unoffendable” (Brant Hansen). This statement stood out to me: “If you’re constantly being hurt, offended or angered, you should honestly evaluate your inflamed ego.” The world doesn’t revolve around what makes us happy. We can choose to become angry about things that are not supposed to anger us — and take others down with us — or we can choose to let some things roll off our backs and become more unoffendable. I know which one I’m choosing.
Sportsmanship is when players or spectators of competitive events treat each other with respect and exhibit appropriate behavior. Good sportsmanship means being fair and ethical — to both your teammates and your opponents. We all know this. We try to teach our children to show good sportsmanship in whatever games they play. Congratulate the winner when you lose. Be encouraging and kind to your opponent when you win. We all want to win! Why would we play if we didn’t, right? The art of good sportsmanship seems to have gone down a disappearing path. Let’s bring it back to the ALTA tennis courts!
The next time you face a negative situation during a match or when trying to schedule an ALTA match, remember this: You have the choice to be offended or angry. Choosing to not be offended or angry is one of the most refreshing, freeing things we can do for ourselves. Choosing not to retaliate with words or actions will most likely diffuse the situation, and the match can be what it was supposed to be — fun!