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Spectator Etiquette in Tennis

Whether you’re sauntering the teeming city streets or sloshing through swamps on a jungle safari, you’ll likely find a tennis court somewhere nearby. Tennis has grown increasingly popular around the world in recent years, as fans adorned in outrageous garb flock to stadiums and cheer for their favorite athletes. But, some fans are completely oblivious to basic spectator etiquette.

Even if you have no intention of actually playing the game, it’s very possible you’ll find yourself in the audience for a tennis match at some point in your life. Tennis has distinct spectator rules, though, and you’ll stick out for the wrong reasons if you show up to a match uninformed.

Hear the Cheers

During the course of a match, there will be times when you’re unconsciously roused from your seat, drawn into a euphoric-like state, and provoked to slap your hands together like a hummingbird’s beating wings. Not to worry: This is a natural reaction.

However, you need to stay silent while the ball’s in play. Cheer, scream, cry — do whatever you want — when the point or game comes to an end, but zip your lips while the players are in action.

Most players love a rowdy and involved crowd that cheers them on, so let loose when the point is over. Try to keep your responses encouraging and upbeat, though. No one enjoys an unruly heckler at a tennis match.

New York’s Arthur Ashe Stadium is the world’s largest tennis arena. It can hold 23,200 fans. The largest crowd to attend a tennis match, however, occurred in the 2004 Davis Cup final between the United States and Spain. A court was constructed in Spain’s Estadio Olímpico de Sevilla, and 27,200 fans filled the seats.

Quiet the Calls

Much like a golf tournament, tennis fans are expected to silence their phones. Whether you turn it off, keep it on vibrate, or toss it into nearby stream, don’t let your phone ring during a match. Without much surrounding noise, a ringing phone can pierce through a stadium like a fire alarm. The players need to stay fully concentrated, so save the phone calls for later.

Say “Cheese”

Most players are fine with picture-taking, so long as the flash is turned off. Flashing lights can distract a player as he tries to track the fast-moving, tiny ball. Additionally, if you’re watching from behind a fence, try not to stand directly behind the baseline. Stand off to the side so you’re out of the players’ field of vision.

Early Exit

While not an issue at high school or junior levels, professional matches outline certain rules in regards to fans leaving and returning to their seats during the match. Spectators should wait for a point or game to end before they stand up and leave their seat. Moving bodies distract the players, so stadium ushers direct traffic near the archways and staircases. Similarly, fans should remain standing until the point or game ends before returning to their seats.

Enjoy the Game

Now that you understand the basics of spectator etiquette, your last task is to enjoy the show. Celebrate with the other fans around you, and try to learn something new about the game as you watch the players compete. Tennis is fun for players and spectators alike, so join the party!

Tennis has a unique set of spectator rules, and you don't want to be out of the loop when you show up to a match. This guide breaks down basic spectator etiquette.
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