August 7, 2009

Common Tennis Etiquette: When To Forfeit

So I'm getting ready to play a match for my indoor league this past Friday. I'm literally about to walk out the door when the captain of my team calls: Can I come by her house and get the score sheet to take to my 9am match? She was also going to play at 9 but the opposing team's captain just called her, at 8am THE DAY OF THE MATCH and FORFEITED 2 OF THE 4 LINES!

While my match is still on, my captain's match, and those of 3 other people on my team, have just been cancelled. So whatever plans those 4 people had made for the day to accommodate playing tennis have just gone out the window. No tennis for them today. And its probably too late for them to make any other tennis arrangements for that morning (let alone any other arrangements at all for that morning).

And since one of the cancelled matches was to occur at 9 am and one was set for 10:30am, and it is now 8am, it is too late to move the later match up to the 9am time slot because those players are all set to be there at 10:30, not at 9. So I will play at 9, my teammates will wait around to play at 10:30, and there will be an empty court just sitting there for several hours. Despite the fact that my teammates would have loved to play at 9am. Had they known this was going to happen.

Now, lest you think I am ranting here about nothing and this kind of gamesmanship and decision-making is just part of the game, let me add that, after my match, my partner and I talked to our two opponents who indicated their distress over the fact that this forfeiting of 2 lines had been going on ALL SUMMER LONG. They couldn't remember a match where their team had been able to get more than two lines worth of players together and, in fact, some weeks they had forfeited ALL 4 LINES!

If you don't see any problem here, don't read this post. If all you see is the opposing captain strategically holding out in the hopes that, at the last minute, her subs will come through, then you don't get it and you're not going to.

But if you see MULTIPLE problems with this situation, as I do, let's talk about the etiquette of forfeiting. When exactly do you call in a forfeit?

Now, I'm not talking about the forfeit that occurs during a match because someone is injured or sick. That is, for the most part, unavoidable and forgivable. I'm talking about the forfeit that occurs because you can't get enough players to fill your lines.

The reality is that, as a captain, you usually know this is going to happen several days before the day of the match. Sure, there are last minute forfeits because a player gets sick or her child gets sick or her car breaks down and you can't find a sub at that point to take her place. These are going to happen and you can't do anything about them (although reshuffling players and bringing in subs often does work).

But when you forfeit 2 lines - you know that's coming (I'm pretty sure the captain who forfeited to my team knew this was going to happen WEEKS in advance).

So, please, be polite to your opponents. Have some manners and FORFEIT THE NIGHT BEFORE. That is my rule and I think it should be everybody's rule. Don't get me wrong - I too have played the game of waiting until the last minute to forfeit, hoping that either my subs will come through or, even better, the other team will forfeit a line, saving me from forfeiting (and, of course, giving me some points). But the bottom line is there are many people making plans to play and whether they play or not depends on you. If these people are on your team, of course you would not think of inconveniencing them. But if they are your opponents, why screw them around? Have some "Common Tennis Etiquette" and call in your forfeit the night before.

© Kim Selzman 2009
All Rights Reserved

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