Tennis Players

Why Do Tennis Players Apologize For Hitting The Net Cord?

When the tennis ball nicks the top of the net and dribbles over to your side, your opponent’s apology is more than just etiquette. Though it may seem like common courtesy, their “sorry” acknowledges the bad break you just got.

The shot was based on luck, not skill. By apologizing, your opponent shows respect for your effort and empathy for your disappointment. In a gentleman’s game like tennis, these small gestures keep the peace and make the game enjoyable for all..

Why Do Tennis Players Apologize for Hitting the Net Cord?

Tennis players apologize for hitting the net cord to show respect and keep the peace with their opponent, who didn’t get a fair chance to return the shot.

A Bit About Tennis Nets and Net Cords

First, what exactly is a net cord in tennis? The net, as you know, sits between the two players and divides the court. You have to hit the ball over the net to get it into the opponent’s court. When you hit a shot, if it barely grazes the top of the net and then goes over, it’s called a net cord. Sometimes the ball just catches the net enough to change its direction before bouncing on the other side.

These net cord shots can be totally frustrating! You think you’ve hit a winner and then the net kicks the ball back dribbling slowly over the net. Gah! As a rec player, I’ve definitely cursed the tennis gods when this happens. But for pros, net cords can make points controversially won or lost.

Why Players Feel Compelled to Say Sorry After Net Cords

Now let’s get into the reason behind the apologies. There are a few factors at play here:

It’s Seen as Luck, Not Skill

Most players and fans view net cord shots as lucky, rather than skillful. Hitting the edge of the net unintentionally doesn’t demonstrate technique or ability – it’s just chance. Say I get a net cord return winner to go up 40-30 – I can’t claim I meant that shot! It was a total fluke.

Since it’s not an earned point, players feel bad and want to acknowledge the luck involved. You’ll often see them give a sheepish smile or shoulder shrug along with the “sorry!”

It Disrupts the Expected Flow

Tennis has a certain flow and back-and-forth rhythm to it. When a net cord messes with a shot you don’t expect it. It can interrupt the natural momentum of the point.

I remember a crucial point where Serena Williams hit a down-the-line winner against Maria Sharapova at Wimbledon. But the net cord kicked it back and Maria made an easy put away. Serena was shocked! The crowd gasped too. No one saw it coming, so it didn’t feel like the point progressed properly.

It Goes Against Tennis Etiquette

Tennis is known for its traditions and proper etiquette. That’s why you see the all-white dress code at Wimbledon and polite crowds who clap politely. Saying sorry just shows respect for the sport and your opponent.

For pros, it’s ingrained in them to be sportsmanlike.Think of Roger Federer – he’s the epitome of tennis etiquette, manners, and grace. Can you imagine him NOT saying sorry after a net cord?

Trying Not to Appear Unsportsmanlike

On a similar note, players want to avoid any unsportsmanlike behavior or gamesmanship.

Imagine if someone hit a net cord and then celebrated wildly or taunted their opponent. That would be totally poor form!

The apology is a way of acknowledging the shot was abnormal and not taking unfair advantage.

How Do Players Actually Apologize?

The most straightforward apology is just saying “sorry” or “my apologies” to your opponent.

You’ll also see players put up an open hand or give a little head nod. This is like a visual way of literally saying “my bad!” Some will even apologize to the net, as if they’re sorry for catching it.

Interestingly, not EVERYONE apologizes – especially on crucial points. If it’s an important break point or something, some pros will stay silent. Still, the majority seem to follow the etiquette.

Famous Net Cord Controversies

There have been some famous net cord moments that caused a lot of drama because they impacted a key point.

At the 2018 French Open, Serena Williams lost a point to Maria Sharapova after a net cord in the deciding set. She was livid, yelling “this is not fair!” to the ump. But it was totally legal, so she had to move on.

Roger Federer has had some heartbreaking net cord losses to his rival Rafael Nadal over the years. In their Wimbledon 2008 epic final, a net cord helped turn the tide in Nadal’s favor just when Fed seemed to have momentum. Oof!

Another famous net cord helped Novak Djokovic saved match point against Federer in the 2019 Wimbledon final. Nole barely got his racquet on a shot and a net cord dribbled over to save him. He ended up winning the title in an epic 5-set classic.

Related Article: Why Do Tennis Players Break Their Rackets During a Match?

Why Do They Feel Compelled to Apologize?

As you can see, the tennis apology tradition has some layers to it. Overall, it comes down to:

  • Wanting to be conscious of the “luck factor”
  • Respect for the sport’s etiquette
  • Avoiding negative perception
  • Not taking unfair advantage

The pros want to follow tradition and come across as gracious. Saying sorry shows humbleness and respect for the game. It’s one of the quirky rituals that makes tennis special!

Of course, I can’t say I always follow this etiquette in my weekly leagues. When I get a funky net cord in my favor, I’ll usually take the point without apologizing! But it’s interesting to see this tradition play out in the professional realm.

Next time you watch a tennis match, keep an eye out for net cord apologies. And if you’re ever lucky enough to hit one yourself – take the point, but don’t feel too bad about it! They’re just part of the fun and unpredictability of our beloved sport.

Let me know if you have any other tennis etiquette questions! I’m always happy to chat about my favorite sport. Whether it’s player rituals, odd tennis rules, or proper court conduct, I’ll do my best to share insights from an average player’s perspective.

FAQs

Do professional tennis players have to say sorry after a net cord?

It’s not an official rule, but apologizing is standard etiquette and good sportsmanship.

Does saying sorry after a net cord make a difference?

Yes, it shows respect, empathy, and preserves the spirit of the game.

Is a net cord shot illegal in tennis?

No, net cords are considered legal and fair play, even if “lucky.”

Can you lose a point for not apologizing the net in tennis?

You won’t lose a point, but it’s frowned upon and considered rude.

Do tennis players apologize for all lucky shots?

Usually just net cords, since the net impeded the other player most.

What if my opponent doesn’t say sorry for a net cord?

You can still say “no problem” to keep things friendly, if you choose.

Conclusion:

The pros want to follow tradition and come across as gracious. Saying sorry shows humbleness and respect for the game. It’s one of the quirky rituals that makes tennis special!

Of course, I can’t say I always follow this etiquette in my weekly leagues. When I get a funky net cord in my favor, I’ll usually take the point without apologizing! But it’s interesting to see this tradition play out in the professional realm.

Next time you watch a tennis match, keep an eye out for net cord apologies. And if you’re ever lucky enough to hit one yourself – take the point, but don’t feel too bad about it! They’re just part of the fun and unpredictability of our beloved sport.

Let me know if you have any other tennis etiquette questions! I’m always happy to chat about my favorite sport. Whether it’s player rituals, odd tennis rules, or proper court conduct, I’ll do my best to share insights from an average player’s perspective.

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