Cheating is quite comon in tennis unfortunately. I´m sure you´ve faced an opponent that cheated against you, if not you´re are very lucky.
Personally I can´t stand it when someone cheats, if I see one of my players cheating they will have a real problem with me 🙂
Cheaters cheat to ´win´ easy points and often to start a psychological warfare with their opponent. They can call a ball out that is really inside the lines and they can try to change the score to their advantage. If you don´t know how to react to being cheated, your game will suffer from it…..
Cheating is especially a thing in junior tennis. It happens a lot and it even gets teached by some coaches, very bad in my opinion!
The cheating player might win some matches but won´t really improve their game like the rest of the players will do. They will mostly keep relying on their cheating ´skills´, which will not bring them much.
I have often been cheated on in a tennis match in my junior days. 9 out of 10 times I ended up losing the match, even though my tennis level was much higher than my opponent´s level. I just couldn´t handle it emotionally.
I used to take it personal and often got very angry with my opponent. When I started to play more matches, experienced to play against cheaters more often and got a bit older, I found out how to deal with these situations.
So what are the do´s and don´t when playing against a ´cheater´?
Before we dive into the do´s and don´ts when playing against a cheater, I would like to tell you a funny story what of happened in one of my matches:
I was going to play my 1st round qualification match of of 15.000$ tournament in Crete, Greece. The draw came out and I knew my opponent, he was known for cheating in his matches. I´ve seen him do it against other opponents and I had heard about it a lot, so I knew what was coming my way.
We started our 5 minute warm-up together and we were ready to start the match. Already on the second point he was trying to cheat on me! I was expecting him to do it but not that quick 🙂
I decided not to react and see if it will happen again but during the second game it happens again.
I felt it was going to be like this for the whole match if I didn´t do something about it.
During the next point he hits a forehand atleast 1 meter away from the baseline and I decided to call his shot out. I didin´t expect it but he got very angry! Funny no? A cheater getting angry when he gets cheated on 🙂
I told him that it´s not OK what he has been doing and that I won´t allow him to cheat on me. It will be a very ´dirty´ match if he decides to keep going like this.
It´s absolutely not something that i´m proud of and I didn´t like doing it. However, it worked and the rest of the match continued to be very fair.
- Stay calm!
Losing your mind on some bad calls won´t help your game at all. In fact, it will only make things worse. Stay calm and focus on your game, don´t let him/her get into your head!
- Check the mark of the ball if you´re not sure if the ball is really out
This could only be really useful when your match is played on a clay court. On a hard court or grass court you simply cannot see any mark 🙂
- Count the score out loud
If you count the score out loud after every point, there is very little chance your opponent will try to change the score into his/her advantage.
- Make clear to your opponent that it´s not OK to cheat
Tell your opponent that it´s not ok what he or she has been doing to you. Always start off friendly!
- Ask for a referee if your opponent continues cheating on you
Can´t you figure things out with your opponent? Asking a referee to join your match is a great option if there are any referees around. The referee makes the calls, couldn´t get any better right?
- STAY FOCUSED ON YOUR OWN GAME
This is a must! I don´t think it needs any further explaination for any player that has played a match before.
- Get angry
No no no! This is an often made mistake by players that get cheated on but is an absolute no-go!. Always try to stay calm and in the moment. Easier said than done though 🙂
- Take it personal
Your opponent most likely isn´t cheating because he/she plays against you, they probably do it to everyone. Don´t take it personal!
- Thinking about your cheating opponent instead of thinking about your own game plan
What is more important, your cheating opponent or your own game? I´m sure we would both pick the same 🙂
- Change your game plan
Don´t start to play far away from the lines just because your opponent is cheating! This will damage your game even more than getting cheated on for a few points.
Until there comes a time where every player on the world plays their matches with a referee and hawk-eye, you will keep facing this mental challenge.
When facing a cheating player, it’s important to never make excuses and give up trying to fight (giving up is exactly what this opponent wants you to do). DEAL WITH IT!