For ardent tennis lovers or for those that watch this sport during their leisure time, you may have noticed that tennis players apologize to their opponents for hitting the net.
According to Ralph Waldo Emerson, “Shallow men believe in luck and circumstance. Strong men believe in cause and effect.”
This statement has never been more true than in a game of tennis, whereby a player scores some points by what some may call a “stroke of luck” against an opponent by hitting the net and landing in.
Every game is governed by some rules, in the game of tennis, players are expected to serve the ball to their opponent, the opponent should reply by hitting the ball back to their opponent, ideally the ball should go over the net into the opponents side.
But, if the ball touches the net or the net cord and still lands in, the opponent is expected to return the ball. And the failure to do this will result in points being awarded to the player who hit the ball. And yet, the player winning the point, as can be seen in the above video, typically apologizes to his/her opponent for that.
Why is that so?
For starters, you may be curious to know what a net cord is, and its significance in a game.
Well, a net cord gives the tennis net a stability it needs and passes over the top of the net from one end to the other.
Now, points are points, regardless of how they come. Tennis players, however, do end up apologising whenever they win them as the ball hits the net cord and pops over to the other side. The big question is why is this so?
Here’re a few reasons why tennis players put their arms up in apology when they win a rally thanks to some help from the net cord.
Everyone likes to get lucky, so it may seem strange that a player gets to apologize for something that should otherwise be celebrated. In my opinion, I think players are already aware of the existing tradition and just keep up with it.
In not so recent times, tennis was mostly played by comrades in England who will just enjoy the game after having a meal or for relaxation.
The price then was at most a handshake from the players. So, the players placed premium on their relationship rather than on any price, so if they felt that they have been favored unduly, they apologize to show that it was not their intention to do so.
Overtime, despite the competitive nature of the game today, this tradition of comradeship and respect have continued from generation to generation.
In reality, I do not think any player would feel sorry for hitting the net, after all, they are there to win points. And whichever way they can make this happen should be embraced, unless, it is just a friendly match with friends, in which case a player may truly feel sorry for gaining points through the lazy mans way.
So, if a player apologizes to his opponent, he may just be observing an age-long tradition.
To Foster Peace
Another obvious reason why players apologize to their opponent is to keep the peace. Tennis is a peaceful game that is almost devoid of rancor and strives.
Hitting the net is considered a tricky way to gain points; this is so because the other player can almost invariably not make a return to that shot.
To avoid ill-feelings during the course of the game and after it, the player may chose to apologize to his opponent for scoring cheap points and making nonsense of the opponent’s hard work and effort
Imagine the frustration of an opponent that was prevented from replying a shot because the other player got lucky. The easiest way to douse the tension that may arise from such a situation is to be civil and apologize to your opponent.
For Gaining Unfair Advantage
Like most other sports, tennis players try to put their best foot forward to succeed at any game.
Players are often observed doing all they can to maneuver and outsmart their opponent.
They believe in their skill and want to use this to win points against their opponents. Ironically, they may gain points by unintended outcomes.
Players do not like to believe that they won through crappy shots and may choose to apologize to their opponent for gaining an advantage over them for no fault or incompetence from them, but rather by sheer luck.
Fear of Reprimand
It is believed that some players may not show respect by lifting their hands or making any gestures, if not for fear of being reprimanded by other colleagues, friends, and the public.
They may not want to be seen as weak sportsmen.
Like retired tennis player Liezel Huber said:
“I say sorry, so that people do not think I am mean”
She went further to state that she thinks it is wrong to say sorry for an act that you are obviously not sorry about. But to avoid being bullied, she just does it.
According to Bob Bryan, “you are never sorry, you are actually kind of elated that you got the luck”
You may begin to wonder if it is necessary to say sorry if you are not playing professional tennis, I would say yes, to excel at any game, it will be great to follow the laid down rules and tradition that govern the game.
The aim of engaging in the game, should be to build up skill and to enjoy the game. Being civil and observing the gentlemen’s code is essential to having some success in the game.
Final Words on Why Tennis Players Apologize after Hitting Net Cord
As a concluding note, players in a tennis game know that scoring points by hitting the ball just over the net cord is a cheap way to get ahead in the game, so they apologize for hitting the net to acknowledge this, they also just do it to maintain an age-long tradition of comradeship, it is also a way to show respect to the opponent, who was prevented from replying the shot, and finally they do this to display their regrets at their inability to make use of their skills and ability to secure points, rather than through fluke.