My son played a Boys 12 USTA L7 tournament and made it to the semi final. He played against a good other kid but was mentally and physically in a very good mood.
He was up 6:0 and 5:1. His opponent had “advantage” and they played a very nice and long rally. The last stroke was a perfect backhand longline by his opponent, very close to my son’s forehand sideline. He was close to the line and could have played the ball back but called it out.
All parents where sitting about 5 meters away from the opposite sideline behind the fence. In my opinion it was absolutely impossible to judge from there if the ball was in or out and my son did call it out.
So far there had been some close calls on both sides, also some fast too long serves on both sides which they both didn’t call out. Normal things that happen in almost every match because no kid and also no adult is perfect in line calling, especially in an intense match.
Nevertheless if this ball would have been in and my son wouldn’t have been able to strike it back his opponent would have made another point, but… my son called it out.
The mother of his opponent was clapping because she believed the ball to be in and the opponent was immediately arguing that it was in while my son said without hesitation that the ball was out. So his opponent tried to call a referee after his mother told him to do so but was not successful. They exchanged some more tense sentences but then finished the game from “deuce” and my son finally won the match.
Meanwhile the mother of the opponent who is normally a nice person was walking around talking to other parents and also to the guy who organized the event.
The match ended 6:0 6:1. They shook hands and walked of the court.
My son’s opponent was still in a strange mood and didn’t say anything when I told him that it was nevertheless a great match which was my true opinion.
I’ve noticed that my son wasn’t so happy and that after reporting the result the mother and her son were still talking with the organizer.
Meanwhile my son told me that his opponent called him a cheater at the handshake. He was pretty upset and had also noticed that the mother was arguing with the organizer about it.
In my opinion it is really wrong when parents act like this. Firstly, they are not allowed to interfere in the match and secondly, the mother couldn’t have been sure about her judgement from the position where she was sitting. It was also weird because it would have most probably not changed the outcome of the game essentially.
So why causing this trouble and even anger? Also the message for her son is not really a good one. Like, when you loose you are not fair but you still argue about the outcome because of ONE close line call. Indirectly you emphasize that way that the opponent was actually a cheater which is not true for sure. This also gave her son an excuse why he lost so high. The last time they’ve met her son won over my son in a close match.
They also didn’t even say “bye” like normal when they left.
My son was upset about it for another hour but I told him that he should relax and that it’s no big deal.
Personally I’ve never called an opponent a cheater even though my son has lost some close matches where some line calls have (most probably) not been correct. My reason for not acting like his: The message would be you can win a match by cheating and that would be so wrong.
A friend of my son is also, compared to his age, a very good player and there are so many people calling him a cheater when he is not around, in my opinion just because they cannot stand him winning so many games and even tournaments at such a young age.
I really would say that this emerges from some kind of envy and frustration… but my son is practicing every day for at least 4 hours and that is the main reason while he is developing fast – and nobody even knows how long this will go on.
My final advice to parents: Don’t take the fun out of the game. Don’t interfere in a match, it’s not allowed anyway. Don’t call an opponent a cheater. Accept the outcome of a match unconditionally even when it’s not so pleasant. They are all winning and loosing sometimes. Just relax and have fun while watching a match!
My final advice to the tennis player: Stay cool and friendly even when your opponent is calling you names. He is harming himself and is just frustrated. If you are honest don’t blame yourself and don’t waste your time in being angry about it during or after the match. We all have good and bad times.