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Play With Aloha! Question of the Month

The Final Word - Richard Kaufman, Director of Officials for the USTA
Fan Behavior

Q. I heard that at the local league level it is fine for spectators to applaud when the player they are rooting for wins a point with a great serve or winning shot, but it is considered poor etiquette for spectators to clap and cheer when the player that they are rooting against makes an error and loses the point. I know there aren't any official rules about this, but is there any guidance out there? My coach thinks that this is a ridiculous question and that of course it is okay for spectators to cheer regardless of how a point is won, but I know that I read or heard somewhere that it is poor sportsmanship to cheer when the opponent makes an error. What are your thoughts on this?

A. Refer to “The Code” for these guidelines.

Generally, cheering when a player makes an egregious error is classless. If an error occurs at the end of a long or crucial point, then that is different. It would depend on the circumstances. Cheering a mistake during the first game of the match is different (and worse) than during a decisive tiebreaker. When in doubt, apply the golden rule. Would you mind if people cheered for a mistake that you just made? If not, then clap and cheer. If so, then refrain from clapping and cheering.

Click here to download or view The Code.
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