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Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Coaches Q and A: How do you suggest dealing with an opponent who continually cheats?

Nick Bollettieri has written a two-part series (the second installment will be published soon at The Tennis Recruiting Network) called "Beat the Cheat." It's a topic that concerns every single junior tennis player, so Andy Brandi of the Harold Solomon Tennis Institute in Fort Lauderdale, Florida was asked to address the issue in this edition of Coaches A & A.
Today's question: What do you suggest a junior player do when the opponent continually cheats? What do we do at our institute when this happens?
Andy Brandi responds:

Cheating is an act of dishonesty. Many times this act comes from pressure to win either from the player himself or the people that surround him.

When this occurs in a tournament, the USTA has rules in place to deal with these circumstances. In fact, there is a system in place that will suspend players when they accumulate enough suspension points. The problem arises when there are not enough officials at tournaments to monitor this kind of behavior.

If you experience cheating during a match, call for an official and ask them to stand and watch the match. In most cases the cheater will not make bad calls with the official present. Sometimes the person makes such bad line calls that even with an official present and watching, they try to cheat. The rules are such that an official, after correcting a certain number of calls, will start giving point penalties for overrules. The sad thing is that most cheating happens at the most crucial times of the match. In most cases the officials are not around when it occurs. The bottom line is that players must learn to deal with it and play on! You must keep your composure. Take the cheating as an incentive to win the match! Not only is the opponent trying to cheat, he or she is trying to get you upset and out of the match.

Another alternative is to ask for an umpire to monitor your match before you go on court when you play someone who is known to give bad calls.

Whenever we experience this kind of behavior with one of our students, we address it right away. We speak to the student and make them aware of the common occurrence of their bad calls.

If it persists, we discuss it with the student and the parents.

When it happens during our practice matches, we make the correction on the spot. We want the player to know that cheating is not allowed. We will put them on the spot even if we are watching them play in a tournament; they know we will overrule their call!

Other coaches and parents should follow this rule when they see their son or daughter make bad calls on a consistent basis. They need to recognize there is a problem and it needs to be addressed!

Do you have a question for Andy or Harold? If so, please send it to clewis[at]zootennis[dot]com with the phrase Coaches' Q and A in the subject line.


Anonymous said...

Sebastien Grosjean has been hitting with one of the juniors at the USTA training center the last couple days under the watchful eyes of the national coaches. Putting top level pros on court with our top juniors is obviously a great developmental tool. i hope they are successful in making this happen with regularity.