On the line

Tennis players learn to respect the honor code of the game

Photo by Madison Krell.

Photo by Madison Krell.

In or out?

Tennis players have to make that decision on their own in most regular season matches because at the high school level, they don’t always have the luxury of an umpire’s unbiased view. According to University of Chicago recruit and senior Luke Tsai, this is necessary for players because there are usually multiple matches going on at the same time during competitions.

“It’s difficult in high school sports especially with all the matches; it’s not practical to have umpires on every single court,” Tsai said. “[The] more important the matches, the more line judges, safety for the line calls and rulings and stuff like that.”

With only a player and his opponent on court, that setting can sometimes encourage cheating, according to junior Young-Jin Kang.

“We keep our own score,” Kang said. “You watch your own lines. You do everything by yourself basically. Your coaches will watch, but if someone wants to cheat, they’ll cheat. You can’t really do anything about it.”

Despite those temptations, however, Tsai said the honor code of the sport is emphasized.

“It’s just down to your own integrity,” Tsai said. “I’d like to think that I have sportsmanship…if I’m [going to] call a ball out, then the ball should be out. And I should expect my opponent to do the same thing. That’s all you can expect when there are no line judges out there.”

According to Tsai and Kang, they both know local players very well, which improves the level of trust and understanding with competition. That sportsmanship, according to Kang, impacts a player’s reputation.

“It’s a really small, close-knit community,” Kang said. “There’s definitely an honor code. If you cheat, everyone’s going to know.”

Often known as “the gentlemen’s game,” tennis teaches important values of positivity and honor, according to Tsai.

“[In] tennis, I think sportsmanship is really emphasized a lot,” Tsai said. “You shake hands at the net, if you don’t people are [going to] look down on you. Nobody wants to be that person that’s always angry and can’t get along with the players, so I think tennis is [about having] to respect your opponent. You have to respect their line calls. And that’s something that’s important in the sport and unique too.”


*Published in the 2014 April issue of The Chronicle

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