Tennis players sort out rules on their own


Merrick Mims

Har-Ber tennis players compete against Bentonville West in a conference match-up.

When it comes to high school sports, tennis is in a league of its own. Volleyball has line judges, up and down referees, and several scorers while football commonly has five officials. Opposingly, tennis relies only on the integrity of the players to keep up with the rules. Athletes make calls on balls that land either in or out on their side of the court. This can occasionally lead to conflict between some competitors.

“Usually five or six times a match there will be arguments about something,” senior Luke Lightner said.

If a player disagrees with a call made by the other team, the player arguing asks “Are you sure about that?” If their argument is good, the call could be overturned or the point could be replayed, but ultimately, the decision is up to the team or player who is not serving.

“There’s been times where I’ve played people, and we had to stop the game to try to negotiate with them,” senior Brooklyn Farmer said. “Sometimes they’re chill and will do a replay while other times you can tell they’re trying to cheat.”

Because it is easy to lie, sometimes matches can be unfair.

“I wish there were line judges because so many people cheat,” Farmer said. “They don’t care; they just want to win.”

Yet according to senior Kate Baldwin, sometimes your own calls can depend on the other team’s attitude.

“If the people you’re playing against are really mean and stupid, you call the line out.” Baldwin said. “That’s their cue to know to back off.”

Farmer has had a hard time learning to stand her ground when making calls because of her fear of conflict. 

“I’ve had to be more confrontational, and I don’t like it,” Farmer said. “If I hit a really good point, and they say it’s out, I kind of have to say something.”

Because competitors decide calls, tennis players need integrity. According to sophomore Averie Gawf, a majority of athletes have integrity, but when playing competitors who don’t, those who do must be good sports and act maturely.

“Integrity is not something that you develop from tennis; it’s something that you have to have walking in,” Gawf said. “Matches can be frustrating if your opponent is lacking integrity, but ultimately, you have to show sportsmanship and rise above it.”

Baldwin always tries her hardest to win fairly and be an honorable competitor.

“Even if I’m super close,” Baldwin said. “I’m like, okay, we got to be honest.”

In the end, the game relies only on an athlete and their opposition. 

“Not everyone can see because there’s six or so matches going on at the same time,” junior Kathy Do said. “So it’s just you and your opponent.”