Why Do Tennis Players Apologize for Hitting the Net Cord?

We’ve all been there, you are deep in a rally when you hit a hard, low ball and it strikes the top of the net and hangs in the air before dropping on your opponent’s side of the net, out of reach of your opponent.  You both stop suddenly, your opponent puts their hands in the air, maybe shouts out in anger whilst you apologize for a large slice of luck. 

In this article, we will cover why players apologize for hitting the net cord when winning a point and delve into who the luckiest player on tour is! 

What is a Net Cord in Tennis?

In tennis, a net cord refers to the situation where the ball hits the top of the net during a point and lands on the other side of the court. This can sometimes cause the ball to change direction and speed, making it difficult for the opponent to return.

If the ball lands in the correct court after hitting the net cord, the point continues as normal. However, if the ball hits the net cord and lands outside the correct court or fails to clear the net altogether, it is considered a fault and the point is awarded to the opponent.

Why Do Tennis Players Apologize for Hitting the Net Cord: Reasons

Why Do Tennis Players Apologize for Hitting the Net Cord

As a beginning, you might want to find out what a net cord is and what it does in a game.

The actual net cord (that sits at the top of a net) are used to provide stability to tennis nets from one end to the other.

Regardless of how points are earned, they are still points. As the ball hits the net cord and pops over to the opposite side, tennis players end up apologizing after winning the point (most of the time!). Why is this so?

The net cord plays a key role in helping tennis players win rallies. Here are a few reasons why players put their arms up in apology.

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The Tradition of Sportsmanship in Tennis

Getting lucky is something everyone enjoys, so an apology for something that might otherwise be celebrated may seem strange. 

In the past, most tennis games were played by comrades in England after meals or as a form of relaxation during the day.

At most, the players exchanged handshakes then. As a result, the players valued their relationship above all, so if they felt they had been taken advantage of unduly, they apologized to demonstrate that this was not their intention.

It has taken generations for this tradition of comradeship and respect to continue, despite the intensely competitive nature of the game today.

Ultimately, players are there to earn points, so I don’t think they would feel guilty if they hit the net and win the point. In such a situation, a player may feel lucky for winning the point cheaply, but a win is still a win right! 

Therefore, apologizing to an opponent is a tradition that has been around for centuries and is continued today.

To Foster Peace

In addition to keeping the peace, players apologize to their opponents because they want to avoid provoking them. In tennis, there is almost no rancor, no striving, and no shouting.

Since it is almost always impossible for the other player to return to the shot after hitting the net, hitting the net is considered one of the more tricky ways to gain points.

Players may choose to apologize to their opponents during and after the game for scoring cheap points and disrespecting their hard work and efforts.

A player who gets lucky during a match might feel frustrated because he/she is prevented from responding to the other player’s shot. Keeping a civil tone and apologizing to your opponent can ease tensions in such circumstances.

For Gaining Unfair Advantage

Every tennis player strives to succeed at all games, no matter how tough the competition may be.

It is often observed that players do everything they can to outsmart their opponents and maneuver.

Despite their opponents’ skill, they are confident and want to use this to their advantage. Unintended outcomes may result in them gaining points.

Most players don’t want to admit that they gained their advantage over their opponent by lucky shots and may choose to apologize to their opponent for gaining an advantage over them through sheer luck and no fault of their own.

The Importance of Perception

Perception plays a significant role in the game of tennis. If a player is perceived as being unsportsmanlike, it can affect their reputation and how they are perceived by their opponents, the officials, and the fans. Apologizing for hitting the net cord can help to mitigate any negative perception that may arise from hitting a lucky shot.

Fear of Reprimand

In order to avoid being reprimanded by other colleagues, friends, and the public, some players do not show respect by raising their hands or making gestures.

Perhaps they are afraid of being seen as weak athletes.

According to retired tennis player Liezel Huber:

“I apologize to avoid people thinking I am mean”

Her argument continued by stating that it is unfair to say sorry for something you are clearly not sorry for. As a result, she simply does it so that she does not have to be bullied.

In the words of Bob Bryan, “you are never sorry, you are actually glad that you had good fortune.”

In the event you don’t play professional tennis, you might wonder if you need to apologize; I would always say yes, it costs nothing and is just good manners. 

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Apologizing as a Sign of Humility

Apologizing for hitting the net cord can also be seen as a sign of humility. Tennis is a sport where players are constantly striving to improve and perfect their game. When a player hits a net cord, it can be seen as a reminder that they are not perfect and that luck does play a role in the game. Apologizing for hitting the net cord shows that the player is willing to admit their mistakes and is not too proud to do so.

The Psychological Impact of Apologizing

Apologizing for hitting the net cord can also have a psychological impact on the player. It can help to alleviate any guilt or anxiety that may arise from hitting a lucky shot. By apologizing, the player is acknowledging that their success may have been due to luck rather than skill, which can help to relieve any pressure or stress that may come with winning a point.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the policy on professional tennis players apologizing for hitting the net?

The net is also apologized for by professional tennis players.

Is it a rule in tennis to apologize for hitting the net?

There is no formal rule for this, but it is part of tennis etiquette.

What is the importance of apologizing when you hit the net in tennis?

The player acknowledges the lucky break that he received when he apologizes for hitting the net, and it shows respect and good sportsmanship towards the opponent.

Does apologizing for hitting the net affect a match’s outcome?

It won’t affect the result of a match if you apologize for hitting the net because it’s just a small gesture of sportsmanship.

Final Thoughts 

I think this topic is a very simple one, it is easy for a player to put up a hand to apologize when they have received some good fortune.  It costs nothing and can be done quickly as you move to the next point.  A player that takes glee in their good fortune risks annoying an opponent and as far as the fans are concerned, they may turn against you. 

And let’s be clear, over the course of the match/career I think these things even out, we are as lucky as we are unlucky.  

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David Harris

David is the founder and chief writer at Tennis Pursuits. A tennis fanatic, David has extensive experience of the game and has reviewed 100s of products to date. He is passionate about helping others on their tennis journey.

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