I watched a highly ranked student compete in a national tournament the other day and behave emotionally, talking to herself, throwing her arms up in the air and displaying anger at her performance. Her opponent responded with a few "questionable" line calls and yes, I believe it was a response to my student's behavior. Not a fair response, not a proportionate action, but still a reaction to what she had seen.
What's the connection here? Perhaps it's the “Broken Window Theory” signaling effect of norm setting behavior. Simply stated, if you break the seal of bad behavior your opponent is more likely to see bad behavior as normal. When disorder is the norm, more disorder follows. What's the takeaway here? Assume responsibility for what happens and take action. A way to manage your opponents bad line calls is to discourage them by acting professional.
Steve Kaplan is the owner and managing director of Bethpage Park Tennis Center, as well as director emeritus of Lacoste Academy for New York City Parks Foundation and executive director and founder of Serve & Return Inc. Steve has coached more than 1,100 nationally-ranked junior players, 16 state high school champions, two NCAA Division 1 Singles Champions, and numerous highly-ranked touring professionals. Many of the students Steve has closely mentored have gone to achieve great success as prominent members of the New York financial community, and in other prestigious professions. In 2017, Steve was awarded the Hy Zausner Lifetime Achievement Award by the USTA. He may be reached by e-mail at StevenJKaplan@aol.com.