What Is The Code?

And Why Is It So Important To Tennis?

Rallying With The Executive Director

The Code should not to be confused with the “code” from the recent Pirates of the Caribbean movies. The Code is covered on pages 36-42 of the 2016 edition of “Friend at Court” and can be found (and it is a trustworthy source) at this link:




The Code was written by Colonel Nick Powel, and its subtitle lets the reader know what’s being covered – “The players’ guide to fair play and the unwritten rules of tennis”. The Code is a summary of procedures and unwritten rules that custom and tradition dictate all players should follow.

An example of something covered in The Code and not found in the written rules? If there is doubt on a line call, the opponent gets the benefit of the doubt. This result cannot be found in the rules.

Below are listed two principles of The Code:

  1. Courtesy is expected because tennis is a game that requires cooperation and courtesy.
  2. Points played in good faith are counted.

Perhaps a reason that the level of sportsmanship in some matches appears to be low or nonexistent may simply be that players and/or parents are not familiar with The Code. The Southern California Tennis Association would like to improve sportsmanship at its junior tournaments and one way to accomplish that is to educate all participants and their families about The Code, which is a good reason the link to The Code is included above.

The remainder of The Code covers the warm-up, making calls, serving, scoring, hindrance issues, when to contact an official, ball issues and even miscellaneous items such as clothing and equipment malfunctions, and even the placement of towels. If the SCTA required players to pass a test about The Code before taking to the court and then the spectators to pass a test about The Code before they could watch a match, what affect could that have on sportsmanship? Knowing the correct behaviors and what is considered fair play should improve the overall atmosphere at every junior event. “Ignorance of the rules constitutes a delinquency on the part of the players and often spoils an otherwise good match.” – (source – The Code). Beyond that, the same could be said for spectators.

Tennis is called the sport of a lifetime and it can be, but only if the game is played with cooperation and courtesy. If junior players focus only on the physical and mental skills needed to win and courtesy isn’t included, along with fair play and respect for the rules, many youngsters would not make it to adulthood playing tennis because they will drop out due to the toxic environment. Likewise, adults will leave tennis for other leisure and recreational activities that are friendlier and more pleasant. It’s up to the SCTA staff and volunteers to help players and spectators follow The Code so that everyone enjoys tennis for a lifetime.

Bruce A. Hunt
Executive Director – Southern California Tennis Association

Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *