Tennis Players: What to Do When Your Opponent's a Grunter

The Grand Slam season is in full swing and that means dramatic finishes, big shots and in the women's arena, even bigger screams.

Gone are the reins, the rules, the restraints. The top performers, with few exceptions, are piercing the skies with their screams to no end.

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Maria Sharapova's screams have reached 105 decibels. Victoria Azarenka's grunts hit 95 decibels at last year's Wimbledon, the Daily Telegraph reported at the time.

What used to be tolerated in a moment of triumph is today the unabashed proclivity to prevail at all costs. As the grunting and shrieks increase in professional, juniors and recreational competition, so have the howls of protest.

What do these women want?  To win, obviously. 

What would happen if the umpire had a decibels meter that would go off at a reasonable intensity, like the "Cyclops" of old, indicating a rule was trespassed upon?  The culprit would be obvious, timing would tell. The point would be lost.

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Until the Women's Tennis Association or the independently operated Grand Slam tournaments take aggressive steps on the matter, expect the grunting to continue.

And not just in professional tennis. Recreational and junior players are increasingly forced to deal with grunting on the court.

Unfortunately, too many juniors are counseled these days to distract the opponents. Some recreational players are employing the grunt as well in an effort to distract, intimidate or make the opponent uncomfortable.  In those cases, ethics and the purity of the game have been lost.

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How to handle grunts and screams on the court

1. Never fall for an opponent's antics, not even for bad calls. Once you've determined it's gamesmanship, dismiss it as the petty ploy that it is. It's really their problem, not yours.

2. Under present rules, not much can be done except to stop the game and tell the player or a referee, if present, that there's an interference in the game.  If the person persists, come to grips with the fact that you're facing an opponent who will win at all costs.

3. Don't let the grunting hurt your game. Try to breathe deeply or count during the point to calm your mind.

4. Counting not only clears the mind from other distracting thoughts, it also can help you with your timing and kill the rush.

Share your stories and tips

ACTIVE readers: Ever encounter an opponent who shrieked, grunted or exhibited other distracting and annoying habits on the court? Join the conversation and share your stories and what you did to stay focused in our comments section below

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About the Author

Oscar Wegner

Oscar Wegner has authored bestselling tennis instructional books and DVDs that demonstrate how players of all ages can learn quickly and easily to "Play Like The Pros." To learn more about Oscar Wegner's Modern Tennis Methodology visit TennisTeacher.com.

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