Tennis' Silent Sign Language

Jul 21, 2021, 9:12:00 PM | by Craig Gabriel

Stefanos Tsitsipas
Is it that many players struggle to think for themselves on a court, or is it they are used to having things done for them? Once again the matter of on-court coaching has raised its silly head.


Whenever there is a bit of a lull with what is happening in world tennis or there is little to talk about in the sport, certain topics are resurrected. One of those topics is on-court coaching and the latest to voice an opinion, and an opinion that is favourable to it, is Stefanos Tsitsipas.

While the Greek probably does support the idea, I just get the inclination that this regurgitation has come from Patrick Mouratoglou at whose academy Tsitsipas trains at.

Mouratoglou admitted to coaching Serena Williams during that infamous US Open final against Naomi Osaka. To be fair Serena stood her ground and made it very clear that she did not take notice of what her coach was doing and having worked for Serena for many years in the past, I have no doubt that would have been the case.

Mouratoglou has made it clear that he is in favour of on-court coaching.

Tennis is NOT a team sport except in certain circumstances. Courtside coaching can be accepted at Davis Cup,  Laver Cup, ATP Cup, Billie Jean King Cup by BNP Paribas. Everywhere else in tennis it should not see the light of day.

If anyone thinks it has improved women’s tennis by having coaching, then let them put forward the facts and prove it.

Patrick Mouratoglou

The WTA says on-court coaching provides an insight to the player and how they react and also opens up the player-coach relationship. That is such rubbish.

Yes, a coach has to agree to a microphone attached to them so any conversation can be listened into on television, but where is the benefit of the coach and player discussing things in their national language? Gee, that’s going to bring a lot more people to the sport. Not!

Tennis players need to and must work things out for themselves on the court. It is one-to-one. There are plenty of opportunities for a coach to be alongside a player and to advise a player, but NOT in a singles match, or doubles for that matter.

There is also the aspect of it disrupting what would be a level playing field. What if one of the players cannot afford a coach or their coach is not there or not available, or they just did not have a coach?

Why is it so hard for a player to think for themselves on a tennis court? They are professionals and it is their job.

Comparing tennis to other individual sports such as golf, or as one person used boxing as an example, it is a non-starter. It is comparing apples to oranges.

Having on-court coaching could be likened to not doing the study before an exam and then asking for help to answer the questions. 

Some proponents of on-court coaching will say it ha been going on for ages. Absolutely it has. Stef’s father was warned about it recently. Because it does happen, changing the rules to allow coaching does not make it right. Remember the exam analogy, well it is like cheating on the papers.

Maybe punishments handed out need to be increased and the perpetrator is warned and called out: “Code Violation, warning Jane Citizen. Coaching, cheating”.