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Destinations, Dreams and Dogs - International adventure with a fast-track family (& dogs) of Old World values, adopting the Russian-Italian-American good life on the go…!

Of Spoiled Brats & Sportsmanship

badsportThus far, we have been fortunate to escape the bullet of organized sports.  However, our eldest is out to change all that, carrying with him, not only himself, but the rest of his family, on this wild ride.

Petya plays for his high school tennis team, as well as for the U.S. Tennis Assocation.  It was at one of these recent tournaments that we saw an edition of Kids Gone Wild.

“Sir, you need to SHUT UP,” Petya’s opponent raged to my husband.

This was the third time that the kid tried to change the score, and about the tenth time that he had called one of Petya’s “in” balls as “out”.

My husband had had enough.

“Forty-thirty,” he intoned from beyond the fence, eliciting the ugly comment.bassport2

The boy had already engaged in several raucous rounds of “Really?  Really?” to our son when the opponent’s serve was obviously out.

“Really?  Are you sure?  Did you actually SEE it?  Then you must be blind!  Either that, or you’re a liar!”

On and on the kid went, beside himself with fury.  Even when Petya said something to him like “Good shot!”, the kid wanted to argue.  We had never seen anything like it.

tennis-argument-v2Newbies that we are to the whole official tennis circuit, when a few coaches came out to see my son play the next day, I decided to ask them.

“Call a referee to come watch,” they advised.  “Don’t get involved.”

“Who did your son play?” another asked as I nodded at a player in the end court, engaging in a Consolation Match Gone Crazy.

Both players were screaming with spectators beyond the fence also making calls as our favorite friend from the day before tried to cheat on every. single. shot.

“Oh, HIM,” a top pro shook her head.  “I’ve been trying to coach him for years.  He won’t listen to anyone.  He goes from club to club, never taking advice, and wants to win so much that he constantly calls it wrong.”

“Really?” I was the flabbergasted one this time, and other pros chimed in that this phenomenom happened all the time.tennis-tantrum

Sure enough, a referee was called and put the spouting and pouting player in his place.

I visited the USTA website and found a section on “Dealing with Cheating”.  Amazingly, a parent shared the following:  “Unfortunately, some young kids want balls to be out so badly that they call what they want, not what they see! You can also take comfort that cheaters do gain a reputation on the circuit so that they will not prosper.”

Most of the advice shared on the site said to ask for a line judge immediately, or even before starting to play with a known cheater.  Unfortunately, many of the referees have far too many courts to cover during tournaments and they will eventually need to tend to other mathces.  This is when impartial volunteers may be deputized to stay and make line calls.

bassport3Some coaches online counseled to keep your own balls away from service lines, yet that only solves half the problem, if even that.  With many asserting that a top female player cheated her way to the 2013 Australian Open by falsifying injury, the whole idea of poor sportsmanship is a subject that won’t go away anytime soon.

Our son didn’t hear the end of it for days.  As soon as anyone caught the name of his second of three opponents during the tournament, they shook their heads without him saying a word.  The kid’s reputation preceded him.

The kid lost the match to Petya, but not for want of trying to change every call and every point.  Benedetto had a kind and compassionate word with the young man following the match, and even his parents told him firmly, “Listen to the man,” to which he turned away in anger.

As with anything in life, we learn from examples both good and bad.  Though our son had never been exposed to this depth of deception before, he benefited from drawing the line at drama and keeping his cool.  His other matches had refreshingly fun players who were top drawer, but pleasant and polite.  May his reputation and life be the same.



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6 Comments : Leave a Reply

  1. avatar hoonew says:

    Wow- what an embarrassment. And hooray for Petya again, a winner in more ways than one.

  2. avatar Winnie says:

    yeah, it seems “win at all costs” has taken a whole new meaning. The organization should really ban the kid for a season or something and take him down a notch.

    As a veteran of many little kid sports (our kids are young yet) I see that individual sports seem to be more pressure filled. Even if the parents aren’t the ones pushing the kids do it themselves. My eldest is in youth wrestling and at EVERY wrestling tournament I see more than a few meltdowns at the end of matches that are extreme. Team sports tend to just have a hang dog down appearance when a loss is felt.
    I do not allow it with my son. The first time I saw a kid act like that at a tournament I pointed it out and told him ” You ever do that you will not wrestle any more” I accept him being disapointed when he doesn’t win but he is NEVER allowed to throw a fit and not shake hands with the opponent and coaches. While Sonny Boy is far from being a star wrestler – he loses more than he wins – he has a reputation with his coaches for being a great kid with a great attitude – and this gets him extra attention for a good reason. I probably don’t have the next state champion wrestler in my house but that’s OK, I have a kid who is well liked for his demeanor on and off the mat. (sorry for the little brag fest there)
    Sounds like Petya’s nasty opponent needs a good dressing down from his parent and a kick in the pants.

    • avatar admin says:

      Brag on, Winnie, brag on! Your son sounds super. I can’t imagine letting a kid play when he’s acting like this one we encountered. I’m with you: “You do that again and it’s curtains for this sport!” Pull the plug. This boy was a good player and ranked highly for some reason. But even when Petya would lightly hit the ball back to him if it was his turn to serve, if he had just messed-up, he took the volleyed ball and SMASHED it back at Petya… who had to toss it again. There are so many good kids, why do the bad ones grab our attention?

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