BY NATURE, tennis players are a temperamental bunch. But around this time of year, they can be impossible. Their favorite outdoor courts are out of the question, so they're in the house, racket in hand.

That spells trouble for small pets (topspin forehands) and lighting fixtures (overhead smashes). And that's not all the damage they can do. At a party, I once saw a nasty argument flare when a house-crazed player lobbed a woman's beaded clutch bag into a bowl of Texas-style chili. Not a pretty sight.

Luckily, this winter disorder can be treated -- at places called indoor tennis courts.

Of course, fighting tennis fever requires some sacrifices. Indoor tennis around D.C. has become so popular that "it's hard to get the court time you need," says Pauline Addie, manager of the Cabin John Regional Park tennis courts and a former professional tennis player. She and other managers say court time is particularly scarce from 7 to 9 a.m., noon to 2 p.m. and 5 to 11 p.m. It can also be fairly expensive: prices for an hour range from $6 to $26.75.

But it's worth it for serve-and-volley slaves like Val Lubbers of Bethesda, who says, "When I haven't played tennis for a couple of weeks I'm ready to climb a wall."

And besides, indoor tennis helps the dedicated players keep up with the Joneses: "If you want to play good tennis, you've just got to play indoors during the winter. It's the only way to keep up," says Janet Hart of Bethesda. "When you take three months off, it's going to take all summer just to get back to the level you were at when you quit." Adds Lubbers: "You can always spot a non-indoor player in the spring. He comes roaring out onto the court and plays so aggressively he usually throws his back out in the first set."

Some players move inside grudgingly. "The indoor game is okay but I really prefer to play outdoors," says Anne Bennet of Bethesda. "It's not really tennis for me without the wind and the sun. Indoor tennis is kind of like racketball . . . enclosed."

But a lot of players say they come to prefer playing indoors. "Nine days out of ten, indoor tennis is better than playing outdoors," says Greg Myre of Washington. "There's no sun, no wind, it's cleaner and therefore you play closer to your potential."

When you move inside, there are two options: You can play on permanent-structure courts (far in the majority), or courts that are enclosed by climate-controlled plastic bubbles. Although both are just fine, thank you, the proponents of one can spend hours pointing out the faults of the other.

Permanent-structure fans claim that the inflationary blowers in bubble courts distract from play. They also find fault with the mobile-lighting units which aren't quite as bright as the overhead lamps used in permanent structures. On the other hand, bubble fans argue that you find a purer breed of tennis player on bubble courts. Permanent-structure courts, they patiently explain, are often in health clubs, where weight lifters and handball players (traditionally frowned upon by tennis players) are allowed to come and go as they please. "In most of the permanent-structure courts, you get players who are really looking for a nice sauna after the game," according to Gene Grabowski of D.C. "In the bubbles, people come just to play tennis." Also, bubbles tend to be cheaper.

But enough of this. Everyone knows tennis players tire easily of great philosophical arguments; they cut into court time. It's time to break out the list of indoor sites. Remember that you pay by the hour for indoor tennis; the more players, the less each has to pay.

DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA

EAST POTOMAC TENNIS COURTS -- Five courts inside bubble. $9 to $20 per hour of court time. Hours 6:45 to midnight, seven days a week. 1090 Ohio Drive SW at Hains Point. 554-5962.

MARYLAND

BALTIMORE COUNTY

FORTY WEST RACQUET CLUB -- Four permanent structure indoor courts. Members only. Hours 7 a.m. to midnight daily. 6421 Baltimore National Pike, Catonsville. 301/747-5683.

FREDERICK COUNTY

TUSCARORA RACQUET CLUB -- Four permanent structure indoor courts. Members only. Hours 7 a.m. to midnight daily. 7611-B Willow Road, Frederick. 301/473-5050.

HOWARD COUNTY

COLUMBIA TENNIS BARN -- Five permanent-structure indoor courts. Members only. Hours 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. daily. 6000 Old Columbia Road, Columbia. 301/730-0104.

MONTGOMERY COUNTY

ASPEN HILL RACQUET CLUB -- Eight permanent structure indoor courts. Members only. 6 a.m. to 11 p.m. Monday through Saturday, 7 to 11:30 Sunday. 14501 Homecrest Road in Silver Spring. 598-5200.

BETHESDA COUNTRY CLUB -- Two courts under a bubble. Members only. 6 a.m. to 11 p.m. daily. 7601 Bradley Boulevard, Bethesda. 469-6286.

CABIN JOHN REGIONAL PARK -- Six permanent structure indoor courts. $10 to $20 per hour of court time. Hours 6 a.m. to 11 p.m. Monday, 7 a.m. to midnight Tuesday and Thursday, 6 a.m. to midnight Wednesday and Friday, 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. weekends. 7801 Democracy Boulevard, Bethesda. 469-7300.

CONGRESSIONAL COUNTRY CLUB -- Two courts under a bubble. Members only. 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. daily. 8500 River Road, Bethesda. 365-1600.

LAKEWOOD COUNTRY CLUB -- Four indoor courts under a bubble. Members only. 6:45 a.m. to 11 p.m. daily. 13901 Glen Mill Road, Rockville. 340-6185.

LINDEN HILL RACQUET CLUB -- Nine courts under a bubble. $19 to $25 per hour of court time for non-members. 6 a.m. to midnight daily. 5400 Pooks Hill Road, Bethesda. 530-2200.

NORBECK COUNTRY CLUB -- Three permanent structure indoor courts. Members only. 9 a.m. to 11 p.m. daily. 17200 Cashell Road, Rockville. 924-3450.

POTOMAC TENNIS CLUB -- Seven courts under a bubble. Members only. 6 a.m. to 11:30 p.m. weekdays, 6 a.m. to 7 p.m. Saturday, 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. Sunday. 10800 Potomace Tennis Lane, Potomac. 983-1450.

QUINCE ORCHARD SWIM AND TENNIS CLUB -- Four courts under a bubble. Rates for non-members range from $17.12 to $26.75 per hour of court time. 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. daily. Quince Orchard and Longdraft roads, Gaithersburg. 948-3116.

ROCKVILLE TENNIS -- Two permanent- structure indoor singles courts. $10 to $15 per hour of court time. 9 to 9 Monday through Thursday, 8 to 6 Saturday, 8 to 4 Sunday, closed on Friday. 14704 Southlawn Lane, Rockville. 424-8882.

ALLIE RITZENBERG'S INDOOR TENNIS COURTS -- Two permanent-structure indoor courts. $6 to 18 per hour. Hours are 6 a.m. to midnight daily. 5161 River Road, Bethesda. 657-2230.

WHEATON TENNIS BUBBLE -- Six courts inside bubble. $9 to $15 per hour. 5 a.m. to 2 a.m. daily. 11715 Orebaugh Avenue, Wheaton. 649-4049.

PRINCE GEORGE'S COUNTY

COSCA TENNIS BUBBLE -- Four courts inside bubble. $10 to $13 per hour. 7 a.m. to midnight weekdays, 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. Saturday, 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. Sunday. Cosca Regional Park, 11000 Thrift Road, Clinton. 868-6462.

WATKINS TENNIS -- Five courts inside bubble. $10 to $13 per hour. 6 a.m. to 11 p.m. Monday through Friday, 7 a.m. to midnight Saturday, 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. Sunday. Watkins Regional Park, 301 Watkins Park Drive, Upper Marlboro. 249-9325.

WHITEMARSH RACQUET AND COUNTRY CLUB -- Six permanent-structure indoor courts. Members only. 9 a.m. to midnight weekdays, 9 to 7 Saturday, 9 to 8 Sunday. 100 Whitemarsh Park Drive, Bowie. 262- 4553.

VIRGINIA

ARLINGTON COUNTY ARLINGTON Y TENNIS & SQUASH CLUB -- Eight permanent-structure indoor courts. $6 to $24 per hour for members; plus a $3 flat fee per guest. 6 a.m. to 1 a.m. Sunday through Friday; 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Saturday. 3400 13th Street, North Arlington. 522-1700.

CRYSTAL GATEWAY RACQUET & HEALTH CLUB -- Two permanent-structure indoor courts. $8 to $11 per hour, plus a flat $9 guest fee for non-members. Hours are 6 a.m. to 11 p.m. Monday through Friday; 7 to 7 weekends. 1333 Crystal Gateway Arcade, Crystal City Arlington. 979-9660.

WASHINGTON COUNTRY CLUB -- Three permanent structure indoor courts. Members only. 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. daily. 3017 North Glebe Road, Arlington. 524-3227.

FAIRFAX COUNTY

COURTS ROYAL ANNANDALE -- Six permanent structure indoor courts. Members only. 6 a.m. to midnight daily. 4317 Ravensworth Road, Annandale. 256-6600.

FAIRFAX RACQUET CLUB -- Six permanent- structure courts, four in bubble. $11 to $21 per hour, plus a $2.50 guest fee for non- members. 6 a.m. to midnight daily. 9860 Lee Highway, Fairfax. 273-9276.

FOUR SEASONS TENNIS CLUB -- 10 permanent structure courts. $9.50 to $18 per hour, plus a $3 guest fee for non-members. Hours are 6 a.m. to 11 p.m. Monday through Friday, 6 a.m. to midnight on weekends. 3010 Williams Drive, Merrifield. 573-5105.

McLEAN RACQUET AND HEALTH CLUB -- Five permanent-structure courts. Members and guests of members only. 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. Sunday through Friday, 7 to 7 Saturday. 1472 Old Chain Bridge Road, McLean. 356-3300.

MOUNT VERNON RACQUET WORLD -- Five permanent structure courts. $14 to $22 per hour, plus $4 guest fee for non-members. Hours are 6 a.m. to 11:30 p.m. Monday through Thursday, 6 a.m. to midnight Friday, 6 a.m. to 1 a.m. Saturday, and 8 a.m. to 10:30 p.m. Sunday. 7950 Audubon Avenue, Alexandria. 360-7300.

REGENCY RACQUET CLUB -- Six permanent-structure courts, four under a bubble. Members only. 6 a.m. to 11 p.m. daily. 1800 Old Meadow Road, McLean. 556-6550.

RESTON RACQUET CLUB -- Four permanent-structure courts. Members only. 6 a.m. to midnight weekdays, 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. weekends. 1800 Michael Faraday Court, Reston. 437-5550.

SHIRLEY RACQUET CLUB -- Six permanent- structure courts. $10 to $20 per hour, plus $4 guest fee for non-members. 6 a.m. to 1 a.m. weekdays, 7 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Saturday, 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. Sunday. 6800 Commercial Drive, Springfield. 256-8313.

SKYLINE RACQUET & HEALTH CLUB -- Five permanent structure courts. $8 to $11 per hour, plus $6 guest fee for non-members. 6 a.m. to 11 p.m. Monday through Friday, 7 to 7 weekends. In the Skyline Shopping Mall at 5115 Leesburg Pike at Baileys Crossroads, Falls Church. 820-4100.

PRINGFIELD COUNTRY CLUB -- Three courts inside bubble. Members only. Hours vary. 8301 Old Keane Mill Road, Springfield. 451-8988.

LOUDOUN COUNTY

LOUDOUN RACQUET AND SWIM CLUB -- Six permanent-structure courts. Members only. 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday through Saturday, 8 to 8 on Sunday. 131 Fort Evans Road NE, Leesburg. 703/777-7505.

PRINCE WILLIAM COUNTY

COURTS ROYAL DEVIL'S REACH -- Six permanent structure courts. $8 to $14 per hour, plus $3 guest fee for non-memers. Non-members may play only once per month. 8 a.m. to 11 p.m. daily. 1401 Devil's Reach Road, Woodbridge. 690-1629.

MANASSAS RACQUET CLUB -- Three courts inside bubble. $7 to $15 per hour, plus flat $3 guest fee for non-members. 6:30 a.m. to 11 p.m. Sunday through Friday, 6:30 a.m. to 8 p.m. Saturday. 8709 Quarry Road, Manassas. 830-2139.