tennis court

Tennis: Game

How to play

To start a game of tennis, the players start on opposite sides of the net. One player is chosen as the server and the other player is the receiver. For each point, the server starts behind his baseline (the back of the court). The receiver may start anywhere on their side of the net. When the receiver is ready, the server will serve the ball . If the serve is good, the ball travels over the net (without touching it) and into the diagonal opposite service area, which the box closest to the net. A legal service starts a rally, in which the players alternate hitting the ball across the net. A legal return is when the player hits the ball exactly once before it has bounced twice. The ball then travels back over the net and bounces in the court on the opposite side. The first player to fail to return the ball loses the point.


In tennis, to win a game a player must score four points and win by at least two points. Love in tennis means zero points, 15 is equivalent to one point, 30 to two points, 40 to three points. The server's score is called first, so a server who has scored three straight points at the beginning would say 40-Love. If one person leads 40-30, or 30-40, he/she can win by scoring the next point. If the other person ties the game at 40-40, the score is referred to as deuce. When this happens the first person to score two straight points wins. The first to win a tiebreaker point is referred to as having an advantage, which is followed either by a win if the player scores a point or by returning to deuce.

Tennis Terms

Ace- a winning serve that is not touched by the opponent

Deuce- a tie at 40 to 40

Doubles- two teams of two players each. When playing doubles the court is wider as the alley is used. The two players on the receiving side change positions after each point played.

Double fault- occurs when the second service is also faulty. The receiver then wins the point.

Fault- a serve that is long, wide, or not over the net.

Foot fault- occurs when a player's foot touches the baseline before the ball is served.

Let- when the ball hits the net but lands in the service box. The server gets to retake that serve and can redo as many let serves as needed.

Love- a score of zero

Match- determined by the best of 3 or 5 sets

Set- a sequence of games played. Players alternate serving after each game. The set ends when the number of games won meets certain criteria. Most often, a player wins a set by winning six games and at least two more games than the opponent.

Singles- two player competing against each other

Rally- when players alternate hitting the ball across the net to each other

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