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The game of tennis originated in England back in the 19th century. Tennis has expanded and is now played all over the world. There are four major tennis tournaments that are referred to as the ‘majors’ which include Wimbledon, US Open, French Open and Australian tournament.


Basic Rules of The Game

So you’ve purchased your new tennis outfit, and you’re looking the part from head to toe. You have sun visor, your shirt and your shorts, and some great looking, comfortable athletic sneakers on foot. You’ve selected a racquet, but now what?

I’m here to help explain the basic rules of the game, to ensure your questions are answered, and the rules are clearly laid out ahead of time. This way you can focus on enjoying the game and harnessing your skills without the distraction.


Players & Equipment

Tennis can be played individually or with a partner on your team, referred to as either a singles match or a doubles match. Within the rectangle court is a base line, service areas, and two tram lines down either side. Which lines are used will vary depending on whether you are playing singles, or doubles. In a singles match game you would use the inner side tram lines. However, in a doubles match you would instead be using the outer tram lines.

  • baseline – at the back
  • service areas – two spaces just over the net in which successful serves must land
  • two tram lines – down either side

take a look at the accompanied images to help visualize the sections and dimensions of the tennis court layout


Object of The Game

Tennis is played on a rectangular court, with a mesh tennis running down middle, cutting the rectangle into two equal halves. Each player is aiming to hit the ball over the net so that it lands within the margins of the opposite side of the court, while also aiming to make their opponent unable to successfully return the ball. Each time your opponent is unable to return the ball, assuming you did not hit the ball outside, you are awarded 1 point.


Who Serves First

Believe it or not…. usually a simple coin toss or spin of the racquet determines who will serve first in a tennis game. The winner of the coin toss has the option of serving first or receiving first. And their opponent gets to pick which side of the court they will claim to begin the game.

Once it is determined who will serve first to being the game, that person will continue to serve the ball until the set is finished. Once the set is over, the two players will rotate, and the prior receiver will become the server. This rotation process will continue throughout the game, and the players will rotate at the end of each set.


Fault and Double Fault

Do note that the server is given two opportunities to serve the ball within the service court as marked in the diagram below. When the server fails to get his first serve into the diagonally opposite service court, it is called a fault serve. A double fault is committed if the server fails to get his second serve into the diagonally opposite service court and the receiver will then earn a point.

If the ball hits the net and falls within the service court, this is called a “let serve”, the server will be entitled to re-serve the ball into the service court. For example, if a “net serve” is made on the server’s first serve, the server will be entitled to re-serve his first serve. There are no limits to the number of “net serves” a player can commit.

The server should stand before the right side of the baseline and serve the ball diagonally across to the receiver’s right service court and then proceed to serve from his left side of the baseline diagonally across to the receiver’s left service court.


Counting score in tennis match is some tricky business. The server’s score is always announced first before the receiver’s throughout the game.
The point system of a tennis match is as follows:

• No points are scored = Love
• 1 point scored = 15 points
• 2 points scored = 30 points
• 3 points scored = 40 points
• 4 points earned = set point (set over)

For a tennis player to win a game, he/she must win with at least a two point lead.

If the score is tied at 40 to 40 (what is called as a “Deuce”), a player must earn two consecutive points (an “Advantage” point and “Point”) to win the game. If the player who has an “Advantage” point loses the next point, the score will be “Deuce” once again.

A set is won when a player has won a minimum of six games with a two game advantage over his opponent, for example, the potential score for a six game set maybe 6 – 0 or 6 – 4 but not 6 – 5. In a scenario where the score is tied at 5 – 5, a player must win 2 consecutive games before he wins a set. For example, a player may win a set with the score of 7 – 5 or 8 – 6.

In or Out

Is the shot in or out? The time old question and the focal point of many mid-game arguments during professional tournaments. You can almost count on an argument breaking out at some point during professional tournament tennis match between the tennis pro and the match officials, regarding whether or not the tennis ball is in or out as it lands.

Singles – in a singles game the ball must hit within the service courts, the back court and the alley line as marked in the diagram above in order to be considered ‘in’ and for a point to be scored. Balls that hit between the side line and alley line are considered ‘out’ or off the court and therefore the opponent earns the point.

Doubles – in a doubles game the ball must hit within both the service courts the back court and the area between the alley line and side line for a point to be scored and to be considered ‘in.’

Winning the Game

To win the game you must win a certain amount of sets (best of three for women’s matches and best of 5 sets for men’s matches). Winning a set is simply the first player to reach 6 games but have to be clear by at least 2 games. If your opponent wins 5 games you must win the set 7-5. If the set goes to 6-6 then a tie break is played and it’s simply the first player to 7 points.

Rules of Tennis

  • The game starts with a coin toss to determine which player must serve first and which side they want to serve from.
  • The server must then serve each point from alternative sides on the base line. At no point must the server’s feet move in front of the baseline on the court prior to hitting their serve.
  • If the server fails to get their first serve in they may take advantage of a second serve. If they again fail to get their second serve in then a double fault will be called and the point lost.
  • If the server clips the net but the ball goes in the service area still then let is called and they get to take that serve again without penalty. If the ball hits the net and fails to go in the service area then out is called and they lose that serve.
  • The receiver may stand where they wish upon receipt of the serve. If the ball is struck without the serve bouncing then the server will receive the point.
  • Once a serve has been made the amount of shots between the players can be unlimited. The point is won by hitting the ball so the opponent fails to return it in the scoring areas.
  • Points are awarded in scores of 15, 30 and 40. 15 represent 1 point, 30 = 2 and 40 = 3. You need 4 points to win a game. If a game lands on 40-40 it’s known as deuce. From deuce a player needs to win 2 consecutive points to win the game. After winning one point from the deuce that player is on advantage. If the player wins the next point they win the game, if they loose it goes back to deuce.
  • To win the set a player must win 6 games by 2 or more. The opening sets will go to a tie break if its ends up 6-6 where players play first to 7 points. The final set will not have a tie break and requires players to win by two games with no limits.
  • If a player touches the net, distracts his opponent or impedes in anyway then they automatically lose the point.
  • The ball can hit any part of the line for the point to be called in, outside the line and the ball is out.
  • The balls in a tennis match are changed for new balls every 6 games
  • A player loses a point if they fail to return the ball in either the correct areas on the court, hits the net and doesn’t go into opponent’s area or fails to return the ball before it bounces twice in their half.





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