Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Marco Bitran: Tennis Rules - A Scoring Overview For Beginners

While the average age of a professional tennis player is 27 years old, tennis is a great life-long sport and one that can be picked up at any age. There are many club players that play well into their 60's and even 70's.

While many club players will have played in high school and/or college, there are a large number of club players that don't take their first lesson until they reach their 30's or 40's.

The basics of tennis are pretty simple. One player serves the ball diagonally across the court to their opponent inside the service box. The goal of that player is to return the ball after only one bounce in his court back across the net and inbounds. Play continues until one player misses the ball or fails to hit it inbounds on his opponent's side of the court.

The server begins serving from the right side of the court behind the baseline. He then alternates to the left side of the center line for his second serve, and so on throughout the game.

Often the most confusing aspect for a tennis beginner is the scoring. There are three types of scoring: Game, Set, and Match. Points add up to a game, games add up to a set, and sets add up to a match.

Game Scoring

Tennis game scoring can sometimes confuse a beginner. Simply, the first person to win 4 points wins the game. If you tie at 4 you must win by 2, no matter how long it takes. However, tennis scoring is not tracked as 0, 1, 2, 3, 4, but rather has funny scoring names such as "Love" and "Deuce". To break it down, tennis game scoring is as follows:

Point 0 is called Love.
Point 1 is called 15.
Point 2 is called 30.
Point 3 is called 40.
Point 4 a game is over UNLESS it is tied,
Tied games are called Deuce.

Winning by one after a score has gone to Deuce is called Ad, short for Advantage.

When calling the score, the server's score is first. For example, if the server is winning the game 3-1, the score is called as 40-15. If the server is losing the game 1-2, the score is called as 15-30.

The scoring become a bit more complicated after a game is tied. So if the game is tied 40-40, (i.e. each player has won 3 points each) the score is called as "Deuce".

When the game has gone to deuce and the server wins the next point, the server has an advantage and the score is called as "Ad In". On the other hand, if the opponent wins the next point, he has the advantage and the next point is called as "Ad Out".

This play continues until one player wins by two points to win the game.

Set Scoring

Simply put, the first person to win 6 games wins the set. Of course tennis scoring is not that straight forward and you must win by 2 games. So if the set is 5 games each, play will continue for at least 2 more games. If the set is tied at 6 games each, then a tie-breaker will be played. For example, set scores can be:

6 to 0
6 to 1
6 to 2
6 to 3
6 to 4
7 to 5 (must win by 2 games at 5 games each)
7 to 6 (played a tiebreaker at 6 games each)

A set-tiebreaker is used when the players are tied at 6-6 in a set, to decide the winner of the set. Unlike the usual scoring of 15, 30, 40, the points in a tie-breaker as scored: zero, one, two, three, etc. The first player to win seven points, provided that there is a margin of two points over their opponent, wins the game and set.

For example, a 7-6 does not win the game, whereas an 8-6 does and this can continue until someone wins by two. The most famous tie-breaker occurred in Wimbledon in 2010 during the Isner-Mahut match lasting more than 11 hours. John Isner won with the final score of 70-68.

A match is normally the best of three sets, meaning that the player to win two sets wins the match.

This is a brief overview of tennis scoring and hope it will help the beginning learn to "Love" the game of tennis.

Jayne Drew is Managing Partner of Smashing Golf & Tennis. Smashing is an exclusive ladies golf and tennis brand that Slims and Shapes and is proudly manufactured in Chicago, USA. Smashing can be found online at and readers can take 25% off with EZINE25 coupon code.

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