Basic rules of tennis

tennis rules
File Photo Credit: VOXSPORTS for SSC

Basic Rules of Tennis

So you are all decked out with your racquet in hand and suited up but still struggling with the mind boggling rules of the tennis? 

This article aims provide you with the basic rules of the tennis game to enable you to inject some competitive spirit into your game. 

Who serves first

Usually the age old question of who serves first is settled by a simple coin toss. The person who wins the coin toss may elect to serve first or select a side of the court which he would like to receive his opponents serve. 

The server will continue serving the ball to the receiver until the set has ended. After the set has ended, the receiver will become the server and serve the ball until the next set has ended. This process is repeated throughout the match.

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 “net 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 Scores

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!

Whether a shot is “IN” or “OUT” is the big question behind every shot and why tennis pros like Agassi and McEnroe unleash fury on match officials. Here is a guide to both the singles and doubles game.

In a game of singles, the ball must be hit within both “SERVICE COURTS”, the “BACK COURT” and the “ALLEY LINE” as marked in the diagram below for a point to be scored. Balls hit in the between the “SIDE LINE” and “ALLEY LINE” are considered balls hit out of court and thus earning your opponent a point.

In a doubles game, the ball must be hit within both “SERVICE COURTS”, the “BACK COURT” and the area between the “ALLEY LINE” and “SIDE LINE” for a point to be scored.  

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