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How to Play Tennis

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When it comes to playing tennis, players need to have lot of stamina and physical strength. A player has to run corner to corner of his/her end to return the shot played by opponent. Of course, every sport requires mental preparedness and perseverance to come out victorious.

The game starts with a toss. Chair umpire tosses the coin and one player calls ‘Head’ or ‘Tail’. Player who wins the toss has option to choose a side of the court or serve first. If the player chooses side of the court then, the opponent player gets to serve first and vice versa.

The player serving first stands behind the base line on right half of the court and serves the ball. The player also has to ensure not to touch or cross the centre mark on baseline. The serving player has to stand within sideline and centre mark. The player receiving the ball can stand inside or outside the baseline as per her/his convenience and strategy. A correct serve done could be returned by the opponent player and it converts into a rally of continuous shots. Either of the players could end up with a shot outside baseline or sideline for it to be called ‘Out’. The opponent player gets a point.

The serving player gets to serve till the game is won by the player or opponent. Later, the serve shifts to opponent player and game continues till either of them wins set and match. During the course of the game, the players change ends after odd number of games are played. The change in ends is applicable during a tie-break too.

The serve shifts to opponent player after completion of a game. The game of tennis is counted by number of sets per match. Gentlemen play five sets a match and ladies play three sets a match. Each set has even number of games played. A player is considered to have won a set when she/he wins six games and maintains a minimum difference of two games with opponent. Similarly, a gentleman is decided winner when he wins three out five sets. A lady is declared victorious when she wins two out of three sets played.

Singles, Doubles, and Mixed Doubles are the three variants of Tennis. We will discuss about these in the next chapter. In a doubles match, the serve shifts to opponent after every game and alternately between the partners. Who serves/receives first is decided amongst partners in a doubles match.

When both players/teams have won six games each in a set, a tie-breaker situation arises. In a tie-breaker, each player gets to serve twice. However, the player serving first will do it once and the serve shifts to opponent player. In the next turn, the player who began tie-break gets to serve twice. The tie-breaker continues till one of the players score seven points and maintains a two point difference with opponent. By doing so, the player is declared as winner of tie-breaker and set too.



Scoring in a tennis match is little different when compared to other racket sports. The first point won by a player is given 15, followed by 30, 40 and game point.

During a game, there is every possibility that opponent player wins a point too. In such case, the scores read 0-15, 15-15, 30-30, 40-40 (deuce), advantage, and game point.

When the score reads 0-15, it means that opponent player has scored point over serving player. Similarly, the score can read up to 0-40 and game point. This is called service break where a player wins the game while the opponent served.

The scoring varies for a tie-breaker though. The points won by a player are given as ‘One’, ‘Two’, ‘Three’, etc. Like mentioned earlier, the player who first wins seven points and maintains two point lead over opponent is declared winner of tie-break.



Service Fault

During a serve, if the ball pitches outside the service line or sideline, or even hits the net then, it is called a faulty serve. There are multiple rules for service fault.

  • The serving player should not touch the baseline or sideline while serving the ball.
  • If the serving player misses to hit the ball after tossing then, it is defined as service fault.
  • A player is not allowed to run or walk while serving the ball. She/he is allowed to lift one or both legs while serving.


Double Fault

If first and second serves happen to hit the net then, it is called double fault. Another instance of double fault is to serve the ball twice outside the service line.

Apart from these fouls, there are certain time bound fouls that a player may commit. A player is permitted to recover within a time limit from injury by treatment during course of the game. The physio or medic attends the player for treatment. In case the player does not recover then, the opponent is declared winner.

Refreshment break is given to players between games and every set. These breaks are time bound and players have to abide them else, have to pay penalty.


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