KNOW YOUR RULES
The rules of tennis are not very complicated but they are very detailed, so what you need is a feeling for the general rules of the game. If you want to study all the official rules, call your state tennis association for a copy of the book. For now, let's keep it simple.
Who Plays Whom?
In singles, two people play, one on each end of the court. In doubles, two players at one end play against two players at the other end.
To start a match, the players will toss a coin or spin a racquet to decide one of four things:
· the player winning the toss can choose to serve
· the player can choose to receive serve
· the player can choose which end to play from in the first game
· the player can give up
the choice and make the opponent choose first (but you won't see this happen
Note that a player can't pick two things: you can't choose to serve and choose the end you will start.
THE AIM OF THE GAME
There are only two principles in tennis. All of the rules are just details to support these two principles.
You must get the ball over the net.
The ball must land in the court on your opponent's side of the net.
If you always do these two things, guess what? It is almost impossible to lose! All you have to do is get the ball over the net and into the court one more time than your opponent, and you're practically unbeatable. Sounds simple enough, doesn't it?
SERVING THE BALL
To start the game, one player (the server) stands behind the baseline, just to the right of the centre service mark (no standing on the line-that's called a foot fault.) The server hits the ball across the net into the service court on the opposite side of the centre service line. If the first serve doesn't land in the service court, it's a fault and the player gets one more chance. If this second serve is also a fault, the server loses the point (a double fault). If either of those two serves is "good" (lands in the correct service court) the receiver has to hit the ball back over the net.
If the ball touches the net when it is served but still bounces into the correct service court, a let is called and the server gets to try that serve again. If the ball hits the net and then lands outside the correct service court, the serve is a fault.
PLAYING THE POINT
Play continues until one player hits the ball into the net or outside their opponent's court, or until one player hits a shot so well that the opponent can't reach it. (This is called 'hitting a winner")
After each point in singles, the server and receiver change sides (not ends-just left to right or right to left). In doubles, the server changes sides but the receivers stay where they are and receive alternate points.
After the serve, all balls must land on or inside the baseline. They must also land on or inside the singles sideline (in singles) or the doubles sidelines (in doubles). You can hit the ball after one bounce or before it bounces (except on a return of serve, when you have to let it bounce). You must hit it before it bounces twice. Just be sure you don't reach over the net before the ball crosses onto your side-if you do, you lose the point,
It sounds weird but it's really very simple. Scoring in tennis starts at zero (love). The first point is 15, the second 30, then 40, then game. So, if you've won two points and your opponent has won one, the score is 30-15 if you are serving, 15-30 if you are receiving (the server's score is always called first). If the score goes to 40-40(40-all), it's called deuce. From deuce, one player must win two points in a row to win the game. The player who wins the first point after deuce is said to have the ad (advantage). The score will be called as "advantage server" (ad in) or "advantage receiver" (ad out). If the player with the ad loses the next point, the score goes back to deuce, but if the player with the ad wins the ad point, game is scored.
Players change ends of the court whenever the total of the games played is an odd number (1-0, 4-3, 5-2, 1-4, for example). A set of tennis is won when one player reaches 6 games with a lead of at least 2 games. From a game score of 5-5, a player can win the set by a score of 7-5
If the score goes to 6-6, a tiebreak is usually played: The aim here is to win 7 points with a lead of at least 2 points. (If the score gets to 7-6 or 7-5, the tiebreak keeps going until one player is 2 point ahead 12-10, for example.) The player who does that wins the tiebreak and the set with a game score of 7-6.
Most matches are best of three sets, so the player winning two sets wins the match.
Those are the very basic rules but
I strongly suggest that you get a copy of the booklet The Official Rules
of Tennis and read it carefully.
You'll earn a lot of respect from other players if they see that you know the rules-and play by them.
DID YOU KNOW?
The word love in tennis is said to come from the French 1'oeuf (the egg) because that's what a zero looks like on the scoreboard. The scores 15, 30 and 40 are from the old game of Real Tennis.