We’ve answered some of the most common questions that we get asked about all aspects of tennis on a regular basis.
1. How is the score kept in tennis?
Games are scored zero, or love, 15, 30, 40, and then game point. In the USA, and in some other countries, players often shorten the calling of the scores to five, three, four. So, they would call 5-4 for 15-40, 3-all for 30-30 or zero-4 for love-40.
2. How do you win a set in tennis?
Depending on the scenario a tennis match is played as the best out of 3 sets or 5 sets.
Recreational players play best of 3 sets with more often a 10-point tiebreaker in lieu of a full last set. In professional tennis, Women play best of three full sets and men play best of three sets except in Grand Slam events, where matches are played in best of five sets. Each Grand Slam has different rules on how the last set is played out.
To win a set, a player must win at least 6 games winning by two clear games. In most situations, except some Grand Slams, if the score gets to 6-all, then the players decide the set in a 7-point tiebreak.
3. Why do they say ‘love’ in tennis?
There are many different theories as to why ‘love’ is used for ‘zero’ in tennis. This first comes from the fact that a lot of terms that are used in tennis originate from the French language. It is thought that the word love comes from the French word for egg, l’oeuf, because zero looks like an egg. Alternatively, the Oxford English Dictionary highlights how love is adapted from the phrase ‘love of the game’ which indicates that someone is a player purely for love and not earning anything from the game.
4. Why is it called ‘deuce’ in tennis?
When players have each scored 3 points the score is 40-all, however, in these circumstances, the score is called as ‘deuce’. When a game is scored at deuce one player must win the game by 2 clear points. The player who wins the point after deuce is said to have the advantage, however, if they lose the next point the score returns to deuce. In the USA and some other countries, it gets called ‘Ad In’ when the server won the first point and ‘Ad Out’ when the receiver won the first point. It is believed the origins of the term deuce once again come from the French language with the term deux de jeux meaning to be two points away from the game.
To shorten overall match times, or make the games high pressure, tennis can be played with ‘No Ad’ scoring. This is often done at pro tournaments for doubles matches. In this instance, at deuce (40-40), it becomes the game ‘deciding point’ whereby it is ‘receivers choice’ where the non-serving player(s) elects to receive the ball on either the deuce (forehand for a right-hander) or Ad (backhand for a right-hander) sides. Whichever player or team wins this point, wins the game.
5. What is a time violation in tennis?
Players have only 20 seconds (recreational) or 25 seconds (professional) between the end of the previous point and the delivery of their first serve, 90 seconds to change ends of court between games, and two minutes between sets. In ATP tennis, the time is increasingly monitored by a ‘shot clock’ that is controlled at the discretion of the umpire. Players are expected, within reason, to play at the ‘servers pace’ and be ready to receive when the server is ready to serve. This can be a point of conflict as some players want to play quickly (ie. Nick Krygios or Roger Federer), while others like to be much more deliberate and methodical (ie. Rafael Nadal).
In professional tennis, if a player exceeds this time limit they will receive an initial warning on the first instance, after which any subsequent violations will result in points being deducted. In recreational tennis, although the same rules apply, they are not typically enforced unless the match is at a tournament and closely officiated.
6. What are the 4 types of tennis courts?
There are four main different surfaces for a tennis court: grass, clay, carpet, or hard courts each of which has an impact on how the game is played. Players will often have a preference over the different types of court. Our blog post on how different types of court impact a tennis match explains everything you need to know.
7. How long is a tennis match?
There is no set time limit for a tennis match. On average, a women’s match takes around 1.5-2 hours but they can often be closer to 3 hours. Whereas, a professional men’s match on average lasts around 3.5 hours but can be take up to 5 hours in some cases. The longest tennis match in history took place in 2010 between John Isner and Nicolas Mahut and lasted for 11 hours and 5 minutes spread out across 3 days with the final game of the final set being scored at 70-68. The rules have now been changed so this will likely never be broken.
8. What does ‘let’ mean in tennis?
A ‘let’ can be called for a bunch of reasons. For serving, it is called when if the ball from a players serve glances the top of the net with the ball and it lands within the receivers service box. If the ball lands within the service box a second serve is given, however, if it lands outside the area of play it is counted as a serve attempt. There are typically no service lets in college tennis.
Let’s can be called in a bunch of other circumstances where outside influences have impacted play. Examples include a ball from a nearby court coming on the court or a loud noise that disrupts play. The United States Tennis Association (USTA) have produced a Code of Conduct that goes beyond the rules as defined by the International Tennis Federation (ITF).
9. What gauge tennis string should I use?
Gauge is used to describe the thickness of tennis racquet strings. String gauges can vary from 13 (super thick strings) to 22 (ultra-thin strings). Thinner strings provide a better ‘feel’ of the ball allowing for greater control over shots. Most tennis players will use around 16 or 17 gauge strings, but ultimately it is down to personal preference. Check out our blog on tennis strings for more guidance.
10. How much does it cost to play tennis?
Tennis is a sport that can be played no matter your budget, as long as you have a racquet and some balls you can play. As with most sports as players begin to compete at a higher level the associated cost of equipment and training will likely rise. Check out our guides on the best tennis equipment for players of all ability.