New to the world of tennis? Before you start playing tennis, need to know the rules of tennis in order to understand the sport. At first, when you begin to learn how to play tennis, the rules may seem too complicated to be easily memorized. However, we are here to walk you through each of the fundamental and unwritten rules of tennis.

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Tennis Facts for Beginners

Modern-day tennis, or lawn tennis, has its origin in 19th century England. Currently, four 'majors', or Grand Slams, are played around the world, including the Wimbledon, US Open, French Open, and Australian Open tournaments.

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Tennis is played either on clay or grass courts. | Image credit: Samuel-Elias Nadler on Unsplash

Historical Facts About Tennis

  1. The game of tennis originated in 12th century France when it was played as a handball game called ‘paume’ or palm.
  2. The word ‘tennis’ is derived from an earlier version of the game played by monks, in which they would shout "tenez" (m. take heed) as they threw and caught a ball.
  3. The first tennis balls were made of wood. The cellulose was added later to make the balls bouncier.
  4. The scoring system in tennis also has French roots. A clock face was used to indicate the scores. For every point scored, the hand was moved to the next quarter (15, 30, 45). The first player to reach 60 was the winner.
  5. King Henry VIII of England built the first lawn tennis court at Hampton Court Palace. While the original has since been replaced, the latter is still in use today.
  6. In 1873, Major Walter Wingfield invented his own tennis, called ‘Sphairistike’ (Greek for “playing ball), which was played by rich English people on Manor House lawn.
  7. In 1874, the very first lawn tennis tournament was played in the USA.
  8. In 1881, the very first US Open was played, following the foundation of the United States National Lawn Tennis Association.
  9. In 1896, tennis was played for the first time at the Olympics.
  10. In 1897, for the first time, the French Championships were opened to women tennis players.
  11. In 1986, yellow tennis balls were used at Wimbledon for the first time.h

Tennis Statistics

  1. In 1932, Henry "Bunny" Austin became the first player to wear shorts at Wimbledon.
  2. The fastest serve in women's tennis has been recorded at 205 km/h by Venus Williams.
  3. The record the fastest serve ever in tennis is held by John Isner.
  4. John Isner also holds the record for the highest first-serve percentage.
  5. Wimbledon is the only Grand Slam still played on grass.
  6. Margaret Smith Court holds the record for most Grand Slam singles titles with 24 wins.
  7. Venus and Serena Williams were the first set of sisters to ever win Olympic gold in tennis.
  8. Arthur Ashe was the first African American to win the US Open.
  9. Roger Federer was the highest-paid (endorsements and prize money) tennis player in 2021.
  10. Novak Djokovic, Roger Federer, and Rafael Nadal rank one, two, and three in a category named “Under pressure leaders” by the ATP.

Check out the complete guide to playing tennis by Superprof.

Learning the Basic Rules of Tennis

The basic rules of tennis are the same, irrespective of whether you are playing singles matches or doubles matches. Understand these fundamental and unwritten rules of tennis when you first learn how to play tennis.

Basics of Tennis: A Guide for Beginners

  • A ball must land within bounds for play to continue.
  • If a player hits the ball outside of bounds, it results in the loss of the point for them.
  • Players/teams cannot touch the net or posts or cross onto the opponent’s side.
  • Players/teams cannot carry the ball or catch it with the racquet.
  • Players cannot hit the ball twice.
  • Players must wait until the ball passes the net before they can return it.
  • A player that does not return a live ball before it bounces twice loses the point.
  • If the ball hits or touches the players, that counts as a penalty.
  • If the racquet leaves the hand or verbal abuse occurs, a penalty is given.
  • Any ball that bounces on the lines of the boundary is considered good.
  • A serve must bounce first before the receiving player can return it.
Beginner’s guide to playing tennis
Knowing where your lines are is crucial in tennis. | Image credit: John Fornander on Unsplash

Tennis Equipment

  • Racquet
    • It comprises a handle, frame, and strings bound in a crisscross weaving pattern.
    • Its frame should not exceed 32 inches in length, with a handle no longer than 12.5 inches in width, and a surface area no more than 15.5 inches in overall length or 11.5 inches in width.
  • Ball
    • It is white or yellow in colour.
    • It measures 2-1/2 to 2-5/8 inches in diameter.
    • It weighs anywhere from 2 to 2-1/16 ounces.
    • Its elasticity and uniform outer surface are also determined by approved specifications.

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Understanding the Tennis Scoring System

  • Points
    • The smallest unit of measurement
    • Increment from Love(0)-15-30-40-game
  • Game
    • Consist of 4 points each
    • Are won when a player reaches 4 points with at least a 2 point advantage
  • Set
    • Consists of 6 games
    • Won by the player/team who reaches 6 games first with at least a 2 point lead
  • Advantage Set
    • If a game score of 6-6 is reached and advantage set rules are used, a player/team can only win a set with a 2 game lead.
  • Match
    • Usually played as best of 3 or best of 5 sets
  • Deuce
    • Occurs if a score of 40-40 is reached
  • Tie-break game
    • If a game score of 6-6 is reached and tie-break set rules are used, players must play a tie-break game in order to decide who wins the set.
    • A player/team must reach 7 points with a 2 point advantage to win.
    • For the serving format of a tie-break game, player 1 serves for the first point, player 2 serves for the next two points, player 1 serves for the next two points after that, etc.

Most Important Rules in Tennis

You may be playing tennis for various reasons - to keep fit, to improve mental fitness, or to just pass time in the good company of friends. There are plenty of benefits to playing tennis. And, it is even more fun when you play to win!

Playing for Points

This can be tricky, especially for someone starting out in tennis. It is best to sign up for beginners' tennis coaching near me and gather inputs from your tennis coach. in tennis. For starters, remember that, throughout the game, the server’s score is announced before the receiver’s. Here is a breakdown of the point system of a tennis match:

  • 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)

'Love', 'Deuce', and Other Tennis Terms

  • Ace: A legal serve to which the returner does not get their racquet, resulting in the server winning a point
  • Advantage: A player’s score when they win the next point after a game goes to deuce. It is advantageous for the player as they will win the game if they win the following point
  • Break Point: A point that leads to a player winning a game against their opponent’s serve, if they win it
  • Deuce: A score of 40-40
  • Double Fault: Awarding a point to the opponent when a serving player commits two consecutive service faults
  • Fault: An illegal serve (usually into the net or one which bounces outside of the required forecourt area)
  • Foot Fault: An illegal serve if the server steps over the baseline or across the center mark before striking the ball
  • Let: A point which is ordered to be replayed with no change to a match’s score.
  • Love: A term used to describe a lack of score in either points, games, or sets (e.g. a game score of 30-0 is given as ‘30 love’ and a set score of 6-0 is given as ‘six love’)

Sets in Tennis

A tennis 'match' is the term used to denote an entire tennis contest. Matches are usually played as best of five or three sets. A match can be broken down into the following three components:

  1. Point: The smallest unit of scoring in tennis
  2. Game: A sequence of points during which the same player continues to serve; usually won when a player wins four points, except when the game reaches deuce
  3. Set: The next unit of tennis scoring above a game; usually won when a player has won six games and is at least two games clear of their opponent
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Like every aspect of tennis, it is important to understand the steps to a serve. | Image credit: Moises Alex on Unsplash

Steps to a Serve

Who gets to serve first in a tennis match? This burning question is settled simply by tossing a coin! The winner of the coin toss gets to serve first and select their side of the court. The first server continues serving the ball until the set has ended. After the set has ended, the receiver becomes the server. This process is repeated throughout the match.

Blood Rule in Tennis

A bleeding timeout consists of up to 15 minutes to stop visible bleeding, clean up the court, and throw things out. If this is not enough time to stop the bleeding, the player must retire. A player is entitled to a medical timeout for cramps, vomiting, dizziness, blisters, or any treatable condition. General player fatigue is not entitled to an injury timeout.

Now, you have the basic outline to help you learn how to play tennis. So, get your shoes on, adjust your grip and sign up for the best beginners' tennis coaching near me. Superprof can help you in your search for the best. Simply log on and play.

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Shreyanjana

Shreyanjana is an archaeologist who ironically finds the written word to be the most powerful means of storytelling. A travel buff and a photography enthusiast, she has been writing and sharing stories of all sorts ever since she can remember.