A Guide To Tennis Terminology 

You’ll need to know some terminology if you’re a tennis beginner or a seasoned player.  

This guide will cover the basics of tennis terminology, including terms for the game itself, equipment, and how to play.  

We’ll also cover the basics of tennis to how to play tennis. You’ll also understand how points are scored and which points are essential in a match.  

By understanding the terms, you’ll be able to talk about tennis more informed and educated manner and have more discussions about the sport with your friends and family. So start learning today! 

The Basics of Tennis 

Tennis is a sport that involves hitting a ball with a curved stick over a net in an attempt to hit the other person’s ball into their court and score points.  

There are different types of tennis games that appeal to different people, including singles (one player against another), doubles (two players against one opponent), and mixed doubles (two women playing together). 

Tennis equipment includes both the racquet and balls. The racquet is used to strike the ball and control its trajectory.  

A good grip helps maximize power delivery for consistent accuracy. Common materials for tennis racquets include graphite, aluminum, and steel.  

The balls are spherical and have different materials (including leather, cork, and felt).  

They must be soft enough not to damage the courts but hard enough so that they don’t bounce too high off the ground. 

The Tennis Court 

Tennis courts are typically rectangular, with a net stretched across the middle.  

The playing surface is usually surfaced with clay, but other substances like sand or grass may be used in locations where harder surfaces are not permitted.  

The dimensions of a tennis court vary based on its location and usage, but they generally measure between 90 feet by 60 feet and 6 inches wide by 18 inches deep. 

The Tennis Terms 

Following are the terms that are used in tennis: 

The Ball: 

A tennis ball is round, made of leather or other durable material, and covered in a tight-fitting plastic cover.  

The ball’s size, weight, and shape vary slightly depending on which type of court it’s being played on. 

The Racquet: 

A racquet is specialized sports equipment used to hit the ball.  

It’s made of wood, carbon fiber, metal tubing, or other materials and typically has a stiff cross-section. The racquet’s frame is usually covered in soft rubber for comfort and grip. 

The Service Area: 

The service area is the part of the court closest to your opponent and where their serves will come toward you.  

It extends out 10 ft (3 m) from both sides of the net and has a rectangular shape. 

Court Position: 

Each player has a specific court position, which determines where they will stand on the court when playing.  

The four most common positions are “serving”, “defending”, “mid-court”, and “back-court”. 


When serving, the player receiving service stands in their server’s service area and serves the ball into the other player’s court. 


When defending, the player receiving service stands in their opponent’s defensive court (usually towards the back-court) and tries to block or return any balls hit towards them. 


Mid-court players are positioned between their serve and either of their opponents’ courts.  

They try to control territory by hitting balls deep into their opponent’s side of the court or by passing the ball to a teammate. 


The back-court is positioned farthest from the net and is used for attacking shots or setting up play in the other direction. 

The Serve: 

One of the main ways to score points in tennis is to serve the ball into your opponent’s court.  

A successful serve requires your player’s correct timing, aim, and power delivery. To serve effectively, you need to know the sport’s serving rules. 

The Point: 

A point is earned when your player successfully serves the ball into your opponent’s court, and their opponent fails to return it.  

A point can also be earned by hitting a successful shot while your opponent is serving (called an “in-and-out”).  

Points are also credited for scoring as a result of receiving service before returning it (a “double fault”) or when trapping the opposing player’s serve in between two players on either side of the net (a “service winner”). 

The Match: 

A tennis match is a series of six games. The first four games are played as singles, while the final two games are played as doubles.  

In each game, one player (the server) tries to win by hitting the other player’s ball into their court and returning it to their opponent’s side of the net. Points are scored based on how successfully this is done. 

How to Play Tennis? 

To play tennis, you’ll need a racquet (which can be rented at most clubs), some balls (tennis balls come in different sizes), and a court where you can hit the ball without hurting yourself or your opponent (a municipal park is ideal for this purpose), and appropriate attire for playing in weather that ranges from hot to cold. 

When you arrive at the court, find an open spot and try playing a few practice shots.  

Then join the other players, who will be ready to play once everyone is settled in. Tennis can be played singles, doubles, or mixed doubles (two people playing together).  

The rules for each type of match are different, but typically there are four rounds of play followed by a tie-break if needed: 

1) Play three volleys: 

Volley means hitting the ball high in the air and then hitting it with both hands. This is one of the first things you’ll learn as a beginner player.  

It’s important because when your opponent misses their serve, they’re more susceptible to being attacked from behind (volleys outfox your opponents).  

Volleying also forces them to move quickly if they want to reach for their ball, opening up other opportunities for attacking shots. 

2) Hit a straight-set point: 

Playing set points can give one player the advantage when two players are about to go into tie-breaker mode.  

In a straight-set point, each player plays two consecutive serves.  

The first to hit their serve and get it over the net scores a point, regardless of what happens afterward (e.g., if their opponent misses or dodges it). This is also called an “accumulator.” 

3) Hit ground balls: 

When your opponents are playing too much in the air, try hitting some ground balls to slow them down.  

Not only will this give you more chances to win points by hitting winners off of your opponents’ errors, but they’ll eventually wear down if you keep hitting them in the legs. 

4) Take advantage of your opponent’s mistakes: 

If your opponent makes a mistake, take advantage of it! Hit a hard shot through their defense and hope for an error. Then hit another hard shot to put them back on the defensive. 

5) Come back from a disadvantage: 

Don’t give up if you’re down two sets to one or three!  

Attack your opponent early and often, and always try to come out with the lead-in points.  

If you can manage this, chances are good that you’ll still win the match even if you lose the next few sets. 

6) Use your second serve: 

Your opponent may expect you to hit your first serve, but don’t forget about your second one!  

Attack it early and often, and try to get it in the service box. This will give you more opportunities to score points off of served balls. 

7) Take advantage of your opponent’s weaknesses: 

When you know your opponent is vulnerable to a particular type of shot, take advantage of it!  

For example, if they tend to miss headers quite a bit, try hitting hard shots near the net.  

Or if they don’t like coming to the backhand corner very much, hit some down-the-line balls there instead. 

8) Use your opponent’s crowd: 

Sometimes it can be advantageous to play against a loud and supportive crowd. This will give you an extra boost of energy, which may help you beat your opponent. Plus, if your opponent gets frustrated and loses focus, the crowd may help them snap out of it. 

9) Keep yourself calm: 

If you start to get frustrated with your opponent, try to keep control of yourself.  

Don’t let the emotions get the best of you, and don’t hit poor shots because you’re mad at your opponent.  

Just focus on playing your best tennis, and don’t let anything distract you from that. 

10) Don’t give up: 

Don’t give up even if you seem to be losing the match!  

There’s always a possibility that you can pull off an upset victory. Keep playing your best tennis and never let your opponent gain an advantage. 

Which Points are Important in Tennis? 

A few key points are essential in tennis: serving, hitting the ball well, and playing defense.  

Serving is vital because it allows your opponent to only hit balls back at you. If you can keep their service game weak, it will be harder for them to score points against you.  

Hitting the ball well is critical because if you can land shots in play, your opponent won’t be able to make much headway against you.  

Defensively, staying calm under pressure is essential, and not letting your opponent gain an advantage by being aggressive with their shots.  

Also, keeping your composure will help you stay focused on the match and not get frustrated. 

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