[The Basics] What Do Tennis Court Lines Mean?

What Do Tennis Court Lines Mean
What Do Tennis Court Lines Mean

Last updated on October 14th, 2022

There are several different types of tennis courts such as carpet, clay, grass, and hard courts. Despite having different surfaces, the courts all have the same sizes and dimensions. 

These dimensions are defined and regulated by the tennis governing body, International Tennis Federation (ITF). The dimensions can be found in the Rules of Tennis book that is always revised annually.   

The International Tennis Federation recognizes two kinds of courts for competitive tennis; small courts, and regular courts. 

What are small courts? 

Small courts are the courts that are designed to be used by children in official tennis matches. These are of two categories; red courts, and orange courts. 

Red courts 

Competition for children of 8 years of age and below are held in these red courts. The courts have dimensions of 11 meters by 5.5 meters (36ft by 18ft). The nets in these courts are 0.8 meters high. 

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Orange courts 

These are the courts in which official competitions for children of 10 years and below are held. These courts are 18 meters long and 6.4 meters wide (59ft by 21ft). The nets are 0.8 meters high. 

What are the dimensions of regular courts? 

In line with the regulations set by the International Tennis Federation, the courts are 23.77 meters long by 8.23 meters wide (78ft by 27ft) for singles matches. 

For doubles matches, the courts are 23.77 meters long by 10.97 meters wide (78ft by 36ft). 

Across the middle of the court, there is a net. The net is supported at each of its ends by net posts at a height of 1.07 meters (3.5ft). The net is held up by a cord or a metal cable which is covered by a band. 

ITF requires that the net should be fully extended such that there is no space between the two net posts. Another requirement for the net is that it should have meshes that are so small that a ball cannot between them. 

At the center of the court, the height of the net is 0.914 meters (3 ft.) and it is tightly held down by a strap. This strap and the band that covers the cord or metal cable are always white as a requirement. 

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Other requirements are that cord or metal cable have a maximum diameter of 0.8 centimeters(0.33 in), the strap have a maximum width of 5 centimeters (2 in), the band have a depth of between 5 centimeters (2 in) and 6.35 centimeters (2.5 in) on each side. 

For doubles games, the centers of net posts are required to be 0.914 meters (3 ft.) on the outside of the doubles court on each side. 

For singles games, the centers of net posts are required to be 0.914 meters (3 ft.) on the outside of the singles court on each side if a singles net is used. 

However, should a doubles net be used, the net is required to be supported at a height of 1.07 meters (3.5 ft.) by two singles sticks who’s centers are 0.914 meters (3 ft.) on the outside of the singles court on each side. 

Other requirements are that the net posts should not be more than 15 centimeters (6 in) square or 15 centimeters (6 in) in diameter, the singles sticks should not be more than 7.5 centimeters (3 in) square or 7.5 centimeters (3 in) in diameter, the net posts and singles sticks should not extend more than 2.5 centimeters (1 in) over the top of the net cord. 

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What are the lines in the tennis court? 

There are several lines within the area of the tennis court, each of these lines are of a certain length and they all have different purposes. 

The International Tennis Federation requires that all the lines drawn on the tennis court be of the same color and they should be in contrast with the surface of the court. 

The Baseline 

The baselines are the lines at each end of the length of the court. Each of the baselines is 11.89 meters (39ft) from the net. The length of the baseline is 8.23 meters (27ft) for a singles match and 10.97 meters (36ft) for a doubles match. 

Each baseline is divided in half by a center mark that is 10 centimeters (4 in) in length and 5 centimeters (2 in) in width. This mark is made inside of the court and is parallel to the sidelines. 

The baseline has a maximum width of 10 centimeters (4 in). 

The baseline’s purpose is to mark the outer boundary of the tennis court. Balls that land behind the baseline are considered to be out of bounds. However, balls that land on top of the baseline are not considered to be out of bounds. 

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Another purpose of the baseline is to show players where to stand when serving. The players are required to serve from behind the baseline. The players’ feet should not pass the front of the baseline before or during a serve. 

The purpose of the center mark is to show players where the center of the court is. This mark is especially important because it shows a player whichever side they are playing from. Since they are required to serve diagonally, both the player serving and the one returning the serve can easily ascertain their position on the court. 

Players serve from alternating sides of the center mark and switch after each point. 

Most of the groundstrokes are also hit from the baseline. Players prefer playing from the baseline because it gives them most time to react and to make their next shot. 

The Singles Sideline 

Sidelines are the lines that are drawn at the sides of the court. They run the entire length of the court and are each 23.77 meters (78ft) long. Their widths are between 2.5 centimeters (1 in) and 5 centimeters (2 in). 

The distance between opposing singles sidelines is 8.23 meters (27ft). 

Singles sidelines mark the outer boundary of the sides of the tennis court in a singles match. Any ball that lands beyond the singles sidelines is said to out of bounds. Balls that land on the line are considered to still be in play. 

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The Doubles sideline 

Just like the singles sidelines, double sidelines run the entire length of the court and are each 23.77 meters (78ft) long. Their widths are between 2.5 centimeters (1 in) and 5 centimeters (2 in). 

The distance between opposing doubles sidelines is 10.97 meters (36ft). This increased width is there to give the doubles players more room to maneuver. 

Doubles sidelines mark the outer boundary of the sides of the tennis court in a doubles match. Any ball that lands beyond the doubles sidelines is said to out of bounds. Balls that land on the line are considered to still be in play. 

The area between the singles sideline and the doubles sideline is known as the doubles alley. 

The service line 

The service lines are the two lines that are drawn between the singles sidelines. These lines are drawn at 6.40 meters (21ft) from both sides of the net and they run parallel to the net. 

The service lines width can vary from 2.5 cm (1 in) and 5 cm (2 in). 

The center service line 

The center service line is the line that runs parallel to the sidelines and divides the service line into two. 

The center service lines have a length of 6.40 meters (21ft) each on opposite sides of the net. 

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The center service line has a width of 5 centimeters (2 in) 

The area enclosed between the center service line, singles sideline, net, and service line is called a service box. There are four service boxes in total and are used in both singles and doubles matches. 

When a player serves the ball from behind the baseline, the ball has to bounce on the service box of the player that is diagonal from the point of serving. If a player is serving from the right, the ball has to bounce on the left service box of the opponent for it to be considered valid. 

If the ball does not bounce in the correct service box, it is considered as out and a second serve has to be made. If the ball fails to bounce in the correct box once again, it is now considered as a double fault and the server loses the point. 

Can you serve from the doubles alley? 

Yes, in a doubles game you can serve from the double alley as long as you remain behind the baseline. 

How are balls that land on the perimeter lines treated? 

A ball that bounces on the baseline or on the sidelines is considered to still be within the playing area. 

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However if the ball lands in the doubles alley in a singles game, it is considered to be out of the court. 

What is a no mans land in tennis? 

The no mans land is the area between the baseline and the service line. 

What are tramlines in tennis? 

A tramline is the width of the doubles alley. It is 1.4 meters (4.5 ft.) in length. 

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