Tennis Rules: How to Play Tennis?


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Being a sport that originated in the early 19th century, tennis has never lost interest in the hands of the players and in the eyes of the spectators. Though it originated in England, Tennis is being played by a host of countries, all over the globe. Four major tennis tournaments happen all over the World, namely the US Open, French Open, Australian tournament, and the Wimbledon.

The Tennis Game

How to Play Tennis

The Tennis game is played in a rectangular court that is divided into two by a net that runs across its center. The ultimate objective of the game is to hit the ball over the net in such a way that it lands within the margin of the opponent’s side of the court and the opponent is unable to return it. Every time the opponent fails to return the ball, the player scores a point.

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The tennis game is played with the help of a racquet and a ball. A racquet comprises a handle, a frame with strings in the crisscross pattern. For a good quality play, the frame of the racquet should not exceed 32 inches in length. The handle should be no longer than 12.5 inches in width. The racquet should not be coated with any devices or objects, except that that mitigate vibration. 

The tennis ball is white or yellow with 2 ½ inches in diameter. The surface of the ball should be uniform with ambient pressure as instructed. There are four types of tennis balls, namely fast, medium, slow and high altitude. Irrespective of the type of the ball, they should conform to the size, weight, color, and rebound standards.

The players are expected to wear appropriate clothing and use tennis shoes with non-marking soles. The tennis court can be of four major surfaces such as grass, clay, carpet, or hard surface.

Check out: Best Tennis Racquets for Beginners

Basic Tennis Rules

The tennis game is played between two players (singles match) or four players (doubles match). Every game starts with a toss to determine the serving side first and which side they want to serve. 

1. Rules about serves:

  • The server must serve every point from alternative sides of the baseline. 
  • The server’s feet should not move in front of the baseline on the court before they hit the serve.
  • If the server fails to get their first serve in, they can take advantage of a second serve. But if they fail to get even the second serve, then it is called a double fault and results in point loss.
  • If the server touches the net but still the ball enters the service area, a let is called and they can take the services again without penalty. 
  • If the ball clips the net and doesn’t enter the service area, then it is considered out and the player will lose their serve.
  • The receiver can stand anywhere in the court to receive the serve. If the receiver does not return the ball, the server gains the score.

2. Rules about the scoring system:

  • After the service is made, the players can go on with the rally with unlimited shots. 
  • Once the players fail to return the ball to the opposite side, the opponent will score a point.
  • Scores are awarded as love – 15 – 30 – 40 – game. 15 represents 1 point, 30 – 2 points 40 – 3 points, and game – 4 points.
  • A set is over after gaining 4 points. A match is generally played as the best of 3 or 5 sets. 
  • A player is said to have won the game if he gains two or more points.

3. Deuce and tie-breaks:

  • If a game ends with 40 points for each player, then it is termed as deuce. From deuce, the player has to win two points consecutively to win the game.
  • Once they win one point from the deuce, the player is considered to be on ‘advantage’.
  • If the player wins the next point as well, he wins the game, but if they lose, the game gets back to deuce.
  • If the game sets get to a tie break and land up in 6-6 then a tie break match is played. The players have to play first to 7 points in a tie-break.
  • The final match will require the players to win two games with no limits and will not have a tie break.

4. Penalties:

  • If the player touches the net or distract the opponent, then they will lose their point automatically.
  • The ball can hit any part of the line, for the point to be called in. If it touches outside the boundary line, then the ball is out.
  • The balls in the tennis match are changed every 6 games with new balls.
  • The player can lose their point if they do not return the ball in the correct areas of the court, hit the net, and don’t enter the opponent’s area.
  • They also lose their point if they fail to return the ball before it bounces two times in their half of the court.

5. Fault and double fault:

  • The server has two opportunities to serve the ball within the service court. If they fail to get their first service at the diagonally opposite side of the court, it is termed a fault serve.
  • If the server fails to land his second serve at the diagonally opposite service court, then it is called a double serve and the receiver will earn a point.
  • If the ball hits the net and falls within the court, it is termed net serve, and the server will have to re-serve the ball into the service court. There are no limits to net serve faults that the player can commit.


Tennis is an interesting and fast sport that keeps the players on their toes from the start till the end. Once the game begins, the players have to continue the game until the conclusion of the match. They are however allowed to take small breaks in-between. The duration of the break between points is about 25 seconds. players can take 90 seconds to change the ends of the court. 



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