Tennis Scoring: How to Keep Score in Tennis

Tennis is a game played on a rectangular court between two or four players. Players stand on opposite sides of the net and toss the ball with the help of a stringed racquet. The scoring system of the tennis game features a set of rules and guidelines that have been designed specifically to guarantee the winner at the end of the tennis game. The score of the game is quite different and the scoring system is different for the individual games, sets, and matches. Though they seem confusing at the start, the scoring system is something that keeps the game interesting.

How Does Tennis Scoring Work?

Tennis Scoring
Photo: Wikipedia

The Game Framework

One tennis match comprises two to three sets and to win a set, the player must win at least six games. The scores of the game start at love or zero and can go up to 40.  From love, the first point is 15, 30, and 40, and then the game point, that helps the player to win the game. Determining the serving side is made by a coin toss. The winner of the toss decides whether they want to serve or receive first and the side of the court they want to start from. The toss winner can also leave the choice to their opponent to choose. 

The player who serves first will continue to serve until the rally is over. Then the server is taken over by the opponent. The player serves from behind the baseline, starting from the right-hand side of the court. They stand between the singles sideline and the center mark on the court.

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Scoring the Game

Tennis follows a unique scoring than most other sports. The following is the scoring pattern of the tennis game.

  • love – 0 points 
  • 15 – 1 point
  • 30 – 2 points
  • 40 – 3 points
  • 40-40 – Deuce

To win a game, the player should win four points and of the score are tied in a game or set, the term all is used while announcing the score. And there are two types of ways to score a set, namely an advantage set and a tie-break set. 

In the advantage set, the player should win six games to win a set. The set will continue until the player wins by two games. In a tie break set, the player or the team should win six games to win a set. If the score gets 5-5, then the player has to win the next two games to win that particular set. If the score reaches 6-6, then a tiebreak game is played.

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Tennis Scoring

The structure of the match is designed with an odd number of sets to ensure that the winner emerges at the end of the match. The different steps in allotting the scores for the tennis game are as follows.

  • If the players win the first point, they should announce the score at the next serve, as 15-love. While love represents a zero score, 15 equals one point. 
  • The server should always announce their score first and the additional points are counted in increments of 15, up to two points. 
  • The next point is scored as 10. The server will continue to serve until one of the players wins the game. 
  • Every time a player serves, the player gets two tries. Every time the server should go over the net and land in the service box that is opposite to them.
  • The ball should also bounce once before the opponent returns it. if the first serve doesn’t land in the service box, they get a second serve.
  • If they miss even the second serve, then they lose the point. 
  • If the serve touches the net and lands in the service box, then that service doesn’t count and the player should take the serve over. This is termed as a let.
  • The rally continues till the opponent returns it. If they fail, then the players win a point and if the player fails, the opponent wins.
  • The player who is serving continues to serve until the score reaches 40, and they should call out the score before every serve.
  • If the score is tied at 40-all, then it is termed as deuce (another name for a tie). To break the tie one of the players should win two points in a row.
  • If the player is serving the deuce and wins a point, they should announce ‘my ad’ or my advantage. But if the opponent wins, the game again goes back to deuce, and one of the players should win two points in a row.
  • After games one, three, and five (i.e., odd-numbered games) the players have to switch sides on the court.

How to Score a Set in the Tennis Game?

In each new game, before the first serve, the server has to announce the score in sets. The player will say their score first, and then the score of the opponent. To complete a set, someone should win six games. The player who first wins six games will win the set. 

With a deuce, the player should lead a set with two games. If one player scores 6-5 the opponent with 5 points wins two games to take the lead. The winner of the tennis game is determined by taking the score of the best two out of three sets. If a player wins two sets, they win but if both the players win a set each, a third set is played to determine the winner.

Final Words

The tennis scoring system seems a bit strange and tough in the first place for the players to understand. But, despite its complexity, the scoring system of the tennis game has stayed stable since the Victorian period. The most common format that is played the tennis match is best out of three sets. The different Grand Slam games that are in a function to date are the Australian Open, French Open, Wimbledon games, and the US Open. The rules are essential for both the men’s and the women’s professional tennis games.

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