January 1, 2017
Tennis is a sport where “Love” means zero and the scoring system is different for games, sets and matches. That is, it can be confusing.
Here, we’ll look at the basics of scoring and playing the sport for a lifetime, with a few helpful tips and buzzwords that you may want to know before you take to the court. Mastering the proper terminology may not help your forehand or serve, but at least in conversation, you can hang with anyone.
Youth tennis often uses a different format, keeping the scoring simple to avoid confusion. Most adult play and many youth tournaments, however, maintain the established scoring system, which goes as follows:
Points: The scoring in tennis is as follows: 15 for the first point won, then 30 for the second point won, then 40, then game. The server’s score is announced first, so if the server has won two points and the returner has won one point, the server leads 30-15. ADVERTISEMENT
In the standard scoring system, players must win by two points to claim a game. So if it’s 40-30 and the server wins the point, the server wins the game. If, however, the returner wins the 40-30 point, the score progresses to 40-40, or “deuce.” At deuce, the player who wins the next point after deuce has the “advantage,” called Ad-In if the server wins the point and Ad-Out if the receiver wins the point. If this same player wins the following point, he or she wins the game; if not, the score returns to deuce. The first player to win two points in a row after the deuce score wins the game.
In No-Ad scoring, at 40-40, only one point is played; whoever wins that point wins the game.
Here is a quick look at scoring terms:
All: Tied score except when Deuce
Deuce: A score of 40-40
Ad-In: Scorer needs one more point to win
Ad-Out: Receiver needs one more point to win
A player must win six games to win a set, but he or she must win the set by at least two games. If a set gets to 5-5, a player must win 7-5 to win the set outright. If the score in a set gets to 6-6, a tiebreak is played, and the player winning the tiebreak wins the set, 7-6.
In a tiebreak, opponents alternate serves (one point for the first server, then alternately two for each server). The first player getting to seven points wins the tiebreak and, with it, the set. But again, the tiebreak must be won by at least two points.
Tennis matches are generally played as best two-out-of-three sets (men’s tennis plays best three-of-five sets in Davis Cup and Grand Slam play). Quite simply, this means the player who wins two sets first wins the match. On some occasions, if players split the first two sets, a tiebreak or a match tiebreak (first to win 10 points, rather than 7) will be played in lieu of a third full set.