When & Where to Serve in Tennis

January 01, 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 that you may want to know before you take to the court.



The serve starts a point in tennis; the good news is that you get two chances to put the ball in play.


When serving the first serve, stand behind the baseline between the center mark and the right sideline. The ball is hit diagonally into the service box on the other side of the net, on the opposite side of the center mark from which the server is serving.  And remember, you’re not allowed to step on or over the baseline before hitting the ball.


On the first point of a game, the first serve must go over the net and into the receiver’s right (deuce) service court. If your first serve doesn’t go into the correct box, it’s called a “fault.” If you miss your second serve, however, it’s called a “double fault” and your opponent wins that point.


It’s now either 15-Love or Love-15, so now the server serves to the opposite side of the court. This means you should stand behind the baseline between the center mark and the left sideline and aim diagonally for the receiver’s left (ad) service court.


(The right side is called the deuce court because, on a deuce score, the ball is served there. The same logic applies to the left, or ad, court.)


If you serve a ball that hits the top of the net before bouncing into the correct service box, it is called a let. You may take that serve again. If the ball hits the net and lands outside the correct service box, it’s a fault. A served ball hitting the post is also a fault.


After you have served one game in a set, you switch ends of the court and now receive your opponent’s serve for one game. You should switch ends again after the third, fifth, seventh and following every odd-numbered game.



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