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Simple Introduction to Tennis Scoring for Beginners

Playing a Game


tennis court with names of lines
To put the tennis scoring system as simply as possible, one must win:
  • four points to win a game
  • six games to win a set
  • two (or, more rarely, three) sets to win a match
We'll call the players A and B.

By winning a coin toss or a spin of the racquet, A gets to choose one of the following:

  • serve
  • receive serve
  • choose an end of the court
  • have B choose
Let's say A chooses to serve. B then gets to choose an end of the court. A may serve from anywhere behind her baseline between the right singles sideline and the center mark. The serve must be struck before the ball bounces, and it must land in the service box diagonally opposite her. She gets two chances to get a serve in. If she misses both, she loses the point. If a serve that is otherwise good nicks the net on its way in, it is redone.

If A gets her serve in, B must return the ball, after exactly one bounce, into any part of A's singles court. A and B must then return the ball, after no more than one bounce, into one another's singles court until one of them misses.

A will serve from the left side of her baseline for the second point of the game, and she will continue to alternate right and left for the start of each point of the game.

Let's say A wins the first point. At the start of the next point, she must announce the score, her point total first: "15 - love." (Love = 0.)

B wins the next point: "15 all."

B wins the next point: "15 - 30."

A wins the next point: "30 all."

A wins the next point: "40 - 30."

If A wins the next point, she wins the game.

If B wins the next point, the score is "40 all," which is called "deuce." At deuce, one player must win the next two points to win the game. If, at deuce, A wins the next point, she has the advantage, and the score is called "ad in," which means server's advantage. If B had won that point, the score would have been "ad out." If the player having the advantage wins the following point, he or she wins that game. If the player with the advantage loses the point, the score returns to deuce.

With traditional scoring, games can go back and forth from deuce to ad over and over. The "No Ad" variation on the scoring within games allows for a game to be won by a margin of one point. Instead of "15," "30," and "40" used to note points, players may use "1," "2," and "3." At "3 all," the receiver may choose whether to receive in the left or right service box. The winner of that point wins the game.


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