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Tennis Rules

Tennis Rules


Each player or team has a maximum of one bounce after the ball has been hit by their opponent to return the ball over the net and within the boundaries of the court. When a player then fails to return the ball into the correct court, the opponent wins a point. 

The aim of tennis is to win enough points to win a game, enough games to win a set, and enough sets to win a match. 



Both players bring a racket and a new can of tennis balls to each match. The loser keeps the old balls that were used for the match, the winner takes the new unused can of tennis balls. 


Before warming up with your opponent, either player or team will spin their racquet and the winner of the spin will have some options to choose from. They can choose one of these 3 options:


  • To serve or receive
  • The side of the court
  • Or defer their choice to their opponent --but the opponent cannot defer back

Once the winner of the toss chooses one of the options above, the opponent has the remaining choice. In doubles at the end of each set, each pair can elect who serves first for their side.


Tennis has a different point system than most sports. Before we go into detail, here is your guide to scoring a game:

  • 0 points= Love
  • 1 point = 15
  • 2 points= 30
  • 3 points= 40
  • Tied score= All
  • 40-40 = Deuce
  • Server wins deuce point = Ad-In
  • Receiver wins deuce point = Ad-Out

In order to win the game, a player must win at least four points. If you are up 40-30, 40-15 or 40-love, and win one more point, you win the game. If the score is tied in a game or set, you use the term “all” when announcing the score. For example, if you and your opponent have both won two points in the game, the score would be 30-all.


The only time this is different is when both you and your opponent have won 3 points each and the score is 40-40. This is called deuce. When the score reaches deuce, one player or team will need to win at least two points in a row to win the game. When the server wins the deuce point, it is called Ad-In, but when they lose the deuce point, it is called Ad-Out. If the team with the advantage (Ad-In or Ad-Out) wins another point, they win the game, or it goes back to deuce.


Players or teams switch ends of the court on odd games. This means that after the first game is complete, they switch sides, as well as every two games after that.


Now let’s look at how many games you need to win a set. There are two main ways of scoring a set.


In an advantage set, a player or team needs to win six games, by two, to win the set. This means that there is no tiebreak game played at 6-6. The set continues until one player/team wins by two games.


In a tiebreak set, a player or team needs to win six games wins a set. If the score gets to 5-5 (5-all), one player must win the next two games to win the set. If the score reaches 6-6 (6-all) in the set, a tiebreak game is played.


In a tiebreak game, the next person who was due to serve will start the tiebreak game, and serve one point to the deuce side of the court. The following two points will then be served by the opponent starting on the ad side. In doubles, the player on the opposing team due to serve will serve these points.

Players or teams switch ends of the court every six points (e.g. when the score is 4-2), and to score this tiebreak game, you use, “zero” “one”, “two”, “three”, etc. The first player or team to win seven points, by two, wins the tiebreak. This means the score can end up being very high (e.g. 15-13) or as low as 7-0 through 7-5. 

Whoever wins the tiebreak game, wins the set by a score of 7-6. 


Since the set is an odd-numbered score (7-6), whichever end of the court the players or teams ended up on when the tiebreak game finished, they will need to switch sides to start the next set. Whoever started serving the tiebreak game will be receiving serve in the first game of the next set. 


The most common format used to play a tennis match is best-of-three tiebreak sets. This means that if you don’t win the first two sets, the third set will decide the match. In HotMess Tennis, we play two out of three sets with a 10-point tiebreak in lieu of a third set.


If two players have the same record, the tiebreaker will be head to head, then number of total sets won. If two players are still tied after that then a coin flip will determine the tiebreak. 


If a player does not show up for a match then they receive a forfeit loss with a score of 6-0, 6-0. 


The winner will report the scores of the match. They will send the scores to and include the score along with the players names. 


Scenario 1: If the opposing competitor does not respond to a request to schedule the match, the competitor will receive a forfeit. The player trying to schedule will receive a win.  

Scenario 2: If neither player reaches out to the other to schedule the match, or the two players are unable to find a time/place to play, then both players will receive a loss. 

Scenario 3: If a time and place has been agreed upon both players must arrive within 15 minutes of the agreed upon time. If either player does not arrive within 15 minutes of the agreed upon time and does not communicate that they are running late, the late player will receive a forfeit loss.