The rules of tennis
How to play tennis in a nutshell
Tennis is a great activity for improving your health and fitness. This popular racket sport provides a good workout for your arm and leg muscles, as well as for your cardiovascular system. However, before you rush into playing tennis, it's good to familiarize yourself with the rules of the sport. Here's the realbuzz.com guide to the key rules of tennis playing.
The aims of tennis
- Each tennis player stands on opposite sides of the net using a racket to hit a ball back and forth, with the intention of preventing the other player getting the ball back in play.
- Each player 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. If they fail to do this, then the opponent wins the point.
The tennis serve
- Who serves first is usually decided by the toss of a coin, with the other person being given choice of which end of the court to start at. The person serving first (the server) will attempt to put the ball into the other side of the court (into the service box) to the receiver.
- The server will first serve from the right-hand of the court into the left-hand service box (his opponents right-hand box), and then alternate for each point. The receiver can stand where they like, but must let the ball bounce once in the service box before they return it.
- The server must be behind the baseline when serving, if not the serve is deemed a fault. If the server misses his target twice, that is a double-fault and he or she loses the point.
- If the ball hits the top of the net but still goes in the correct service box, another serve is granted, and no point has been won or lost.
The tennis net
- If the ball goes into the net and then lands back on the side of the player who hit the ball, then that player loses the point.
- If the ball hits the net during the point and goes into the opponent’s court, the ball is in play.
- A player loses the point if he touches the net with his racket or any part of their body, intentionally or not.
The tennis court
- If the ball goes straight out of the opponent’s court without bouncing, then the point is lost.
- A ball that lands on any part of the line is deemed in.
Miscellaneous tennis rules
- A ‘let’ can be called, meaning ‘play the point again’, in circumstances such as if there is a distraction from outside the court.
- A player cannot intentionally hit the ball twice with two movements when returning the ball.
In doubles (two players per side) the extra side portions of the court (the tramlines) are also considered part of the court. Each player will take turns of serve, with their turn coming every fourth game.