How To Get Started in Tennis – Scoring

Lawn Tennis can be played as a game between two players  – this is called singles  –  or as a game between four players (two pairs)  –  doubles.

A match consists of a number sets. The four Grand Slams are played on a best of five sets basis. Other matches and all women’s matches, on a best of three sets.

A set is made up of games and the winner of a set is the first player to reach six games with a lead of two games. If the score reaches 5-5 then one player, or pair, must win two straight games hence 7-5 is a win.

A game is made up of points and four points in a row to either player wins the game.

The points are called 15, 30, 40 and game to that player. If the score reaches 40-40 (deuce) then one player, or pair in doubles, must win two clear consecutive points.

The first point won after deuce is called an advantage point  – if the player with the advantage point loses the next point the score reverts back to deuce.

In tennis scoring, zero is called ‘love’,  –  hence fifteen love is 15-0, thirty love is 30-0, and forty love is 40-0. Because of the scoring system matches frequently last for several hours and at Grand Slams even gone into a second day.

The longest match on record was played at Wimbledon 22-24 June 2010  –  3 days! John Isner (USA) beat Nicolas Mahut (FRA)  6-4, 3-6, 6-7 (7-9), 7-6 (7-3) 70-68 11 hours, 5 minutes.

In order to reduce the duration of a match the tiebreak was introduced in 1970  –  1973 but was not taken up by every Grand Slam tournament.

A 2022 rule change now requires every Grand Slam tournament, even the Olympics, to use the tiebreak in the final set. The tiebreak is played when the games reach 6-6. This is a 12-point system with points counted using ordinary numbering.

The set is won by the player who has scored at least seven points and is leading by at least two points  –  hence 7-5 tiebreak points is a win for that player and he wins the set by 7-6  –  seven games to six.

The details of the tiebreak scoring system in tennis need not greatly concern a beginner to this great game. He is probably more concerned with how to get the ball over the net and keep it in the court.

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