Starting a Singles Match

The first decision to be made is who will serve in the opening game of the match. This can be decided by spinning the racket or tossing a coin  –  whoever wins the toss has four options  –  to serve, receive, select an end or request their opponent to make the choice.

After the spin-up, the players will take up their chosen court end and spend four minutes warming up their shots before starting to play the match.


The server must always begin from the right side of the centre mark and must stand behind the baseline and within an imaginary extension of the centre mark and sideline (singles or doubles).

The server must put the ball in the air by hand and then hit it with the racket before it touches the ground. The ball must cross the net and bounce within the service court diagonally opposite the server.

When the point has been played out the server then serves from the left side of the centre mark and into his opponent’s left service box.

The receiver may stand where he likes at the other end of the court to return the serve but must let the ball bounce once in the service court before making a return.


When serving your feet must not touch the baseline or any part of the court before the ball has been struck. Also, your feet must not cross an imaginary extension of the centre mark.

The most common footfault occurs when you tread on the baseline with your front foot before hitting the serve.

Referee and Umpire

Players who have reached a competitive standard of play and enter an official tournament will encounter the tournament referee. It is also possible they may play a match that is umpired. The duty of the referee is to run the tournament.

He has the authority to appoint linesmen, umpires and other court officials. He will also make a final decision on any point of tennis law referred to him by an umpire or player.

On-court facts as a result of match play are the responsibility of the court umpire.

Basic tactics

The following are well worth remembering:-

  1. As a beginner  –  get the ball into the court.
  2.  As an intermediate  –  hit the ball from side to side.
  3.  As a more skillful player  –  hit the ball deep into the corners.
  4. As an advanced player  –  go for spin and speed.

The above tactics may seem obvious but it is very easy to forget your skill level and try for too much  –  the result is usually a disaster.

Tactics for returning the serve are almost the same as serving  – the beginner must try to get the ball back with consistency. Then vary your return and hit away from your opponent, making him move to play the ball.

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