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Tennis 101: Here’s what you need to know about the sport

Last updated 9 months ago | By Game Yetu

Switzerland's Roger Federer in action during his group stage match against Italy's Matteo Berrettini Action [Couretsy]

Football is one of the most loved and watched sports in the world but Game Yetu will demystify tennis and make you understand and appreciate it.

Tennis is basically a racket sport that can be played individually against a single opponent (singles) or between two teams of two players each (doubles). 

Each player uses a tennis racket that is strung with cord to strike a hollow rubber ball into the opponent's side of the court. 

The objective of the game is to hit the ball in such a way that the opponent is not able to play a valid return. 

The player who is unable to return the ball will not gain a point, while the opposite player will.

Rules of tennis

1. The game starts with a coin toss to determine which player must serve first and which side they want to serve from.

2. The server must then serve each point from alternative sides on the base line. At no point must the server’s feet move in front of the baseline on the court prior to hitting their serve.

3. If the server fails to get their first serve in they may take advantage of a second serve. If they again fail to get their second serve in then a double fault will be called and the point lost.

4. If the server clips the net but the ball goes in the service area still then let is called and they get to take that serve again without penalty. If the ball hits the net and fails to go in the service area then out is called and they lose that serve.

5. The receiver may stand where they wish upon receipt of the serve. If the ball is struck without the serve bouncing then the server will receive the point.

6. Once a serve has been made the number of shots between the players can be unlimited. The point is won by hitting the ball so the opponent fails to return it in the scoring areas.

7. Points are awarded in scores of 15, 30 and 40. 15 represent 1 point, 30 = 2 and 40 = 3. 

Japan's Naomi Osaka hits a return against Bulgaria's Viktoriya Tomova in women's singles round of 16 at the Pan Pacific Open tennis tournament in Osaka on September 18, 2019 [Courtesy]

8. You need 4 points to win a game. If a game lands on 40-40 it’s known as deuce. From deuce, a player needs to win 2 consecutive points to win the game. After winning one point from deuce the player is on advantage. If the player wins the next point they win the game, if they lose it goes back to deuce.

9. To win the set a player must win 6 games by 2 or more. The opening sets will go to a tie break if it ends up 6-6 where players play first to 7 points. The final set will not have a tie break and requires players to win by two games with no limits.

10. If a player touches the net, distracts his opponent or impedes in any way then they automatically lose the point.

11. The ball can hit any part of the line for the point to be called in, outside the line and the ball is out.

12. The balls in a tennis match are changed for new balls every 6 games

13. A player loses a point if they fail to return the ball in either the correct areas on the court, hits the net and doesn’t go into opponent’s area or fails to return the ball before it bounces twice in their half.

The sport originated in England around the 19th century and is now played in a host of countries around the world. 

There are four major tournaments known as the ‘majors’ that include Wimbledon, US Open, French Open and Australian tournament.

Popular tennis stars in the world include; Serena Williams, Maria Sharapova, Roger Federer, Novak Djokovic and Raphael Nadal among others. 


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