Tennis is a great sport to play, even if you hit the court only a few times a month. Studies show that tennis improves overall well-being, makes you more fit, promotes cardiovascular health, increases bone density, releases endorphins in your brain, etc., etc. While no one doubts the many benefits of the game, you might be utterly confused about how to keep scores in tennis during the matches.
I know the feeling, and I promise that you are not the only one. We all have been once beginners, and tennis points just seemed strange and difficult to understand.
That’s because tennis scoring rules are unique and apply to this game only, but once you get the hang of it, it is actually quite simple. Don’t you believe me? Keep scrolling, and by the end of this article, you’ll be a true expert!
Let’s start by explaining the very basics of tennis! I will try to make this whole thing as simple as possible, comparing it with other sports when and where I can see fit so that it can be crystal clear, even for someone that doesn’t know how to play tennis.
For comparison’s sake, a competitive tennis match is equal to a football or basketball game. There are two players or two teams competing against each other. It’s important to highlight that you should always be wary of calling it a tennis match and not a game because that has completely other meanings. Here’s why;
- The total of points makes up one game.
- The total of games makes up one set.
- The total of sets makes up one match.
The scoring system differs for normal matches and competitive tournaments.
Scoring a Game
Keeping score in tennis, the most important thing is to understand how the point system works. If you get this, everything else is easy.
Each point starts with a serve. The player flips a coin before the match to decide who gets to serve first. But here’s the catch that confuses most beginner players; the value points of a tennis match are unique and have a set of specific rules.
To win a game in tennis, you must score four points. We don’t call them by the standard numbers, but instead, they have specific numeric values attached to them.
- 0 points= Love
- 1 point = 15
- 2 points = 30
- 3 points = 40
- 4 points = win
To win a single game, you must score 40 points. In case someone hasn’t scored points yet, we don’t say 30:0, but 30 love. Love still equals zero points, but that means that the player doesn’t give up for the love of the game.
When the scores are tied, we always use the word “all.” So, we say the result is 15all, and not 15;15. So, in case the scores are tied, then we don’t repeat numbers but use the word “all,” For example.
- The score is 15:15 = 15 all
- The score is 30:30 = 30 all
There is also another point that it’s called advantage. This happens when one of the players scores a tie result of 40all: in this case, we say players have reached a deuce score. According to tennis rules, the player that scores a deuce has the advantage, so if it wins the next point, then it also means that it got that game. The score returns to a deuce if the next point is lost.
Scoring a Set
Now that you know how to count tennis points, it’s time to explain how sets work. To win a single set, the player should win six games and be at least two games ahead in the advantage of the opponent. That’s all you have to know about this.
Simple right? Now let’s look at some specific rules about set scores and how the winner is determined.
Tiebreak vs. Advantage Set
In case there is a tie-in games with 5-5, then there are two more games. Whoever wins the extra two games, with a result of 7 to 5, also wins the set. But, if the game score is 6-6, then the extra game is to determine the winner. This is called a tiebreak set since neither of the players or the teams can’t win with two games ahead.
Another way to determine the winner is by adding an “advantage” set. This means that the player can continue to play until one of them takes the lead with two more game wins.
Scoring a Match
Typically, you score a tennis match if you win the “best of three,”; meaning you should be successful in at least two sets. The exceptions to this rule exist, even though they are not as common.
A prime example is the US Open tournament, where the winner must be victorious in the “best of five sets.” In other words, the player must win at least three sets to win the match.
Tennis Scoring Examples
During a match, the tennis scoreboard always shows the points of the player that serves first. It’s easy to tell because there is always a small yellow sign, which can be a tennis ball or a simple geometric figure shown near the player’s name.
Before the first serve, there is no need to call the points, as both players have zero scores. In this case, it is called “Love All.”
- If the server wins, the first point is 15 love. If the other players also score a point, the result is 15:ALL.
- If the opponent still scores, then it is 15:30 – yet again, the points are being shown by the server perspective and should remain so no matter the end result.
- If the serves scores again are 30 all. If it scores again, the result is 40:30. Another score after 40 points means that the server has won the game.
Tennis Scoring Rules for Grand Slams Tournaments
As mentioned above, the tennis scoring rules for Grand Slams Tournaments are different from normal matches. Almost always, these types of competitions use the “best of five” set format to determine the winner.
Since the best tennis players in the world are competing with each other for the title, the matches can last for hours. The Wimbledon 2011 final between John Isner and Nicolas Mahut, which lasted for 11 hours and 5 minutes, holds the record as the longest tennis match recorded in history.
As an attempt to avoid matches that last for such a prolonged amount of time, the format has slightly changed in recent years for the Grand Slams tournaments finals;
- Wimbledon has a tiebreak at 12-12, first at 7 points.
- Australia Open has a tiebreak at 6-6, first to 10 points.
- US Open has a tiebreak at 6-6, first to 7 points.
- French Open has an advantage set, with no tie breaks.
How to Keep Score in Tennis Doubles
The scoring system for double tennis matches is the same as for singles ones, only if you are playing as a beginner or a recreational. However, the rules have changed for those who perform at a professional level. The main reason is to make double matches more intensive and of a faster pace so that they can appeal to more viewers.
Here are the main differences in how to keep scores in tennis for doubles matches;
- There is no “advantage” point – which means if one of the teams scores a deuce, then it can score a point to determine the winner of the game.
- No “tiebreak” or “advantage” set.- Only “the best of three” format is allowed in doubles matches. The final set is called “the Championship Match” and determines the winning team.
Now that you’ve learned about what to keep score in tennis matches, there may still be some lingering questions about specifics. Read on for answers to some of the most frequently asked questions.
Q: Which is the easiest way to score in tennis?
The current scoring system in tennis, in which points are recorded as 15, 30, and 40, rather than the traditional numerical progression, has its roots in the Middle Ages. The scores were originally displayed on two clock faces, which went from 0 to 60. On each score, the pointer would move a quarter of the way around the clock face, from 0 to 15, then 30, then 45, and finally, a win on 60.
However, as the use of clock faces for scorekeeping in tennis eventually dropped out of use, the scoring system was truncated and the 45 was shortened to 40, which is still used in the modern game today.
Q: Why is 0 called love in tennis?
The origins of why 0 is referred to as ‘love’ in tennis are believed to originate from the French word, ‘l’oeuf’ which means ‘egg’. It is thought that the round shape of zero resembled an egg and therefore was given the name ‘love’, similar to how a perfect circle often represents love or unity itself.
The term ‘love all’ has been used since the first days of tennis in France, but it wasn’t until 1583 that a score was actually written down for love, based on its resemblance to an egg shape. According to this old scoring system players would write down lv when a player’s score was at zero — thus giving birth to the current day usage of “love” as a score in tennis.
Q: How many sets do you win in tennis?
In tennis, a match is played as the best of three or five sets. In other words, in order to win a match, a player must win at least two out of three sets (in a best-of-three set match) or at least three out of five sets (in a best-of-five set match).
Q: How many strokes does it take to win a tennis match?
Winning a tennis match requires 24 strokes. This is because each point in a Tennis match is won by the first player to win 4 points, and each point takes one stroke to win it. Therefore, the total number of strokes required to w
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