The general rules of tennis

  • Gabi 

Do you want to learn how to play tennis? Or, understand what is happening when you are at a tennis match or watching it on TV? However challenging it may seem to be at first, Aceify are here to guide you through every step of the way as simply and as effectively as we can. Continue reading if you would like to discover more about the official tennis regulations, which are recognised by the majority of tennis organisations.

First of all, singles and doubles matches have slightly different rules for tennis – although being generally comparable. Here, we’ll discuss the fundamental guidelines that apply to all forms of tennis.

Object of the Game 

Tennis is played on a court that is rectangular and has a net down the middle of it. The objective is to hit the ball over the net so that it lands inside the court’s margins and is unable to be returned by your opponent. Every time your opponent is unable to return the ball inside the court, you score a point. 

Rules of Tennis:

  • For play to continue, a ball must land inside the lines; if a player hits the ball outside of the lines, they lose the point.
  • Players/teams cannot touch the net, posts or cross onto the opponent’s side.
  • Players/teams cannot carry the ball or catch it with the racquet.
  • Players cannot hit the ball twice.
  • Players must wait until the ball passes the net before they can return it.
  • A player that does not return a live ball before it bounces twice loses the point.
  • If the ball hits or touches the players, that counts as a penalty.
  • If the racquet leaves the hand or verbal abuse occurs, a penalty is given.
  • Any ball that bounces on the lines of boundary is considered good.
  • A serve must bounce first before the receiving player can return it.


  • Points – Smallest unit of measurement. From Love (0), points increase by 15-30-40 during a game.
  • Games – Each game consists of 4 points, and is won when a player reaches 4 points with at least a 2-point advantage.
  • Sets – A set consists of 6 games and is won by the player/team who reaches all 6 games first with at least a 2-point lead.
  • Deuce – Occurs if a score of 40-40 is reached. In order to win the game, you must score two points in a row to win the game. If a player wins one point, they have advantage; however, if they lose the following point, the score returns to deuce.
  • Advantage Set – If a game score of 6-6 is reached and advantage set rules are applied, you can only win a set with a 2-game lead.
  • Matches – A match is usually played to best of 3 or best of 5 sets.
  • Tie-break game – If a game score of 6-6 is reached and tie-break set rules are used, players must play a tie-break game in order to decide who wins the set. In a tie-break game, you must reach 7 points with a two-point advantage to win. For the serving format of a tie-break game, player 1 serves for the first point, player 2 serves for the next two points, player 1 serves for the next two points after that, etc.

What Do the Lines Mean?

  • Baseline – Is the line that defines the lengthwise bounds of play at either end of the court. They are also where a player serves behind.
  • Center Mark – The two halves of the tennis court are determined by the centre mark. It helps to identify where a player should stand before serving.
  • Center Line – Separates the two service boxes into a clear left service box and right service box. Hitting a serve on the line is considered as successful and can lead to an Ace – where the opponent is unable to touch it.
  • Net – The middle of the net is 3 feet tall and stands between two 3 feet posts located outside the court on either side. Any ball that hits the net cord and falls onto the other side is considered good, with the exception of a serve, which allows for a re-do or let. Hitting the ball into the net is termed as out. 
  • Service Line – Delineates the length of the service box and divides the forecourt from the backcourt.
  • Singles Sideline – Is the innermost line that suns lengthwise, and establishes the service box’s width and the border of play for singles matches.
  • Doubles Sideline – Is the outermost line running lengthwise and is only used in doubles matches.

Fun Tennis Facts:

  • Before tennis players used rackets, people would use the palm of their hands to hit the ball back and forth over the net.
  • Before yellow balls, they were white.
  • The tennis ball only stays in play for 20 minutes in a standard match.
  • During a match, a player on average runs 3 miles.
  • You can win a match with less points, than your opponent.
  • Jimmy Connors has won the US Open on three different surfaces.
  • A Grand Slam final once finished in 34 minutes. 

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